The Well-Rounded Reading List for a High School Student

If you homeschool high schoolers, you know that it’s important for them to have a well-rounded reading list as a part of their language arts curriculum each year.

WorldLitBooksBut how do you decide what to put on that reading list?

While any of a plethora of deserving books might make your list for next year, here are some categories to help you make sure you don’t neglect an important area in your child’s reading development.

* Fiction.  This is a no-brainer for a lot of homeschools, but remember that reading well-written fiction is very important for building, in particular, “reading for interpretation” and “reading for inference” skills.  (See my post “How Many Ways Can You Read This?” and download the FREE notes from my literature workshop HERE in the Ebookstore.)

* Non-fiction like biographies, historical and political books, “self-help” instructional books, and books on a subject like computers, or baseball, or veterinary medicine. This category is especially helpful for a reluctant reader; while she may not be enthusiastic about novels, she might get jazzed to read a book on a subject that really interests her, reading for the enjoyment of the information rather than the joy of the story.

* Bible.  Yes indeed, reading the Bible actually counts as reading as well as spiritual instruction.  And because the Bible is the living word of God, it can improve our children’s minds more than any other type of reading they attempt.

* Classic Literature.  We probably all assume that this is an important category, but if your child is NOT a voracious reader, you may find exposing him to classic literature daunting.  If so, consider choosing a book that had a decent movie version made from it, and watch the movie first to get an overall understanding of where the book is going.  Then read the book with a study guide in front of you; the structure of the questions in a study guide can really help your student get a lot out of the experience of the novel without feeling overwhelmed.

* Contemporary Literature.  This category is more likely to be overlooked by homeschoolers; we love the idea of sticking with the classics!  But if our children are going to be equipped to be in the world (but not of it) after graduation, they need exposure to well-written contemporary literature.  Keep your ears open to hear what books people you respect are talking about, then search on the internet for that book title and see what the discussion about it is.  Does it sound like it doesn’t have a slew of spiritual “red flags” attached to it?  Read it first, or read it along with your child and you may have some tremendous conversation as you encounter a new book together.

onestep* Persuasive materials.  Everything on your student’s book list doesn’t have to be actual books.  Evaluation skills in reading will really be sharpened by reading persuasive texts.  Persuasive essays and satire, newspaper articles and even intelligent discussion on an internet forum are important inclusions in your child’s reading experience.  Just log the approximate length of the pieces, and when you have the equivalent of about 100 pages of text, there’s no reason not to count that as if it were a book….publishers do it all the time and call it “The Collected Something-or-Other!”

* Catalog-style information, Instructional Manuals, and Scientific Information.  All of these types of writing cause your student to use her brain to read for information, to scan, to make quick decisions about what she is reading.  I have a child who was a strong story-reader, and I was shocked to find well into high school that we had neglected this type of reading, and following an instruction manual, or quickly scanning an article for key points was a weak skill.  It’s one of the greatest life-skill applications of reading, and it shouldn’t be neglected.

What are some of your NOT-to-be-MISSED categories for reading?

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