13 Important Classical Education Books You Must Read

By the time my oldest kid was 4, I knew I wanted to give my children a classical education at home.

But I had no idea how to go about doing it. I googled, I read, and I searched.

It wasn’t until I started reading these 13 amazing classical education books that I understood how I could give my kids a classical education at home.

13 Classical Education Books to Get You Started

So if you’re looking to learn more about classical education, these classical education books are the place to start!

1. The Well-Trained Mind

While I knew I wanted to give my kids a classical education, The Well-Trained Mind was the book on classical education that gave me the vision. I could see how to educate my kids and how to start on the path.

It’s not a book on the philosophy of classical education, but rather a how-to book that will hold your hand as you educate your children.

The Well-Trained Mind has set on my desk for the last 18 years.

2. Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style

Teaching the Trivium has a different approach to the early years than the Well-Trained Mind. They believe in a relaxed education for young kids. You teach kids basic reading, writing, and math but focus on exploration and character.

Their article on “relaxed education before ten” spoke to me. I’m not a proponent of heavy academics for young children, although I prefer not to postpone math studies until the preteen years either.

Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style is an excellent book to read, especially as a comparison to The Well-Trained Mind.

3. The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education

The author of The Core is one of the founders of Classical Conversations. I enjoyed reading The Core, although it deals specifically with grammar stage memorization.

It also gives you insight into the philosophy behind Classical Conversations.

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education is well worth reading, especially if you’re interested in Classical Conversations.

4. Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education

Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum has been on my reading list for a very long time. I think this year is the year to actually read it, as I’ve heard wonderful things about it through the years.

Laura Berquist walks you through how to design and pull together your own liberal arts curriculum.

If you’re looking for classical education books that will give you guidance on how to pull a classical curriculum together for your kids, check out Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education.

5. The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education

I’ve read The Liberal Arts Tradition a couple of times now. The Well-Trained Mind is a how-to give your kids a classical education. The Liberal Arts Tradition gives you the philosophy behind a Christian classical education.

It’s one of those books that has you writing comments and thoughts in the margin.

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education is a book you’ll read and reread over the years.

6. Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin

I read Climbing Parnassus years ago. It’s an inspiring and memorable book. The author speaks of why we need to teach Latin and Greek to our children.

It inspired me to attempt Greek in my homeschool and to put a greater emphasis on Latin.

Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin is an excellent book to read to understand why classical education puts such an emphasis on learning Greek and Latin.

7. The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition

The Devil Knows Latin is another fascinating book I read years ago. Like Climbing Parnassus, The Devil Knows Latin argues that you must add Latin and Greek back into the curriculum.

By removing the languages America has severed ties with our literature, history, political, and philosophical traditions.

The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition promotes a radical change to the elementary grades.

8. The Latin-Centered Curriculum

Read The Latin-Centered Curriculum after you’ve read Climbing Parnassus and The Devil Knows Latin.

Climbing Parnassus and The Devil Knows Latin give you the philosophy and why of putting Latin and Greek at the center of the curriculum.

The Latin-Centered Curriculum tells you HOW to do it.

9. Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

Everyone thinks classical education is only for gifted children, and that’s simply not true.

Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child lays out an inspiring story of how her family used classical education to homeschool their special needs children.

Cheryl Swope lays out a convincing argument that classical education is for all children.

10. Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition

Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition explores how Charlotte Mason used the classical tradition as she developed her educational philosophy.

This is not a how-to book on homeschooling and classical education.

Rather this is a book that will bring clarity to your homeschool.

11. The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason

The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason Have you ever considered keeping a commonplace book or having your kids notebook their way through history and science?

Then The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason is the book you need. It walks you through why and how to set up keeping notebooks.

And why keeping notebooks will help your children engage with their studies.

12. Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace

I love Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. Sarah Mackenzie teaches classical homeschoolers how to stop being a slave to your curriculum and take control of your homeschool.

You are no longer focused on adding rigor and more lessons to the day.

Instead, you’re guided in how to create a vision for your homeschool so you can focus on what’s truly important.

13. Better Together: Strengthen Your Family, Simplify Your Homeschool, and Savor the Subjects That Matter Most

One of the techniques Sarah Mackenzie recommends in Teaching from Rest to simplify your homeschool is to add morning time to your homeschool.

Pam Barnhill teaches you how to add morning time to your day. She walks you through the 3 critical components of morning time and how to implement morning time with your kids!

Better Together gives you the guidance you need to transform your classical homeschool!

So if you want to know how to give your children a classical education, read these 13 classical education books. They will give you the guidance and vision you need to create an amazing homeschool for your kids.

Which classical education books have you read?

Check out The Massive Guide to Homeschool Reading Lists for more awesome books to read!

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25 Comments

  1. Wow, now that’s an impressive list of books. Quite ambitious. I like the idea of the books, but I don’t think that I could commit to reading them all in a year. I own and have read 3 of them { The Well Trained Mind, Teaching the Trivium, and The Latin Centered Curriculum }, and read a 4th { Climbing Parnassus }.
    I’d be totally curious about your thoughts though. :o)

    1. Well, I’ve put off reading some of them quite a while so there’s no time like the present for working through the books. I’m also looking for inspiration and encouragement as my youngest 2 children start their journey through classical education. 🙂

  2. I’ve considered reading The Liberal Arts Tradition. I just finished reading Consider This not too long ago. Good book. It really helped give a broader, or should I say a more traditional classic view of the concept of the trivium. Very interesting! I had to laugh about your friend commenting that you should have read Charlotte Mason’s Volume 6 first. Funny! Volume 6 is the ONLY volume I have read fully. I’ve only read portions of CM’s other volumes. I consider us to have a classical Charlotte Mason foundation for our homeschool now. There are some things I had to get past with reading CM’s books. I have to admit that I had a time in the last year or two where I was pretty much ready to toss the CM method out the window except for a few key aspects of it. You know….the whole throw the baby out with the bathwater analogy. I had to realize that I could get past the few things that irked me and not ditch the whole philosophy/method altogether. It really is a great educational philosophy overall to work from, even if we don’t follow it 100% (which we don’t). I feel like we are a mix of Charlotte Mason and Classical. I still have a preference for a four year history cycle. And we also enjoy DK/fact style books as well as living books. 🙂

    The book Consider This helps show that Charlotte Mason *was* a classical educator. So there are definitely connections between Charlotte Mason and Classical. I’m still learning lots. In fact, that’s why I’d like to read something like The Liberal Arts Tradition. I’d like to continue learning more about the classical tradition. Okay, I guess I just rambled on a good bit. 🙂

    I’ve read some of The Living Page. When I first started reading it a good while back, I closed the book not too long after I started it because it just felt overwhelming to me. But that was when I was working through my issues with the whole Charlotte Mason thing. I picked the book back up a few weeks ago and have been re-reading it with a new perspective and have found there are some great ideas in there. Things that we *could* do if we *want* to do them. 🙂

    And I love Sarah’s book Teaching from Rest! I agree with you that it could be read again and again and again. In fact, I’ve read portions of it more than once. 🙂

    1. You did better than I did, reading #6. It was explained to me that #6 was written after her career and summarizes all of Charlotte Mason’s experience and thoughts. It’s back on my reading list. 🙂

      There are a lot of good classical education books to read. My list keeps getting longer and longer, so I’ve decided to read one a month this next year! Will you join us? 🙂

      1. I’d heard that Vol. 6 was a good place to start too because Charlotte Mason wrote it after many years of putting her educational philosophy and methods into practice. We incorporate some of the methods, but we don’t follow it 100%. I’ve determined that we are classically eclectic. 🙂

        Thanks for asking me to join in on the reading; but I’ve got enough to read right now with getting ready to start pre-reading several books for school this Fall. My oldest daughter will be in 12th grade this Fall and she’s going to be reading Bauer’s The History of the Ancient World. I just bought it today and hope to get started reading it in the next couple of days.

        Like I mentioned before, I would like to read The Liberal Arts Tradition. I haven’t bought it yet though. With the other books I want to pre-read for school, I don’t think I could get it read in a month anyway. There’s just so much I’d like to read! 🙂

        1. Classically eclectic is awesome. 🙂

          That’s the problem, there’s too many great books to read! I’ll come out with the guidelines (such as they are) in June. Essentially, I want to run an informal book club. I list the book I’m reading for the month. If it’s a book you want to read, join me! At the end of the month I’ll post my commentary and everyone is welcome to post their thoughts in the comment section. If it’s a book you’ve read in the past and you have thoughts to share, share away!

          We’re busy, homeschooling mothers. Let’s keep it simple. 😉

  3. Check out Leigh Bortins’ other books, The Question, and The Conversation. They cover the dialectic and rhetoric stages too. The Conversation won’t be released until the summer, but I have The Question to start reading now!

    1. I looked for The Question on Amazon but couldn’t find it. Turns out it’s available through Classical Conversations! I’ll have to add it to my list of books to read as well. The list keeps growing and growing and… 😉

  4. I have, once again, refreshed myself on WTM – as I do every year. I would be very interested in Simply Classical. Our daughter has Down syndrome and as we move into the third year with her schooling, I would welcome insight!

    1. Simply Classical was an inspiration read for me, Amy. I’d recommend going ahead and reading it. She not only covers her story, but she lists quite a few resources to help as well. 🙂

  5. I have read #’s 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 10. I plan to read Teaching From Rest when CAP finally puts out a physical version. Hopefully, it will be the updated, expanded version that gets printed.

    Two notes: I would recommend adding Norms & Nobility to this list. Though not associated with Circe, it is the book Andrew Kern recommends above all others for educators. Circe apprentices/journeymen have to read and discuss it annually.

    Also, Martin Cothran mentioned at the last homeschool conference I attended, that Memoria Press is in the process of replacing Latin-Centered Curriculum with a new book more focused on homeschooling than academy classroom. He didn’t give me a name but did say it would be fairly soon.

    1. I didn’t realize that Latin-Centered Curriculum is being replaced by a book focused on homeschooling. I’ll have to add it and Norms & Nobility to my list of classical books to read.

  6. I am a new subscriber and I am enjoying your posts!! I found yours through The Hungry Homeschooler blog just through tapping your comment so that was fun! I’d love to join you in reading more important books about classically homeschooling.. I’ve read 3 on your list but I’ve really been wanting to read Teaching From Rest which may be the simplest but most important of them all! MP has been my guide for enriching my daughter’s education but I cannot overlook the fact that Horizons Phonics&Reading put her on a reading& writing track where as parents we really couldn’t ask for more. I try my best to stay on the classical path without letting go of something else that has worked beautifully but may not be part of a classical curriculum package.

    1. Wonderful, Eve! I’m excited to have you on board. Teaching From Rest is coming out with a new edition in August, so it’s going to be the book for September. I can’t wait to read the new edition.

      Doing your best to stay on the classical path without letting go of what works for your family is wise. The method is more important than the specific curriculum used to teach a child to read or right, and remember: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 😉

      Glad to have you joining us! 🙂

  7. I’d like to read Norms & Nobility if I could ever get hold of the book. Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum is a book I’ve read over many years – one of the most helpful home ed books around. I’ve had Consider This for about 6 months & haven’t started it yet. I decided to hone in on CM’s own words for a while before I started reading any more books about her methods & practice. Living Page – I started this but didn’t finish though I dip into parts of it from time to time.

    1. I’ve heard wonderful things about Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. It’s one I’m planning on reading this year.

      Friends recommended I start CM with her volume 6. “It summarizes her teaching experience over the years and if you only read one, read that one.” So I’m reading CM’s volume 6 this month! 🙂

  8. Hello Sara, I was just hanging around homeschooling blog today and suddenly found your post. Your list is awesome and these are wonderful classical education books everyone should read and reread through the years. I will love share it with others as well.

    Thank you very much for the post: have a great day and keep blogging, soon I will be visiting your blog.

  9. I have read the “Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child” It’s a best story of classical education ever written by Cheryl Swope, Indeed great list to get.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

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