Summer Reading List: Book Recommendations From the Veritas Community

July 24, 2020

As summer's hazy, lazy days crest their peak and begin the descent toward their final month, this season offers up a few more weeks of opportunity to sit with a good book that can challenge, inspire, encourage, and, yes, even entertain you, before life's schedules pick up the pace in again in the fall.

We asked our community to let us know what they've been reading this summer, in case you need some inspiration for a new book or two. Our list is divided by category, so feel free to peruse the whole catalog here or hop down to the category that strikes your interest. Happy reading, everyone!




Seeker by Diane Layton

“Full of fun adventure stories that teach what it means to be part of God's kingdom. A bit like Pilgrim's Progress, but for kids.”
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent of a (rising) 1st grader

The Prince's Poison Cup, The Lightlings, and The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R.C. Sproul

“These books help make theological concepts understandable for kids.”
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent

The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

“We've been reading The House at Pooh Corner (actually listening to the Audible Kids version on repeat). So good!”
- Randa Landis, Development Assistant & Parent of a (rising) Veritas 1st grader

My ABC Bible Verses and Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan Hunt

“Simple but deep family devotions that challenge and teach the whole family, including mom & dad!”
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

“Wonderful values taught amidst fun, captivating mysteries.”
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent

Rascal by Sterling North

“A great read-aloud book that teaches difficult vocabulary to young learners without them even realizing it, since they are captivated by the story of a raccoon.”
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent

The Young Underground series by Robert Elmer

“My son (age 9) has been devouring this series. They are exciting chapter books that combine faith in practice, but not in a corny way, and are about life in Denmark during WW2. It’s been great for rainy days and just to chill out.”
- Tracy Leaman, Veritas Athletic Director

The Epic Order of the Seven series by Jenny Cote

The series captures the imaginations of the mid-grammar school level with wit and charm, along with adventure in a biblically themed series.  The variety of animal characters enables any child to relate.  
- Tracy Leaman, Veritas Athletic Director

Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome

"We are anglophiles and really enjoy the series Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. This classic set is about adventurous children who have lots of imaginative outdoors fun over their summer holidays. We try to read one or two aloud each summer and all the kids enjoy them, no matter the age (ours are 15 to 5 right now)."
- Jennifer Spead, Veritas Parent

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

"The Mysterious Benedict Society is an amazing mystery book that I have read probably a dozen times. Though I have read it so many times it is so good and never gets old. A little about the book: a lonely, average orphan boy finds an article in the Stonetown news inviting children to take a series of hard tests and maybe qualify to join a top secret mission. Along the way, friendships are made, riddles solved, puzzles pieced together, and some unbelievable plot twists! I definitely recommend this book for YA and children who enjoy mystery and fun riddle solving!"
- Claire Shenk, Veritas (rising) 8th Grader

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

"This is a very adventurous, mysterious book that I personally love![...]Here’s a little bit about the book: nothing has felt the same since Meg Murry’s father had mysteriously disappeared when her little brother, Charles Wallace was just a baby. Ever since then, Meg wasn’t doing well at school like she used to and usually would come home with bruises from getting into fights about Charles. He was different, knowing things about Meg and their mom and only started talking at the age of four. Join Meg, Charles Wallace and their odd friends on a journey to find their supposedly lost father. This story has so many twists and turns, with things you would never expect! Because it is heavy with information that is kind of confusing and monsters (some are friendly), I recommend this book for children 10 and up!"
- Claire Shenk, Veritas (rising) 8th Grader

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga, #1)

On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (Book One, Wingfeather Saga)

"This is a funny, mythical book that I really enjoyed! Andrew Peterson did such a good job writing this book, with a mysterious cliffhanger ending! A little about the book: Janner couldn’t sleep at night because of the horrible thought that the Black Carriage would come and take him, never to see his family again. But the next day all those terrible thoughts were gone, for the Dragon Day festival was afoot. Janner had the responsibility to watch his fearful brother Tink and curious sister Leeli, who has a bad leg, as they make their way through the crowded village and toward the dangerous world of the dragons and the Fangs of Dang who seek the lost jewels of Anniera. Join Janner, Leeli, Tink and their fearless dog, Nugget, as they venture through a world they never thought to be true. [...]There are mythical creatures and magic in this book, so if you don’t want your tween or teen reading Harry Potter, this may also not be a good book for your family. I recommend this for kids 11 and up because it can be a little confusing at times, and there is some violence.[...] Overall, though, it is such an amazing, beautifully written book!"
- Claire Shenk, Veritas (rising) 8th grader


Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Alan Paton’s acclaimed book about apartheid in South Africa is one of the Christian treatments of the problem of race. It locates racism in the human heart, and presents a compelling argument that the only solution is found in Jesus Christ (in the conversion of the human heart). Too Late the Phalarope is another book by Paton. These are very timely books in our troubled times.
- Graham Dennis, Dean of Students and Omnibus Teacher

The A.D. Chronicles Series by Bodie and Brock Theone

A series of twelve novels set in first century Judea, each book's story centers on Biblical characters that we know from the Gospel, weaving a tale of what their lives may have been like and how they were ultimately affected by encountering Yeshua.
- Anna Martin, Spanish Teacher & Service Club Advisor

Jayber Crow

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

A story of a man living in a small Kentucky town in the 1930s. Orphaned at age ten, Jayber Crow's acquaintance with loneliness and want have made him a patient observer of the human animal, in both its goodness and frailty. Wendell Berry's clear-sighted depiction of humanity's gifts--love and loss, joy and despair--is seen through his intimate knowledge of the townspeople of Port William, as Jayber returns to his hometown to work as a barber and observe the stories around him.
- Emily Fischer, 4th grade teacher

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

“I just finished listening to The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. LibriVox has a fabulous free rendition of this not to be missed classic. Set in the time of Henry the 8th and his son, this historical fiction is one of Twain's finest works. This is also suitable for the entire family and would make a fun listen for a car trip.”
- Jennifer Spead, Veritas Parent

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

"Riveting and story that is both heartrending and beautiful. While the characters in it are fictionalized, their stories are based on real children and families caught up in the deception and horror of the real-life Tennessee Children's Society in the 1930s and 1940s, and the rippling effects on the generations that followed."
- Kylee Bowman, Director of Marketing & Communications


Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

“It is a wonderful biography of Teddy Roosevelt’s early life, and I especially enjoy the emphasis on his loving family and God-fearing father.”
- Deb Chapin, Veritas Second Grade Teacher

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

"I am reading The Boys in the Boat, a true story about nine young men and their experiences racing in the Olympics in Germany during the Depression right before World War 2. It is a fascinating book full of details of this era that takes place in a time of great struggle in the US and in the world. This book is very well written, and interesting to me in particular because my brother rowed for Oxford (in England) where he met his wife (who was his Cox on the team). This is one of those books that makes you love the subject matter, even if you have never participated in rowing before."
- Jennifer Petry, Orchestra Director

A History of the English Speaking Peoples 4-volume set by Sir Winston Churchill

"As a bit of an anglophile myself, I am reading this to round out my scattered knowledge of history." 
- Jennifer Spead, Veritas Parent

(From's description) "Spanning four volumes and many centuries of history, from Caesar's invasion of Britain to the start of World War I, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples stands as one of Winston S. Churchill's most magnificent literary works. Begun during Churchill's ‘wilderness years' when he was out of government, first published in 1956 after his leadership through the darkest days of World War II had cemented his place in history and completed when Churchill was in his 80s, it remains to this day a compelling and vivid history."

Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice

Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos

"A fascinating Korean War story which also beautifully demonstrates true friendship and love."
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent


At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

(from description) “Americans Tsh and Kyle met and married in Kosovo, and lived as expats for most of a decade. They’ve been back in the States—now with three kids under ten—for four years, and while home is nice, they are filled with wanderlust and long to answer the call, so a nine-month trip is planned. At Home in the World follows their journey from China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England, and more. And all the while Tsh grapples with the concept of home, as she learns what it means to be lost—yet at home—in the world.”
-  Anna Martin, Spanish Teacher & Service Club Advisor

The Hospital By the River by Catherine Hamlin

(from description) “When gynecologists Catherine and Reg Hamlin left their home in Australia for Ethiopia, they never dreamed that they would establish what has been heralded as one of the most incredible medical programs in the modern world... In this awe-inspiring book, Dr. Catherine Hamlin recalls her life and career in Ethiopia. Her unyielding courage and solid faith will astound Christians worldwide as she talks about the people she has grown to love and the hospital that so many Ethiopian women have come to depend on.”
- Anna Martin, Spanish Teacher & Service Club Advisor

A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken

(from description) “A beloved, profoundly moving account of the author's marriage, the couple's search for faith and friendship with C. S. Lewis, and a spiritual strength that sustained Vanauken after his wife's untimely death. Replete with 18 letters from C.S. Lewis, A Severe Mercy addresses some of the universal questions that surround faith--the existence of God and the reasons behind tragedy."
- Anna Martin, Spanish Teacher & Service Club Advisor

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

"For fun, I’ve been rereading Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. It is especially wonderful if you love food. Ruth Reichl was the New York Times food critic, but everyone recognized her. So she found an actress friend who helped her come up with complete disguises. She’d go to restaurants both as herself and in a disguise to see if the food, service, etc. was different depending on who she was. She also includes recipes and restaurant reviews. It is a true story and a fun, quick read!"
- Katie Zappitella, Grammar School Latin Teacher

American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things by Bob Dotson

(from description) “Dotson has been crisscrossing the country for more than forty years––logging more than four million miles—in search of people who have quietly but profoundly changed our lives and our country for the better. Now, in American Story, he presents a road map to the unsung heroes with thoughtful solutions to problems we all face, incredible ideas that work, and blueprints to living our dreams... a deeply moving and endlessly fascinating alternative narrative for everyone who yearns to feel good about America.”
- Randa Landis, Veritas Development Assistant


Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Brian Stevenson

“Excellent read for high school students. As I seek to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, I have devoted a lot of time this summer to reading books relating to race relations in our country. Just Mercy was an absolutely eye-opening read. Bryan Stevenson shares story after story of his and his clients' experiences with the American criminal justice system. His book is not very prescriptive; he simply shares the realities faced by thousands across our country. His Biblical worldview shines throughout. It's easily become one of the most influential reads of my life.”
- Elisa Chodan, Music Department Chair

"I have been focusing on racial issues and injustice a lot this summer. I finished Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and am getting ready to start White Fragility. My goal is to deepen my understanding of my privilege as a white person and the injustices and racist structures that are prevalent in our society. I highly recommended both (but a warning: The Hate U Give has a lot of curse words, so many Christian readers should be aware and may not want to delve into this one). The Hate U Give is young adult fiction, but feels very close to the situations we see between police and black lives.

Both books have challenged me in my thought processes and in looking at the value and of people, image bearers of Christ, no matter what (skin color, lifestyle choices, sin, etc.). Those things do not change the value people have in God's eyes. As Brene Brown says... a good book is one that you throw across the room. I think I have thrown and/or walked away from both (in a hard but good way)."
- Amanda Crooks, Upper School Art and Science Teacher

Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race–And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us by Benjamin Watson

“So good for such a time as this! Continuing to listen to what our Black brothers and sisters in Christ have had on their hearts for years.”
- Randa Landis, Development Assistant

(from description) "In a country aflame with the fallout from the racial divide–in which Ferguson, Charleston, and the Confederate flag dominate the national news, daily seeming to rip the wounds open ever wider–is there hope for honest and healing conversation? For finally coming to understand each other on issues that are ultimately about so much more than black and white? An NFL tight end for the New Orleans Saints and a widely read and followed commentator on social media... Watson draws from his own life, his family legacy, and his role as a husband and father to sensitively examine both sides of the race debate and appeal to the power and possibility of faith as a step toward healing."

Them: Why We Hate Each Other - and How to Heal

Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal and The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse

"The trusted and centered voice of a senator who isn't afraid to talk about complex issues with a Christian worldview."
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent

Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up by Kathy Khang

(from description) “Activist Kathy Khang roots our voice and identity in the image of God. Because God created us in our ethnicity and gender, our voice is uniquely expressed through the totality of who we are. We are created to speak, and we can both speak up for ourselves and speak out on behalf of others. Khang offers insights from faithful heroes who raised their voices for the sake of God's justice, and she shows how we can do the same today, in person, in social media, in organizations, and in the public square.”
- Donna Shenk, Veritas Parent


The Hour That Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal

The Hour That Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal by Les and Leslie Parrott

(from description) “Focusing on the family meal, this book will help strengthen families by showing them how to reclaim this important time in order to build relationships, draw closer to one another, and restore a sense of peace in their homes... The Hour That Matters Most will help readers strengthen and transform their own families—specifically around the dinner table.”
- Randa Landis, Development Assistant

The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

"A book that helps every person rethink how to be more wise about technology use."
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame by Brene Brown

“This is a “therapy book” for me right now on shame resilience. COVID has stripped us of many things we have found our identities in, given us a tumultuous and fear-filled climate, and taken a lot of our power away. Brene’s insights are helping me to work through this in my own life.”
- Amanda Crooks, Upper School Art and Science Teacher


Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler

"I’ve been reading Risen Motherhood, which has short and pithy chapters for busy mothers, but also looks at 10-12 different aspects of life in light of the gospel. It has been encouraging and a good perspective-setter."
- Katie Zappitella, Grammar School Latin

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren

(from the description) “Many of us go through the day feeling like we don't have time for God. But God can become present to us in surprising ways through our everyday routines. Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices and habits that form us. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Tish Harrison Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of our Sunday worship.”
- Emily Fischer, 4th Grade Teacher

The Lord's Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship by Jeffrey Meyers

"In an age where Protestant Christians keep on building worship services that mimic the culture and then end up wondering why they have nothing to say to the culture, Meyers looks at worship in the Bible, and especially in the Old Testament, to inform our New Testament practice. One of his main arguments in favor of a historical, traditional service is that the sacrificial system of the Old Testament is a type (something that points forward in some ways toward the fulfillment seen in the New Testament) that should inform our New Testament worship.[...]I am part of a church that has been greatly impacted by Meyers and Covenant Renewal as a pattern for worship. I was blessed to work through this book again and be reminded of the great glory and privilege of Christian worship. If you have not read this, I dare you to read it. It will change you and deepen your hunger to be in God’s presence."
- Ty Fischer, Head of School

Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness by David A. Powlison

"A comprehensive book on anger from a trusted Christian counselor, written for all of us because we all struggle with anger in different ways."
- Andrea Fox, Veritas Parent

The Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

"I'm re-reading this classic that is so eye-opening to the ways of the enemy, the Prince of this world. It is enhancing my awareness of the fact that we are in a battle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual principalities at work daily in our lives and the people and situations around us. This epistolary story is written as a series of letters from a senior demon to his nephew, offering tips and training on how to turn his nephew's human charge toward their dark "Father." There is tongue-in-cheek humor and biting commentary that cuts at the heart of human nature and the way Satan will work to exploit our fleshly desires (it is convicting to realize the many tactics to which I have fallen prey), but also incredible revelation of God's perfect nature and unfailing love and faithfulness for this flawed yet redeemed race of mankind.
- Kylee Bowman, Director of Marketing & Communications


The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

“An engrossing story of a man who invents a time machine and travels to the future. For its style and its imagination, this book stands far above every other depiction of time travel I have read or seen. Wells both pioneered and mastered the art of science fiction.”
- Justin Klazinga, Upper School Latin


The Complete Works of Plato (edited by John M. Cooper)

“If you like to think philosophically at all on any subject, but you have not read Plato, at best you are redoing work already done for you, and at worst wasting your time. The more I read Plato, the more I am convinced that I should have read all his works while still a teenager. My favourite dialogues include Euthyphro, Phaedo, and Gorgias but not one can compare to the Symposium for its excellence of expression and sublimity of thought. (If you like the Symposium, read Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey and C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy.) This complete edition is great for filling in gaps and invaluable introductions are provided in this edition, written by foremost scholars.”
- Justin Klazinga, Upper School Latin

An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis

“While it is clichéd for a classical school teacher to recommend Lewis, combined with the essay "The World's Last Night", this is essential for understanding the psychology of a reader and the proper way to read and teach literature. Lewis here unknowingly stands opposed all the sophistry lurking in modern classical education. Read The World's Last Night first for a taste and introduction.”
- Justin Klazinga, Upper School Latin


Idylls of the King

The Idylls of the King by Tennyson

“The stories of Malory and others, and not without the faint twinge of Malory throughout, but written in blank verse and impregnated with the Romantic ideals of nature. Tennyson adds character insight and subtle commentary on mankind to stories already filled with many attractions. This combined with the excellence of his writing makes the Idylls of the King worth a read.”
- Justin Klazinga, Upper School Latin Teacher


Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

“In my opinion, his best play. It may be read, or it may be watched. The 1938 film adaptation is reasonably close to the play, (except for 10 seconds at the end which the film could definitely do without) and it is superbly well acted.”
- Justin Klazinga, Upper School Latin Teacher


We get pretty excited about good books here at Veritas. That's because we know that literature shapes and reflects our culture in profound ways. Some of the world's most enduring, moving, and influential human works come in the form of books, poems, essays, plays...writings that provide us a window into the human condition and societal paradigms of the past and the present.

A Classical Christian Education - among its many benefits - can instill in children a deep appreciation for great literature and a lifelong love of learning, producing graduates who are well-read, well-thought, and well-spoken.

Come see this unique, time-tested way of teaching for yourself by visiting Veritas Academy. We'd love to talk with you about how your child can experience joyful learning centered in Christ's love and truth here.

We welcome you to schedule a personal visit to Veritas. Click the link to sign up, or contact our Director of Admissions Jill Trimbath at (717) 205-3617 or


Got an elementary-aged child? Find out what makes our Grammar School (Grades K-6) program so uniquely effective. Explore Veritas Grammar School class by class here.


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Kylee Bowman

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Kylee Bowman

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