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Question: I was wondering if you had any suggestions of classic novels for early high school that would be challenging without the inappropriate content.

Dear Mom,

Looking for good books can be time-consuming. Sometimes an author writes a wonderful book and then the next book has something doubtful either because the author has changed or is experimenting.

Bethlehem Books offers historical fiction that held the attention of my children: The Ides of April, Beorn the Proud, With Pipe, Paddle and Song, The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, The Red Keep, and the Borrowed House. 

The Classical Christian Curriculum Education Support Loop has a 1000 Good Books List broken down by age. Please note that this resource is not Catholic although some of the books listed were written by Catholic authors. You may want to preview these books first. Some of my family's favorite authors mentioned in this list are Gilbert K. Chesterton's Father Brown Stories, Charles Dickens, Jack London, Elizabeth George Speare (The Bronze Bow and Sign of the Beaver, which has one minor anti-Catholic reference), C.S. Lewis (The Space Trilogy for upper high school grades), Stephen Crane, Tolkien, Ellis Peters, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Isaac Bashevis Singer.

My children were also very fond of the entire Little Britches series written by Ralph Moody. These are wonderful historical stories about Mr. Moody's growing up in poverty, losing his father, and using his creativity and persistence to manage difficult circumstances. The family makes hard decisions, trying to do what is right. There is a section where Ralph and his friend steal chickens to survive, but that was the only episode that I can remember. Most of the time, he is bending over backwards to help people even when he knows his helpfulness may work against him. The Moody family is not Catholic, but they are strong Christians and this comes through in the writing. 

Happy Reading,

Sandra Garant

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