Twaddle-Free Literature by Grade Level

(This reading list is simply my personal idea of twaddle-free reading — it isn’t the Twaddle-free Gospel.) :-)

Living Books = books that are well-written and engaging–they absorb the reader–the narrative and characters “come alive”; living books are the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.
Twaddle = dumbed down literature; absence of meaning

I’ve included direct links to the books on so you can browse the reviews of other readers to get a better idea of which books would be appropriate for your home and/or classroom. Just click on the book’s title for further information. also offers free shipping on orders above a particular amount (usually $25), so if you have several books you’d like to order, it can be just as inexpensive to buy from Amazon as to order through your local bookstore. Plus you get the fun of having books delivered to your door — that’s always big excitement at my house! :-)

The age designations for this list are only approximate. A child’s listening level will often be several grades higher than their personal reading levelfeel free to choose books from an older list if you’re planning on reading aloud to your children. My husband and I began reading aloud to our children from chapter books (such as Charlotte’s Web) before their third birthdays. Don’t under-estimate your child’s ability to comprehend or listen to fairly advanced material.


Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
The Original Mother Goose, illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright
Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant, by Jean de Brunhoff
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Kindergarten / Grade 1

Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish
Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban
Billy and Blaze, by C.W. Anderson
A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams
Corduroy, by Don Freeman
The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh
Curious George, by H.A. Rey
Frog and Toad All Year, by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad are Friends, by Arnold Lobel
Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
Little Bear, by Else Homelund Minarik
The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper
The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton
Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown
Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack

Grade 2

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Railway Children, by E. Nesbit
The Random House Book of Fairy Tales, by Amy Ehrlich
Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Marjery Williams
Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

Grade 3

Baby Island, by Carol Ryrie Brink
Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry
Owls in the Family, by Farley Mowat
Paul Bunyan, by Steven Kellogg
Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter
Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, by Clyde Robert Bulla
Story of Dr. Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White

Grade 4

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
King Arthur, by Roger Lancelyn Green
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, by Allen French
The Sword in the Stone, by T.H. White
Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois
Redwall, by Brian Jacques
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Grade 5

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.
Gentle Ben, by Walt Morey
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
Lad: A Dog, by Albert Payson Terhune
Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

Grade 6

Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy), by J.R.R. Tolkien
White Fang, by Jack London
The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Grade 7

Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain
Sounder, by William H. Armstrong
Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Grade 8

Christy, by Catherine Marshall
David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
The Divine Comedy, by Dante
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
Emma, by Jane Austen
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
Paradise Lost, by John Milton
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Grade 9

1984, by George Orwell
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemmingway
The Pilgrim’s Regress, by C.S. Lewis
The Pit and the Pendulum, by Edgar Allen Poe
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Grade 10 – 12

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
The City of God, by Augustine
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ, by Lew Wallace
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
Guilliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hinds’ Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard
The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
The Odyssey, by Homer
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
Silas Marner, by George Eliot
The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee


Click on the book titles to order directly from Amazon.comthe world’s largest on-line bookstore. Many titles are offered at significantly reduced prices from the recommended list price (often at 10 – 30% off).

Many of the listed books also qualify for free shipping (providing that you meet minimum order requirements). With free shipping, the prices can be even less expensive than buying from a local bookstore … but you also have the added convenience of never even leaving the house! I personally get a thrill seeing the UPS driver walking up to my front door with a box full of brand new books.


One response to “Twaddle-Free Literature by Grade Level

  1. Pingback: Natural Nature Learning « Common Sense Homeschooling

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