Kids home from school? Not trained as a teacher and running out of patience? Listen to the advice of Charles W. Eliot and pick up a book.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers,” Eliot said.

Eliot knew something about education. He served as the President of Harvard University for 40 years, starting in 1869. In these times, Eliot might recommend sitting down with a constant friend, a wise counselor, and a patient teacher. Here’s a list of books for you, and for your kids, that we hope fit the bill:

For Adults

  • Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing by Robert Caro
  • The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age by David E. Sanger
  • War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence by Ronan Farrow
  • A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
  • Underworld: A Novel by Don DeLillo

For High School Age

  • No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
  • The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

For Middle School Age

  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
  • Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary by Walter Dean Myers
  • The Seeds of America Trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

For Elementary School and Younger

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 by C.S. Lewis
  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
  • Baby University Series by Chris Ferrie

The non-profit Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is providing literacy resources and support to educators, parents, and caregivers for use at home to provide continuity in children’s learning. There is free 30-day access to nearly 1,000 eBooks with Skybrary. Children ages 2 – 9 are provided with the opportunity to complete reading adventures through Skybrary, created by LeVar Burton Kids. Other online resources on RIF’s Literacy Central include RIF’s Puzzle Creator tool, games such as Book Bingo, as well as activity sheets, read-aloud tips, and coloring sheets

Eliot would be amazed at all the resources online, but he might just say a simple book might do the trick of teaching, and providing solace.


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Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.