The list is divided for readers of different ages, but boys should feel free to try a book from a more or less advanced list. The given school level is only an approximate guide. Including every title by an author proved unwieldy. In most cases, other titles by the same author are also recommended, especially if they are part of a series. Books marked with an asterisk (*) are current class texts; a Roman numeral (Grade IV - IX) indicates the grade in which these books are usually read. Not every asterisk is marked by a grade, however, as the grade for reading a text can vary, particularly in the Junior School. Class readers are always more exciting when read first in class as a group. We recommend that students wait until they are in that grade before reading these class texts.
The Short List comprises those books that should be read by the time a boy leaves St. Bernard’s.
Do not hesitate to ask teachers or classmates for recommendations. Some of these writers, such as Nesbit, Twain, or Dickens, may well be better read aloud at first. We strongly encourage the boys to enjoy audio books; these can be invaluable on long journeys.
With certain classics, such as Homer, it is often advisable to read a simplified and illustrated version initially and then tackle the original. Reading a great work of literature before one is ready is rarely productive. Some works of literature may on occasion contain material or vocabulary that our generation finds difficult. Our belief is that such material should be treated carefully and always be presented within a historical context to young readers.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that familiarity with the major stories of the Bible (Old and New Testament) is essential to the sophisticated appreciation of much of English and American literature. The same is true of Classical myths, proverbs, fairy tales, fables, and nursery rhymes.
In addition to the St. Bernard’s reading list, the library has many guides for parents who would like to help their sons choose good books or are looking for stories or poems to read aloud.