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24 September 2008

1000 Good Books

John Senior said that students ought to read 1000 good books before they read the hundred great books. That it will help buffer them against being swept away from a more sure foundation by intellectual inquiry and pride onto much more sandy shores. I think it's a good concept.

The members of the Classical Christian Homeschool Support Loop kindly compiled a list of 1000 good books. Here's what they said about how they decided what to include:

This 1000 Good Books List is by no means exhaustive. It is a listing of the books that 25 homeschooling mothers have come up with over the course of a year’s time through discussions of criteria to use in choosing a good book, ... The criteria we used to judge inclusion are: Does the book have literary value? Does the book re-emphasize a Biblical worldview or the Judeo-Christian heritage in some way? Does the book teach, through whatever means, what is moral or just or true? Does the book encourage to love and good works? Does the book exemplify warmth, tenderness, courage, humor, and other values and characteristics that we desire our children to be exposed to? Does the book nourish the intellect and fire the imagination? Does the book cross age barriers to be enjoyed by all?


The idea of 1000 good books before a smaller number of truely great - not only in literature, but great in foundational ideas to western civilization - is one that appeals to me. The idea that the 1000 good books listed by the kind women of the support loop are the only ones you should read (which is an idea that I have heard) is, to my mind, just silly. Susan Wise Bauer talks about the perils of list making in The Well Trained Mind, but I've loaned out my copy & can't post the exact quote. Essentially, she says that no matter how much thought and effort you put into a list you'll always miss something that's really good and always someone will think that something you did include should not have been. And she's right: lists can only be a starting place. But I like the 1000 good books list those ladies came up with. The books that I know seem to be mostly pretty good. (Though I've never figured out why it is that Moby Dick keeps turning up on these lists. I tried that one and hated it. But there you have it. Just like Bauer said.) So I'm taking the list and turning it into a google document to track what both Monkey and I have read. It's a big project, but one of the charms of this list is that it includes about 200 picture books. No need to wait for Monkey to "start school." I just love that.

And because no list is perfect, I'm adding a section: Extra Favorites. If you peek at my document, the extra titles are off to the left a bit. There's not many there yet, but the list is young yet. Give it time.


tanyainidaho said...

I was searching for information about Mr. Senior's book list, and happened upon your site. I love your google documents! So very helpful. I hope I can somehow make copies of them for myself and use them. Thank you for taking the time to put them together.

Ritsumei said...

Welcome to my little corner of the internet. So glad the document is useful to you!


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