Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Are you looking for some great read-aloud books? Below is a list of my family’s best-loved books. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is having ample time to read aloud to my kids. 

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” — C.S. Lewis

“If it’s a good book, anyone will read it. I’m totally unashamed about still reading things I loved in my childhood.”–J.K. Rowling

There are several indicators that reveal to me if my kids love a book:

  • They ask me to stop reading or to read loudly when they have to go to the bathroom.
  • They put the book they love on top of the stack of books I am planning to read aloud or clamor for me to read that book above all others.
  • They talk about it as we go about our day.

map-pics-002

My kids are ages 10, 9 and 6. I have been reading these type of books for the past 2 1/2 – 3 years. So, my youngest began listening to them when she was about 3 1/2 years old. I read during snack and  meal times so they are somewhat of a captive audience. I do not read to them when Dad or guests are at the table with us.

If I don’t find the book interesting myself as I read it aloud a time or two, then I will just ditch it. If the kid don’t ask for it all, then it is confirmed for me that we should move on. After all, there are so many great books to waste time on ones we don’t love!

Here are our absolute favorite read-alouds. While we love some of the classics, we have also found some gems published more recently. Additionally, we do most of our history and geography studies through living books.You will find some of those living history books in the list below.whangdoodle

  1. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards is my family’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK!!! We adored Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. This story is of the same caliber. Her imagination is genius!
  2. Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett are some of the finest children’s books ever written. They are excellent for character training because they show children who are pure, good and kind. These books created much discussion in our family as we grappled with the choices the protagonists in the stories would make. People of all ages will find wisdom and delight reading Burnett’s masterpieces.  Both my son and daughters loved all three of these books!cabin-on-trouble-creek
  3. Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen is a based on the true story of two brothers, ages 11 and 9, who head out to the Ohio wilderness with their pa to clear some land to build a cabin and farm for their family. Pa heads back to retrieve Ma and their younger siblings but is delayed months. This is a survival tale of these two boys in the wilderness and is masterfully told. My kids chanted each day “Trouble Creek, Trouble Creek” to read this book before any others.
  4. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater will keep your family in stitches. If you are new to reading aloud or your kids are just old enough to begin enjoying novels, this is an excellent one to start with. Be prepared to laugh a lot! wiz-of-oz
  5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  by L. Frank Baum chronicles the adventures of Dorothy through the Land of Oz. The classic children’s movie, The Wizard of Oz, was based on this fantastical novel. You will find many differences between the movie and Baum’s book. It is fun to compare and contrast the two.
  6. Sophia’s War: A Tale of Revolution by Avi is a fast-paced and gripping tale set during the American Revolution. In the opening scene, Sophia watches as Nathan Hale is hanged as a spy. Later, she is recruited as a spy and serves as a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of British forces in America. Sophia’s War is a great example of why I prefer to learn history with living books instead of dry textbooks. This is an excellent read and is especially perfect when studying the American Revolution.my-brother-sam
  7. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier is another fantastic book to read when studying the American Revolution. It will give you a lot to discuss with your kids. We loved it!
  8. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by  Betty Macdonald is the first in a series about a wise woman who lives in a neighborhood inhabited by children with bad habits. When the parents are at a loss how to break these bad habits, they turn to Mrs. Piggle- Wiggle. This light-hearted read will add plenty of laughter to your day.the-city-of-ember-image-book-cover
  9. The City of Ember series by Jeanne Duprau is electrifying and  fast-paced. I consider these books modern-day classics.  My kids always put these books on the top of my read-aloud pile. These are the kind of books that really cause you to think deeply. After reading the first one, you will see why The City of Ember has received many awards and honors.
  10. Gentle Ben by Walt Morey is a beautifully written tale about a large bear named Ben and a boy named Mark. It is set in the Alaskan wilderness and illustrates the special bond between humans and animals.
  11. Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen is the first in the Tucket Adventure series and is a perfect complement to American westward expansion studies. It starts off with Francis Tucket, a 14-year-old boy, who strays from his family’s wagon train headed to Oregon and is captured by Pawnee Indians. This book is fast-pace and adventure at its finest while learning history at the same time!tale-of-desper
  12. The Tale of Despereaux is by far our favorite book from popular children’s author, Kate DiCamillo. This Newbery Award winner is centered around a mouse named Despereaux who does not fit in with the other mice. He is in love with music, stories and a princess named Pea. A wonderful adventure awaits you, reader!
  13. Poppy  was the first novel published in the Tales from Dimwood Forest series by gifted children’s writer, Avi. These books chronicle the adventures of Poppy, a mouse, and the other animals of Dimwood Forest. Our absolute favorite character was the cantankerous but lovable porcupine, Ereth. blood-on-the-river
  14. Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone is a stellar way to learn more about the colony of Jamestown in 1607. Through the eyes of 12-year-old Samuel Collier, this engrossing book brings to life what it must have been like to live in Jamestown at that time. This book is a must!
  15. Matilda by the incomparable British writer, Roald Dahl, is another must read! It is about a brilliant 6-year old girl who is poorly treated and neglected by her idiotic and self-centered parents. Her sweet teacher, Miss Honey, quickly realizes Matilda is a child prodigy. However, the headmistress and villain, Mrs. Trunchbull, pays no heed to this. Oodles of laughter will exude from your kids as you read this book together.journey-to-river-sea
  16. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson is about a young orphan, Maia, in 1910 sent off to live with distant family who own a rubber plantation on the Amazon River. She is excited to explore the banks of the Amazon and view exotic wildlife. However, upon arrival she discovers her relatives are rotten people and they also hate nature. A wonderful story and mystery await you in this enchanting book.
  17. Streams to the River, River to the Sea is a book by celebrated author, Scott O’Dell, (who also wrote Island of the Blue Dolphin) about Sacagawea, interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark. This is unique from other accounts of Lewis and Clark because it is told from Sacagawea’s point of view.  This absorbing and suspenseful book will shed new light on the true-life adventure.
  18. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1972. We loved this tale of courage, morality,and heroism. Some people think it starts off slowly, but we did not find that to be the case.georges-secret-key
  19. George’s Secret Key to the Universe  by  famed physicist Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy, is a fast-paced and funny adventure that explains our universe in quite an intriguing yet simple way. The book is fairly long, but my kids enjoyed every minute. Furthermore, we all learned a lot. Three additional books follow this one.
  20. Pinnochio  by Carlo Collodi is a wonderful book about making good choices and the consequences of making poor ones. This particular book I have linked to is especially beautiful because it shows different illustrations from around the world throughout the book. Collodi’s tale is quite different from the Disney version. I think all parents should read this aloud to their kids and discuss its many lessons. It is fun to read the dialogue with an Italian accent.
  21. The Twits by Roald Dahl is a hilarious, light-hearted and quick read. If you are new to reading aloud, The Twits is a nice way to kick it off!
  22. The Hungry Clothes by Penninah Schram is a great example of folk and fairy tales from around the world we have read.  These are an entertaining way to learn and discuss moral lessons. Furthermore, these tales teach us more about culture and history from around the globe. Many libraries have an excellent selection of international folk and fairy tales.
  23. Caddie Woodlawn, recipient of the Newbery Medal in 1936, by Carol Ryrie Brink is a tale of tomboy Caddie and her family’s adventures in the woods of Wisconsin in the mid-1800s.  The stories are based on the real life of the author’s grandmother. All three of my kids, including my 10-year old son, adored Caddie and this book. For those studying American frontier life and the Civil War era, this is a great addition. However, it is a great story to read at any time!
  24. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, a Newbery Honor book, by beloved  children’s author, Avi, is a fast-paced, suspenseful novel that you don’t want to put down.  This exciting seafaring adventure takes place in the summer of 1832 when thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island. “Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial and found guilty.”
  25. Pippi Longstocking, originally written in Swedish by Astrid Lindgren and later translated into more than 70 languages, has also been turned into several movies and TV series. The tales of Pippi, the girl with upside-down braids and no parents to tell her what to do, and her friends, Annika and Tommy, will bring a smile to your family’s faces. If you are new to reading aloud, this is a great book to get started. Even your youngest children should delight in Pippi’s adventures.
  26. The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson is a suspenseful story set in Austria and Germany in the early 20th century about a child, Annika, who was left as a baby just days old in a church.  At 12-years old, Annika inherits a trunk of costume jewelry. A woman claiming to be her aristocratic mother arrives and takes her to live in a run-down mansion in Germany. Once you get into the meat of this story, your kids will not want you to put this book down.
  27. Death on the River of Doubt by Samantha Sieple is great for history lovers and those fascinated with the Amazon rainforest. Did you know that in 1913 former president Teddy Roosevelt led a perilous expedition deep into the Amazon rainforest to chart an unmapped river?  This book, which is an account of their adventure, was thrilling and exhilarating for our family to read together. Furthermore, I have learned more about the character and leadership of Roosevelt and have even greater admiration for him now. The wilderness doesn’t care if you are a former president or king. All are at risk of injury and death on such a harrowing journey with danger lurking almost everywhere.

What are some of your favorite read-aloud books? Please share with us in the comments below.

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

You may also be interested in:

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Homeschooling is an Excellent Choice for Making Neuron Connections

While reading aloud today, I came across the  passage below in our  book. After uttering the words, I told the kids that is exactly how we are homeschooling. Experiential-based learning with lots of reading is such a huge part of their education, and I know it is for so many of you. Such a blessing to homeschool where there are abundant opportunities to experience so many different things!

“Though you haven’t gained many neurons since you were born, the connections between the neurons you have continue to form all your life. The more you read and learn and experience, the more connections you’ll have, and the smarter you’ll be!”–Apologia Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology by Jeanne Fulbright and Brook Ryan

Teaching Geography with Living Books and Wall Maps

One of my favorite ways to teach geography is during read aloud time. I read aloud during snack and meal times (when we don’t have guests and Daddy is not eating with us). I keep a world map and U.S. map on the wall behind me. It is a great way to make the study of geography more interesting as we are enthralled in the action of a book. Additionally, as we engage in conversation throughout the day we can easily walk to the maps to see where a place is located.

reading pic

If you do not have a good wall space for maps then another suggestion is to put a map on your dining table and cover it with plexiglass. The kids can look at it every time they are eating even when you are not reading.

I like dry erase maps so we can write on them.

What are some other fun ways you like to teach geography?

Here are the two dry erase  maps we keep on our wall. One is a United Sates map and the other is a world map.

http://amzn.to/2apOMOY

http://amzn.to/2apNaEH

 

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

Fantastic Whole-Hearted Book List

This is a fantastic list of whole-hearted books. If you are new to homeschooling, a list like this is a great example of how little you actually have to spend on homeschooling. You can get most of these books at the library. With great literature, including historical fiction, as a centerpiece of your homeschool, your kids will grow so much.

100 Whole-Hearted Books To Fight Back The Culture

map pics 002

I read to my kids during meals and snacks. We keep a world and US maps on the wall to enhance our geographical knowledge.

My 8 and 9 year olds’ music teacher was telling me today how advanced my kids are and that they are able to grasp concepts even adults can’t. I asked if he meant with music and he said no–about things in general. I was pretty flattered considering he is a grandfather and has been teaching music for decades. He said their ability to make connections is rare.

 

Immediately, two things came to my head. First, we read together and discuss many high-quality books and the bible. I can’t tell you important I think that has been to their education and character training. These characters have to make a lot of tough choices and undergo difficulty. Furthermore, it has created a great bond with us as we discuss the books and their characters as we go about our day.Second, they are with an adult a lot–me. We talk about so many topics that they probably would not be exposed to with such regularity if they were only with kids their age for 6 1/2 hours per day.

First, we read together and discuss many high-quality books and the bible. I can’t tell you important I think that has been to their education and character training.

Even though my older two kids are ravenous readers, they still love me to read to them. I hope this continues until they leave the house because it brings us all such joy and also helps us to grow in wisdom while also expanding our education and vocabularies. I read to my kids during our meal and snack times (unless we have guests or Daddy is joining us).

If you are looking to start a tradition of reading aloud, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a hilarious book with which to start! One book that did not make the list which is our family’s all-time favorite is The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards.

 

Journeying with Books

“Books are the answer to our wanderlust. From the moment we crack open the cover, a book transports us to worlds exotic and unknown. We breathe in the glory of different colors, landscapes, and cultural mores. Books are like passports–but so much cheaper to use!”–From the foreword of Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin

http://amzn.to/2adwip7

0310344131

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

 

 

 

Abraham Lincoln: Self-Educated with Quality Books

How important do you think reading quality books and articles is to your child’s education, character, and critical thinking skills? As I study some of the greatest minds in history, a recurring theme seems to be they were voracious readers.

Here is an excerpt about Abraham Lincoln who had very little formal childhood education. It amounted to about one year of schooling.

“Abe received most of his education from the books he read. As he grew up, he became fascinated with books. He loved to read every minute of his spare time. When he went out to plow a field, he put a book under his shirt and read at the end of rows when the horses were resting. His best friend, Dennis Hanks, said, “I never saw Abe after he was 12, that he didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket. It just didn’t seem natural to see a guy read like that.” Books were scarce in the backwoods, and each book he got was precious. The Lincolns did not have any books and Abe was forced to borrow. He was willing to walk miles to get a book that he might read over and over. Abe read everything he could get his hands on and once told his family, “My best friend is the man who will give me a book I haven’t read.” He read the Bible several times and other books such as Pilgrim’s Progress and Aesop’s Fables. His favorite book had a very long title: The Life of George Washington, With Curious Anecdotes, Equally Honorable To Himself and Exemplary To His Young Countrymen. He tucked the book into a corner of the loft. During one night, rain from a big storm stained the cover of the book. To pay for the damage, Abe spent three days harvesting corn for the farmer from whom he borrowed it. George Washington later became one of Lincoln’s heroes. One time, Abe walked twenty miles to borrow a book about the United States. In fact, he loved reading so much, he even read a spelling book. He used school books such as Murray’s English Reader and Pike’s Arithmetic.”