Character Book List for Children

Many of you asked to see our list of ‘personal’  or ‘character’ books for the children. These are books that aren’t part of our ‘history’ or ‘science’ readings. These are biographies, historic accounts of brave deeds and the sovereignty of God and encouragement for becoming the young men and women God would have them to be. Our older children (11 and up) are reading through these at their own pace.

These lists are not complete. We continue to add to them as we discover or remember more books that we wish our children to read. There will also be a lot more overlap between the genders. Our girls will probably read many if not most of the books on the boys list. I’ve mostly chosen to put titles on the boy’s list unless it is particularly feminine.

Please note that these books are intended for our older children. Many (like Elsie Dinsmore and many Lamplighter books) would be suitable and beneficial for younger readers, but in our opinion some require a maturity and discernment that younger children may not possess.

For Girls

For Boys

What books or resources would you add to this list?

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21 Responses to Character Book List for Children
  1. Nicki
    September 13, 2011 | 8:36 am

    Love the list! We have many of these books and really enjoy them. Since my girls are my older kids, we go through a “girl” book togeter as part of our read-aloud time each day. Right now, we’re reading Raising Maidens of Virtue and I’m really enjoying the discussions it leads to. I look forward to the same as my boys get a little older. Thanks for compiling this list!


  2. Dawn@OneFaithfulMom
    September 13, 2011 | 9:10 am

    Just wondering Kimberly, though I *think* I already know the answer. Have you and your husband pre-read all of these? I am trying so hard to pre-read some things for my 8 kids still at home…as you know it is tough. I read at night before bed, and when I get a minute. But since I am also trying to read a lot more of my Bible during the day, I am finding it difficult to get through many books very quickly!
    So, are these books you have recently read, or had read in the past and remembered that you wanted your kids to read them?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Dawn.

    Mark and I have read the vast majority of these. One or two we don’t yet own, but will pre-read or read aloud together. However, there are a few that we don’t feel a necessity to pre-read. (i.e. we don’t own all of the Leaders in Action books and as we collect more, we won’t necessarily pre-read them. Also, I’ve not read all of John Knox’s work and don’t believe that is a necessity before the children read it.)

    I, like you, have difficulty finding enough time for reading. With at least an hour of Bible reading each day, plus listening to several beginning readers and reading aloud to little ones, middle ones and big ones in addition to the rest of life, it’s not possible to pre-read enough books for seven avid readers. I rely heavily on known authors and trusted friends (they are very few when it comes to book suggestions 🙂 )

    The books are a mix of recently read and read in the past.


    Dawn@OneFaithfulMom Reply:

    Thanks! I also meant to mention that I use my 23 yr old son as a filter. He is very widely read, so I always ask him first if he has read something. If he or his wife have read it, he always gives me a good review and an informed opinion on whether and what age it would be appropriate for his younger siblings. It is one huge benefit of having olders!!
    My 16 yr old daughter also does this for her younger sisters. I must say, my older children sometimes say their siblings should wait a while on a book that I may have already given them. I like this, because they are closer in age to the sibling than me, and so may be more sensitive to the more intense themes than I may be.


  3. Anita Chamblee
    September 13, 2011 | 10:22 am

    Not surprised that we have most of your list! Jeff reads Thoughts for Young Men by Ryle to the boys and I read Beautiful Girlhood with the girls….although I think our oldest son got a dose of it when he was the only boy. I am starting a study of Beautiful Girlhood using the Companion Guide with my “baby” girl who is now 12.

    I am also reading selections from The Adventures of Missionary Heroism out loud. We are using the Asian selections this semester.

    My oldest daughter lost much of her complete set of Elsie Dinsmore books in the tornado that destroyed her home this past April. She is slowly replacing them.


  4. Suzanne
    September 13, 2011 | 11:27 am

    I have started homeschooling this year for my oldest in kindergarten. This blog is SUCH an encouragement to me. So, first thank you, for your time and energy you have for this blog. I know I am not the only one blessed by it!! 🙂 I also wanted to ask if there are any younger character books that I could start off with. Since your list is for the older ones, what would you advise I read my younger ones for their character?

    Thanks again!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Suzanne.

    Character books for younger kids would make a great post, but here are a couple off the top of my head:
    Wisdom and the Millers: Proverbs for Children and Prudence with the Millers and other Miller books.
    Missionary Stories with the Millers – One of our favorites, read over and over by everyone!
    Leading Little Ones to God – This is an introduction to God and basic teachings of Scripture. My parents read it to me and we’ve read it to all of our children.
    YWAM books We don’t recommend all of these, but many/most are great. (George Mueller is our favorite.)
    Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History
    There are lots more, but I will compile them into a regular post.



    Bethany Anspaugh Reply:

    Oh good! So glad you’re making another post for younger children! My oldest is 3 1/2 (of three girls), and I’ve been trying to find at least one good character book to read to them. Look forward to reading what you use!


  5. Jenn
    September 13, 2011 | 12:29 pm

    The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. We just finished this as a read-aloud and had some wonderful discussions from it.

    I love your blog and how you speak the truth, even when others may not agree =) You are such an encouragment.

    Blessings to your family!


  6. Jama
    September 17, 2011 | 11:20 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. I feel like I’ve done a decent job building our girls’ library, but feel like I am woefully lacking in the material I have had my boys read. Since my oldest boy is only 9, I still have lots of time. 🙂 I plan to print this list and add it to my other “good books” lists. I would add Homemaking by J.R. Miller to your girls’ list and ditto the recommendation of The Hiding Place (for mature readers).


  7. Hannah Avery
    February 19, 2012 | 2:42 pm

    Your blog is such an encouragement to me! I am a wife, and a mother to a 1 1/2 year old. I have enjoyed looking through your list of books for children. I was also homeschooled, and have enjoyed reading a lot of good missionary biographies. Two books I liked a lot were ‘Martyr of the Catacombs,” and “Twice Freed.” Those came from “School of Tomorrow or ACE”. My mom read us “Wisdom and the Millers,” and others of the Miller series. We really liked those! Have you heard of the Henty books for boys? I hear that they are really good, and would like to begin to collect them as I find them for my son. Have a blessed day!



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes, our children enjoy Henty books as well as Ballantyne books. I wouldn’t really put them in the “Character” books list, but they are fun histories and the heroes do display good character traits.


  8. Angela
    February 23, 2012 | 10:38 pm

    Hello Kimberly,

    We are also very particular in our choice of reading material for our children. Although I do not pre-read all their books, my oldest son (13) is reasonably discerning which is good as the next boy is not so (at the moment).

    For boys try G.A. Henty & R.M. Ballentyne. Both have books available for free on Kindle and/or iBooks. I downloaded a sample of “The Works of RM Ballentyne” from Amazon and it had several complete stories even in the sample. “Little Lord Fauntleroy” by Frances Hodgson Burnett was recently enjoyed by our family as a read aloud.

    One of our all time favourites and good for young children too is “Little Pilgrim’s Progress” by Helen L. Taylor. Although this is adapted from Bunyon’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”, it is written in a style faithful to the original and accessible to children.



  9. Carrie
    February 28, 2012 | 9:11 pm

    I have kids who are 7 and 4 right now. A great series for younger and older children is the Moody series by Sarah Maxwell. The books are Summer with the Moodys, Autumn with the Moodys, etc. They’re fiction about a family that home schools their children, practices memory verses, and has the bible interspersed. They’re incredible and I’ve seen incredible behavior changes in my kids. You can order them at


  10. brandy
    March 20, 2012 | 2:34 pm

    Kimberly, I have just been introduced to your blog, as a refer to reviewing sonlight. I guess my first question is, are you guys still using this? Now for the book list, we are HS 4, 12,9,5,2 and more to come;) anyway at what age did you start them on this list? And do you have a list for younger children as read alouds or self readers?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Brandy.

    Are you asking if we are still using Sonlight? The answer to that is, no. We stopped using Sonlight when we got to Core 6. I posted about the reasons here.

    We use this book list for our children 11 and up. We do have lists for younger kids, but haven’t formalized it as much as this one and haven’t posted them, yet. We use a lot of Sonlight readers, plus books that have been recommended to us from various sources.


  11. Elizabeth McBride
    August 4, 2012 | 10:33 pm

    I noticed that The Confessions of Saint Augustine is only on the boys’ list? I was curious about why? I first read it in 8th or 9th grade, which is a little young. I got more out of it when I reread it in college. I think it’s a book that both boys and girls should read.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    From the beginning of the post:

    There will also be a lot more overlap between the genders. Our girls will probably read many if not most of the books on the boys list. I’ve mostly chosen to put titles on the boy’s list unless it is particularly feminine.


  12. Babychaser
    February 7, 2013 | 2:42 pm

    Hi… love this list and am looking forward to using it in the future. All my children are 6 and under though. Did you ever post a list of character books for the little ones?



  13. Abby
    February 11, 2013 | 11:12 pm

    It seems that we have very similar taste in books! Several of my friends think we’re a bit crazy in having our kids read these books (Like: “wouldn’t Harry Potter be more interesting???”)
    Our kids are just used to these types of books since we’ve been reading unusual books aloud since they can remember. Encouraging to see others doing the same.


  14. Linda
    June 20, 2013 | 11:00 am

    This is a wonderful list. Thank you for posting.


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