Great literature inspires learning - not by the transmission of cold facts, but by kindling the ability to wonder. Through an awakened imagination, great books open the mind, stir the spirit, sharpen the intellect, and shape the conscience. By opening windows of wonder in children, we seek to develop life-long learners: students who perpetually thirst for knowledge, and who skillfully use the imagination as a mental tool to "connect the material and spiritual, the visible and invisible, heaven and earth"1, and thereby enrich their life journeys. Excellent literature is crucial to the Cambridge mission because of its power to inspire students’ imaginations, to touch their spirits, and to enlighten their minds and hearts in order that they may one day fulfill their destinies.
There is no single metric that determines what great literature is. However, through collective experience, there are characteristics that set some books apart from the rest. The Guideposts to Literature, developed by the Literature Sub-Committee in 2007, is meant to promote the identification of great literature in the context of the Cambridge Community. For the teacher and library coordinators, it provides a standard for appraising literature as they review and update classroom and library collections. For parents, it provides direction in the selection of literature as they grow their own home collections. For students, it provides guidance in discriminating excellent from mediocre reading material. It is a guide.
Examples of elements of great literature:
- inspires the imagination and peaks intellectual curiosity in all areas of inquiry, for all truth is God’s truth;
- has noble and true themes, well-crafted plots, distinctive writing style, and superior artistic components;
- points to truth, goodness, and beauty as moral reference points for decision making; providing inroads into the self and helping solidify core values;
- presents opportunity to consider a Biblical worldview while providing insight into and appreciation for other cultures and their traditions.
The Cambridge Bibliography is an updated compilation of literature used at Cambridge School. It highlights the importance and centrality of literature within the Cambridge curriculum, and provides a chronology of the literature presented at each grade level. It facilitates informed dialogue among teachers, parents, and students as these works are shared at the beginning of each year. The Bibliography also provides a central database that can be quickly referenced for a complete and updated list of the Cambridge literature collection. For library coordinators as well as teachers expanding their own classroom libraries, this central database diminishes unintended repetition and expands interclass awareness
Download The Cambridge Bibliography reading lists by age group:
1Peterson EH, Under the Unpredictable Planet: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992.