Planning Your Homeschool Term

Ten Favorite Living Books for First Grade

Ten Favorite Living Books for First Grade

Top 10 Living Books
Top 10 Living Books

First, we discuss the definition of living books. Then, we explore the significance of why we choose living books for educating our children. Next, read on for our favorite living books, so far, by subject. Finally, I list resources. Also, if you are interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason education in general, I list more information about her educational philosophy at the bottom.

Living books definition

In Parents and Children, Charlotte Mason says:

“They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told.” (Mason, Vol. 2)

Living books are becoming more of a known idea. According to Living Books Library, living books contain “literary power, ideas, virtuosity, inspiration, narrative, imagination, and span generations.”

  • This is a great podcast describing more about living books.
  • Ambleside online also describes living books in this article here.

Why choose living books?

Charlotte Mason states:

“Therefore, the selection of their first lesson-books is a matter of grave importance, because it rests with these to give children the idea that knowledge is supremely attractive and that reading is delightful.” (Mason, Vol. 1)

Our favorite living books are the kind that make my son request chapter after chapter, or section after section, after we have read our portion for school time. They are the type of books that allow him to retain the facts, details, and storyline, often many days, or even a week, after we have read it. I can ask him to tell what he heard me read, and although sometimes he doesn’t feel like giving me a narration, he often surprises me to the extent of what he remembers. A living book allows learning to take place; not just learning is happening though, a lifelong love of learning is also fostered.



I have always had a love affair with books. Books introduced me to various lands and lives that I otherwise would have not encountered. Books offered me refuge and respite when I needed it as I was growing up. It was easy to get lost in a good story. I’m so thankful to share this love of great literature with my children too.



Children of Foreign Lands – This book is a collection of stories written about children living in foreign lands. There are eight different countries included, and the illustrations are amazing. Both of my children are captivated by the stories, therefore, this book comes highly recommended.

favorite living books
favorite living books


D’Aulaire Biography Book Set – We have read Leif the Lucky and Columbus so far. My oldest son really pays attention to these stories (even when I think he may not be listening). Beautiful Feet Books sells the biography pack, and they are a better price when they are on sale.

Natural history

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children – This may be my oldest son’s all time favorite collection of stories. If I had allowed it, I’m sure we would have read through the entire chapter book in one sitting. Each story is written about a different animal, and told from the perspective of the town veterinarian. The illustrations that go with the stories capture my son’s interest. Also, my youngest son is sure to cuddle us with us while we are reading this book.

Tommy Smith’s Animals – Another book in this series was used in Charlotte Mason’s day. After reading a bit about recommended ages, I decided to begin with Tommy Smith’s Animals. This book hit the nail on the head, and my son is captivated. The story is about a young boy who is not kind to animals. After having a meeting to discuss what should be done about Tommy Smith, the animals settle on encountering with him one by one. They teach them about themselves, and encourage Tommy to respect the animals.

favorite living books
favorite living books


Aesop’s Fables for Children – I have to really slow down reading these to my son, because he wants to read ALL of the fables! I have two versions of this book since we love it so much. We also love this one for the illustrations.

Read alouds

Heidi – First, we watched Heidi on netflix during one weekend where we had been very physically active. My son was super interested when I then told him we had the chapter book of Heidi. My husband’s mother had a collection of classic books, which my husband inherited. I’m so grateful to share these rich stories with my children in our free time.

Boxcar Children – My oldest son especially is fond of trains. From the time he was two, he was building wooden train sets and configuring them in different ways.  He loves taking train rides, and hearing train stories. So, naturally, reading the Boxcar Children was a good fit for my family. I have great memories of reading the Boxcar Children series when I was growing up, and its fun to re-read them with my boys.

Billy and Blaze – I first saw these books at a Christian bookstore in Homestead Heritage Farms. After browsing through a few books, I knew my horse-loving son would love these books. So, I purchased this series, and my youngest son just loves them too!

Charlotte’s Web – Growing up, I loved the book and movie Charlotte’s Web. My son has seen the movies on netflix, and we have read the chapter book many times through together. The first time we read it aloud, he was four. I clearly remember him almost in tears when after reading one chapter, when I wanted to end the reading until the next day. He loves it so much!

favorite living books
favorite living books


When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six – We began afternoon poetry readings before we started our official first year of school. I can remember being shocked at how both of my boys asked for more poetry after reading a couple of poems from this book. The illustrations are delightful. We have also enjoyed Winnie the Pooh together, and this collection of poems by the same author, A. A. Milne, is a great book to add to your rich read aloud collection.

favorite living books
favorite living books


Brush Drawing Course – While this is not a living book, I wanted to include it here because my son loves art. This has been a great practice in learning basic brush drawing, or watercolor, technique. We thoroughly enjoy this time together, because we are completing the lessons side by side and are learning together.



favorite living books
favorite living books


I’m sharing these here because these are my son’s FAVORITES. He always asks for more when we pick these books up!

Also, check out these previous blog posts in the series:

Thank you so much for checking in! Finally, please stay tuned for the next ‘A Charlotte Mason Subject Lesson’ post.

Homeschool Preschool Supplies List

All of the quotes mentioned in this blog post, come from Home Education by Charlotte Mason. The Living Press published my favorite version of her books. Finally, I TRULY recommend any parent read Charlotte Mason’s books! They are truly treasured words I believe I will be reading and re-reading for many years to come.