One of the many elements we put to use in our home school student’s college applications was a high school reading list. It was a partial listing of the books that they read all through their high school years. I point out “partial” due to the fact we never did a very good job keeping up with the amount of books they actually read. My kids are voracious readers and, for that reason, our books lists seemed very impressive to the colleges. It was how my children preferred to learn. I could not KEEP them away from books. Even in college, when my youngest came home for vacation he chose to read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, CS Lewis, and Agatha Christie. He did not only read ONE of each of those, he read the entire SERIES of each one. That is what he loves to do, and that’s the reason why his book list looked like it did.
When they were in high school learning Christian Apologetics, I placed 35 books before the kids, and instructed them to read for simply one to two hours a week from those books. I was expecting them to read, perhaps, ten during the year. Instead, they read all of them. It was amazing to me, but that is what they loved to do – and they continue to enjoy it.
Early on, our strategy was to use a literature-based curriculum and simply pile it on. We began home schooling with Sonlight Curriculum. I supplemented using Jim Trelease Read Aloud Handbook. By the time they were in high school, we incorporated book lists from The Well Trained Mind, and various “reading lists for the college bound” that I found online.
We did not use literature guides, really. They generally simply read the books. When I would ask them about it, they just said it was good, and asked for the next one. It is not like we dissected each book in an intense way. They loved reading, and I provided them books!
There have been certain home school courses that I struggled to teach (for example, art and state history. )#) For these courses, I discovered it worked better if I let my kids learn from literature. If I got completely frustrated by a subject, I just scheduled the boys to read. So instead of studying art, we read art history. Rather than learning third year French, we read French books, and books about France. Reading is my kids’ love language.
To maintain a reading list, you might have the kids take note of every book they read, but that didn’t work well for me. I have a better suggestion! Maintain all of the receipts from the library and from the bookstore. Keep all of your assignment sheets, if you use them, because that might have the titles of books you used. You can include books on tape, and you might want to include plays that come in book form (like Shakespeare, Death of a Salesman, etc)
By the time you complete home schooling high school, an avid reader will have plowed through an impressive selection of books. Make certain to record them in a reading list (even if it is partial). This can show colleges that your students like to learn.