Frequently Asked Questions

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The reader's dilemma - so many great books to read! As a book-loving homeschool family, we've collected dozens of reading lists over the years, literally thousands of recommendations. We used these to find great books for a certain reading level, historical period, or type such as fiction, biography, etc. We found some books on almost everyone's "Classics" list, and many more on multiple lists, giving us a sense of each book's importance. We'd look online to find which were in-print and affordable, and so on... A rewarding, yet difficult process of categorizing, prioritizing, searching - just the things a website can do so well.

Background

Our family are book lovers who have homeschooled together for 9+ years. The foundation of our curriculum is the reading of good books coupled with thorough mathematics. Our approach is similar to that of the Sonlight and Robinson curriculums. Indeed these approaches inspired us when we were just starting. Along the way other related curriculums and methods such as those from Well-Trained Mind, Veritas Press, and the Charlotte Mason Method helped us refine our approach and gave many helpful suggestions. These teaching methods all focus heavily on reading good, classic, "living books" rather than a textbook or workbook approach. They all suggest dozens of quality books for each age level, all focusing on various historical periods or other broad themes.

Motivation for this Site

A wonderful problem exists for homeschool families - there's too much good material to teach! As we were confronted with a dozen or more solid reading-based plans, each recommending 100's of books, choosing what few books to read each year became a fun, but difficult, problem. We would see what books the various lists had in common for a given reading level, what we could find affordably online, what we could find at the library. Then narrow down further based on the type of work - classic literature vs. biographies vs. general naratives, etc. and then the historical period the book covered - ancient vs. middle ages vs. modern, etc.
One solution to this is to just pick a single plan such as Sonlight or Robinson and just ignore the others. Sounds good but is not easy for a true book lover, for the sign of a true book lover is not only one who loves to read, but one who loves to hear what others are reading and share lists of recommendations! Another solution is that there are several book guides that are published to help categorize books. These include Honey for a Child's Heart, The Book Tree, All Through The Ages, and Invitation to the Classics. These are helpful but still require a lot of page turning, indexing, and offer no link to online book vendors or libraries that can help quickly determine what is available at a reasonable cost.
It became obvious that the solution is an online database that is easily searchable and sortable according to the different criteria of reading level, type, price, etc. So after a few months programming and converting our various accumulated lists into a database, this site was launched.

Are you really listing every good book?

We hope to eventually! This site grew from our initial site Every Good Path, a term from Proverbs 2:9 describing the rich life God intends. Some of the best things in life are great books. So we hope to someday have a listing for every worthwhile book. Search through the listings and we hope you'll agree there's enough great ones listed for more than a lifetime of reading. However, we've surely missed a few so please send us your recommendations.

How do you Determine What Books to Include?

As mentioned in the Background and Motivation sections, we've accumulated many lists of books over the years. We also looked at various online book recommendations from experienced homeschool bloggers and reading lists from many private Christian schools. This forms our candidate list. We then check how many "trusted" lists each candidate book appears on. If the book is found on at least 3 lists, or if we've read it personally and can recommend it, it's added to the database for public access. We haven't read all the books (yet) so can't personally guarantee the content and appropriateness of each book listed, but we do deem trustworthy the sources of the lists we use. As always, personal judgment and discretion is advised.

How is Rank Determined?

Since over a thousand books are part of the database, we add 3 categories of ranking to help you narrow down your choice further. Every book is found on at least 3 of the dozen+ recommendation lists we're using - so every book in the database is recommended by at least 3 different reputable Christian educational establishments and has at least a 1 star ranking. Those recommended on approximately half of the lists are given the 2 star rank. Those recommended on the vast majority of the lists have the highest 3 star rank.

What is Grade Level?

This is the recommended age at which most would be able to read the book alone and at which the content is age-appropriate. Reading ability varies greatly among students so these are general guidelines. Elementary refers for ages under 10, Middle is ages 10-13, Upper is age 14 and up, including adults. We try to be conservative in judging age-appropriateness. There may be a book easily understandable to a middle school child which has potentially disturbing content- so we'd call that an "Upper" level book. Parental discretion is always needed as we may have misjudged the level. For most books, direct links to Amazon are provided to you can easily find out more about the book with a single click.
Keep in mind that books written at the Upper level may be perfectly enjoyable for younger students when read aloud.

What does Historical Period mean?

Most educational plans break history into 3 to 8 eras. Using major milestones in Western Civilization, we've chosen 7 periods from the Ancient time before the rise of Greece and Rome, through the Classical period of the Greek and Roman civilizations, to the Middle Age period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance, then to the Renaissance/Reformation period. Following these are the time of New World discovery and Colonization until about 1800. We then consider the 1800's and 1900-present as the two final distinct historical periods.
We categorize Historical Period not according to when the book was written, but according to the book's content. For example, although Shakespeare wrote during the late Renaissance, some of his plays are about events in much earlier periods and would be categorized as such.
Books about events outside of the Western Civilization categories are still placed in the corresponding time period. Books of fantasy, children's fiction,and some theological works are not based in any specific historical time. Historical Period for these is "Not History Related".
A book may cover more than one time period. For example, A church history survey would cover from the Classical period to the Present. When listed, "Classical to Modern" would be shown. Any search for an intervening time period, such as MiddleAges would include the book.

Can you Explain the Type Criterion?

General - book is non-fiction and primarily describes events or situations
Philosophical - general philosophy, including religion and politics;
Biography - non-fiction primarily about a person or group of people
Literature - any poetry or drama as well as classic fiction
Historical Fiction - books set in a real historical setting, though the details are fictional.
Note that many classic works can be considered "Historical Fiction", but we categorize them as Literature. For example, A Tale of Two Cities is set in a real historical event, but is considered a classic so we define it to be Literature.

How are prices determined and what does the Maximum Price setting mean?

Affordability is important when choosing books. A great book that breaks your budget is not very useful for most of us. I used to manually check Amazon to look up all the books we were considering to help us narrow down our list. So the site does this for you. The site automatically checks Amazon several times daily to determine availability and pricing of new and used versions of each book. Since online shopping always requires shipping, shipping costs are figured into the book price. On Amazon, many new books are eligible for free shipping. Used books typically are less expensive, but are shipped for $3.99 so we don't just compare listed price. For Amazon items, we take the new and used prices and add any shipping costs to each. If the new price is cheaper, we display that as the price. If the used price is more than 20% cheaper than the new price, we use that price. We assume most folks prefer a new item to used, even it is a little more expensive. When you can save at least 20%, the used item becomes a better deal.
The Maximum Price button allows you to limit search results based on price, so you can see just those in your budget range.

What are "Offsite Link Settings"?

Links to publisher sites or vendors can be set to open in a new window or panel. This allows you to stay where you are on EveryGoodBook, while accessing the other site. Most folks prefer this rather than bouncing back and forth in the same window. A single new window is opened on your first offsite link, and that same window is used for subsequent offsite links. Use the "Offsite Link Settings" link to set your preference.
Note that all links on EveryGoodBook.com always open in the EveryGoodBook window.

What is the "Local Library" link?

This links directly to the WorldCat site, where thousands of local public libraries make their catalogs available. These are direct, convenient links to the listed book's information, either linking by the book's ISBN, or author/title for older books that do not have ISBN codes. In WorldCat, you can set your zipcode to find your library and search it directly. Not all libraries are part of WorldCat, but thousands are. Yours is likely a member, try it to find out.

Can I Sort my Search Results?

Simply click on Title, Rank, Period, etc. in the gray header bar to sort by that criteria.

Some of these books seem dangerous - Why list Marx's Communist Manifesto or Hitler's Mein Kampf?

While we have not read every book in the list, we do respect the sources of the recommendation lists. Since 3 or more recommendations for a book are required to make our list, we are comfortable listing a book we may not have read. Books by madmen such as Marx or Hitler have great impact so studying them judiciously has some merit in helping us understand the world. If we would not be comfortable discussing a book within our own family, we remove it from the list, even if it's found on several other recommendation lists.

Can I make a suggestion or add my comments to a book?

We welcome all suggestions and encourage participation - just use our Contact form. Thanks!

Credits

Some images courtesy of the Desert Sand template.

References

Estimate of 120,000,000 published books is from UC Berkeley's "How Much Information? 2003" study. Annual publishing estimates are from this Wikipedia article.

Recommended Sites

Other helpful sites for teachers, parents, and homeschoolers:
Every Good Path
EHO Lite
Sitesforteachers.com - Top educator sites ranked by popularity
hslaunch.com's list of top education sites