There are millions of books available today. How on earth can you choose what’s best to read? In this episode, we’ll consider how to choose good books—both for yourself and for your children.
This is part 2 of a series on why, what, how, and when to read and why and how to build a home library.
Three Types of Books
To be able to choose good books, you need to understand the different types of books. Apart from the usual categories of fiction and nonfiction, there are three main types of books:
- Living Books – A living book is written by an author who loves the subject; it is challenging and inspiring. Focus on these!
- Reference Books – Atlas, dictionary, almanac, etc. These are useful to have on hand even if you also look things up online.
- Twaddle – This is Charlotte Mason’s term for dumbed-down, diluted, silly, easy-reading books with poor writing and sometimes tacked-on morals. Avoid these.
What Is a Good Book?
- In general, older books are likelier to be living books. New books are often politically correct and likelier to contain offensive material.
- Great books feature excellent writing and thought-provoking ideas. They often have an impact on other literature and culture.
- “Safe” does not equal “good.” All great literature involves conflict; otherwise there’s no plot. Literature can provide both positive examples to emulate and negative examples to avoid. Use books to teach your children discernment.
- It’s OK to read non-Christian authors (even ancient pagans). All truth is God’s truth.
- Include a mix of challenging books and easy books.
- Every person’s and family’s standards and tastes will differ. Choose good books in accordance with your own standards.
Guides to Help You Choose Good Books
Here are some of my favorite guides to help you choose good books:
- Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
- How to Grow a Young Reader by Kathryn Lindskoog and Ranelda Mack Hunsicker
- Who Should We Then Read? (volumes 1 and 2) by Jan Bloom
- Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson
For a longer list of my favorite books about how to choose good books, as well as my favorite books about homeschooling, visit my blog for booklovers at EclecticBibliophile.com. That will also put you on the list to be the first to find out about my new e-book about books, coming soon.
And if you wish you had more time to read, you’ll find encouragement and practical tips for time management in my book, Flourish.
Stay tuned for our next episode, when we’ll discuss HOW to read.
Other Resources Mentioned in This Episode
Realms of Gold: The Classics in Christian Perspective by Leland Ryken
A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille
NOTE: This post includes affiliate links. I will make a small commission if you purchase books through my links. Just think of this as an opportunity to help me build MY home library while you build YOURS!