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What’s Up with Reading Lists?

September 9, 2016

reading lists

What’s up with Reading Lists?

Every student should have a high school reading list as part of their college admission package. Each will be a unique reading list that reflects the child’s unique abilities and interests. Online you can find many sites with reading lists for the college bound.  They should not be used as to do lists, though.

Personal reading lists vary widely – depending on the child and how much the child loves to read. Some kids are doing well to read six books a year, and others may read 60. Because my own children are voracious readers, I chose to make reading lists broken down a year at a time. In other words, you may want to keep a reading list for freshman year and a different list for sophomore year. When I child is not so voracious about reading, then you probably want to have a single reading list for the entire high school period.

However you break it down, the reading list includes everything the child reads: reading for school (such as Jane Austen book), reading for pleasure (such as Harry Potter books), personal interests (acres and acres of chess books, for instance), professional reading (PC World Magazine, for instance), and audio books. Your child’s list includes everything!

An “everything” list can be stressful when your child reads a lot. Believe me, with a voracious reader you don’t need to include every single book they read for an entire high school period. You merely want to get enough books on the list to communicate a well read, voracious reader. For this reason, if your child has forgotten to write in their book list for a few months, but they still have a ton of other books on the list, you don’t need to worry about it.

The “everything” list can be helpful for a child who hates reading as well. A very small reading list for freshman year can indicate a possible area for improvement for the following year. It may start with a conversation like, “Honey, six books aren’t enough. What can we do to increase the number of books you read this coming year?” By keeping a reading list, even a short reading list, you will be able to assess the situation and make adjustments.

You can see an example of a reading list on my website here: Sample Reading List

Those of you who use Sonlight Curriculum will recognize some of the books, but you can see that many other books are included as well. My reading list was just for my children, based on their interests. It included books they were required to read for school and also included books they loved to read for fun. I didn’t include textbooks, because my children read so much I didn’t need to fill out the list even more, but I know that some homeschoolers do include textbooks. My example of a reading list is for one year, but the reading list included all their reading for an entire 12 month period and my kids are prolific readers.  Your reading lists should not look the same – they should reflect your child.

I used books in the reading list to make course descriptions. My course description included the text used, plus the books my child read as a supplement, as well as anything they did for that class.

Again, my reading list isn’t meant to be a to do list, but one child’s reading history. Your reading list should look completely different, and should represent your child’s own reading history.




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Please note: This post was originally published in August 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


  1. Lisa says:

    Good advice! I need to start keeping an annual reading list for my boys too, as they love to read! I’ve been writing the books in our homeschool planner as they are completed, but it would be useful to have all the books in one list. I also keep track of my books in the planner to see how much I have read in a year.

    August 24th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

  2. Beth says:

    My daughter has always been a lover of books. We are now in our 6 year of homeschooling and she is in the 10th grade. What I do for reading is create a list for school (English, History, Geography, etc) and then introduce her to other authors by what I read.

    I rave and rave about how wonderful a particular book was explaining why I loved it; then I suggest she may find it a great read too. This usually works with most books.

    I have found that once she reads one book by the author she will want to read more. Or another book set in that time period, etc. I have a hard time keeping up with all the books she reads (outside of school) because she loves reading.

    Thankfully she has even been willing to re-read a book for school and go deeper in the discussion.

    August 25th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

  3. J W says:

    A lot of kids have been turned off to reading by the books that are standard school fare. As adults, they now say they haven’t opened a book since high school or college. Frankly, I don’t blame them. Granted, I could have looked up from the aliens-blowing-up-planets and unicorns-rescuing-maidens books from time to time. And yes, here was an occasional bright light (O. Henry, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, John Stienbeck, Jack London, Shakespeare and numerous other poets). But much of the literature I had to read, I still shudder at the thought of! I’d love it if someone would put together a “great literature” list that any college would be satisfied with… A list that favors Jane Austen and Mark Twain over Samuel Beckett and Kafka, if you know what I mean? There must be more good authors out there that I haven’t even heard of!

    August 27th, 2009 at 7:30 pm

  4. Heart of the Matter Online – bridging the gap between child and parent says:

    [...] have a unique reading list that can reflect their unique abilities and interests. Lee presents What’s Up With Homeschool Reading Lists? posted at The HomeScholar [...]

    September 29th, 2009 at 3:01 am

  5. Jennifer says:

    I had never thought to just keep a running list of what we have read for their school careers/year. What an inspiring idea!

    September 29th, 2009 at 4:02 pm

  6. Tweets that mention Reading lists: Tools for #education, student motivation, & #assessment via #homeschool #teachers — says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew Wetzel, Andrew Wetzel. Andrew Wetzel said: "You just want to get enough books on the list to say 'well read voracious reader.' " #literacy #kidlit [...]

    January 31st, 2010 at 9:02 am

  7. tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations says:

    I have a prolific reader and she is 12 y.o. She’s already doing some work at HS level – the stuff that she really enjoys like Biology and Reading. I have kept record of her reading lists for years now. If she were to go into college early, could I use those books even if she’s just in 6th grade? How do kids skip a grade in homeschool?

    April 13th, 2015 at 1:11 pm

  8. Assistant to The HomeScholar says:

    Hi Tereza,
    Of course, the expectations are different for every college, but Lee talks often about keeping track of high school level work done in middle school. I think you will like these articles:
    College Bound Reading List
    Earning Early High School Credit in Homeschool
    You might really like this parent training course too! Best High School Guidance Counselor (Online Training)
    I hope that helps!
    Assistant to The HomeScholar

    April 15th, 2015 at 4:37 pm

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