Isn’t There Anything I Can Read?

by JoAnn M. Britsch

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    “Isn’t there anything I can read?” I’ll bet I repeated that question at least a thousand times while I was in junior and senior high school. Usually I nagged my mom about books (in my very most “I’m bored” voice), but l also trekked to the public library every week or so. Sure, I spent hours in the library, but most of that time I simply stared at the shelves and shelves of books. I knew that somewhere in that maze of grayish bindings there had to be a book so enthralling that I could even forget posture and pimples for a while. I was not often that lucky! I wanted a good book desperately but knew that my random guessing usually produced stories so poorly written that not even I could finish them, or stories so filled with immorality that I was embarrassed to finish them. Sometimes I gathered all of my faltering courage and asked the librarian for help. She’d heard my question before and usually nodded her head and pointed “over there,” where I faced a bewildering college reading list filled with book titles that I couldn’t even pronounce.

    Through the years since then I have compiled a list of books that I and my own teenage children have especially enjoyed. There are many, many more books worth reading, including Church books, and some of your favorites may not be found on this list. But at least these books are acceptable to an English teacher, and to a mother, and they are good reading. Use them as a place to start.

    Adams, Richard
    Watership Down

    Alcott, Louisa May
    Little Women

    Aldrich, Bess Streeter
    Lantern in Her Hand

    Alexander, Lloyd
    Book of Three*

    Armstrong, William H.
    Sounder Sour Land

    Annixter, Paul

    Austen, Jane
    Pride and Prejudice

    Bagnold, Enid
    National Velvet

    Bickham, Jack
    Baker’s Hawk

    Blos, Joan
    A Gathering of Days

    Brontë, Charlotte
    Jane Eyre

    Brontë, Emily
    Wuthering Heights

    Buck, Pearl
    The Good Earth

    Burch, Robert
    Queenie Peavy

    Burnford, Sheila
    The Incredible Journey

    Byars, Betsy
    Summer of the Swans
    House of Wings
    Trouble River

    Cather, Willa
    My Antonia

    Clark, Ann N.
    Secret of the Andes

    Cleaver, Vera and Bill
    Where the Lillies Bloom

    Collins, Larry and Lapierre, Dominique
    Freedom at Midnight

    Cooper, James Fenimore
    Last of the Mohicans

    Cooper, Susan
    The Dark Is Rising*

    Conrad, Joseph
    The Secret Sharer

    Crane, Stephen
    The Red Badge of Courage

    Craven, Margaret
    I Heard the Owl Call My Name

    Daly, Maureen
    Seventeenth Summer

    Defoe, Daniel
    Robinson Crusoe

    deTrevino, Elizabeth
    I, Juan de Pareja

    Dickens, Charles
    David Copperfield
    Great Expectations
    Oliver Twist

    du Maurier, Daphne

    Edmunds, Walter
    Drums Along the Mohawk

    Eckert, Allan
    Incident at Hawks Hill

    Engdahl, Sylvia
    Enchantress from the Stars

    Farley, Walter
    Black Stallion

    Fast, Howard
    April Morning

    Fitzgerald, John D.
    The Great Brain*

    Forbes, Esther
    Johnny Tremain

    Fox, Paula
    The Slave Dancer

    Frank, Anne
    Diary of a Young Girl

    Fraser, Antonia
    Mary, Queen of Scots

    Freedman, Benedict and Nancy
    Mrs. Mike

    Gallico, Paul
    The Snow Goose

    Gipson, Fred
    Old Yeller

    George, Jean
    My Side of the Mountain

    Greene, Bette
    Summer of My German Soldier

    Hamilton, Virginia
    M. C. Higgens, the Great Planet of Junior Brown

    Hautzig, Esther
    The Endless Steppe

    Hemingway, Ernest M.
    The Old Man and the Sea

    Herriot, James
    All Creatures Great and Small

    Hersey, John

    Heyerdahl, Thor
    Kon Tiki

    Hunt, Irene
    Across Five Aprils
    Up a Road Slowly

    Keller, Helen
    The Story of My Life

    Key, Alexander
    Escape to Witch Mountain
    The Forgotten Door

    Kieth, Harold
    Rifles for Watie

    Kipling, Rudyard
    Captains Courageous

    Kjelgaard, James
    Big Red

    Knight, Eric
    Lassie Come Home

    Knowles, John
    A Separate Peace

    Konigsburg, Ellen L.
    From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
    Hecate Macbeth
    William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth

    Kroeber, Theodora
    Ishi, Last of His Tribe

    Krumgold, Joseph
    … And Now Miguel

    Lawson, Robert
    Ben and Me

    Lee, Harper
    To Kill a Mockingbird

    L’Engle, Madeline
    Wrinkle in Time*
    Meet the Austins

    LeGuin, Ursula
    Very Far from Anywhere Else
    Wizard of Earthsea*

    Lewis, C.S.
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe*

    London, Jack
    The Call of the Wild

    McCaffrey, Ann

    McCloskey, Robert
    Homer Price

    Meigs, Cornelia L.
    Invincible Louisa

    North, Sterling

    O’Brian, Robert
    Z for Zachariah
    Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of Nimh

    O’Dell, Scott
    Island of the Blue Dolphins
    Sing Down the Moon

    O’Hara, Mary
    Green Grass of Wyoming
    My Friend Flicka

    Orwell, George
    Animal Farm

    Paterson, Katherine
    Bridge to Terabithia

    Pease, Howard
    The Tattooed Man

    Peck, Robert Newton
    A Day No Pigs Would Die

    Rabe, Berniece
    The Orphans
    The Girl That Had No Name

    Raskin, Ellen
    The Westing Game

    Rawles, Lou
    Where the Red Fern Grows
    Summer of the Monkeys

    Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan
    The Yearling

    Richter, Conrad
    Light in the Forest

    Robinson, Barbara
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

    Rockwood, Joyce
    Long Man’s Song
    To Spoil the Sun

    Rogers, Mary
    Freaky Friday

    Sandburg, Carl
    Abe Lincoln Grows Up

    Schaefer, Jack Warner

    Sewell, Anna
    Black Beauty

    Silverstein, Shel
    Where the Sidewalk Ends

    Speare, Elizabeth George
    Witch of Blackbird Pond
    The Bronze Bow
    Calico Captive

    Sperry, Armstrong
    Call It Courage

    Steinbeck, John
    The Pearl

    Stevenson, Robert Louis
    Treasure Island

    Street, James
    Goodbye My Lady

    Swift, Jonathan
    Gulliver’s Travels

    Taylor, Theodore
    The Cay

    Ten Boom, Corrie
    The Hiding Place

    Tolkein, J.R.R.
    The Hobbit
    Lord of the Rings*

    Twain, Mark
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    Ullman, James Ramsey
    Banner in the Sky

    Verne, Jules
    Around the World in 80 Days
    Journey to the Center of the Earth
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

    Washington, Booker T.
    Up From Slavery

    Wells, H.G.
    The Time Machine

    West, Jessamyn
    Cress Delahanty

    White, Robb

    Wilder, Laura Ingalls
    Little House on the Prairie*

    Wojcechowska, Mara
    The Shadow of a Bull

    Wolfe, Thomas
    Look Homeward Angel

    Wyss, Johann David
    Swiss Family Robinson

    Yates, Elizabeth
    Amos Fortune, Free Man

    Zweig, Stefan
    Mary, Queen of Scotts

    Photo by Eldon Linschoten

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