Heights Books

Books for Boys


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 Great Quillow by James Thurber
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White

4th Grade

  • 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 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
  • Peter Pan by James Barrie
  • Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl  
  • The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
  • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
  • Stowaway by Karen Hesse
  • The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald
  • The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
  • The Good Master by Kate Seredy
  • Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde
  • Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson
  • Mr. Mehan’s Mildly Amusing Mythical Mammals by Matthew Mehan

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
  • The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum
  • The Reb and the Redcoats by Constance Savery

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
  • 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  
  • 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
  • Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery

8th Grade


  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • The Ancient Ocean Blues by Jack Mitchell
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court 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
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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

Modern European History

  • 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

Additional Topics

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


  • 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