Living Book List

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At long last, I’ve compiled a Living Book List that reflects our family’s personal favorite stories! This list contains nearly 250 titles on a wide range of interests, and it will continue to grow as we discover more great literary works and add them to our personal library.   (I am always open to recommendations!)

This Living Book List has been the most requested post by readers, and while it’s not complete (no living book list ever is, right?!), it provides the framework for more additions later on, that I plan to include after they’ve been met with approval by our homegrown critics! 

Other posts that may be of interest to you:

Full disclosure: many of the books I’ve included in this Living Book List, particularly those in the Church History, Reformation, and Life Lessons/Character categories were chosen because they are written from a Christian perspective.

However, not all of these recommendations are grounded in a biblical worldview (especially books that explore different cultures), and we would encourage parents to do their own due diligence when building personal home library. 

My eventual goal with this list is to make it available as a printable download, free from ads, and include more details with each recommendation, such as an age and/or grade a title would be most suitable for. Stay tuned for that! 

“One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books. The best is not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough. And if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.” ~ Charlotte Mason

Where can I purchase these living books?

Amazon is the easiest (I’d be most appreciative if you chose to buy through our affiliate link! Thank you in advance!), but I’ve also been able to find many living books through:

  • Christian Book
  • Reformation Heritage Book Services 
  • Reformed Book Services (Canadian)
  • The Learning House (Canadian)
  • Tree of Life Book Service (Canadian)

Without further ado, here is the Living Book List! 

Happy reading! 

THE NORTHERN NESTER LIVING BOOK LIST

Living Books About African Culture 

  • A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
  • African Adventures by Dick Anderson 
  • Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton 
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad 
  • Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan 

Living Books About Birds

  • Frightful’s Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Make Way For The Ducklings by Robert McCloskey 
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  • Owls In The Family by Farley Mowat
  • The Burgess Bird Book by Thornton A. Burgess 
  • The Trumpet Of The Swan by E.B. White
  • The Wheel On The School by Meindert DeJong 

Living Books About Ancient Egypt 

  • Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
  • Pyramid by Dacid Macaulay
  • The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty 
  • The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Living Books About Asian Culture 

  • A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park 
  • Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems by Janet Benge and Geoff Benge
  • Behind A Closed door by C.M. De Putter
  • Born In The Year Of Courage By Emily Crofford 
  • Chu Ju’s House by Gloria Whelan 
  • Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan
  • Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime by Janet Benge and Geoff Benge
  • Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fitz
  • Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China by Janet Benge and Geoff Benge
  • Li Lun: Lad of Courage by Carolyn Treffinger
  • Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China by Janet Benge and Geoff Benge
  • Mission to Cathay by Madeleine Polland
  • Nothing Daunted: Isobel Kuhn by Gloria Repp
  • Sweet and Sour: Tales From China by Carol Kendall 
  • The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck
  • The Samurais’ Tale by Erik C. Haugaard
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  • To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson

Living Books About Canada 

  • Ambush in the Foothills by Bill Freeman
  • Beginnings: Stories of Canada’s Past by Ann Walsh 
  • Beginning Again: Further Adventures of a Loyalist Family by Mark Beacock Fryer 
  • Laura’s Choice: The Story of Laura Secord by Connie Brummel Cook
  • Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill
  • Paddle To The Sea by Holling Clancey Holling 
  • The Story of Canada by George W Brown

Living Books About Church History 

  • Duncan’s War by Douglas Bond
  • Hammer of The Hugenots by Douglas Bond
  • How Sleep The Brave! by J.H. Hunter 
  • How They Kept The Faith by Grace Raymond 
  • Jonathan Edwards: America’s Genius by Christian Timothy George
  • King’s Arrow by Douglas Bond
  • Martyr of the Catacombs: A Tale of Ancient Rome by James De Mille
  • Paula The Waldensian by Eva Lecomte 
  • Quintus: A Story About the Persecution of Christians at the Time of Emperor Nero by R. Weerstand
  • Rebel’s Keep by Douglas Bond 
  • The Betrayal: A Novel on John Calvin by Douglas Bond 
  • The Life and Legacy of Saint Patrick by Michael J. McHugh
  • The Thunder: A Novel on John Knox by Douglas Bond 
  • The Voice that Woke the World: George Whitefield by Lucille Travis
  • The Young Huguenots by Edith S. Floyer 
  • This was John Calvin by Thea B. Van Halsema
  • Trial And Triumph: Stories From Church History by Richard Hannula

Living Books About The Civil WaR

  • Abraham Lincoln by Ingri D’Aulaire 
  • Moonshiner’s Son by Carolyn Reeder
  • Rifles For Watie by Harold Keith  
  • The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy
  • The River Between Us by Richard Peck
  • With Lee In Virginia by G.A. Henty 

Living Books About Early American History

  • A Lion To Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bull
  • A Pioneer Sampler by Barbara Greenwood 
  • Almost Home: A Story Based on the Life of Mayflower’s Mary Chilton by Wendy Lawton
  • Alone, But Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven
  • Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire 
  • Buffalo Bill by Ingri D’Aulaire 
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Caddie Woodlawn’s Family by Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Caleb’s Story by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Calico Bush by Rachel Field
  • Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Guns of Thunder by Douglas Bond 
  • Lewis And Clark by George Sullivan 
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of A Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters 
  • Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret Pumphrey
  • The Battle of Seattle by Douglas Bond 
  • The Courage Of Sarah Noble
  • The Iron Peacock by Mark Clark
  • The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Richard L. Neuberger
  • The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
  • The Pilgrims First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern 
  • The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
  • The Secret of the Sealed Room by Bailey MacDonald
  • The Skippak School by Marguerite De Angeli
  • Voyage to Freedom: Story of the Pilgrim Fathers by David Gay
  • William Bradford: Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith

Living Books About the Early Roman Empire

  • Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfeld 
  • Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard
  • The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Ides of April by Mary Ray

Living Books About Math

  • How Big Is A Foot? by Rolf Myller
  • Number Stories Of Long Ago by David Smith
  • Pythagoras And The Ratios by Julie Ellis
  • Sir Cumference And The First Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And The Dragon Of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And The Great Knight Of Angleland by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And All The Kings Ten’s by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And The Fraction Faire by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And The Roundabout Battle by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And The Off The Charts Dessert by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And The Sword In The Cone by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference And the Isle Of Immeter by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • Sir Cumference Gets Decima’s Point by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan
  • What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? by Julie Ellis

Living Books About Medieval History 

  • A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. KonigsburgFalse Coin, True Coin by Lois Dick
  • Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray 
  • Black Horses for the King by Anne MacCaffrey
  • Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
  • Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
  • The Door In The Wall by Marguerite de Angeli 
  • The Hobgoblins: A Novel Of John Bunyan by Douglas Bond 
  • The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanore M. Jewett 

Living Books About Music

  • Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Barbara Nichol
  • Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Opal Wheeler  
  • Mozart The Wonder Boy by Opal Wheeler 
  • Mr. Pipes and the Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation by Douglas Bond
  • Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers
  • Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet by Opal Wheeler 
  • The Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries by Douglas Bond
  • The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart by Barbara Kathleen Nickel 

Living Books About Native Americans

  • Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac 
  • Indian Captive by Lois Lenski 
  • Naya Nuki by Kenneth Thomasma 
  • Om-Kas-Toe by Kenneth Thomasma 
  • Pocahontas by Ingri D’Aulaire 
  • Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac
  • Sing Down The Moon by Scott O’Dell
  • Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare 
  • Tikta’Liktak by James A. Houston 
  • Vostaas: White Buffalo’s Story of Plains Indian Life by William White Buffalo

Living Books about Outdoor adventure

  • Frightful’s Mountain by Jean Craighead George 
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London 
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings 

Living Books About The Reformation

  • Reformation ABC’s: The People, Places And Things Of The Reformation by Stephen J. Nichols
  • Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed The World by Paul L. Maier
  • The Barber Who Wanted To Pray by R.C. Sproul
  • Reformation Heroes by Diana Kleyn and Joel Beeke
  • Martin Luther: What Should I Do? By Catherine Mackenzie
  • Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr
  • Johann Gutenberg And The Amazing Printing Press by Bruce Koscielniak
  • Courage And Conviction: Chronicles of the Reformation Church by Brandon and Mindy Withrow
  • Katharine Von Bora: The Morning Star of Whittenberg by Jenna and Channa Strackbein
  • When Lightning Struck: The Story of Martin Luther by Danika Cooley
  • Ink on His Fingers by Louise A Vernon
  • Spy for The Night Riders by Dave And Neta Jackson
  • Mr. Pipes And The Psalms And Hymns Of The Reformation by Douglas Bond

Living Books About The Revolutionary WaR

  • Betsey and the Emperor by Staton Rabin
  • George Washington by Ingri D’Aulaire 
  • Guns For General Washington by Seymour Reit
  • Guns of Providence by Douglas Bond 
  • In Search of Honor by Donna Lynn Hess
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes 
  • My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived In by Esther Forbes 
  • Sophia’s War by Avi
  • Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady

Living Books About The Sea/Ocean/Ships

  • Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry 
  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  • Flashback Four: The Titanic Mission by Dan Gutman
  • Keep The Lights Burning, Abbi by Connie Roop
  • Pagoo by Holling Clancey Holling
  • Seabird by Holling Clancy Holling 
  • The Burgess Seashore Book by Thornton A. Burgess
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne 

Living Books About Slavery/Racism 

  • Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
  • Crossing Freedom by Virginia Frances Schwartz 
  • Courage to Run: A Story Based on the Life of Harriet Tubman by Wendy Lawton
  • Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis 
  • Forty Acres and Maybe A Mule by Harriette Gillem Robinett 
  • Freedom’s Pen: A Story Based on the Life of Freed Slave and Author Phillis Wheatley by Wendy Lawton
  • Freedom Train by Dorothy Sterling
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor  
  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong 
  • Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes 
  • Sweet Clara and The Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson 
  • The Last Safe House by Barbara Greenwood 
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • William Wilberforce: The Freedom Fighter by Derick Bingham

Living Books About Science 

  • Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick
  • Dooryard Stories by Clara Dillingham Pierson
  • George Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe
  • Louis Pasteur: Founder of Modern Medicine by John Hudson Tiner
  • The Burgess Bird Book by Thorton A. Burgess 
  • The Burgess Seashore Book by Thorton A. Burgess
  • The Burgess Jungle Book by Thorton A. Burgess
  • The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock 
  • The Mystery of the Periodic Table? by Jeanne Bendick
  • The Ocean of Truth: The Story of Sir Isaac Newton by Joyce McPherson 
  • Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton

Living Books  That Teach Life Lessons/Build Character

  • A Basket of Flowers by Christoph Von Schmid 
  • A Better Ending by Doreen Tamminga
  • A Father to the Fatherless by Sjanie Vanduinen
  • A Great Miracle in a Small Mountain Village by Marian Schalk
  • A Love for the Lost: David Brainerd by Brian Cosby
  • Anak, the Eskimo Boy by Piet Prins 
  • Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos 
  • Gerrit And His Dog (Autor Unknown) 
  • Grandpa’s Box by Starr Meade
  • Ivan And the Hidden Bible by Myrna Grant
  • Jessica’s First Prayer by Hesba Stretton 
  • Jim Elliot: He Is No Fool by Irene Howat
  • Little Nobody and the Wonderful Door by O.F. Walton 
  • Mary Jones and Her Bible by Mary E. Ropes 
  • Nobody Loves Me by O.F. Walton 
  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John 
  • Star of Light by Patricia St. John 
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome 
  • Teddy’s Button by Amy LeFeuvre 
  • Ten Girls Who Made A Difference by Irene Howat 
  • The Dairyman’s Daughter by Legh Richmond
  • The Holy War: The Battle For Mansoul by John Bunyan 
  • The King’s Daughter and Other Stories For Girls compiled by J. White 
  • The Little Woodman and Other Stories by Mary Sherwood 
  • The Tanglewood’s Secret by Patricia St. John 
  • The White Gypsy by Anette Lyster
  • Three Months Under The Snow by J.J. Porchat 
  • Tiger And Tom and Other Stories For Boys compiled by J. White
  • Whiter Than Snow and Little Dot by O.F. Walton 
  • Winter’s Folly by O.F. Walton 

Living Books About WorLd War 1 & 2 History

  • A New Coat For Anna by Harriet Ziefert
  • A Poppy Is To Remember by Heather Patterson 
  • Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II by Alan Gratz
  • Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Snow Treasure Paperback by Marie McSwigan
  • Ten and Twenty by Claire Huchet Bishop 
  • The Bicycle Spy Paperback by Yona Zeldis McDonough
  • The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy 
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom 
  • The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero by Patricia McCormick
  • The Watchmaker’s Daughter by Jean Watson 
  • The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley 
  • The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum 
  • War Child: Memories of a World War II Childhood by Maurine Murchison
  • War In The Wasteland by Douglas Bond 

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2 thoughts on “Living Book List”

  1. Thanks for this list! We love book recommendations!!
    Have you read “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry? I read it with Owen in his home learning for Grade 4 and it was such a good read even for me!

    Reply
  2. This is a wonderful list! I recognized many titles (and still own quite a few) thanks to my parents’ wise choices of books they gave us. 🙂 Lots of Newberry Award winners here too!

    I’ll ditto “Number the Stars;” that was one of my favorites as a child.

    Also, I’m not sure if the American Girls books fall into the category of “living books,” but those are wonderful historical fiction and captured my imagination for quite a few years as a girl. I think most of the best ones were published 20+ years ago already (pre-2000), but my favorites included Felicity, Josephina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Kit, and Molly. Their stories/settings ranged from the Revolutionary War to WWII.

    Thank you again for this list! I plan to hang on to it to refer to as my children grow and as we have room in our house for more books! 🙂

    Reply

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