Where the Really Good Reading Materials Are

Have you ever thought about having your child read the classics but didn’t know where to begin?  You could go to the Internet and pull up a list of great books for children and see story books such as Pinocchio and Treasure Island.  These are certainly enjoyable for students both younger and older.  But, beyond the classical stories and fairy tales there is a whole body of wonderful ancient and modern literature that is mostly inaccessible to the average person.

While we may want to read something by Adam Smith, author of “The Wealth of Nations” the average person has enough time to read only a few entire books.  We long for ourselves and for our children to be able to read the best of the best but don’t know where to begin and the reading itself seems overwhelming.

My parents, who were historians, owned bookstores that specialized in historical and often rare books.  Many times they gave me books as gifts.  I always enjoyed these well thought out book presents and recognized that I was being given tremendous gifts that most people have never heard about.  One of my favorite book gifts was The Harvard Classics.  These books are very expensive and most sets are close to one hundred years old.  One Christmas, I was given an entire set of Harvard Classics.  They were in relatively good condition, but were still old and musty.  I had my teenage daughter read these and she sneezed constantly while reading.

However, the wonderful musty books were not the best part of the gift.  During her book hunting adventures, my mother had discovered the Reading Guide to the Harvard Classics.  This treasure is so amazing I just had to tell you about it.  Instead of having to read through some sixty books, the famous editor, Dr. Charles Eliot created a calendar of fifteen minute readings, one for each day of the year.  He knew the literature so well, that he could recommend the most interesting passages without a student having to read all the way through the entire books.  Let’s be honest, not every page in every book is a gem, but we don’t usually know where the great parts are, so we have to read everything to find the diamonds.  That’s why I love this reading guide so much.  My child can read a passage a day and be exposed to the greatest literature in the world, in just fifteen minutes a day.  And every selection is a real gem!

What happened to my set of Harvard Classics?  Sadly, I had to get rid of them.  I could not read them without sneezing and getting headaches.  I thought about replacing them but hesitated because they are so expensive to replace.  Besides, like you, I just don’t have room in my house for all the books I would like to own.  These books took up two entire shelves of precious space!

Now here is the exciting part!  I discovered not only the Reading Guide online, but also, the entire suggested passages to print or read online!  For FREE, and without having to handle old musty books, you can have your child read something really important for just fifteen minutes every day. If you only read four days a week, there are enough selections to last almost two years.  These passages also make great material for assigning writing projects.

Even though I use some great literature books, these reading selections are a thousand times better. I recommend these classical reading selections for students who are fairly good readers ages thirteen through eighteen years old.  Or, consider reading each daily selection aloud to the entire family.  So, here is the link to start you on a journey of great classical literature for you and your children’s education and entertainment.

The Harvard Classics: Fifteen Minutes a Day Reading Guide


Randi St. Denis is an educator, popular homeschool speaker, and a seasoned homeschooling mom. Randi works as a consultant to public, private, and homeschool families; providing teaching expertise and assistance for all types of children. You can visit her website at ChicagoHomeschoolExpo.com.

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