I have long preached the virtues of reading aloud as a family at any age. Benefits of family read alouds and numerous, guaranteed, and almost immediate. But the next question is often “What then shall we read?” Here are a list of some of our family favorites.
Read aloud books that appeal to a family that has a large age span will have accessible language and colorful characters, but more complex plots and character depth. Series are great because we automatically have something we know the family will enjoy reading aloud without having to come up with a new book every month or so. Some that have been hits in our family reading time include:
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. Perennial favorites that should be read aloud by every family, the descriptive and clever language also serves to whet the appetite for the non-fiction and apologetics of Lewis when they reach middle and high school.
|The Chronicles of Narnia: 7-Volume Slipcased Softcover Set|
By C. S. Lewis
The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien. A master of “world building”, enter middle earth when you read aloud this book and identify with the very ordinary heroes, Bilbo, Frodo, and Samwise. We have so many fond memories of from this series: my Sunshine Doll stomping around like an Ent, my Vintage Doll sewing costumes so she and her bestie could trick or treat dressed as Frodo and Sam, and hearing my kids complain when I wake them up, “The light! It hurts our eyes, precious!”
|The History of the Lord of the Rings: Boxed Set|
By J.R.R. Tolkien; edited by Christopher Tolkien
The Green Ember series by S. D. Smith. Endearing bunnies populate the world and fight the evil birds of prey in this dramatic series of stories. Don’t let the rabbits fool you. They are fierce, brave, and as complicated as humans as they fight for survival, culture, and freedom. Teens to two year olds, we loved reading aloud these books.
The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald. Said to have inspired the writing of Tolkein, these fairy tales and their deep, hidden lessons will stick in your mind for a long time to come.
|The Princess & the Goblin|
By George MacDonald
Slake’s Limbo by Felice Hoffman is a survival story in the New York City Subways. Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field tells the story from a doll’s point of view, and yet is full of danger and adventure.
We have also enjoyed many different books by Charles Dickens together, our favorites being Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol. This past year has seen me enjoying Jane Austen with my teen girls. Pride and Prejudice and Emma have been the most enjoyed. We have enjoyed National Velvet, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Treasure Island. From the Crazy, Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is perfect for the kid who wonders whether they could stay in a museum after the lights go out and the doors are locked. We enjoyed Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery Murder on the Orient Express before watching the movie.
When we see a movie coming out that is based on a good book, we often start to read the book and reward ourselves with a trip to the theater when we are done. That has been a great motivator for my girls to read books on their own as well!
The Winnie the Pooh series by A. A. Milne. These books have some of the most beautiful language in any children’s book written in English. We will forever name our raindrops and watch them race down a window in rainstorms, demonstrating that Milne’s poetry, read aloud, is as memorable as his stories.
|The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh|
By A.A. Milne
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The Adventures of Mr. Toad are hilarious, the language positively poetic, and the themes can be appreciated by adults.
|The Wind in the Willows|
By Kenneth Grahame
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter. Most famous for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Miss Potter has written a farmyard of beautifully illustrated, clever tales. My Rainbow Baby’s current favorite is The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck. She distrusts foxes in any form right now.
|Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales|
By Beatrix Potter
We also loved Granny Han’s Breakfast by Sheila Groves, a true story of the power of prayer and faith. Little Pear by Eleanor Francis Lattimore with its adventures in China and the descriptions of exotic treats was a treat for my girls. We read it multiple times. A Question of Yams stirred their imaginations about what faith looks like in other cultures and lands. The Diving Bell by Todd Strasser led to my oldest daughter having a fascination with SCUBA. That later led to her love of the biography of Dr. Eugenie Clark, Shark Lady, by Ann McGovern. Biographies make terrific read alouds, by the way! More on our favorite biographies coming soon.
I would love to hear what everyone else’s family read aloud hits have been. What have you read aloud and what ages do you recommend the books for? Please share in the comments below. Let’s get a community list going that we can all benefit from!
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