Guest Post: 15 Books to Read Aloud to Your Kids

by Emily Adcox


My kids are too old to read to.

Our schedule is too busy.

I can’t find books that interest ALL of my kids.

Sound familiar?

I have been reading aloud to my 6 kids for the past 11 years.  It is considered as essential and routine as their nightly showers.

It used to be we could read every night before they got older and evening activities crept in.

Now, we probably average 4-5 nights a week.

And yes, even my teens are on the couch listening because you are never too old to be read aloud to. They love this time every night.

Why read aloud?

Not only does it help promote reading readiness, better vocabulary and a host of other benefits, but this is family time.  Good, old-fashioned, no electronics just snuggling together on a couch time that you and your kids will cherish.

Should you grab just any book off the shelf and begin reading?

Not quite.

In my experience, not every book lends itself to being read aloud.

So let me help you out a bit and suggest some of our all time favorites. The books listed below are tried and true, loved by our 14 year-old girl just as much as her 7 year-old brother.

1. Phantom Tolbooth by Norton Juster

By far one of our all time favorites. Younger kids will think it’s silly, but older kids and adults will laugh out-loud at the puns and the personification of everyday sayings (i.e. Jumping to the Island of Conclusions and the Wordsnatcher who lives out of Context) If you’ve never read this, buy it now.  You need this in your library.

2. Peter and the Starcatchers (series)by Dave Beary and Ridley Pearson

Books by a duo make me skeptical, but this was recommended to me by our librarian and it is fantastic.  This book reveals the origin of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys.  If you’re going on a road trip, I recommend listening to this as the man who narrates is excellent (he also did the Harry Potter audio books).

3. The Tale of Desperaux by Kate Di camillo

Ignore the movie; the book is so much better. Read it. 

4. The Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs by Betty G. Birney

This is another book you need to buy and add to your library.  A young boy wants to see the world and is discontent with his small town and what it has to offer.  He is challenged to find 7 Wonders and in doing so, his world gets a little bit bigger.

5. The Hobbit  by J.R.R Tolkien

I have yet to make it through the Lord of the Ring series, I get bogged down by all the description. But THIS book—this is a treasure.  Again, NOTHING like the movies; this is far better.  Such great dialogue and adventure, even my 7 year-old loves it.

6. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

She’s just amazing.  These books not only beg to be read, but read aloud.  They do get long; by book three you’re looking at a good month or more to finish.  In general, I like to choose books that are under 300 pages, but I make an exception for Harry Potter. This series is also a great choice for a road trip as the narrator is phenominal!!!!!!

7. Little Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan  by Helen Taylor

Or Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress by Oliver Hunkin

This is a classic rewritten so that kids (and their adults) can understand it. It is the allegorical tale of Christian and his journey to the Celestial City.  There are so many great opportunities for teaching in this book.  We used it as part of our devotion time in the morning.  The first book has no pictures and is much more detailed making it better for kids 9 and up.  The second one is FULL of amazing colorful illustrations and is phenominal.

8. The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas

A little known book my mom discovered; it is a great one for reading aloud.  The story follows Trinket and her friend Thomas, as she collects seven stories to become a bard like her father.  There are lots of adventures along the way.

9. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (series of 6) by MaryRose Wood

By far one of the best series I’ve ever read.  These get to be a little long (400+ pages) but they are worth it.  There is a great mystery that continues to build within these books as we begin to figure out where the Incorrigibles came from, why does Ashton behave so strangely, and what is with Penelope’s hair?  Another six books to BUY to forever add to your library.

10. Mrs Frisby and the rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Such a wonderful story. This is another book to buy and read again and again. A quick warning: The movie just ruined this book so don't watch it. 

11. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo

Be ready to cry with this one. It is a touching story told from the perspective of a toy rabbit, Edward, and how he changes along the way.  Just buy it. Trust me, you won't regret it. 

12. Half Magic by Edward Eager

This classic is so much fun.  Four siblings find a magic coin and what ensues as they discover how to use it is an adventures that will captivate your kids.

13. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

This is a trilogy, but we only love the first one.  Another classic you probably read as a child, the story follows Elmer as he travels to Wild Island to rescue a dragon.  His ingenious ways of overcoming obstacles is quite entertaining.

14. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

When you buy this book, (because this is another one you need to buy!), make sure to buy some Kleenex with it.  I remember reading this as a child and loving it. I have read it several times to my kids, and each time I cannot finish without crying.  A memorable story of a boy working hard to achieve his dream of owning a pair of hunting dogs, the adventures they have, and the tragedy that follows.

15. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate  Events (series of 13)

Be ready to commit a good 9 months to this if you choose to begin the series. And be warned, if you do you and your kids will be addicted and will have to know what happens next.  Even my 9 year-old who struggles with auditory processing loved this series.  Don’t be put off by the dark humor, the sarcasm or even some of the mishaps ending in death.  This series is great for vocabulary, understanding idioms, and a really good story. 


About the Author:  Emily Adcox is a homeschooling, book-loving mom to six kids ages 14 to 7. She lives in Colorado and would be perfectly happy to be curled up on the couch reading kid lit all day with her tribe.


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For more tips, ideas and encouragement on reading with your kids from little on up, check out The Ultimate Reading Guide for Your Child courtesy of Mom Loves Best.