Guide for the Catholic Reader: Selected Reading List, Rubric, and Rationale for Catholic Education


Guide for the Catholic Reader

Selected Reading List, Rubric, and Rationale for Catholic Education

Denise L. Donohue, Ed.D., and Daniel P. Guernsey, Ed.D. 


Preface This guide is designed especially for Catholic education broadly—including parents, diocesan and school leaders, teachers, librarians, homeschool curriculum publishers, and textbook publishers—and draws upon The Cardinal Newman Society’s Policy Standards on Literature and the Arts in Catholic Education. The guide focuses first on the purpose and goals of literature in Catholic elementary and secondary education. It then provides guidance for readers on how to approach a text. This is followed by a rubric to help determine which texts are best suited for Catholic education and to ensure that selection criteria are clear, understood by all, and targeted to the integral Christian formation of students.   The final section is a limited recommended reading list, which is mostly confined to better-known, time-tested works. These have been selected for a variety of reasons including their beauty, their cultural and historical significance, their suitability for examining the human condition in light of Catholic sensibilities, their capability to inspire virtue or warn against vice, their ability to elucidate other times and cultures to better understand our own, their capacity to entertain and inspire, and their fitness to guide the moral imagination. The list is not exhaustive but represents some reading selections used by schools recognized by The Cardinal Newman Society for their exemplary Catholic identity.   There is a limited amount of time in one childhood to read literature, so selections should come from the best books. These books should be read “fruitfully,” doing more than finding the main points so as to answer computer-based or multiple- choice questions. Students should enjoy the experience of reading, understand and identify with characters, grow in virtue, and expand their imagination, empathy, and creativity.  

Rationale for the Selection of Literature in Catholic Education

Catholic education seeks to “bring human wisdom into an encounter with divine wisdom,”1 cultivate “in students the intellectual, creative, and aesthetic faculties of the human person,” prepare them for professional life and to take on the duties of society and the Church, and introduce a cultural heritage.2 Literature is an essential tool in Catholic education, helping impart “a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture, and of history” and an ordering of “the whole of human culture to the news of salvation.”3  

Literature “strive[s] to make known the proper nature of man, his problems and his experiences in trying to know and perfect both himself and the world.”4  

Because Catholic education strives for the perfection of its students and the world, literature is a natural and important part of that mission. At its best, it invites truthful exploration of the human condition and development of the aesthetic sense of the soul.   Catholic education does not teach reading simply for reading’s sake or for its utility. Catholic educators teach reading so students can access, evaluate, and experience the knowledge, wisdom, beauty, and insights of others. Truths distilled from this information can then be applied to their individual quest for truth, holiness, and salvation and shared with others in pursuit of the common good.   Literature provides rich material for reflection on essential questions such as: “What is the meaning of life?” “What is the nature of my relationship, rights, and duties to God and to others?” “Is this a thing of beauty or value?” “Is this representative of good or evil?” In this way, literature is foundational to Catholic education’s culture and faith-based mission.  

Literature is selected to advance the mission of Catholic education through a “critical, systematic transmission of culture”5 guided by a Christian vision of reality.6  

Catholic education seeks to critically and systematically transmit culture, and so it turns to works of literature and the arts that explicitly or implicitly transmit and form culture and values. The academic community, inspired by a Catholic vision of reality, must thoughtfully and deliberately craft a complete program that provides the right literature, music, art, and drama at the developmentally right time and integrate it with the cultural and idea-shaping materials students encounter in all academic areas, moving students to see the beauty and inner harmony of all knowledge as ultimately coming from the one transcendent Truth, God Himself. Additionally, in Catholic education the critical and systematic transmission of culture occurs “in the light of faith.”7 This requirement precludes simply presenting a wide variety of literature, arts, and music based simply on individual faculty or staff training or preference. Catholic educators should not simply expose students to random popular works in hopes these might attract immature fancy or spark debate. Careful curation and guidance are needed to avoid possible confusion, error, indifference, or despair. Young people encountering weighty issues antithetical to the faith and without proper guidance may be manipulated by outside forces or their own youthful presumption, impertinence, or prejudice.   It is the role of a Catholic educator to suggest and model a response to the critical questions provoked in carefully chosen works in order to provide a coherent and consistent Catholic understanding to help youth manage their shifting viewpoints and come to a mature and freely-chosen understanding of reality and its faith-based moorings.8 The Catholic teacher is model and mentor, not an aloof and uncommitted purveyor of unevaluated content. All literature must be critically and systematically evaluated and transmitted in the light of faith.  

Because Catholic education’s mission is different from that of secular schools, its libraries and its selection and use of literature should reflect these differences and serve the higher aims of Catholic education.  

The mission of Catholic education is uniquely focused on the integral formation of students’ minds, hearts, and bodies in truth, health, and holiness. Catholic education is committed to the pursuit of truth and seeks to explore the harmony between truth and beauty. Catholic education is also concerned with the eternal salvation of its students and Christian service to promote the good.9 Catholic educators should approach literature with an eye toward the impact it has on this mission and the right ordering of the intellect, will, imagination, and spirit.   The exploration of literature in Catholic education must never work against the mission by leading students into sin, driving them to despair, or impairing their ability to understand and serve the common good. This concern is greatest in the youngest ages, while older students can be carefully assisted to make right choices and judgments through reading works that present increasingly complex and even mistaken material. Care should always be taken to avoid confusion and scandal. Catholic educators should place priority on publications of substantial quality and educational value, including Catholic spiritual formation. Great care must be exercised as older students grow in their awareness and exposure to man in his fallen state. Such knowledge can then be used to better serve the redemptive and evangelical role that Catholic education also serves.10   In Catholic education, curricular programs and school libraries ought not simply replicate their secular counterparts. Their mission is not to present uncritically all possible human thought and viewpoints, but to present the best literature critically and in the context of a Catholic worldview. Students, in a developmentally appropriate way, need to be exposed to seminal works of literature, drama, and poetry.11 Catholic educators can make use of non-Christian sources and of books which present non-Catholic understandings of critical human issues, but these should not remain unchallenged or leave students spiritually or humanly damaged in the process. Accounts of the human experience that are opposed to a Christian understanding of the world can be appropriate for older students who are well-formed and have a good foundation.

Such accounts may at times be edgy and uncomfortable but must not be extreme, they should not be left unchallenged, and they should not put a student at spiritual or emotional risk. A Christian humanism, founded in the Catholic intellectual tradition that focuses on the best in literature and the arts, can provide for a balanced approach in forming students to critically examine their contemporary experiences.   Finally, it must also be remembered that literature, and especially Western literature, is not just a tool for personal and spiritual formation but a field of study in itself. Especially at the upper high school level, works of literature need to be considered as distinct elements in particular academic fields, with its own specific logic and methodology of design, study, and evaluation. Students should learn to appreciate the works’ historical development and interactions. Great works of literature are not only tools of human formation and artifacts helpful in the development of academic knowledge but also works of artistic merit. Students should also be taught to interpret and value a work of literature on its own terms.

Checklist for the Selection of Literature

The following is a checklist that may be helpful to educators choosing literature for courses and general reading. The selection of literature in Catholic education should:

  • support the mission of Catholic education;
  • have enduring value and educational significance and be more for intellectual, moral, inspirational, and artistic weight than for entertainment, popularity, appearance on reading or award lists, or enticing students to read;
  • assist the student to a right ordering of the intellect, will, imagination, and emotions in the pursuit and understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness;
  • include evaluation of themes and events in terms of Catholic norms, values, and worldview so as to provide insight into a Catholic understanding of the human person in his redeemed and unredeemed state and in his relationship to God, family, and others;
  • be free of significant and shocking profanity;
  • be free of explicit discussion, presentation, or description of sexuality, sexual activity, or sexual fantasy;
  • not be a proximate cause of sinful thoughts or actions, or a pathway to the occult;
  • not be contrary to truth;
  • not be a temptation to despair or diminish faith; and
  • be read under the guidance of a knowledgeable and spiritually formed adult particularly when controversial, emotional, or otherwise sensitive material is If assigned for summer reading, parents are made aware of any sensitive material and agree to take on this role.

Because a student is generally not able to opt out of major literature assignments, and because there is a myriad of possible materials that can meet a Catholic school’s literature goals, there are many selections that satisfy educational objectives. If exceptions are made, they should be limited to extraordinary circumstances, with primary concern for the student’s purity and formation and with approval from top administrators.  

Addressing Possible Questions

Question: We want our library holdings to be broad and varied, not limited by Catholic sensitivities or by only weighty content. Shouldn’t we let students read and view what interests them, not what we pre-determine for them?

Response: Educators do not take this view when a school provides lunch or snacks. We give students a choice of healthy options suited to the conditions. If the goal is just to get kids to put something in their mouths, then cotton candy and soda will undoubtedly serve this end better than carrots and grapes. But if the goal is to teach them to appreciate healthy, natural food and build their physical well-being and strength, then candy and chips (which are not bad in and of themselves) may get in the way of something better like juice and crackers. In the same way, we want rich and varied literature and art which will help build the health of students’ minds, souls, and imaginations. Cynical, dark, titillating, disordered, vain, bitter, or completely frivolous fiction may get in the way of an encounter with more difficult but meaningful and formative materials, which serve a higher end. There are more good and great books and art to experience than any one student can handle, so there is no shortage of material to take the place of the mediocre, meaningless, or malformed material flooding much of the market today.


Question: Shouldn’t we let the English teachers decide for their classrooms and the librarian decide for the library? They are the content experts, after all.


Response: Curriculum and library holdings should be driven by the mission of Catholic education, not by varied teacher strengths and interests or a librarian who may or may not be intensely knowledgeable of the curriculum and mission. The curriculum transcends departments and teachers. It is a function of the whole academic community, in service to the school’s Catholic mission. The administration and faculty must work together to ensure mission integrity and the complete Catholic nature of the institution. They must also ensure that it is effectively imparting a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture, and of history, which transcends all departments and individual disciplines. They cannot in false humility assert lack of competence or vision but must engage both the academic and faith communities in open discussion about the curriculum and library holdings in light of the Catholic mission. The administration and faculty must also ensure the necessary integration among the various academic disciplines which, because they all seek knowledge and truth, comes from God and finds perfection and truth in their unified source. As St. John Henry Newman observed, the various disciplines “have multiplied bearings one on another, and an internal sympathy, and admit, or rather demand, comparison and adjustment. They complete, correct, and balance each other.”12

Question: Shouldn’t teachers design their own courses and teach books they like and are familiar with? This will help make teaching stronger and more engaging.


Response: Teachers should model the “life-long learning” that is the goal of all schools. As discipline experts they are well-trained to examine and deliver new content (whether
of their choosing or not) within the discipline. This content should be set by the school as a whole in line with its Catholic mission. Most Catholic English teachers were trained in secular English departments and are most familiar with works encountered there. The Catholic school must not shy away from asking teachers to master and skillfully teach works that are outside of the purview of modern, secular English departments. They must be trained and prepared to deliver rich works from the Catholic cultural and intellectual tradition and ensure that classic works from outside that tradition are critically examined from a Catholic worldview. The Catholic intellectual tradition includes works of literature and art (e.g., The Illiad, The Aeneid, the works of Milton and C.S. Lewis) that, while not Catholic and even containing problematic elements, have been found to foster authentic cultural, spiritual, and social development for Catholics and indeed all of humanity.


Question: Many schools stock library books that are recommended by major library associations, have won Newberry awards, or are very popular right now according to
major publishers. Don’t the kids need to read these?


Response: No, they do not. Each of these sources of influence have their own agendas, viewpoints, and cultures that they are advancing—some even in direct opposition to
the Church’s goals. Especially in young adult fiction, book awards are given to works promoting abortion and homosexuality (e.g., Skim and This One Summer by Mariko
Tamaki). To advance the Catholic mission, librarians can carefully select among thousands of books. They should do so thoughtfully with mission in mind, not slavishly based on fashion, popularity, or dubious authority. Catholic librarians’ criteria are how well the holdings serve the Catholic mission, knowing that students have access to virtually all these books on their own through the internet or public library, should they be so inclined to actively seek them out. Catholic education should develop in students a Catholic sensibility, so that they can make good judgments about what is worthwhile. But it takes time and focus to do so.

Guidance in Approaching a Text

Before students begin a text, it is helpful that teachers provide a list of questions, items, or concepts to identify as they read. These might be guided by essential questions, or they might come from the Transcendental Taxonomy13 created by The Cardinal Newman Society to draw out the truth, goodness, and beauty (or their opposites) in any text or study. They might also focus on basic questions such as:  

  • Are there acts of virtue and vice presented in the text, and how does the author portray these acts throughout the text?
  • What are the assumptions or propositions the author makes about the nature of man, God, family, society, and creation?
  • What major emotions do you feel while reading certain sections of the text, especially the end?
  • How does the author approach God’s graciousness, presence, and transcendence?
  • Is there a deeper meaning the author is trying to convey here?
  • Is there anything in this text that elevates my soul to God?

Instruct the students in how to annotate the text. Have them always read with a pencil or pen in hand and liberally highlight, underline, mark, or make comments in the margins about:

  • things that delight them;
  • things they find discomforting or confusing;
  • phrases or descriptions they find striking or beautiful;
  • significant passages they believe seem to capture the main themes of the text/author; and
  • passages which might help them identify any focus concepts or essential

These highlights can help them anchor their later class discussions and writings in the text and provide points to develop deeper exploration. Other questions to consider:

  • Imagine your favorite saint just read this What would be the points of conversation between the two of you?
  • What characters attracted you/repulsed you, and why?
  • How does this measure up in terms of a Catholic worldview, values, and human redemption?
  • Sum up “the moral of the story” in one sentence from the author’s point of view, and, if different, your own.
  • Did reading the text reveal to you anything new about yourself or help you grow in any way?


Holistic Rubric for Selecting Literature in Catholic Education

Compare the literature selection to the description provided in each box and circle the score that most closely applies to your selection. A compelling reason must be given for a score of 2 along with supports to mitigate areas of concern. Should the selection fall in the ‘1’ category, another choice needs to be made.    

Score Description
    4 Excellent Choice There are multiple or significant timeless themes presented which: transcend culture and poli- tics, allow for a richer and deeper understanding of humanity, and lend themselves to profound discussion about authentic truth and reality from a Catholic worldview. The work powerfully provokes a deeper understanding of virtue (or the destructive consequences of the lack thereof) and its effects on human flourishing. The work is uniquely suited to assist the student to a right ordering of the imagination, passions, and emotions. The work has significant artistic weight and strong intellectual merit. The writing is very well crafted and can serve as a model for student emulation. The work has been read for generations. There is no profanity. There is no blasphemy. There is no description of sexual activity or sexual fantasy. The content does not diminish the student’s faith or innocence or lead the student to sin or despair. The instructor is expertly equipped to provide a Catholic perspective on content and themes.
    3 Good Choice There are themes presented which: transcend culture and politics, allow for a deeper under- standing of humanity, and lend themselves to discussion about authentic truth and reality from a Catholic worldview. The work allows for discussion of virtue (or the destructive consequences of the lack thereof) and its effects on human flourishing. The work assists the student to a right ordering of the imagination, passions, and emotions. The work has artistic merit and intellectual merit. The writing is well crafted. The work is likely to be read by future generations. There is no shocking or significant profanity. There is no blasphemy. There is no description of sexual activity or sexual fantasy. The content does not diminish the student’s faith or innocence or lead the student to sin or despair. The instructor is effectively equipped to provide a Catholic perspective on all essential content and themes.
    2 Fair Choice Themes are primarily cultural and political, somewhat limiting discussion about transcendent concerns. Discussion about authentic truth and reality from a Catholic worldview is possible but not forefront. The work allows for discussion of virtue (or the destructive consequences of the lack thereof) but its impact on human flourishing is ambiguous and/or ambivalent. Disorder in the work may somewhat confuse the student’s passions or emotions. The work is currently popular in some English or liberal arts courses but has not yet proven its staying power over time. There is no shocking or significant profanity. There is ambivalence or neutrality toward the Catholic faith. There is no excessive or explicit description of sexual activity or sexual fantasy. The content does not diminish the student’s faith or innocence or lead the student to sin or despair. The instructor is adequately equipped to provide a Catholic perspective on most content and themes.
  1 Poor Choice Themes are primarily cultural and political, limiting discussion about transcendent concerns. Discussion about authentic truth and reality from a Catholic worldview is significantly impeded by a worldview that is provocatively and enticingly anti-Christian. Virtue and vice are confused, ridiculed, or presented as inconsequential. Disorder in the work is not resolved or leads the student’s passions or emotions astray. The work is culturally popular, but rarely found in school curricula, and has not yet proven its staying power over time. There is shocking and explicit violence. There is shocking or significant profanity. The work is blasphemous. There is excessive or explicit description of sexual activity or sexual fantasy. The content may diminish the student’s faith or innocence or lead the student to sin or despair. The instructor is insufficiently equipped to provide a Catholic perspective on all content and themes.


See pg. 10 of PDF for evaluation form


Selected Reading List for Catholic K-12 Students

  This list suggests options for Catholic educators and is not intended as an exhaustive list of all possible texts. Titles with an asterisk (*) are suggested for use when using The Cardinal Newman Society/Ruah Woods Standards of Christian Anthropology. Even with a shared rationale for teaching literature, deciding which generally acceptable books are best suited to the needs and abilities of specific learners will need to be determined by those closest to them. The non-exhaustive list below demonstrates that Catholic educators have no need to risk assigning lesser or morally ambiguous reading. There are more than enough excellent works available to fill any curriculum.

Grades K-4 Fiction – General

Adapted Greek and Roman myths
Aesop’s Fables
Bible stories
Folk tales
Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
Selected Fairy Tales from Grimm
Selected Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen

Grades K-4 Titles

A Book of Nonsense (Lear)
A Pair of Red Clogs (Matsuno)
A Seed is Sleepy (Aston)*
Abraham Lincoln (d’Aulaire)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Viorst)
An Egg is Quiet (Aston)*
Andy and the Circus (Daugherty)
Angus and the Ducks (Flack)
Beauty and the Beast (Lamb)
Before I Was Me (Fraser)
Blueberries for Sal (McCloskey)*
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Martin)
By the Shores of Silver Lake (Wiler)
Caps for Sale (Slobodkina)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl)
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Dahl)
Charlotte’s Web (White)
Clown of God (De Paolo)
Corduroy (Freeman)
Cranberry Thanksgiving (Devlin)
Curious George Series (Rey)
Farmer Boy (Wilder)
Favorite Uncle Remus (Harris)
Flower Fables (Alcott)
Frederick (Lionni)
Frog and Toad Series (Lobel)
Harold and the Purple Crayon (Johnson)
Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids (Swegart)
Heidi (Spyri)
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Numeroff)
Homer Price (McCloskey)
Just So Stories (Kipling)
Lentil (McCloskey)
Little Britches (Moody)
Little House in the Big Woods (Wilder)
Little House on the Prairie (Wilder)
Little Lord Fauntleroy (Burnett)
Madeline (Bemelmans)
Make Way for Ducklings (McCloskey)
Mama, Do You Love Me? (Joosse)
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (Burton)
Millions of Cats (Gag)
Mirette on the High Wire (McCully)
Molly McBride and the Purple Habit (Schoonover-Egolf)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Atwater)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Series (O’Brien)
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters (Steptoe)*
Nate the Great Series (Sharmat)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Wilder)
Owl Moon (Yolen)
Ox-Cart Man (Hall)
Papa Piccolo (Talley)
Peppe the Lamplighter (Barton)*
Peter Pan (Barrie)
Pinocchio (Collodi)
Pied Piper of Hamelin (Browning)
Rikki Tikki Tavi (Kipling)
Roses in the Snow: A Tale of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (Jackson and Kadar-Kallen)
Saints Chronicles Series (Milgrom and Davis)
St. Clare of Assisi: Runaway Rich Girl (Hee-ju)
St. George and the Dragon (Hodges)*
Stone Soup (Brown)
Storm in the Night (Stolz)
The Animal Hedge (Fleishman)*
The Blue Fairy Book; The Red Fairy Book (Lang)
The Bobbsey Twins (Hope)
The Borrowers (Norton)
The Boxcar Children Series (Warner)
The Children’s Book of Virtues (Bennett)
The Elves and the Shoemaker (Galdone)
The Emperor’s New Clothes (Hans Christian Andersen)
The Five Chinese Brothers (Bishop and Wiese)
The Little Engine That Could (Piper)
The Little Flower: A Parable of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (Arganbright and
The Long Winter (Wilder)
The Lost World (Doyle)
The Moffats (Estes)
The Mystery at Midnight (Hendey)
The Princess and the Kiss (Bishop)
The Quiltmaker’s Gift (Brumbeau)*
The Reluctant Dragon (Grahame)
The Secret Garden (Burnett)
The Selfish Giant and Other Stories (Wilde)
The Snowy Day (Keats)
The Story About Ping (Fleck and Wiese)
The Story of Ferdinand (Leaf)
The Story of Peter Rabbit (Potter)
The Swiss Family Robinson (Wyss)
The Trumpet of the Swan (White)
The Twenty-One Balloons (Du Bois)
The Velveteen Rabbit (Williams)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle)
The Wind in the Willows (Grahame)
These Happy Golden Years (Wilder)
Through the Looking Glass (Carroll)
Treasure Box Set (Maryknoll Sisters)
Ugly Duckling (Hans Christian Andersen)
Wee Gillis (Leaf)
Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak)
Winnie the Pooh (Milne)

Grades 5-8 Titles

A Christmas Carol (Dickens)
A Story of Joan of Arc (Earnest)
A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle)
Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints (Swaim)
Across Five Aprils (Hunt)
Across the Plains (Stevenson)
Adam of the Road (Gray)
All Creatures Great and Small (Herriott)
Amos Fortune, Free Man (Yates)
An Old Fashioned Girl (Alcott)
Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery)
Around the World in Eighty Days (Verne)
Beowulf: A New Telling (Nye)
Black Beauty (Sewell)
Black Stallion (Farley)
Beric the Briton (Henty)
Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad (Lee)
Blessed Marie of New France (Windeatt)
Bonnie Prince Charlie (Henty)
By Pike and Dyke (Henty)
Caddie Woodlawn (Brink)
Captains Courageous (Kipling)
Cricket on the Hearth (Dickens)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Rostand)
David Copperfield (Dickens)
Death Comes for the Archbishop (Cather)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Stevenson)
Facing Death (Henty)
Fingal’s Quest (Pollard)
For the Temple (Henty)
Forget Not Love: The Passion of Maximilian Kolbe (Frossad)
From the Earth to the Moon (Verne)
Gentle Ben (Morey)
Great Expectations (Dickens)
Hans Brinker (Dodge)
Helen Keller: The Story of My Life (Keller)
Hero of the Hills (Windeatt)
Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica (Norris)
I Am David (Holm)
I, Juan de Pareja (De Trevino)
If All the Swords in England (Willard)
In Freedom’s Cause (Henty)
In the Reign of Terror (Henty)
Jack and Jill (Alcott)
Jo’s Boys (Alcott)
Johnny Tremain (Forbes)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (Verne)
Kidnapped (Stevenson)
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (Green)
King of the Wind (Henry)
Lay Siege to Heaven (De Wohl)
Leif the Lucky (D’Aulaire)
Lilies of the Field (Barrett)
Little Men (Alcott)
Little Women (Alcott)
Log of a Cowboy (Adams)
Madeline Takes Command (Brill and Adams)
Misty of Chincoteague (Henry)
My Ántonia (Cather)
My Side of the Mountain (George)
Mysterious Island (Verne)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Douglass)
Number the Stars (Lowry)
O Pioneers (Cather)
Old Yeller (Gipson)
Oliver Twist (Dickens)
Our Town (Wilder)
Patron Saint of First Communicants (Windeatt)
Penrod and others (Tarkington)
Pied Piper of Hamelin (Browning)
Radiate: More Stories of Daring Teen Saints (Swaim)
Red Hugh Prince of Donegal (Reilly)
Redwall Series (Jacques)
Rip Van Winkle (Irving)
Robin Hood (Pyle)
Robinson Crusoe (Defoe)
Rolf and the Viking Bow (French)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Taylor)
Saint Benedict: The Story of the Father of the Western Monks (Windeatt)
Saint Catherine of Siena (Forbes)
Saint Dominic (Windeatt)
Saint Helena and the True Cross (De Wohl)
Saint Hyacinth of Poland (Windeatt)
Saint John Masias (Windeatt)
Saint Martin de Porres (Windeatt)
Saint Monica (Forbes)
Saint Rose of Lima (Windeatt)
Saint Thomas Aquinas (Windeatt)
Sarah Plain and Tall (Wilder)
Son of Charlemagne (Willard)
Sounder (Armstrong)
St. Benedict, Hero of the Hills (Windeatt)
St. Joan, The Girl Soldier (De Wohl)
St. Patrick (Tompert)
St. Thomas Aquinas for Children (Maritain)
Tales of King Arthur (Talbott)
Tanglewood Tales (Hawthorne)
Tarzan Series (Burroughs)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (Green)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Doyle)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Black Arrow (Stevenson)
The Black Cauldron (Alexander)
The Blood Red Crescent (Garnett)
The Bronze Bow (Speare)
The Call of the Wild (London)
The Children of Fatima (Windeatt)
The Children’s Homer (Colum)
The Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis)
The Deerslayer (Cooper)
The Dragon and the Raven (Henty)
The Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
The Fledgling (Langton)
The Gift of the Magi (O. Henry)
The Hiding Place (ten Boom)
The Hobbit (Tolkien)
The Horse and His Boy (Lewis)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Doyle)
The Innocence of Father Brown [or others] (Chesterton)
The Island of the Blue Dolphins (O’Dell)
The Jungle Book (Kipling)
The Knight of the White Cross (Henty)
The Last Battle (Lewis)
The Last of the Mohicans (Cooper)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Irving)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Lewis)
The Little Flower (Windeatt)
The Little Prince (Saint-Exupéry)
The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
The Miracle Worker (Gibson)
The Miraculous Medal (Windeatt)
The Oregon Trail (Parkman)
The Pearl (Steinbeck)
The Prince and the Pauper (Twain)
The Ransom of Red Chief, and Other Stories (O. Henry)
The Railway Children (Nesbit)
The Red Badge of Courage (Crane)
The Red Keep (French)
The Restless Flame (De Wohl)
The Song at the Scaffold (Von le Fort)
The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion (De Wohl)
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (Pyle)
The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Walsh)
The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow (French)
The Sword and the Stone (White)
The Time Machine (Wells)
The Trumpeter of Krakow (Kelly)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Lewis)
The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey (Sutcliffe)
The War of the Worlds (Wells)
The Weight of a Mass (Nobisso)
The White Stag (Seredy)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Speare)
The Yearling (Rawlings)
Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars (Larnen and Lomask)
Tom Sawyer (Twain)
Treasure Island (Stevenson)
Tuck Everlasting (Babbit)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Verne)
Two Years Before the Mast (Dana)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe)
Under the Lilacs (Alcott)
Westward Ho (Kingsley)
Where the Lilies Bloom (Cleaver)
Where the Red Fern Grows (Rawls)
White Fang (London)
With Wolfe in Canada (Henty)
Won by the Sword (Henty)
Work (Alcott)

Grades 9-12 Fiction Titles

A Good Man is Hard to Find (O’Connor)
A Man for All Seasons (Bolt)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce)
A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
A New Voyage Round the World (Dampier)
Aeneid [excerpts] (Virgil)
Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides (Aeschylus)
An Enemy of the People (Ibsen)
Animal Farm (Orwell)
Beowulf (trans. Tolkien)
Billy Budd, Bartleby the Scrivener, and other short stories (Melville)
Brideshead Revisited (Waugh)
Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky)
Canterbury Tales [excerpts] (Chaucer)
Citadel of God: A Novel about St. Benedict (De Wohl)
Come Rack! Come Rope! (Benson)
Death of a Salesman (Miller)
Diary of a Country Priest (Bernanos)
Doctor Faustus (Marlow)
Doctor Zhivago (Pasternak)
Don Quixote (Cervantes)
El Cid (trans. Racine)
Emma (Austen)
Frankenstein (Shelley)
Great Expectations (Dickens)
Gulliver’s Travels (Swift)
Huckleberry Finn (Twain)
Jane Eyre (Bronte)
Joan of Arc (Twain)
Kim (Kipling)
Kristin Lavransdatter (Undset)
Lieutenant Hornblower Series (Forester)
Le Morte D’Arthur (Malory)
Les Misérables (Hugo)
Lord Jim (Conrad)
Lord of the Flies (Golding)
Man in the Iron Mask (Dumas)
Medea, The Trojan Women, The Bacchae (Euripides)
Metamorphoses [excerpts] (Ovid)
Mill on the Floss [others] (Eliot)
Moonstone [and others] (Collins)
Murder in the Cathedral (T.S. Eliot)
Notes from Underground (Dostoevsky)
Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone (Sophocles)
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Solzhenitsyn)
Oresteia (Aeschylus)
Paradise Lost [excerpts] (Milton)
Persuasion (Austen)
Pride and Prejudice (Austen)
Quo Vadis (Sienkiewicz)
Sense and Sensibility (Austen)
Short Stories (Poe)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Anonymous)
Stories (Chekhov)
The American (James)
The Betrothed (Manzoni)
The Blithedale Romance (Hawthorne)
The Chosen (Potock)
The Cloister and the Hearth (Reade)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)
The Complete Stories (O’Conner)
The Divine Comedy [excerpts] (Dante)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (Anonymous)
The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
The Heart of Darkness (Conrad)
The House of Seven Gables (Hawthorne)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Hugo)
The Iliad [excerpts] (Homer)
The Invisible Man (Wells)
The Living Wood (De Wohl)
The Longest Day (Ryan)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (Hardy)
The Odyssey [excerpts or full] (Homer)
The Old Man and the Sea (Hemmingway)
The Open Boat (Crane)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde)
The Power and the Glory (Green)
The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Orczy)
The Song of Roland (Anonymous)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)
Tom Brown’s School Days; Tom Brown at Oxford (Hughes)
Up from Slavery (Washington)
Vanity Fair (Thackeray)
Wuthering Heights (Bronte)
As You Like It
Julius Caesar
King Lear
Richard II
Romeo and Juliet
The Merchant of Venice
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest

Grades 9-12 Poets

Matthew Arnold, W.H. Auden, Hilaire Belloc, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, G.K. Chesterton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Richard Crashaw, Emily Dickenson, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, A.E. Hausman, George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Keats, Joyce Kilmer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Andrew Marvell, Alexander Pope, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Siegfried Sassoon, William Shakespeare, Percy Shelley, Robert Southwell, Edmund Spenser, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, Francis Thompson, William Wordsworth, William Butler Yeats

Grades 9-12 Spiritual Classics

Abandonment to Divine Providence (de Caussade)
An Introduction to the Devout Life [excerpts] (St. Francis de Sales)
Dark Night of the Soul (St. John of the Cross)
Summa Theologica [excerpts] (St. Thomas Aquinas)
The Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church [selections]
The Confessions [excerpts] (St. Augustine of Hippo)
The Desert Fathers [excerpts]
The Glories of Mary (St. Alphonsus Liguori)
The Imitation of Christ [excerpts] (Thomas à Kempis)
The Life of St. Francis of Assisi [excerpts] (St. Bonaventure)
The Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence)
The Rule of St. Benedict
The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man (Lewis)
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
The Story of a Soul (St. Thérèse of Lisieux)
True Devotion to Mary (St. Louis de Montfort)
Grades 9-12 Non-Fiction Titles
Apology, Dialogues, Euthyphro, Republic [excerpts] (Plato)
Autobiography (Franklin)
Democracy in America [selections] (De Tocqueville)
Funeral Oration (Pericles)
Harvard Address and/or Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (Solzhenitsyn)
Humanae Vitae (St. Paul VI)
I Have a Dream (King)
Letter from a Birmingham Jail (King)
Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
Nicomachean Ethics, Book I (Aristotle)
Night (Wiesel)
Politics, Book I (Aristotle)
Self-Reliance (Emerson)
Slave Narratives (Douglass, Jacobs)
The Communist Manifesto (Marx)
The Conquest of Gaul (Caesar)
The Declaration of Independence
The Documents of Vatican II [selections]
The Federalist Papers [selections] (Hamilton, et al.)
The Gettysburg Address (Lincoln)
The Gulag Archipelago [Abridged] (Solzhenitsyn)
The Histories [selections] (Herodotus)
The Magna Carta
The Prince (Machiavelli)
The Rights of Man (Paine)
The Social Contract (Rousseau)
Treatise on Law and excerpts from other works (Aquinas)
The United States Constitution
Veritatis Splendor (St. John Paul II)




1 Congregation for Catholic Education, The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School (1988) 57.
2 Congregation for Catholic Education, Educating Together in Catholic Schools: A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful (2007) 12.
3 Congregation for Catholic Education (1988) 53.
4 Saint Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes (1965) 62.
5 Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School (1977) 49.
6 Congregation for Catholic Education (1977) 36.
7 Congregation for Catholic Education (1977) 49.

8 The general educational approach in this section is proposed by Luigi Giussani in his book The Risk of Education (Cross
road Publishing Company, 2001). See esp. pp. 55-65.
9 Code of Canon Law (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983) 795.
10 Congregation for Catholic Education (1988) 66, 69.
11 There are many lists of literature and spirituality which might be considered part of the “Great Books” in general and the
Catholic intellectual tradition in particular.

12 St. John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982) 75.


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