The Governor's Program for Gifted Children
The Great Books
The Humanities and Science curriculum of the GPGC owes much to the Great Books, which is more of a group of ideas rather than a list of the books that these ideas are drawn from. Some refer to the Great Books as the Great Conversation, which is ongoing and eternal.
This part of the GPGC site is devoted to explaining the Great Books idea, as well as pointing interested persons to sites and books that explore it in greater detail.
Here are some sites that are helpful in exploring the Great Books:
- In 1952 Encyclopaedia Britannica published a 54 volume set of what it called The Great Books of the Western World. This set has become the seminal foundation for the study of the Great Books, both in colleges and schools and on one's personal time. The GPGC's Great Books curriculum and reading list are based primarily on this set. It includes, in addition to texts from over 50 of the Western World's greatest authors, two resources that aid and inspire the lifelong study of the Great Books. One of these is the introduction to the set, The Great Conversation which discusses why the Great Books are so important and why a "liberal education" will always be invaluable to society and to one's self. It also offers different approaches to reading the set, which can of course be applied to the books that make up the set individually. The second resource is a two volume Synopticon of The Great Ideas which discusses what the Great Books offer on 102 of what the author describes as the Great Ideas, with references to where these ideas are discussed in each volume. If you would like to purchase the set, there are several options. Visit the Encyclopaedia Britannica website to purchase a brand new set. They run at about $1200. While this is definitely worth it, you may also purchase the books individually or as a set from a used book dealer. One such dealer is Bibliofind, which is an online clearinghouse of used book dealers. Another option to get a used set is an online auction site, such as eBay. I have seen used sets for as low as $250, depending on condition, and individual books for as low as $4. Alternatively, we offer links to most of the works contained in the set as part of our bookstore, and when you buy through our links from booksXYZ.com, the Program receives a percentage of the purchase price.
- There are many sites on the Web that offer strategies for reading and discussing the Great Books. Many also offer lists of Great Books that may not be included in the Britannica set. A wonderful site to start with is the Great Books Foundation. It also has a list of "Junior Great Books" for elementary and middle school students.
- Another wonderful site is The Great Books Online. It is a collection of electronic texts of many of the books that are considered part of the Great Books. Reading books online, or from personally printed pages may not be fun, but it is free, and you may find it useful to preview a book before you decide to buy it.
- Project Gutenburg is a site anyone interested in books, great or otherwise, should visit. Its mission is no less than publishing every book whose copyright has expired online.