This book is an oasis of material for instructors, whether classroom teachers or instructors of homeschool co-ops, who want their students to benefit from the education of classic literature and original source material. Michael Clay Thompson believes that the classics are part of the heritage our civilization offers; they are part of being civilized. Classic literature helps us to equip our children with preferences for subtlety, complexity, curiosity, equality, honesty, harmony, and humanity—and can help to inoculate them against stupidity and cruelty and inspire them with the love of thought. Once they are comfortable with ordinary educated language, children love these classics and will prefer them to forgettable books.
Children who read classic books delight in good ideas, characterization, depth, complexity, word play, originality, cleverness, and imagination as much as adults do. Even the very young love to be read to. Classics, Thompson writes: "make wonderfully appropriate sources of gifted ideas for gifted thinking."
Classics In the Classroom has two parts. The first contains the author's approach to classic literature and how it should be taught. The second part contains a list of 1,350 titles for readers in kindergarten through graduate school. Arranged alphabetically by author, the list includes comedy, tragedy, adventure, drama, children’s stories, poetry, philosophy, and history. It is cross-referenced to other distinguished reading lists and indicates books that are prize-winners.
Thompson writes: "Classics in the Classroom is an extended discussion of the value of classic literature at a time when school systems everywhere are deleting classics as politically incorrect. It is a defense of classics.... No one ever learned to love to read books by reading anthologies; you learn to love books by reading books. That's the spirit."