High School Summer Reading List

Our high school summer reading list has now expanded to include

  1. An elementary reading list
  2. A middle school summer reading list
  3. And then my Catholic Reading list for high school

You'll find that they are in order pretty much by reading difficulty.

High school reading list for Catholics. Elementary and middle school recommendations, too.Catholic high school reading list. Elementary and grade school too.

Make Your Own Summer Reading List

Many of these books could also be read during the school year, but these particular books are less "text-bookie", or more interesting in and of themselves. They are not merely books for information during the school year although some give plenty of information.

All of these books are generally edifying and many are also very interesting for adult Catholics or converts, especially the high school reading list. Some of these are also rare Catholic books so you may have to dig to find them or search for PDFs at Archive .org - especially as time goes. 

First the little ones.

1. Elementary Summer Reading List

Avid reader: A Catholic elementary summer reading list will get gobbled up by an avid reader! Depending on how reading ready your students are, they can often read the middle school and high school summer reading lists, too. We ourselves have an avid reader or two who starve for good reading. 

The trouble is that there are so few specifically children's Catholic books that are not tainted with bad attitudes, scandalous stories, and other items that you do not want duplicated in your child's behavior - even as recommended by Catholic elementary schools. Beware. Read them yourself before you hand them to your children, especially at this early age

One of our children said so nicely, "I think that a lot of people don't think that they might have a child imitating the bad things portrayed in the book."

It's true. Children do imitate what they see around them and a book takes their minds straight to the scene. The Eighth Commandment is the standard here and it warns us not to read bad books.

The answer? It is exciting to see that there are many Catholic book publishing companies that are republishing good books and that new authors are writing good books even if they have to self publish.

Do you have a reluctant reader? One suggestion is to have a reluctant reader re-read his favorite book from the previous year just for fun. This is a great idea for middle school children, too. Another suggestion is to have that child pre-read a book that will be used during the next school year so as to reduce the load during the year. We know the joy of helping several reluctant readers succeed, so we're eager to share the good ideas that we learn!

Read to your little ones. There is so much good advice about reading to your little ones that I am sure that pre-reading the books on our elementary summer reading list is a good idea for your pre-readers who could use a little more courage or help. You can assign the books for them to read later.

Just an idea: One dear friend had had her children write one book report every month of the summer break and pre-read/memorize the catechism for the coming year! She's a super organized Mom with great ideas whose children always did well in school. Maybe these suggestions will be helpful to you someday, too, whether your students are "in school" or "homeschooling".

Most of the better books that we have found are from lists recommended in traditional Catholic catalogs and Catholic home school curriculum lists like Our Lady of Victory School, Refuge of Sinners Publishing, Neumann Press,  and Tan Books:

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  • Life of Little Nellie of Holy God
  • New Catholic Picture Bible
  • Picture Book of Saints
  • Child's Bible History, Rev. F. J. Knecht
  • Precious Mary Paper Doll
  • Catholic Mother Goose nursery rhymes
  • Alphabet Of Saints, Msgr. Benson
  • A Child's Rule Of Life, Msgr. Benson
  • Jesus And Mary, Sr. M. Julianna
  • I Believe, Sr. M. Julianna
  • Manners in God's House, Sr. M. Julianna
  • Little Therese, Pere Carbonel, S.J.
  • The Story of the Mass, James Conniff
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Children of the Kingdom ebook or printable PDF
  • Some Brother Ernest books seem quite nice for this level. Our Lady of Victory School recommends them, but I have not had a chance to read them.

    I recommend that you be careful with the Vision, Mary Fabyan Windeatt, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and other secular books. Some of the books in these collections are wonderful books. Others you need to beware. Beware new versions too as publishers, editors, and authors are likely not to let you know about updates.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder? I would skip some of the songs. There are risque drawings in The Little House on the Prairie (Indians) and in Farmer Boy (bath scene). By the fourth or fifth book, she and Almanzo reject the traditional teaching on marriage. Do read ahead to see where to quit. Some say that these were later additions, so you may find better editions than I had had.

    2. Catholic Middle School Summer Reading List

    A Catholic middle school summer reading list is easier to make and can be used for the high school summer reading list if your students need "mind candy", a relief from the rigors of school.

    There are so many more subjects that a middle school student can understand, that definitive lives of the saints are good additions to the list of books for Catholic kids.

    There are more Roman Catholic books at this level that are not mere text book readers with their many adaptations and re-writes. Still, as many old children's books as exist, there are few that were written specifically for Catholic children.

    Expand your middle school summer reading list with selections from Refuge of Sinners, Tan Books, and Neumann Press.

    • Ven. Francisco Marto of Fatima
    • Blessed Jacinta Marto of Fatima
    • The story of Fatima, Mother of Christ Crusade
    • Children's Retreats, Fr. Halpins
    • Anne: Life of Venerable Anne de Guigne, a Benedictine Nun of Stanbrook Abbey
    • Life of St. Benedict, Pope St. Gregory the Great
    • Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lissieux
    • Aloysius Gonzaga, Fr. Maurice Meschler, SJ
    • Saint Thomas a Becket: The Holy Blissful Martyr
    • Outlaws Of Ravenhurst, Sister M. Imelda Wallace, S.L.
    • The Winged Watchman, Hilda van Stockum
    • Life of Father De Smet, Fr. E. Laveille, SJ
    • The Mantle of Mercy, by Leo Weismantel, Albert Paul Schimberg
    • Master of Mischief Makers - Saint John Baptist de la Salle, Leo Charles Burkhard

    Collections of chapter books for middle school reading:

    • Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P. books, esp. Saint Philomena and Angels
    • TAN Books books on St. Therese of Lissieux, esp. Story of a Soul
    • Brother Ernest Books.
    • Vision Book Series of Saints for Youth (NB: Pre-read these.)
    • James Herriot books.
    • Some Landmark Books are excellent for learning history in story form.

    3. Catholic High School Summer Reading Lists

    A Catholic high school summer reading list can be hard to find simply because those who sell authentically Catholic books either do not specify that their books are Catholic or they do not see that many parents and students specifically search for high school summer reading programs. I hope my list will help speed a summer through slow times and preserve and inspire your children as they enter the college, job, or career world.

    Another consideration: If your students are not in a good Catholic school or are not using a Catholic home school curriculum, you might want to look at our Catholic book recommendations, home school book lists, and spiritual reading to see what your children need to read before they leave your care.

    I heartily recommend that you offer many books that teach how to know, love, and serve God in this world so as to be happy with Him in Heaven. Our children need to have confidence (which means "with faith" in Latin) in the Catholic Faith before they leave the security of home and school.

    The real question is, "Which books are good Catholic books to put on a high school summer reading list?" How do you know if a book is "Catholic" or not?

    Some are easy to eliminate:

    • those which start with how many millions of years old the earth is (see the excellent time line in the back of the Douay-Rheims Bible), 
    • those which repeatedly mention the evolution of species or ideas, 
    • and especially those that expound upon progress and revolution in ideas as opposed to the ideas set forth by God in His Ten Commandments or in His Church's precepts. 

    Many a recommended high school summer reading list will put forward as "classics" those books that progressivists call "classics", those books that are written by Masons, Communists, and Modernists or by sympathizers with those errors.

    Many Catholic book lists have even recommended these authors and some old Catholic books use their theories. In this case, the parent or teacher must use the principles put forward in Pope Pius XI's Encyclical: On the Christian Education of Youth; Divini Illius Magistri as to how to teach what can be "good" in the works of these authors.

    Another excellent idea is to read deliberate dumbing down of america (dddoa) by Charlotte Iserbyt to get an idea of what change agents have done in the education world. I am so grateful to have read these two.

    Sometimes it's fine to read books by secular authors. Other than that, when one is looking for specifically Catholic books, one must start with authentically Catholic books that are recommended by the Church's priests and teachers. Then you have to compare the content to the truths that are taught in the Catholic Catechism or the Catholic Bible. You also need to keep in mind each child's disposition and reading level. If he struggles to read it, it won't be much fun for summer reading.

    If a book has been recommended by the Church for centuries you can have certitude. That is, if it has not been re-written or edited.

    Also, if a book condemns the same errors that the Church condemns, you can have more surety; but not always, since there are many authors that condemn Communism but clamor for Modernist tenets, etc. agreeing with the Church in one doctrine while fighting her in another.

    New Catholic books offer more trouble since their content has not passed the test of time. Read the book first or let your children know to beware.

    If books pass the test of the Ten Commandments and Church doctrine they can be good additions to a high school summer reading list. You and your children will live happier lives if you make careful choices in your high school summer reading list before they start their own lives.

    Truly, though, be certain that your student is able to discern these aspects or you must scope the books on any high school summer reading list yourself. We as parents have the duty to our children to spare them the false philosophies and bizarre psychologies that abound today and to teach them why they are false so that they can recognize them and can fight them in life. 

    We heartily recommend the following books. If you find anything against the Catholic Faith in this high school summer reading list, please Contact Us. Please include the URL address in your browser window.

    • Gabriel Garcia Moreno, President of Equador, Rev. Fr. Augustine Berthe Read this to understand American History!
    • El Cid: God's Own Champion, James Fitzhenry
    • Saint Fernando III Of Castile, James Fitzhenry
    • Defenders of Christendom, James Fitzhenry
    • Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, ebook or printable PDF.
    • Where We Got the Bible, Rt. Rev. Henry G. Graham With a sometimes hilarious perspective!
    • Hidden Treasure: Holy Mass, St. Leonard
    • Maid of Heaven: The Story of Saint Joan of Arc
    • The Scarlet and the Black, J.P. Gallagher The Story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty or The Scarlet Pimpernel of The Vatican - edited for archaic or British terms, otherwise, verbatim.
    • Philip II
    • Holding the Stirrup, Baroness Elisabeth von Guttenberg
    • To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiegne Guillotined July 17, 1794, William Bush Awesome look at the French Revolution!
    • Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita
    • The Cure Of Ars, Abbe Francois Trochu
    • Two Vincentian Martyrs: Blessed Francis Regis Clet, C.M., Blessed John Gabriel Perboyre, C.M. A meticulous story of holy men who really loved the Chinese people.
    • The Priest Who Failed And Other Stories, Includes a great story about Father Pro of Mexico.
    • The Bravest of the Virginia Calvary Includes a brave Civil War story.
    • The Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux
    • Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross
    • Gertrude the Great
    • Dressing With Dignity, Colleen Hammond
    • Saint Joseph Of Cupertino, Fr. A. Pastrovicchi
    • St. Rose Of Lima, Sr. Mary Alphonsus, O.SS.R.
    • Autobiography Of St. Teresa Of Avila
    • Good St. Anne
    • Rhine Flows Into The Tiber
    • Teresa of Avila, F. A. Forbes
    • Pius V, Robin Anderson Foreword by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani
    • Alphonsus Liguori, Fr. D.F. Miller, C.SS.R., Fr. L.X. Aubin, C.SS.R.
    • Life of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Fanchon Royer
    • St. Margaret Clitherow, Margaret T. Monro
    • Martyrs of the Coliseum, Fr. A. J. O'Reilly, D.D.
    • Glories Of Mary, St. Alphonsus Ligouri - Heavy spiritual reading.
    • The Incredible Catholic Mass, Fr. Martin von Cochem An awesome explanation of the Mass complete with miracles!
    • AA 1025 The Memoirs of an Anti-Apostle Amazing story of intrigue in the Catholic Church.
    • Cardinal Mindszenty Speaks - Authorized White Book He speaks while in the most dangerous of times!

    Dr. Warren Caroll's smaller works are interesting reading for those who do not use them in school:

    • Last Crusade, Dr. Warren Carroll
    • Our Lady Of Guadalupe, Dr. Warren Carroll
    • 1917, Dr. Warren Carroll
    • Guillotine And The Cross, Dr. Warren Carroll
    • Isabel Of Spain, Dr. Warren Carroll

    Thank you for visiting our high school summer reading list!

    I have a good spiritual reading list here.

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