Today, new contributer Ashley (welcome, Ashley!) shares a roundup of great books to read aloud with your kids:
Summer and reading — they just go together, you know? School is out (or out very soon!), the library’s summer reading programs are in full swing, and you’re deep into the latest bestseller. But when was the last time you read a book — out loud — with your family?
Most parents know the importance of reading with their babies or preschoolers. (Ahh, the joys of bedtime stories with a toddler who wants to read all. the. Thomas. books.) But once kids reach that magical age of reading independence, it can be easy to forget about the whole reading-together thing.
No matter your child’s age, though, there are academic and emotional benefits to a good ol’ fashioned parent-child read aloud. For starters, because a child’s reading level won’t catch up to her listening level until around 8th grade, now’s your chance to introduce a more advanced and exciting novel to your younger reader. Plus, think of the vocab building that can happen all summer as you’re reading words your little one wouldn’t have been able to decipher himself. And the best side benefit of all? When you’re reading together, you have to be physically close — it just doesn’t work from across the house!
Get started with these eight captivating family read-alouds. Happy summer reading!
1. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (2014). Age range: 9+ years. All at once unusual and traditional, the Fletchers are a family you’ll want to follow. With four children, two doting parents, a couple of pets, family game nights, and a new school, the Fletchers might sound like the family next door. But the family makeup is anything but conventional — all four sons are adopted, bringing a mix of ethnicities and religions, and their parents happen to be two dads. The book takes its readers through a hilariously chaotic school year, where each family member learns a thing or two about identity, relationships, and the ability to grow from mistakes.
2. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (1948). Age range: 8+ years. This biographical novel tells the very real story of a fascinatingly oversized family from New Jersey, and although the book takes place a century ago, its charm is timeless. The Gilbreth parents are famous efficiency experts, and their attempts to manage their dozen red-haired, freckle-faced kids through seemingly far-fetched episodes are flat-out funny.
3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (1950). Age range: 6+ years. It’s the first in a fantasy series written for children, but its appeal spans all ages and interests. Four children embark on an extraordinary adventure when they discover — by way of a wardrobe in an old house — a magical world, complete with talking animals and centaurs.
4. Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012). Age range: 7+ years. This recent and bestselling children’s novel has earned a host of awards, and for good reason. It tells the story of Auggie, a 10-year-old boy with a facial deformity, who heads to public school for the first time as a fifth grader. Through first-hand narratives, the reader feels the life-changing lessons Auggie and his community learn about kindness, differences, and courage.
5. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952). Age range: 5+ years. Beloved by readers (and listeners!) young and old, Charlotte’s Web is a true classic in children’s literature. Wilbur, the runt of a litter of piglets, yearns for companionship and finds his ally in Charlotte, a barn spider whose web overlooks Wilbur’s pen. Determined to save her new friend from a pig’s seemingly inevitable fate, Charlotte spins messages into her web to persuade the community of Wilbur’s excellence.
6. The BFG by Roald Dahl (1982). Age range: 5+ years. Unlike his counterparts in Giant Country, the Big Friendly Giant refuses to eat people or steal food from humans. Instead, he spreads sweet dreams throughout children’s bedrooms all over England. After carrying orphan Sophie off in the night, the BFG and his new friend work together to ensure that the people-eating giants are stopped in their tracks.
7. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (2007). Age range: 7+ years. Protagonist Miri is a 14-year-old mountain-dwelling girl who expects to become a miner in the local quarry, just like all those who have gone before her. But when her small village is deemed the location of the future princess, Miri and the other teenage girls are sent to a princess-training academy, where they’ll compete for the hand of the kingdom’s prince. When hardships befall the academy attendees, Miri takes charge and uses her unique gifts to save her community.
8. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (1961). Age range: 8+ years. No matter where you fall on the dog-loving spectrum, prepare to have your tissues handy for this heartwarming tale about Billy and the two coon hounds he adores. While honing their racoon-hunting skills in the Ozarks of Oklahoma, the trio become known for their successes, eventually catching the infamous “ghost coon” and winning the local championship. Their final adventure turns to tragedy, though, and the heartbroken Billy learns to work through his grief by remembering his dogs’ examples of friendship and loyalty.
Image credits: book jackets via Amazon; compilation image by Christine Koh