By request: Light-hearted classic books for teens.
Light-Hearted Classic Books for Teens
After a year of living through a global pandemic, we have been receiving requests for light-hearted literature for their homeschool high schoolers. We all know that teens need to be reading a lot for their English/Language Arts credits. That’s great!
But often, literature deals with heavy topics. This is as it should be. Teens need to learn to wrestle with tough ideas and gain critical thinking skills. However, sometimes we need a year to LIGHTEN UP!
So, we crowdsourced with our 7th Sisters and homeschool graduates: What are your favorite books that did NOT include difficult moral topics, murder or suicide?
We asked for ideas from all genres and got LOTS of excited feedback. It turns out that some of the light-hearted reading remains the most memorable.
So, here is a list of light-hearted classic books for teens
I have to admit, some of the adventure novels have some violence but hopefully in the swashbuckling way that will not stress out a pandemic-stressed teen. Use your own guidelines (and your teens’ opinions) to make reading choices.
Also, note: the term “classic book” is used generously in this list. After all, we are homeschooling families so we do what is best for our teens’ education. In this case, if the book, play or poetry has survived and is popular into a second generation of readers, we added it to the list.
Please feel free to narrow your definition, there are plenty of classic, classic books on this list. (BTW- if your teens need to be encouraged to read classics, here’s post from Dr. Micah Tillman to help understand why one should read old books.)
If you would like to follow the 7Sisters guidelines (remember: there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school, we simply share what has worked for our teens and the teens we have taught over the decades), do literature study guides once or twice a month, but not for every book.
We’ve included links to 7Sisters study guides for books that were suggested (and that we have guides for, of course).
Novels from World Authors
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
- I am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
- The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
- The Three Musketeers series by Alexandre Dumas (Download this don’t-kill-the-book study guide.)
Novels from British Authors
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (Start with the study guide and follow up with our cinema study guide for the movie version. Follow up with a Muppets Christmas Carol unit study for the whole family. Finish off with reading this post from professional book narrator, Will Hahn, and discussing his thoughts on this classic.)
- All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Download the study guides to illuminate Lewis’ theology and philosophy embedded in the stories.)
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (Download the study guide and check out this how-to post.)
- Jasper Fforde many series
- The Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse (7Sisters has a fun Literature Study Guide for Right Ho, Jeeves.)
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyon
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- The Scarlet Pimpernel series by Baroness Orczy
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Books from US and Canadian Authors
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Download this freebie study guide designed as a whole-family experience.)
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Download this no-busywork study guide.)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline l’Engle
- The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- Call of the Wild by Jack London
- Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.
- The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
- Love Comes Softly by Janet Oke
- The Mask of Zorro by Jonathan McCulley
- The Off-Islanders by Nathaniel Benchley
- The Philippian Fragment by Calvin Miller
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
- Roughing It by Mark Twain
- The Singreale Trilogy by Calvin Miller
- That Printer of Udell’s by Harold Bell Wright
- Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- White Fang by Jack London
Biographies and Memoirs
- The Autobiography of George Muller
- Biographies by Janet and Geoff Benge for YWAM. (Janet and Geoff have written two wonderful biography series: Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History. They are easy reads and well worth it for inspiration. Check out the Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with Janet and Geoff Benge!)
- Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman (autobiography)
- God’s Smuggler (the story of Brother Andrew) (Download this no-busywork study guide.)
- Old Squire’s Farm by C.A. Stephens
- Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
- Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom
- The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw by Patrick McManus
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
- American Poetry Reading and Writing (Download this non-stuffy, no-busywork guide for reading American poetry and writing it, too.)
- British Poetry (Download this non-stuffy, no-busywork guide for reading British poetry and writing it as well.)
- Emily Dickinson collections
- Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot (Download the study guide for this delightful poetry collection that everyone can enjoy.)
- Ogden Nash collections
- World Poetry Reading and Writing (Download this guide that makes reading and writing World Poetry accessible and meaningful.)
- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (Watch the movie version and download the Cinema Studies for Literature Learning Study Guide.)
- Pygmaliaon by George Bernard Shaw
Theological Books and Devotionals
- Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence (Download the study guide for this little book that has big inspiration.)
- Great Christian Writers (Download these guides for a full year of inspiration.)
- Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard
- Hymns and Creeds (Download this not-boring study guide to enjoy hymns and creeds as literature.)
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge (Download the study guide for this beautiful biography of Mother Teresa)
- Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman
Cinema Studies for Literature Learning
Sometimes, movies can count as literature. 7Sisters Cinema Studies for Literature Learning teach literature themes and ideas in the context of specific movies that illustrate those themes.
Some of our most light-hearted and inspiring Cinema Studies for Literature Learning study guides are:
- The Importance of Being Ernest
- The Incredibles
- Lillies of the Field
- The Miracle Worker
- What’s Up, Doc?
- Full Year of Cinema Studies for Literature Learning
- More movies ideas are in this great post from our friend, Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom. (To count it as a book, pull out literature themes that you noticed in the movie and discuss. You can use 7Sisters Cinema Studies for Literature Learning guides as a guideline- or do your own thing.)