The Heights | Heights Books

Heights Books



A list of truly great and very good books for young men in grades three through twelve.

While other excellent reading lists exist for students, this compilation of titles is different in that all of the recommended books, in some way, complement a Heights education. The titles found below will broaden the horizons of those who read them. Many directly correspond to what students are studying in class and can powerfully engage the imagination of a boy or young man. Some are the type that become a life-long companion, meant to be read and re-read, contributing to the formation of the man one becomes.

What cannot be found here are the types of books—a product of very recent times—that have been written to promote reading as a form of entertainment, a mere distraction, to compete with video games, the Internet, and television, leaving little to the imagination. Instead, these recommended titles require the cultivation of a certain amount of interior silence and strength to retreat into a world where the written word works with the imagination to give life to an adventure. As such, it will be an effort for some to become immersed in these books. Nonetheless, the ascetical struggle to cultivate the interior silence necessary to enter these imaginative worlds (both fiction and non-fiction) will undoubtedly be richly rewarded.

Many of these books are meant to form the basis for a conversation, to serve as an entry way into a generations-old dialogue on matters pertaining to the most important human realities:  true love, suffering, sacrifice, heroism, evil, good, and the possibility of an ultimate meaning more powerful than death. While a student who reflectively reads and discusses selections from Heights Books with his teacher can earn extra-credit, the greatest reward will be in the human enrichment that results. As a mountain naturally invites one to climb all the way to the top, so these lists naturally present a challenge to these young men to strive for completion, a challenge to which we hope, with proper encouragement from both faculty and parents, many Heights students will rise.

A Partnership with Parents

Any educational endeavor that seeks to accomplish something truly great, such as promoting a counter-cultural culture of reading, requires a partnership between faculty and parents. Members of The Heights faculty put a great deal of time and effort into the Heights Books project—critical input, careful study, and many conversations. Likewise, this project serves as a great summer-reading list for the faculty, especially the English and History teachers.

So how can parents help?

  • Encourage the cultivation of silence necessary for reading and study in your homes.
  • Ensure that electronic distractions, especially screens, do not impact the tone of home life.
  • Foster family times of quiet study, especially on weekends and holiday.
  • Challenge your sons to read these books as a way to grow as a student and as a person.  Set an example of study and reading yourself.
  • Make these books available to your sons, either as additions to your family library or as books borrowed from the local library.
  • Encourage your sons to take advantage of the extra-credit opportunity that reading these books presents.

To Earn Extra Credit

A student reads a book from the appropriate list.

Books need not be read in a particular order.

The book must be read during the academic year (September through May).

If a student has already read a book from the list, he must re-read it during the school year to earn credit.

Students may read books from earlier grade lists, but will not earn credit from these books. For example, a 5th-grade student is welcome to read books from the 3rd or 4th-grade lists but he will not earn credit for doing so. Students should not read books from higher grade lists. No credit will be awarded for reading books above a student’s current grade level.

After finishing the book, the student should schedule a time to discuss the book with his English or History teacher. In discussing the book, the teacher will determine if the student has read the book with a spirit of reflection and engagement. For books in the upper-grade lists, the teacher may direct the student to have a conversation with another faculty member, likely the faculty member who recommended the book and has a genuine passion for the work.

Following the discussion, the teacher will award extra credit. This extra credit can raise the student’s grade, but not so much that he can neglect his regular class work. Indeed, for the extra credit to fully count, a student must be current on his regular class assignments.

3rd grade

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
All Alone by Claire Huchet Bishop
Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop
A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla
Riding the Pony Express by Clyde Robert Bulla
The Secret Valley by Clyde Robert Bulla
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
The Lion in the Box by Marguerite De Angeli
The White Stallion of Lipizza by Marguerite Henry
St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling Clancy Holling
Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling
Seabird by Holling Clancy Holling
Tree in the Trail by Holling Clancy Holling
Smoky the Cow Horse by Will James
How the Forest Grew by William Jasperjohn
Alexander the Great by Andrew Langley
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Beaver of Weeping Water by Marian Rumsey
A Triumph for Falvius by Caroline Dale Snedeker
The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of The Odyssey by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Great Quillow by James Thurber
Stuart Little by E.B. White

4th grade

Peter Pan by James Barrie
Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla
The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth
The Singing Hill by Meindert DeJong
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
My Side of the Mountain by Jean C. George
Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
The Boy Knight by G.A. Henty
The Box of Delights by John Masefield
The Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
Water Buffalo Days by Huynh Quang Nhuong
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle
Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Escape from Warsaw by Ian Serraillier
The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
The Minstrel in the Tower by Gloria Skurzynski
Buffalo Knife by William O. Steele
Flaming Arrows by William O. Steele
Winter Danger by William O. Steele

5th grade

The Story of a Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodges Burnett
Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe  
The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
True to the Old Flag by G.A. Henty
Stowaway by Karen Hesse
The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald
The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Mr. Mehan’s Mildly Amusing Mythical Mammals by Matthew Mehan
The Good Master by Kate Seredy
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff
Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde
Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson

6th grade


Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
Snow Dog by Jim Kjelgaard
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers (and series) by Ralph Moody
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit  
The Yearling by Marjorie Rowlings
Shane by Jack Schaefer
The Lone Hunt by William O. Steele
Trail Through Danger by William O. Steele
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
A Man for Others (St. M. Kolbe) by Patricia Treese
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss


Drums by James Boyd
Daniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness by John Mason Brown
Blood on the River: Jamestown 1607 by Elisa Carbone
The Boy in the Alamo by Margaret Cousins
The Joyful Beggar: St. Francis by Louis de Wohl
Duel in the Wilderness by Karin Clafford Farley
Ben Franklin: Inventing America by Thomas Fleming
The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz
Edmund Campion: Hero of God’s Underground by Harold Gardiner
Gettysburg by MacKinlay Kantor
Kit Carson and the Wild Frontier by Ralph Moody
Captured by the Mohawks by Sterling North
The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter  
We Were There on the Oregon Trail by William Steele

7th Grade


Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga) by C. S. Forester
Call of the Wild by Jack London  
The Perilous Road by William O. Steele
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Penrod (the series) by Booth Tarkington  
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne  
Up Periscope by Robb White


Throne of the World by Louis de Wohl
The Last Crusader: Don John of Austria by Louis de Wohl  
Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
Lee and Grant at Appomattox by MacKinlay Kantor
Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
Thomas Jefferson: The Revolutionary Aristocrat by Milton Meltzer
The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
The Flying Tigers by John Toland
Silence over Dunkerque by John R. Tunis

8th grade


The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Ancient Ocean Blues by Jack Mitchell
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain  
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne  
The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
Ben Hur by Lew Wallace  


The Great Siege of Malta by Ernle Bradford  
The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill
Dream and Your Dreams Will Fall Short by Pedro Casciaro  
A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton
Hannibal and the Enemies of Rome by Peter Connolly
The Roman Army by Peter Connolly
Caesar’s Gallic War by Olivia Coolidge
The Trojan War by Olivia Coolidge
Shiloh by Shelby Foote
The Shadow of His Wings by Gereon Karl Goldmann
1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howrath
The Spartan by Caroline Dale Snedeker
Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington

9th grade

Come Rack! Come Rope! by Robert Hugh Benson
Mr. Blue by Myles Connolly
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Treason by Dena Hunt
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz
Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
The Warden by Anthony Trollope
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel
The Once and Future King by Terence H. White

Medieval and Early Modern History (9)

The Galleys at Lepanto by Jack Beeching
Characters of the Reformation by Hilaire Belloc
The Rule of St. Benedict by Benedict of Nurcia
The Great Siege: Malta 1565 by Ernle Bradford
The History of Christendom by Warren Carroll     (6 volumes, each volume counts as one book)
The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity by Richard Fletcher
The Making of Europe: An Introduction to the History of European Unity by Christopher Dawson
Chronicles of the Crusades by Joinville and Villehardouin
Those Terrible Middle Ages by Regine Pernoud
Plutarch’s Lives
Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard B. Wegemer
The Song of Roland by an anonymous author

10th grade

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
The Promise by Chaim Potok
Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts
Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag
Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare
The Killer Angels by Michael Sharra
With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

11th grade

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
A Distant Trumpet by Paul Horgan
Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville
Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
1984 by George Orwell
Henry IV, Part II by William Shakespeare
The Deluge (Trilogy – Part 2) by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh

12th Grade

Paradiso by Dante Alighieri
Emma by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
With God in Russia by Walter Ciszek, S.J.
Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Hawthorne: Tales and Sketches by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
American Caesar by William Manchester
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill by William Manchester
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
Fire in the Steppe  (Trilogy – Part 3) by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Master of Hestviken (in 4 volumes) by Sigrid Undset
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh Heights Books for History   Modern European History (AP)
Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 by Antony Beevor
Europe and the Faith by Hilaire Belloc
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
1917: Red Banners, White Mantel by Warren H. Carroll
The Guillotine and the Cross by Warren H. Carroll
The Last Crusade: Spain 1936 by Warren H. Carroll
The Rise and Fall of the Communist Revolution by Warren H. Carroll
The End of the Armistice by G.K. Chesterton
Heretics by G.K. Chesterton
What’s Wrong with the World by G.K. Chesterton
The Making of Europe: An Introduction to the History of European Unity by Christopher Dawson
Religion and the Rise of Western Culture by Christopher Dawson
A Popular History of the Reformation by Philip Hughes
Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc by Patrick K. O’Donnell
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer

American History and Government

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose
American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll by Bradley J. Birzer
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington by Richard Brookhiser
A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton
Abraham Lincoln: A Biography by Lord Charnwood
Washington:  A Life by Ron Chernow
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglas
Of Men and Mountains by William O. Douglas
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
Stars in Their Courses : The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 by Shelby Foote
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The American Cause by Russell Kirk
Roots of American Order by Russell Kirk
A Time to Stand: The Epic of the Alamo by Walter Lord
1776 by David McCullough
John Adams by David McCullough
The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough
The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough
Truman by David McCullough
Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution by James M. McPherson
Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates
Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides
Robert E. Lee: A Biography by Emory M. Thomas
April 1865: The Month that Saved America by Jay Winik

Roman History

Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor by Anthony Everitt
Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt
The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder

Cold War

Witness by Whittaker Chambers
Churchill by Paul Johnson
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
A World Split Apart: Commencement Address Delivered
at Harvard University, June 8, 1978 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Economics (AP)

Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country by William Greider
The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas
of Great Economic Thinkers by Robert L. Heilbroner
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel

History of Western Thought

Treatise on Happiness by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Treatise on Law by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Consolation of Philosophy by Ancius Boethius
Saint Thomas Aquinas: ‘The Dumb Ox’   by G.K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
The Love of Learning and the Desire for God by Jean Leclercq
The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
Scholasticism by Josef Pieper
Another Sort of Learning by James V. Schall
The Intellectual Life: It’s Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A.G. Sertillanges