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Friday, June 21, 2013

Awesome Read Aloud Books for Kids (And Adults)

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I love books.  I love to read and I love to be read to.  I love books on tape.  I love all things book-related.

My mom read to us when we were kids, and we loved it.  I taught elementary school for six years before becoming a SAHM, and one of my favorite times of day was after lunch, when we'd come back into the classroom, leave the lights off, the kids would put their heads on their desks, and I would read aloud to them.  Kids love to be read to, and adults do, too!

Early in our marriage, Brian and I started reading together.  It's a great way to end the day, it makes for great conversations, provides common ground for discussions, and it's a lot of fun.  Usually we read at night, but we've read on trains and boats, on vacations, on camping trips, and just about every other place we've been.  We almost always take a book with us.

Of course, you don't have to read out loud to enjoy a book.  You can just read it yourself, or check out an audiobook at the library.  I love getting a book on CD and playing it in the car.  We live kind of far away from everything, so it's nice to have something to look forward to when you know you have a long drive ahead.

Here are some recommendations for books that are great to read aloud.  Most of these would be great family read alouds because they appeal to a wide variety of ages, but of course, use your own discretion when deciding what is best for your family.

Books I Have Read to My Classes

(Brian and I have also read several of these together.  Good literature and fun books aren't always in the adult section.)

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

How to Be Cool in Third Grade by Betsy Duffey

Frindle by Andrew Clement

The Wayside School Series by Louis Sachar

Holes by Louis Sachar

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever  by Barbara Robinson

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
(I only read them an excerpt from this one.  It's very long.)

If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, here are the links.  I am an Amazon affiliate, so I do receive a small percentage of the sales of anything sold through my site, but I am not otherwise compensated for endorsing these products.  I just like them.

Books Brian and I Have Read Together

(Not all of these books will appeal to young children.  Use your discretion.)

Anything by Terry Pratchett
(He is my all-time favorite author.  Just start at the beginning.  You won't stop until you've gotten through all of them!  They are an awesome mix of fantasy, satire, fiction, and comedy.)

Sherlock Holmes Series (short stories and novels) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(This was one of the first things we read together.  The short stories are especially fun and suspenseful!)

The Silmarillion,
The Hobbit,
and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein
(We had both read these separately, but it was fun to read them through together and talk about them.  We even drew maps and made models to reenact the battles on occasion.)

Robin Hood  by Roger Lancelyn Green
(This is one of our all-time favorites.  It is our traditional book to take camping.  We've read it through several times together, and it never gets old.  Also, there are several versions of Robin Hood written by several different authors.  This guy is our favorite.)

The Six Wives of Henry VIII
and The Life of Elizabeth I by Allison Weir
(Our running joke is that Brian has actually read each of these at least twice, because I would often fall asleep while he was reading and he would have to go back and reread each passage.  They are great books to read before bed, because they are just interesting enough to keep you reading, but not so much that they keep you awake.  They're probably a little dry for kids, but if you're a history buff, they're fascinating.)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(This is of course a classic, but be warned that there is some really rough language in it.  Brian substituted less offensive words as he read because we just couldn't stand hearing it over and over.  Not one for the young kids.)

(I don't even remember why we read this, but it was cool.  I think we had just watched a movie version.)

The Iliad 
and The Odyssey by Homer
(We went through these after reading the Percy Jackson series.  It was fun to go back to the original stories.)

Redwall by Brian Jacques
(This is the first book in a very long series, so if you like it, there are lots where that came from.  Kids especially would enjoy it.)

The Song of Albion Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead
(If you're into Celtic legends and fantasy novels, this one is amazing.  If I remember, there is some language, and it's not really written for kids, but for adults it's a lot of fun.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
(This might be our favorite book that we have ever read aloud.  It is a bajillion pages long, which is awesome because since it's a great book, you have the comfort of knowing it's not going to be over soon.  We loved this book so much we would read it in the middle of the day instead of watching TV.)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
(Full of swashbuckling excitement!  The awesome thing about this one was, after we read it, we watched like, five different movie versions of it, and compared them all with the book.)

The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
(We didn't actually finish this one because I got too depressed in the middle of the second book.  I was pregnant.  Give me a break.  But it is an interesting concept, and if you like sci-fi and Lewis' other books, you would probably enjoy it.)

The Sword of Shannara (and the rest of the series) by Terry Brooks
(Another fun fantasy series.  We had read them all separately, but we went back and reread the first one together.)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
(Again, it was fun to watch the movie versions afterwards and compare them.  We found to our surprise that the Kiera Knightly version was much more accurate to the book than the A&E six-hour version.  Crazy!)

Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
(These are young adult books, but they are amazing.  Riordan is a fantastic writer, and I will pretty much read anything he puts out at this point.)

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
(Another series by Riordan, and also really good.)

The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
(Again, my sentimental pregnancy hormones only allowed us to get a few books into this series, but I really liked it up to that point.  For the record, I was completely fine with Mary going blind from smallpox.  What I couldn't take was their faithful dog, Jack, growing old and possibly dying.  I cried until Brian promised to never read it again.)

Ok, surely in those lists you can find at least one book that sounds interesting, so go check it out at your library and start a new family tradition.  Or, if you're like me and there's just something special about owning books, I have made a list of all of these books in the sidebar with links to Amazon.  Feel free to mosey on over there and pick up a couple for yourself!  (I do receive a small percentage of sales made through my site, but I am not otherwise compensated for endorsing these products.)


  1. I'm so excited... the books/series on this list that I have read are so wonderful that I feel like I can trust that the rest of them will be just as awesome. Duh. It's how to be awesome at everything.

    1. Oh yay! If you try one of them, let me know how you like it! :o)