Books for the whole family should be wholesome and entertaining.
"Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" - St. John Bosco
Our family loves reading! We read books then share them aloud or listen to audiobook versions. The characters in our favorite novels become our friends and a part of our shared family experience.
Use these reviews to stock your bookshelves with good books or aid in your family's literature discussions drawing out the virtues displayed in the book.
Below we share our Catholic family book list with our rating system. The five star books appear first. Books are rated based on readability and how well they grabbed the reader's attention not on morality or wholesomeness.
Finding a good book can be hard. Finding a good and interesting book for a young adult can be even harder. This list of has five great choices! Reviews here for The Merchant of Venice, The Guillotine and the Cross, David Copperfield, Christopher Columbus, and The Scarlet Letter. Read more...
Don't miss Fr. Curtis, FSSP's conference talk on the importance of good literature. Watch it here!
It all started when Peter put on a gauntlet. Then he woke up in the 14th century...
The Gauntlet is written by Ronald Welch, published by Lepanto Press, and illustrated by T. R. Freeman. It is a book that every child should read because it is not only well written but easy to understand.
The Gauntlet takes place in Wales and takes the reader to the 20th century for about a week and then back in time to the 14th century for about two months. The story revolves around Peter, an ancestor of the ancient Blois family.
The Gantlet is a book about friendship and self-sacrifice.
Sir Walter Scott’s most popular historic drama, Ivanhoe, sheds light on the inner strife between the victorious Normans and the conquered Saxons.
Ivanhoe is set in England, in the summer of 1194. It takes place during the familiar time when King Richard the Lionheart is held captive after the Third Crusade and his wily brother John attempts to usurp the throne.
Wrapped in jousting tournaments, kings in disguise, damsels in distress and burning castles, Ivanhoekeeps the reader on the edge of his seat.
The legacy of the horse-riding, cow-punching, fast-drawing personality is greatly due to the first Western ever written, Owen Wister’s The Virginian. “
The Virginian is nothing more than a portrait of the American Hero in all his natural grandeur,” Robert Parker remarks, “He is not good because he lives in the West. But the West is where he is able to make his heroism manifest.”
It is the manifestation of natural virtues that has lingered longest and deepest in the American imagination and this memory owes its existence to The Virginian.
Fabiola by Cardinal Nicholas Patrick Wiseman, sweeps the reader to the early Roman persecutions where martyrs shed their blood for the prosperity of the Church and for the conversion of sinners.
Their examples are outstanding and though they do not know it, the conversion of the proud Fabiola will someday be the fruit of their sufferings.
I would highly recommend all read this book as they will see that we are facing the same challenges the early Christians faced.
In Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s novel, Initiation, there is an overriding theme which penetrates into the purpose, value and necessity of suffering. Who better to prove the importance of suffering than a character who would rather turn away and pretend like it does not exist?
Nevill Fanning is forced to suffer. The thing that makes it so miserable is the fact that he loathes it. The same Hound of Heaven as in the classic poem is on Nevill’s heels as he dodges the spiritual, psychological and physical blows of tribulation which he faces.
In her book, Bella V. Dodd describes the Communist infiltration of America’s educational system. Although the process started in the 1930s, we still witness its effects today. Dodd illustrates why our educational system is high on the Communist’s radar.
The Communists have taken away access to a “rounded education”. This type of education is the training of the will as well as the mind.
"A mere accumulation of information, without a sound philosophy, is not education."
Through humbled and thoroughly loyal characters, Charles Dickens shines light on the fact that social class has nothing to do with character formation and happiness in his classical novel.
Accompanied by constantly loyal family and friends, the main character, Philip Pirrip, eventually learns that true happiness is found in these. Pip believes that true happiness can be obtained by living in high society and that only money and position decide one's character.
This is a very depressing thought for the seven-year-old orphaned blacksmith apprentice, but he is determined to one day get away and find happiness.
I was once told that if someone produced an analysis of Dante’s The Divine Comedy which failed to attribute the motive of the whole to love of God, then the analizer failed in his understanding.
Because of its wonderful complexity, The Divine Comedy can be understood on many levels, as long as each points to God. On its grandest scale, the poem presents a view of the final destiny of the whole universe and the human race: to return to God and acknowledge Him as the source of all existence, knowledge and love. Pilgrimage defines the action which directly reveals the epic nature of The Divine Comedy.
In Charlotte Yong's historical fiction, The Lances of Lynwood, Eustace quickly learns that not every knight exercises chivalry and honor as easily as he does.
Not only is he trying to prove his worthiness of knighthood to his family and prince, but also thrown on his plate is an unexpected guardianship role to his nephew. He experiences dishonorable treatment and betrayal with no where to turn for help.
Christian civilization is governed by faith and reason. Heathen nihilism is controlled by the ruling spirit of hate and superstition. The differences between Christians and heathens is obvious when comparing their views on life and death. Christian civilization battles heathen lawlessness in Chesterton's epic poem, The Ballad of the White Horse.
By What Authority? leaves the reader with a fond memory of characters and examples they gave. The reader realizes that one of the greatest things to have near one are friends who are facing the same hardships as yourself. The reader will remember Isabel’s serene silence in the hardest of times, Mary’s gallantry in her life and especially in the final chapters, Anthony’s blunders and the ways he fixed them will remind the reader to think twice before you leap.
Fr Brown is humble, humorous, and down-to-earth. This priest created by G.K. Chesterton is anything but a Sherlock Holmes.
Never boasting or proclaiming himself the hero of any of the mysteries he solves, this humble priest keeps his discoveries to himself. When a clue suddenly hits him he waits until he is sure that his hypothesis is true before he tells the others his solution.
Oftentimes, Fr Brown, himself is accused of the crime. He never lets his pride get the best of him by acting insulted or declaring that he is a priest and should not be accused of such things.
This story is a well written, true-to-life novel about the real outcome of the Protestant Revolt. Readers see in a story way the king's wicked ways and how he created chaos throughout the land.
Ralph represents the selfish men who set greedy eyes on church property. Chris represents the suffering of the clergy during this time. Beatrice represents the confused laymen who are puzzled by how to act.
The author keeps the reader on the edge of his seat especially in the final suspenseful chapters. This excellent novel shows that love can overcome pride no matter what may lay ahead.
The characters teach the reader that humility and poverty get rewarded in the end and that the greedy and the proud become miserable and unhappy.
Charming pictures, engaging tales, all a children's book should be: Brambly Hedge is a welcome addition to any children's bookshelf.
These tales unfold in elaborately illustrated homes belonging to a delightful society of mice. Join Dusty, Wilfred, Poppy, Primrose and their friends as they share adventures along the hedge, in the hills and under the dunes near the seaside.
There is an extravagant birthday picnic for Wilfred, a sweet wedding for Dusty and Poppy, and a heartwarming midwinter party for all the inhabitants of Brambly Hedge.
In the book, Joan of Arc, the author, Mark Twain, sweeps the reader of his feet and carries him off to the fifteenth century. France has been fighting for freedom for nearly one hundred years. By now she is tired of fighting and rebelling. Her king does not care for the future of his country. All seems lost until a country maid of seventeen declares that she will shake off the cruel yoke of the English.
A Tale of the Wars of the Roses, also published as Grisly Grisell, is a Cinderella story that is steeped in virtue and valor.
The book opens in the year 1443 and closes in 1467. Through all these years the reader follows the life of Grisell. Throughout them she learns a great deal about life and the cruelty of fellow men.
Come Rack! Come Rope!, by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson takes the reader to the Protestant Revolt of the 16th century is well into its course with a cruel Protestant Queen on the throne of England killing Catholic priests and laymen in her wake. Catholics find ways to live, keep and even die for their Faith. They hide priests in unknown places and hear Mass secretly.
This excellent novel shows that fidelity to the Faith and to friends is a necessity if you want yourself and your comrades to be strong during this hard time.
A Tale Of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens takes place during the French Revolution. Paris and London are shown in this touching story about loyalty and fidelity to the ones you love.
In this classic, bravery and loyalty win the day.
This is especially true in the case of Sydney Carter. This character seems to be an afterthought. Dickens never puts a lot of emphasis on him throughout the beginning of the novel but...
the reader is surprised when he ends up being the hero!
The most touching part of the story is when Dickens tells us what Sydney is thinking as he mounts the scaffold:
“It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen is a story about five sisters and the love affairs of three of them. Jane Austen, does a perfect job of setting up her characters, making the reader feel like they can actually crack into the characters' minds and think the way they think and feel the way they feel.
Jane Austen does a great job of showing the reader that people are not always the way they appear when you first meet them.
Travel with Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters through the joys and sorrows portrayed in this novel.
After reading this book, throw a Jane Austen party. Here's how...
Robert Louis Stevenson is a masterful story teller. In the book Kidnapped, the reader is swept to Scotland in 1751, six years after the Jacobite uprising.
This novel tells the story of David Balfour's adventure as he travels through the lowlands as well as the highlands of Scotland with the outlaw Alan Breck Stewart.
This story is an adventurous epic and an all-time favorite. It introduces the reader to many
characters while covering a large setting.
David and Alan build a strong and unique friendship that never wavers despite their many differences.
Both being suspected for the murder, Alan and David “take to the heather.” Dodging red coats and using secret hiding places, Alan and David finally make it to safety in the lowlands. Here Alan helps David get his estate from his greedy uncle before he returns to France.
Loyalty, courage, forgiveness and friendship linger in the reader’s mind and help inspire him to develop these traits in his own life.
We loved Outlaws of Ravenhurst so much that a homeschool movie making studio that we began has made a full length movie of it! This exciting story is about a “farmer's son” returning to his true home in Scotland.
The Gordon walks into a new culture where he must choose between a royal seat beside the King of Scotland or a royal seat beside the King of Heaven.
Outlaws Of Ravenhurst, by Sister M. Imelda Wallace is the story about a boy returning to his true home in Scotland. Protestant Scotland tries to turn him from his Faith. But the Gordon is unmovable.
Outlaws of Ravenhurst is both inspiring and entertaining for children and adults.
The Jesuit Martyrs of North America "Saints Among Savages" is the true story of love for suffering, love for one’s enemies, and finally love for God.
The book is based on the letters the Jesuits sent to their superiors in France relating their sufferings and hardships in the New World.
Although this is a very disturbing book about how Christianity came to our nation, reading about how much the martyrs suffered for the sake of their enemies, allows the reader to clearly see how the North American Martyrs loved suffering, their enemies, and above all, how they loved God.
Ad maiorem Dei gloriam!
We recommend any Hilda van Stocum novel. She is a wonderful story teller who write culturally rich novels and is Catholic through and through.
The Winged Watchman, is an amazing story about World War II in Holland. Written in ten-year-old Joris Verhargen’s eyes the story shows how the war affected different people in different ways. This story demonstrates neighborly love for one another.
We liked this book so much that we wanted to make a movie out of it. Getting permission proved a little complicated but it may happen in the future.
This is my favorite book. I loved it so much I named one of my daughters Adelaide. Heidi is about well, Heidi, a virtuous little girl and her many adventures. This is one of the most enduring stories ever written.
Life in the nineteenth century rural Swiss Alps is compared to the urban city of Frankfort, Germany, as the story unfolds.
This book shows that Christian virtues can be evident anywhere and in anyone, as seen in the actions of Heidi, and the other characters.Click here to read the complete book summary.
Please read this novel before sharing with children to determine age appropriateness for your own family.
Dracula, is a horror novel by the author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move to England so he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women begins.
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emmuka Orczy takes the reader to revolutionary France in 1792 where people thirst for their fellow countrymen’s blood. This 211 page historical drama, published by Dover, copyright in 2002, also takes place in England where Sir Percy and Marguerite Blakeney live. Other characters include the heroic Scarlet Pimpernel and his evil nemesis, Chauvelin. In this thrilling novel, no matter how many traps he sets for the cunning Scarlet Pimpernel, Chauvelin always comes up empty handed.
Baroness Orczy’s characters teach the reader loyalty, self-denial and bravery. In the end, Marguerite was loyal to the Pimpernel by putting her life in danger to warn him. The Scarlet Pimpernel’s extraordinary self-denial as he bravely faces many dangers for the sake of others inspires the reader.
Loyalty, self-denial and bravery linger in the reader’s mind and help inspire him to develop these virtues in his own life.
Do you just love books by Mary Fabyan Windeatt? Her Saint Margaret Mary and the Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus novel is a gem.
This enjoyable book is highly recommend to all who enjoy reading about the lives of the saints. Its reading level is especially appropriate for middle school readers through adult.
All throughout this story the reader learns about the many virtues everyday people can practice and should strive to attain; from St. Margaret Mary's humble obedience to her spiritual director's faith and trust.
In Mark Twain’s Famous book, The Prince And The Pauper, the reader sees just how important it is to be who you are and not wish to be anyone else’s position.
Throughout the story the reader follows both the young, elaborate, and proud Prince Edward of England and the poor, plain, and humble pauper Tom Canty of the streets.
When these two meet each other, they also meet the adventure of their lives.
These Happy Golden Years book summary shows how Laura’s joys are the result of all the hardships she endured from boarding with the Brewsters to teaching unwilling students.
It takes trial to make something perfect. If something has never been tried, then how do people know it will work? Laura may have had many thorns in her side, but she bore them and was rewarded.
This romantic climax to the Little House Series is a tale that will be enjoyed by young girls and maturing girls alike. Laura's struggles growing up and all the virtues that were instilled in her are displayed in the story of the women she becomes. Read it...it's great!
The Singing Tree book summary shows that families can be loving to each other, to their friends and even to their enemies.
The Nagy family shows love to each other twice. One of the ways they show this is when they are housing their uncle and his daughter, Kate. Later in the story, Janci and Kate go and bring their Grandparents to live with them. They do both of these things out of love for their family.
The Nagys also are loving to their friends. The Nagys bring a girl whose father is at the war to live with them. After some time, they also welcome her mother to their ever growing household.
On top of that they take in a sick friend of theirs and her newborn baby. They lovingly care for all of these friends until their husbands and fathers return from the war.
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White-This book demonstrates the love of a little girl and her pig.
When all the animals on the farm hear that the pig is going to be Christmas dinner, only the spider can put a plot together.
Read this exciting story to learn how the spider saves the life of the pig.
In the short story, The Story of the Other Wiseman by Henry van Dyke, the fourth wise man achieves his goal almost without knowing it.
Artiban wanders for many years trying to find the promised
The journey is long for Artiban because he has a compassionate heart. On his mission he helps the poor and the sick delaying him from finding the Christ Child. After he has given all his gifts to the poor and helpless he believes he has failed his mission.
Little does Artiban know that by helping others he is helping Christ.
Black Beauty , by Anna Swell-For any horse-lover, this book will take you into an animal’s world and their look at the people around them.
Our list of books for the whole family was created with Don Bosco's wise words in mind. Never read books you aren't sure about. It's just the same as drinking something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup. Books can be "bad companions" for anyone.
You may also be interested in our best family audiobooks list.
If there is a book that you would like to share, please share a review of it below in the C2 form. We love hearing about the things you like from guests like you. And don't forget to bookmark this books for the whole family list. We are adding books all the time. We add them to the top for our frequent visitors.
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A Word On Classical Literature Borrowed From Father Lasance
Knowledge of the classical writers of a person’s language is very beneficial to education. It is a person’s duty to strive for as good an education as …
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