National Endowment for the Humanities

'Summertime Favorites' A boy laying on his stomach reading a book.

Teacher Workshops
Student Essay Contest
Classic Books for Libraries

NEH provides opportunites for teachers to deepen their knowledge of American history through summer seminars and institutes, as well as the Landmarks of American History teacher workshops held at historic places throughout the country.

The Idea of America essay contest for high school juniors encourages students to reflect upon important American principles and events. Winning essays receive cash prizes and a trip to Washington D.C.

The We the People Bookshelf program provides school and public libraries with sets of classic books for younger readers. Libraries hold community programming to support the themes and topics of the books.

Visit or call 800-NEH-1121
(TDD 866-372-2930) to receive information on these and other NEH projects and programs.

'300 books recommended for any student'; A bold 300 with a little boy sitting on the ground reading a book.

Grades K-3

Sam the Minuteman
by Nathaniel Benchley

As the Revolutionary War begins, a father and son must fight to defend their liberty.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
by Paul Goble

A young American Indian Girl realizes her dream to live free among the horses she loves.

Paul Revere's Ride
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A patriot races to warn his countrymen of danger at the onset of the American Revolution

The Tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter

A little rabbit tests the limits of his freedom.

Grades 4 - 6

The House of Dies Drear
by Virginia Hamilton

A ghostly mystery surrounds a house that was a way station on the Underground Railroad.

Ben and Me
by Robery Lawson

Benjamin Franklin's times and achievements are recounted by his mouse, Amos.

To Be a Slave
by Julius Lester

Men and women who endured slavery provide powerful testimony of life without freedom.

The Complete Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis

These stories of an imaginary land convey lessons about the struggle against oppression.

Grades 7 - 8

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

A man discovers the liverating power of the written word.

Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt

One boy comes of age as his brothers fight on opposing sides in the Civil War.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth George Speare

A teenage girl clashes with the way of life in Colonial Connecticut.

Grades 9 - 12

Miracle at Philadelphia
by Catherine Drinker Bowen

Remarkable people and powerful ideas come together to creat the Constitution.

My Ántonia
by Willa Cather

An independent woman shows the strength of the immigrants who settled the Great Plains.

Animal Farm and 1984
by George Orwell

In these cautionary tales, absolute power destroys the promise of an animal revolution and stifles one man's existence.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The inmates of a Soviet camp for political prisoners struggle to survive.

Complete List by Title | Complete List by Author
Kindergarten to Grade 3 | Grades 4 to 6 | Grades 7 to 8 | Grades 9 to 12

Complete List by Title

Kindergarten to Grade 3
Recommended for K-3, either for reading by children or for reading to them.

Adventures of Pinocchio. Collodi, Carlo.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Viorst, Judith.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Carroll, Lewis.
All-of-a-Kind Family. Taylor, Sydney.
Amelia Bedelia. Parish, Peggy.
Anansi the Spider. McDermott, Gerald.
Andy and the Lion. Daugherty, James.
The Angus series. Flack, Marjorie.
Bedtime for Frances. Hoban, Russell.
The Biggest Bear. Ward, Lynd.
A Book of Nonsense. Lear, Edward.
The Cabin Faced West. Fritz, Jean.
Caps for Sale. Slobodkina, Esphyr.
The Carrot Seed. Krauss, Ruth.
The Cat in the Hat. Seuss, Dr.
Charlotte’s Web. White, E.B.
A Child’s Garden of Verses. Stevenson, Robert Louis.
Corduroy. Freeman, Don.
The Cricket in Times Square. Selden, George.
Crow Boy. Yashima, Taro.
Curious George. Rey, H.A.
Fables. Aesop.
Frederick. Lionni, Leo.
Freight Train. Crews, Donald.
Frog and Toad Are Friends. Lobel, Arnold.
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. Van Allsburg, Chris.
George and Martha. Marshall, James.
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. Goble, Paul.
Goodnight Moon. Brown, Margaret Wise.
Harold and the Purple Crayon. Johnson, Crockett.
Harry the Dirty Dog. Zion, Gene.
Leo the Late Bloomer. Kraus, Robert.
The Little Engine That Could. Piper, Watty.
Little Toot. Gramatky, Hardie.
Madeline. Bemelmans, Ludwig.
Make Way for Ducklings. McCloskey, Robert.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Burton, Virginia Lee.
Many Moons. Thurber, James.
Millions of Cats. Gag, Wanda.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Cleary, Beverly.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Atwater, Richard and Florence.
Paul Revere's Ride. Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth.
Put Me in the Zoo. Lopshire, Robert.
The Reluctant Dragon. Grahame, Kenneth.
Sam The Minuteman. Benchley, Nathaniel.
The Snowy Day. Keats, Ezra Jack.
Stone Soup. Brown, Marcia.
The Story of Babar. Brunhoff, Jean de.
The Story of Ferdinand. Leaf, Munro.
Strega Nona. dePaola, Tomie.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Steig, William.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter, Beatrix.
The Three Little Pigs. Galdone, Paul.
A Tree is Nice. Udry, Janice May.
Watch the Stars Come Out. Levinson, Riki.
Where the Wild Things Are. Sendak, Maurice.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. Aardema, Verna.
William’s Doll. Zolotow, Charlotte.
Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne, A.A.

Grades 4-6

Anne of Green Gables. Montgomery, L.M.
Ben and Me. Lawson, Robert.
Betsy-Tacy. Lovelace, Maud Hart.
Black Beauty. Sewell, Anna.
The Black Stallion. Farley, Walter.
The Borrowers. Norton, Mary.
Bronzeville Boys and Girls. Brooks, Gwendolyn.
Bridge to Terabithia. Paterson, Katherine.
Bunnicula. Howe, Deborah.
Caddie Woodlawn. Brink, Carol Ryrie.
Castle. Macaulay, David.
The Children of Green Knowe. Boston, L.M.
The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis, C.S.
The Complete Fairy Tales (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.). Perrault, Charles.
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Hänsel and Gretel, Rapunzel, etc.). Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm.
The Dark is Rising Sequence. Cooper, Susan.
Doctor Dolittle. Lofting, Hugh.
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems. Hughes, Langston.
Half Magic. Eager, Edward.
Fairy Tales. Andersen, Hans Christian.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Konigsburg, E.L.
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates. Dodge, Mary Mapes.
Harriet the Spy. Fitzhugh, Louise.
Heidi. Spyri, Johanna.
Hitty: Her First Hundred Years. Field, Rachel.
Homer Price. McCloskey, Robert.
The House of Dies Drear. Hamilton, Virginia.
The Jungle Books. Kipling, Rudyard.
Lassie Come Home. Knight, Eric.
Little House on the Prairie. Wilder, Laura Ingalls.
Mary Poppins. Travers, P. L.
The Matchlock Gun. Edmonds, Walter D.
Misty of Chincoteague. Henry, Marguerite.
The Moffats. Estes, Eleanor.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. O’Brien, Robert C.
My Side of the Mountain. George, Jean Craighead.
The Phantom Tollbooth. Juster, Norton.
Pippi Longstocking. Lindgren, Astrid.
Prydain Chronicles. Alexander, Lloyd.
The Pushcart War. Merrill, Jean.
The Railway Children. Nesbit, E.
Rascal. North, Sterling.
The Rescuers. Sharp, Margery.
Rip Van Winkle. Irving, Washington.
Roller Skates. Sawyer, Ruth.
Sarah Plain and Tall. Maclachan, Patricia.
The Secret Garden. Burnett, Frances Hodgson.
Strawberry Girl. Lenski, Lois.
The Summer of the Swans. Byars, Betsy.
Swiss Family Robinson. Wyss, Johann.
Tales from Shakespeare. Lamb, Charles and Mary.
Thimble Summer. Enright, Elizabeth.
To Be A Slave. Lester, Julius.
Tom’s Midnight Garden. Pearce, Philippa.
Tuck Everlasting. Babbitt, Natalie.
The Wind in the Willows. Grahame, Kenneth.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum, L. Frank.

Grades 7-8

Across Five Aprils. Hunt, Irene.
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan.
Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twain, Mark.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Wilder, Thornton.
Call It Courage. Sperry, Armstrong.
Call of the Wild. London, Jack.
A Christmas Carol. Dickens, Charles.
The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas, Alexander.
Daddy Long Legs. Webster, Jean.
A Day No Pigs Would Die. Peck, Robert Newton.
Diary of a Young Girl. Frank, Anne.
Dragonsong. McCaffrey, Anne.
Dragonwings. Yep, Laurence.
Enchantress From the Stars. Engdahl, Sylvia.
The Endless Steppe. Hautzig, Esther.
Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury, Ray.
Frankenstein. Shelley, Mary.
The Ghost Belonged To Me. Peck, Richard.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Hilton, James.
The Hobbit. Tolkien, J.R.R.
The Horatio Hornblower Series. Forester, C.S.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hugo, Victor.
Incident At Hawk’s Hill. Eckert, Allan W.
Island of the Blue Dolphins. O’Dell, Scott.
Ivanhoe. Scott, Sir Walter.
Jacob Have I Loved. Paterson, Katherine.
Johnny Tremain. Forbes, Esther.
Journey to Topaz. Uchida, Yoshiko.
Julie of the Wolves. George, Jean Craighead.
Kim. Kipling, Rudyard.
The Last Mission. Mazer, Harry.
The Last of the Mohicans. Cooper, James Fenimore.
Le Morte d’Arthur. Malory, Sir Thomas.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Irving, Washington.
The Little Prince. Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de.
Little Women. Alcott, Louisa May.
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Pyle, Howard.
My Friend Flicka. O’Hara, Mary.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Douglass, Frederick.
National Velvet. Bagnold, Enid.
The Outsiders. Hinton, S.E.
The Pigman. Zindel, Paul.
The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan, John.
Poems. Frost, Robert.
The Red Pony. Steinbeck, John.
Rifles for Watie. Keith, Harold.
Robinson Crusoe. Defoe, Daniel.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Taylor, Mildred D.
Shane. Schaefer, Jack.
Story of My Life. Keller, Helen.
A Stranger Came Ashore. Hunter, Mollie.
Treasure Island. Stevenson, Robert Louis.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith, Betty.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Verne, Jules.
The Upstairs Room. Reiss, Johanna.
War of the Worlds. Wells, H.G.
Where the Red Fern Grows. Rawls, Wilson.
The White Mountains. Christopher, John.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Speare, Elizabeth George.
A Wizard of Earthsea. LeGuin, Ursula K.
A Wrinkle in Time. L’Engle, Madeleine.
The Yearling. Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan.

Grades 9-12

Abraham Lincoln. Sandburg, Carl.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain, Mark.
The Aeneid. Virgil.
Against All Hope. Valladares, Armando.
The Age of Innocence. Wharton, Edith.
All Quiet on the Western Front. Remarque, Erich Maria.
All the King's Men. Warren, Robert Penn.
An American Tragedy. Dreiser, Theodore.
Animal Farm. Orwell, George.
Anna Karenina. Tolstoy, Leo.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, Benjamin.
Babbitt. Lewis, Sinclair.
Barchester Towers. Trollope, Anthony.
Beowulf. Anonymous.
Brave New World. Huxley, Aldous.
The Caine Mutiny. Wouk, Herman.
Candide. Voltaire.
The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger, J.D.
The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer, Geoffrey.
The Cherry Orchard. Chekhov, Anton.
The Chocolate War. Cormier, Robert.
The Chosen. Potok, Chaim.
Collected Short Stories. Welty, Eudora.
Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky, Fyodor.
The Crucible. Miller, Arthur.
The Cruel Sea. Monsarrat, Nicholas.
Cyrano de Bergerac. Rostand, Edmond.
Darkness at Noon. Koestler, Arthur.
A Death in the Family. Agee, James.
The Divine Comedy. Dante.
A Doll's House. Ibsen, Henrik.
Doctor Zhivago. Pasternak, Boris.
Don Quixote. Cervantes, Miguel de.
Dr. Faustus. Marlowe, Christopher.
Essays. Emerson, Ralph Waldo.
Fathers and Sons. Turgenev, Ivan.
For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway, Ernest.
The Forsythe Saga. Galsworthy, John.
Go Tell It on the Mountain. Baldwin, James.
The Good Earth. Buck, Pearl.
Great Expectations. Dickens, Charles.
The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald, F. Scott.
Gulliver's Travels. Swift, Jonathan.
Hamlet. Shakespeare, William.
A Handful of Dust. Waugh, Evelyn.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. McCullers, Carson.
How Green Was My Valley. Llewellyn, Richard.
I, Claudius. Graves, Robert.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Angelou, Maya.
The Iliad. Homer.
Inherit the Wind. Lawrence, Jerome and Robert E. Lee.
Invisible Man. Ellison, Ralph.
Jane Eyre. Brontë, Charlotte.
The Jungle. Sinclair, Upton.
King Lear. Shakespeare, William.
Les Misérables. Hugo, Victor.
Long Day's Journey into Night. O'Neill, Eugene.
Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe, Thomas.
Lord Jim. Conrad, Joseph.
Lord of the Flies. Golding, William.
The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien, J.R.R.
Madame Bovary. Flaubert, Gustave.
The Magic Mountain. Mann, Thomas.
A Man for All Seasons. Bolt, Robert.
Miracle At Philadelphia. Bowen, Catherine Drinker.
Moby-Dick. Melville, Herman.
Moll Flanders. Defoe, Daniel.
The Moonstone. Collins, Wilkie.
Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare, William.
Murder in the Cathedral. Eliot, T.S.
My Ántonia. Cather, Willa.
Native Son. Wright, Richard.
New Testament and Old Testament. The Bible.
Night. Wiesel, Elie.
The Nine Tailors. Sayers, Dorothy L.
1984. Orwell, George.
The Odyssey. Homer.
Oedipus Rex. Sophocles.
Of Human Bondage. Maugham, W. Somerset.
Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck, John.
Old Testament and New Testament. The Bible.
The Once and Future King. White, T.H.
One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn, Alexander.
Our Town. Wilder, Thornton.
A Passage to India. Forster, E.M.
The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde, Oscar.
Poems. Dickinson, Emily.
Poems. Hughes, Langston.
Poems. Keats, John.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Joyce, James.
The Power and the Glory. Greene, Graham.
Pride and Prejudice. Austen, Jane.
Profiles in Courage. Kennedy, John F.
Pygmalion. Shaw, George Bernard.
Rabbit Run. Updike, John.
The Red Badge of Courage. Crane, Stephen.
The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne, Nathaniel.
The School for Scandal. Sheridan, Richard Brinsley.
Short stories. Poe, Edgar Allan.
Silas Marner. Eliot, George.
Sonnets. Shakespeare, William.
Sons and Lovers. Lawrence, D.H.
The Sound and the Fury. Faulkner, William.
Steppenwolf. Hesse, Hermann.
Stories ("The Gift of the Magi," "The Ransom of Red Chief," etc.). Henry, O.
The Stranger. Camus, Albert.
A Streetcar Named Desire. Williams, Tennessee.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Hardy, Thomas.
Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston, Zora Neale.
Things Fall Apart. Achebe, Chinua.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee, Harper.
To the Lighthouse. Woolf, Virginia.
Tom Jones. Fielding, Henry.
A Town Like Alice. Shute, Nevil.
The Trial. Kafka, Franz.
The Turn of the Screw. James, Henry.
Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe, Harriet Beecher.
Vanity Fair. Thackeray, William Makepeace.
Walden. Thoreau, Henry David.
Wise Blood. O’Connor, Flannery.
Wuthering Heights. Brontë, Emily.


This list of classic children's books published before 1986 was updated in part by members of the Association of Library Service to Children and the Young Adult Library Services Association, which are divisions of the American Library Association. Maria Salvadore, a children's literature specialist, also provided advice and assistance.