Great Books … Great Friends

I would love to share another gem from

Beautiful Girlhood


Image via Wikipedia

The author Ms. M. Hale says,

“Who would not count it an honour to have among her friends

the wisest, noblest, and best of earth,

and have their friendship so intimate that at any time she might go to them and converse with them

and have their opinions upon matters of importance?

Through books we may, very intimately, know the wisest and best.

What a privilege this is!

With all these wonderful book friends we can understand what Jonathan Swift meant when he said,

“A wise man is never less alone than when he is alone.” “

We can all name at least one book that shaped our thoughts and filled our imagination with wonder and delight.

When I was about 12 years old, I clearly remember my mom lending me her 2 tiny, leather-bound books with the thinnest pages I had ever handled, and she told me to look after them carefully.

Little Women” and “Jane Eyre” were the first ‘grown-up’ books I read and I was transformed!  I sat upright (afraid I might crease the pages) and felt like a Victorian lady.  And those words … they painted pictures, characters came alive, I felt every emotion, and I was transported from my ordinary world into a time gone by.

And on the influence and choice of good books the author of  Beautiful Girlhood wrote,

“If a girl will choose her books from those whose ideals are high and whose language is pure and clean, unconsciously she will mould her life, like those portrayed in the books she reads.”

She presents these questions when a young person chooses a good book:

“Would I read this book aloud to my mother?” And I add, “Knowing Jesus is present listening?”

“Would I feel honoured in intimately knowing the people of this book in real life?”

“Would pure society approve of the conduct of these story characters? ”

“Can I profitably make my life pattern after the ideals I find here?”

“Would reading of this book help me better serve my Lord?”

My daughters and I tested these questions on books in our collection.  Almost all our books received the affirmative, but we giggled and realized some of our ‘fun’ books by Roald Dahl did not pass this test!  (None of polite society would approve of  The Twits! )

What other questions could you add to this questionnaire?

Charlotte Mason inspired Living Books.  Karen Andreola, in her book Charlotte Mason Companion says,

“The test of literature is that it must bring us truth, nobility, and beauty.

Literature must be somewhat intellectual and give us truth.

It must be ethical so that we are well-nourished with noble ideas.

It must be artistic and make its appeal through the emotions.”

Essential Classic Book Lists abound.  Here are a few:

Wikipedia’s book list

Ambleside Online provides an excellent book list for each year.

Simply Charlotte Mason has an online Bookfinder

Five J’ gives online databases for book lists.

Books make a wonderful birthday gift.  I like my children to build up their own private libraries!

Audio books are another great way of bringing great literature into your home.

A Picture of a Creative Zen X-Fi 2 MP3 player

Image via Wikipedia

Check through these sites:

I confess that my children don’t really enjoy some audio recordings.  They find the voices too bland and not expressive enough.  (I’m sure it’s because I try read aloud with expression and different accents!)

We enjoy listening to dramatized audio books in the car or while doing hand-work, arts and crafts.  I love listening to audiobooks while I iron.

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

These days, ebooks and Kindles (electronic readers) are a great way of saving space on the shelves, while still building up a collection!

Read Jimmie’s article on how they use their Kindles.  Check CurrClick for ebooks and downloads.

Make a practice of reading to your family every day.

Enjoy great books and inspire your children to love these books as friends.

8 thoughts on “Great Books … Great Friends

  1. Pingback: Inspired Imagination | Practical Pages

  2. Pingback: Inspired Imagination | Practical Pages

  3. Pingback: Read Alouds – The Homeschooling Glue « Practical Pages

  4. What a great list of resources, Nadene. There’s also a booklist at Excellence In Literature (, naturally!).

    One thing I’d add is that a great book is usually unforgettable. Something about it will stick, and sometimes many years after reading a book, you’ll encounter something that brings back the story, along with the emotions it evoked. What a delight!


  5. I came in from Homeschool Highlights, and I’m definitely getting some great food for thought from your post! And I heartily second the 1000 good books list. I’m working on cross referencing that list with the suggestions from The Well-Trained Mind, and then I just need to figure out how to take that & a list of the books I’ve already got with me when we go to the thrift shops… I’m frequently amazed at the classics they have at the thrift shops, for hardly any money at all!


  6. Nads, I must just add another resource for good books which you can find by google-ing “1000 good books” the nice thing about this list is that it is age/grade divided. We have it printed out and use it at the library as a guide.


  7. Lovely. Now, that may be too stingent a test for our library. Robin Hood wouldn’t likely pass nor likely these beginning chapters of Robinson Crusoe, but my kids have learned a lot about virtue through the escapades and folly of characters’ lives as well. But that list of questions would definitely leave out many worthless and tasteless novels. It is good to have high standards in literature.
    How dear that your kids are building their own personal libraries. My boys will often ask longingly, “Is this book for me forever, to keep?” Love that relationship with books.


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