In our general book list, we have worked to provide parents and educators with our comments and suggestions regarding children’s reading material. We have found it necessary to compile a separate list devoted to books which are commonly assigned for in-class or at-home reading assignments. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare to find classics that are as completely problem-free as we would like. In addition, many classics gloss over sensitive issues, but schools should be aware that students can easily access Cliff’s Notes or similar explanatory notes (either on-line or at the library) that clarify these issues in graphic detail. Introductions, prefaces, biographies of authors and other addenda often provide inappropriate information as well. Therefore, although our comments are based on our reading of the original works, we also provide comments on the Cliff’s Notes, etc. so that schools and teachers can make informed choices. (Experienced educators have informed us that forbidding the use of explanatory notes is generally ineffective as some students are determined to read them in the place of the original text)
These comments on classics are written in as much detail as possible, in order to aid principals and educators in deciding if and how these works will be used in their school. We have included grade recommendations; however, keep in mind that these are based on our own, unscientific approximation. Please note: for many of the 'classics', we generally do not make recommendations. Each school will need to balance the potential problems in a book, with the educational value it seeks.
For books that are used as assignments but unlikely to be picked up by a child outside of school, we omitted the usual rating and simply marked them as "Classic."