Book List: 1000 Good Books

Rating: ★★★★☆

Classical education, as described on Christine Miller’s homeschooling support website, grew out of ideas from Dorothy Sayers’ essay The Lost Tools of Learning.  These ideas were developed and promoted in Douglas Wilson’s books Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and The Case for Classical Christian Education.  Miller’s website is devoted to promoting and providing resources for classical homeschooling; many of the resources are collaboratively compiled through an associated support loop made up of 25 homeschooling families.

The classical approach tailors education to a student’s cognitive development, emphasizing a trivium of concrete, analytical, and abstract thinking, relatively, for grade school, middle school, and high school.  The trivium emphasizes Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, with a rich exposure to the history and culture of Western Civilization, ultimately with a view toward developing a Biblical worldview.

The support loop identifies a list of 100 Great Books as having been most influential in the formation of Western Civilization.  They say these books contribute to the Great Discussion, which

is the expounding of our ideas about God, about man, about family, about society, and government, and what is good, and what is evil, and other important philosophical questions that man has been wrestling with from the beginning, and is still wrestling with today, and will be wrestling with in future generations.

These parents believe the Great Books of Western Civilization and of the Christian tradition ars beneficial to students not only for their own benefit, but also because students must understand the philosophical underpinnings of our society to be able to influence their peers in a positive way.

Before encountering the Great Books, the parents who make up the support loop recommend that children be exposed to “Good Books.”  Citing John Senior’s The Restoration of Christian Culture, they define Good Books as those which are “rich in literary style, warm and tender and humorous and virtuous, good and moral and true;” books that emphasize a Biblical worldview and that are able to engage readers of all ages. They maintain that if young hearts and minds are formed by Good Books, the readers will be well able to engage the most influential ideas of Western Culture because they will be equipped with an experiential knowledge of biblical truth.

The website offers a list of 1000 Good Books.  It is organized according to four reading levels (Primary, Elementary, Junior, and Senior), and within each level are general sub-groupings according to the type of book (such as Anthologies, Readers, Holiday Books, Literature).  The titles are presented with author and title only, with no commentary, although those deemed particularly good for reading aloud are marked.  Where the text to a book is available online, a link is provided.

This extensive list provides a great wealth of titles, including much of the best in youth literature, but is not as selective as some other lists.  It cannot be easily searched for particular topics or themes, and in some cases it is questionable whether all the titles meet the stated criteria.  Still, as a starter list it is an excellent resource, especially where the titles overlap with an annotated list.

In my reviews I have used the list published in 2007.  Some changes have been made to its structure and content since then, but it remains essentially very similar.

Click here for reviews of titles recommended by this list.

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Publication Information: Miller, Christine. 1000 Great Books. . .
Categories: 4 Stars, Reviews of Book Lists
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Posted on April 7, 2009

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