Great Books Week

All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour, and the books of all time. ~John Ruskin

The first full week of October is Great Books Week, a time to celebrate  “great books.”

What are great books? First and foremost, when we think of great books, we generally think of the literary classics. Few people would make a list of great books that left out William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, or Mark Twain. They set the standard for great literature.

Longevity is certainly an indication that a book is great, since people would not continue to read a book if it didn’t have value. The literary classics have been read and enjoyed for generations. But great books are being written today, too, and most of us probably have our own list of special books that have touched our lives.

Great books are the books that stay with us long after we’ve put them down. A great book engages the reader both intellectually and emotionally. It entertains as well as provokes thought. It teaches without preaching and leaves us a little better than we were before we read it.

Reading great literature will also inspire children to be good writers. Well-written literature demonstrates proper grammar and word usage. When new vocabulary is acquired from books they have read, children can incorporate it into their own writings.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many literary classics are ideally suited for reading aloud. Such books utilize words, sentences, and figurative language in creative ways to enhance the plot development, bring the characters to life, and create a mood. For a list of great books that can be read aloud, see: (This list includes great books for all ages, from preschool to adult.)

What do you think makes a book great? What is your favorite great book? In honor of Great Books Week, go read a great book!

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