LEAD Curriculum

The Big Picture

We believe that students are best served by going deep in a few topics per subject matter rather than receiving instruction “a mile wide and an inch deep.” We also believe the childhood years are a time of rapid brain development that is most enhanced through fostering curiosity, wonder, exploration and much reading of “living books.” At the end of this page, we have a list of just such books that we encourage you to consider acquiring for your children, whether you read to them (which we encourage for every age) or they read on their own.

Building a Solid Foundation

Listos (4-6yo): This half-day class is for non-readers and for those who have not yet socially matured enough to succeed in our 6-8yo (Lucidos) class. We believe these formative years are not a time for book work but for enhancing curiosity and problem-solving through exploration, games, unstructured creative play, social interaction and nature observation. Guided by the Five in a Row curriculum, our teacher helps the students develop early literary skills through exciting read-aloud stories that introduce them to science, social studies, applied mathematics, language, and art concepts. Students also become familiar with numbers through engaging with Math U See manipulatives, learn about the local flora and fauna through nature walks, and participate in many field trips and service projects. For DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) the students quietly enjoy picture books as a precursor to developing the critical habit of reading. During the daily “Love in Action” they learn about loving God and others and frequently spend time serving others.

6-11yo: These students are separated into two classes: 6-8yo (Lucidos) and 8-11yo (Lectores). These students initially spend individual time working on parent-assigned curricula in math and language arts with teacher oversight (reading instruction continues at home). For history and science we believe the development of individual expression and critical thinking is best served by using engaging narratives, discussion, activities, and experiments rather than regurgitated facts written by committee. We provide recommendations of additional books parents may wish to read and discuss with their children at home. Each class covers the same topics, although the Lectores do so at a deeper level. We believe this practice of repeating each topic over the six-year cycle enhances the student’s understanding for later, more in depth study.


We use Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer as an instructional guide, incorporating books from its excellent supplemental reading list as well as engaging in its suggested activities. While most students do not receive the history rotation in chronological order, our teachers use time lines to denote the particular time period being studied. This practice does not interfere with the children’s ability to process the information chronologically.

The history rotation is:

  • Year 1: Ancient History
  • Year 2: Middle Ages
  • Year 3: Renaissance through the beginning of the California Gold Rush in 1849


We use Janice VanCleave’s books of science experiments, along with correlating Eyewitness and other supplemental books. Students also study the local flora and fauna through nature observation and the use of field guides. The science rotation is:

  • Year 1: Human Body, Electricity, Chemistry, Engineering, Geometry
  • Year 2: Nutrition, Physics, Weather, Rocks & Minerals, Biology
  • Year 3: Earth Science, Science from Around the World (Biomes from Pole to Pole), Molecules, Oceans, Astronomy

Other enrichment activities throughout the day include:

Love in Action: The children listen to and discuss a devotional on loving others well, engage with a guest speaker, or enjoy a rousing time of singing together.

DEAR (Drop Everything and Read): The children can either bring a book from home or choose one from the LEAD library to read for 20-30 minutes each day. This time helps them develop the critical habit of, as well as love for, life-long reading.

The LEAD Store: One day each week the children are given play money to “purchase” items from a store operated by the older students.

Special Events: Frequent field trips, nature walks, study of the arts, special guest speakers, service projects and more!

Suggested Living Books to Choose from for Supplemental Home Reading

Read-alouds for pre-readers:

  • Beatrix Potter series
  • Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (and Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine)
  • Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (and Ox-Cart Man)
  • Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
  • The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
  • The Little House by Virginia Burton (Katie and the Big Snow, Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel)
  • The Story About Ping By Marjorie Flack
  • Winnie the Pooh series by AA Milne and Ernest H. Shepard
  • Classic stories: The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Three Little Kittens…
  • Aesop’s Fables (best illustrated by Milo Winter)
  • A quality Mother Goose collection
  • A quality collection of poems for children

Easy chapter book read-alouds

  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • King of the Golden River by John Ruskin
  • Peter Pan by James M. Barrie
  • Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
  • St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjory Williams

Easy readers


  • A Toad for Tuesday by Russell Erickson
  • Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel
  • Little Bear books by Elsa Holmelund Minarik
  • Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Books by Millicent Selsam (esp. Plenty of Fish, Seeds and More Seeds, Let’s Get Turtles)
  • Books by Clyde Robert Bulla (esp. A Lion to Guard Us, Shoeshine Girl)

2nd level read-alouds

  • Along Came a Dog by Meindert De Jong
  • Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
  • Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney
  • Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
  • Heidi by Joanna Spyri
  • Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  • Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
  • The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning
  • The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

2nd level reading practice (basically grades 2-3)

  • Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden (and The Story of Holly and Ivy)
  • The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  • Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace
  • Billy and Blaze books by C. W. Anderson
  • Fairchild Family series by Rebecca Caudill

3rd level read-alouds

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
  • King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  • Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Men of Iron by Howard Pyle
  • The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
  • The Saturdays series by Elizabeth Enright
  • The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong

3rd level reading practice (basically 3rd-4th)

  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  • Sarah Plain and Tall (series) by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
  • The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander
  • Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois

4th level read-alouds

  • Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
  • Bambi by Felix Salten
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  • Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Gentle Ben by Walter Morey
  • Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (also Return to Gone Away Lake and Thimble Summer)
  • Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes
  • Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry
  • Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight
  • Little Britches by Ralph Moody
  • Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter
  • Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Borrowers (series) by Mary Norton
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis
  • The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia Hale
  • The Railway Children by Edith Nesbitt
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill

4th level reading practice (4th-6th)

  • Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey (and Homer Price)
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
  • The Circket in Times Square by George Selden
  • The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (preview last chapter for sensitive topic)
  • The Rescuers (series) by Margery Sharp
  • Books by Noel Streatfield
  • Books by Kate Seredy

5th level read or read-alouds (5th-6th)

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  • Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (and Puck of Pook’s Hill)
  • Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton
  • Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
  • Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Michael Faraday, Father of Electronics by Charles Ludwig
  • Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter by Miriam Huffman Rockness
  • Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (and The Prince and the Pauper)
  • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  • The Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit (and The Wouldbegoods)
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

6th level read or read-alouds

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Ben Hur by Lew Wallace
  • Blue Willow by Doris Gates
  • God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew and John Sherrill
  • Jungle Pilot: The Life and Witness of Nate Saint, Martyred Missionary to Ecuador by Russel T. Hitt
  • Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
  • Little Men by Louisa May Alcott (also Jack and Jill)
  • Miracles on Maple Street by Virginia Sorensen
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Penrod by Booth Tarkington
  • Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • School of the Woods by William J. Long
  • Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Ark by Margot Benary-Isbert
  • The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth Speare
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy
  • The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
  • The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
  • The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
  • The Von Trapp Family Singers by Maria Von Trapp
  • The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne