family read aloud favorites

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Reading aloud is a chance for families to connect meaningfully, despite the craziness of life. Studies have shown that it also increases our children’s academic success and instills in them the values and character they need to successfully navigate life.

Read: How Can Something as Simple as Reading Aloud be so Powerful?

We are avid readers in our home, and these are our favorite books. We hope you enjoy them, too!


  1. Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls): The entire series has wonderful lessons for the entire family. My kids’ favorites are The Long Winter and Farmer Boy. Read aloud as a family
  2. Little Britches (Ralph Moody): In the early 1900s, eight-year-old Ralph and his family move to a Colorado ranch. Their life is full of hardships and lots of love. The subsequent books are just as wonderful as this one, except for Shaking the Nickel Bush, which none of us loved. Mary Emma and Company is my personal favorite — Mrs. Moody is a wonderful role model for mothers.
  3. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Jean Lee Latham): Nathaniel Bowditch grew up impoverished, received very little schooling, then becomes a pioneering navigator and teaches his entire crew complex mathematical figuring. Nat is a great role model for kids in the way that her perseveres through adversity and is always learning.
  4. Cheaper by the Dozen (Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey): The incredible true story of the Gilbreth kids and their parents, I particularly enjoyed reading about the father’s efficincy models.
  5. Charlotte’s Web (Garth Williams): A tender story of love and service.
  6. Across Five Aprils (Irene Hunt): A boy grows into manhood as his brothers leave to fight in the Union and Confederate armies.
  7. Hattie Big Sky (Kirby Larson): Hattie, an orphan, has been shuttled around to various relatives. When she receives a letter from a previously unknown uncle, leaving her his homestead in Colorado, she can’t wait to finally belong somewhere.
  8. The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare): An orphan comes to live with her relatives in a Puritan town, befriends an outcast Quaker, and becomes an outcast herself because she can swim, which casts her as a witch.
  9. The Sign of the Beaver (Elizabeth George Speare): 13-year-old Matt is left alone to guard his family’s new cabin in the Maine wilderness while his dad returns home for his mom and sisters. Alone much longer than expected, Matt befriends and indian boy and learns some great lessons.
  10. Hatchet (Gary Paulsen): This is the quintessential tween boy book because it’s about a 13-year-old boy who, after his plane crashes, has to survive on his own.
  11. My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George): Another fabulous boy book about survival and learning.
  12. Caddie Woodlawn (Carol Ryrie Brink): Features the Woodlawn family, pioneers in Wisconsin. Caddie and her brothers have continuous adventures from possible massacres to prairie fires.
  13. Number the Stars (Lois Lowry): Annemarie and her family are part of the Danish resistance in WW2, helping to smuggle their Jewish friends to safety.
  14. The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien): Trolls, goblins, dragons, dwarves, and, of course, hobbits. This is the incomparable adventure of Bilbo Baggins. If your kids love this one, they will probably also love the Lord of the Rings series.
  15. The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis): My own personal favorite of all the books on the list. If you haven’t read them, well, please do.
  16. Indian in the Cupboard (Lynne Reid Banks): This imaginative book about a boy and a tiny, plastic indian that comes to life is particularly appealing to younger children.
  17. The Boxcar Children (Gertrude Chandler Warner): Orphans Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny solve mysteries and have many adventures. I loved this series as a kid and my children love them now.
  18. Beezus and Ramona (Beverly Cleary): Ramona, Beezus, Henry, and the rest of the gang have such fun adventures.
  19. Strawberry Girl (Lois Lenski): A family has to pull together to save their farm, and also to help a neighbor family.
  20. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Joan Aiken): Excitement, drama, two brave, young heroines and good triumphs over evil.
  21. The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster): The classic story of the boy Milo, who finds his boring life interrupted when he travels to Dictionopolis and the lands beyond.
  22. The Wheel on the School (Meindert DeJong): A Dutch village joins together as it seeks to bring storks back to the rooftops of Shora.
  23. The Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling): Adored by all ages of kids and adults alike, each book in this series will keep you on the edge of your seat. This is a great series for reluctant readers.
  24. Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawles): Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. Readers learn necessary attributes right along with Billy, and share the tragedies that befall him, too.
  25. The Westing Game (Ellen Rasking): A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!
  26. The Hundred Dresses (Eleanor Estes): Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl, is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Readers will learn a great lesson.
  27. Summer of the Monkeys (Wilson Rawls): Jay unexpectedly finds a tree full of monkeys while trekking through the Ozark Mountains. Jay learns that the monkeys have escaped from a traveling circus, and there’s a big reward for the person who finds and returns them. His family could really use the money, so Jay sets off, determined to catch them. But by the end of the summer, Jay will have learned a lot more than he bargained for—and not just about monkeys.
  28. James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl): After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and the magical, silly adventure begins!
  29. Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery): This tender series is one of my all-time favorites. Anne, and young orphan prone to mishaps, is sent to live with the Cuthberts, who wanted a boy to help with farm chores. Anne wins their hearts as she makes her first bosom friend and also wins the hearts of the entire town.
  30. Trumpet of the Swan (EB White): Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
  31. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (Betty MacDonald): These silly stories are so much fun you’ll want to buy the whole treasury. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle knows all there is to know about children, and they all adore her.Read aloud book list
  32. Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell): Karana, an indian girl spent eighteen years alone on an island, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence in so desolate a place miraculous, but she had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply.
  33. Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain): This is the story of Tom, a rambunctious young lad who lives with his Aunt Polly. He is a boy who doesn’t much like going to school and throughout the book does everything he can to get out of it.
  34. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain): Huck is Tom’s friend. This rollicking story will bring to tears of laughter and empathy.
  35. Little Women and Little Men (Louisa May Alcott): My kids loved both of these books as read-alouds, but I think I loved them even more. Marmee was such an inspiration, the way she allowed her girls to make choices but also live with the consequences. And I loved how Jo Baer (Jo March) worked so hard to help each of the children who lived at Plumfield to be able to pursue his interests, and how she so patiently and loving dealt with them.
  36. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (Robert O’Brien): Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma.
  37. All-of-a-Kind Family (Sydney Taylor): This Jewish family of five girls lives in New York City at the turn of the century. Despite not having much in the way of money, they have a lot of love. This book makes you wish for simpler, times when family was more important than anything and they stuck together. The sequels are very worthwhile, too.
  38. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett): When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life
  39. The Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett): Sara Crewe, a pupil at Miss Minchin’s London school, is left in poverty when her father dies, but is later rescued by a mysterious benefactor.
  40. Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Richard Atwater): Poor Mr. Popper isn’t exactly unhappy; he just wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles, and spends his spare time between house-painting jobs reading all about polar explorations. Admiral Drake, in response to Mr. Popper’s fan letter, sends him a penguin; life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is never the same again.
  41. The Borrowers (Mary Norton): The Borrowers are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor. All their minuscule home furnishings, from postage stamp paintings to champagne cork chairs, are “borrowed” from the “human beans” who tromp around loudly above them. All is well until Pod is spotted upstairs by a human boy! Can the Clocks stay nested safely in their beloved hidden home, or will they be forced to flee? The sequels are just as charming as the original.
  42. The Littles (John Peterson): Meet the Littles, a tiny family who lives in the walls of the Bigg family house where they get everything they need. In return they make sure the Bigg house is always in good repair.
    When the Biggs go away for the summer the Newcombs come to stay in their house. Just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, they bring a cat to live with them. How will this little family get out of such big trouble? My kids read all of the sequels on their own and loved them
  43. The Betsy-Tacy Treasury (Maud Hart Lovelace): Tacy moves in across the street from Betsy, and from the moment they meet at Betsy’s fifth birthday party, they become such good friends that everyone starts to think of them as one person—Betsy-Tacy. Betsy and Tacy have lots of fun together. They make a playhouse from a piano box, have a sand store, and dress up and go calling. And one day, they come home to a wonderful surprise—a new friend named Tib. All four Betsy-Tacy books are so charming you’ll definitely want the treasury.
  44. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Kate Di Camillo): Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. . . . As we journey along with Edward, we are shown a miracle – that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
  45. Holes (Louis Sachar): Stanley Yelnats is under a curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
  46. The Door in the Wall (Marguerite DeAngeli): This 14th-century adventure book is surprisingly sweet and innocent, considering it includes scenes of battle, privation, and death.  It contains lots of factual historical tidbits. Brother Luke’s mantra, “Thou hast only to follow the wall long enough and there will be a door in it,” is as insightful and useful today as it was for Robin.
  47. The Moffats (Eleanor Estes): Even the most ordinary Moffat day is packed with extraordinary fun. Only a Moffat could get locked in a bread box all afternoon, or dance with a dog in front of the whole town, or hitch a ride on a boxcar during kindergarten recess. And only a Moffat could turn mistakes and mischief into hilarious one-of-a-kind adventure. The sequels are fun, too!
  48. The Courage of Sarah Noble (Alice Dalgliesh): In 1707, Sarah Noble (8-years-old) and her father traveled through the wilderness to build a new home for their family. The dark woods were full of animals and Indians. As she cares for her father and befriends her Indian neighbors, she learns that to be afraid and to be brave is the greatest courage of all.
  49. The Penderwicks (Jeanne Birdsall): The Penderwich sisters spend an exciting summer un Arundel’s beautiful gardens.with the son of the owner of their summer house, his tame rabbits and treasure-filled attic.
  50. The Giver (Lois Lowry): The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
  51. The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Spear):  This exciting, christian novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. Daniel’s palpable hatred for Romans wanes only when he starts to hear the gentle lessons of the traveling carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth.
  52. Calico Captive (Elizabeth George Spear): Miriam Willard finds herself captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War. It is a harrowing march north. Miriam can only force herself to the next stopping place, the next small portion of food, the next icy stream to be crossed. At the end of the trail waits a life of slavery. Mingled with her thoughts of Phineas Whitney, her sweetheart on his way to Harvard, is the crying of her sister’s baby, Captive, born on the trail. Miriam and her companions finally reach Montreal, a city of shifting loyalties filled with the intrigue of war, and here, by a sudden twist of fortune, Miriam meets the prominent Du Quesne family, who introduce her to a life she has never imagined.
  53. Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield): Elizabeth Ann, who is timid and small for her age, lives with her two aunts, who coddle and shelter her. When one aunt becomes ill she has to go stay with her dreaded Putney cousins on their farm. Her new home is very different and Betsy learns how to drive a horse-drawn wagon, starts helping with meal preparation, walks alone to a school, starts a sewing society among her friends and schoolmates to help a needy boy, and has exciting adventures. By the end of her stay, she is no longer pale, thin, and weak, but tanned, muscular, and strong. What will Aunt Frances think when she comes to take Elizabeth Ann home? And will Betsy decide to go with her or will she want to stay with the Putneys?
  54. Great Brain (John D. Fitzgerald): Tom, a.k.a., the Great Brain, is a silver-tongued genius with a knack for conning.  When the Jenkins boys get lost in Skeleton Cave, the Great Brain saves the day.  Whether it’s saving the kids at school, or helping out Peg-leg Andy, or Basil, the new kid at school, the Great Brain always manages to come out on top-and line his pockets in the process. This fun series will delight your young readers.
  55. Heidi (Johanna Spyri): Heidi is sickly living in town, so she is sent to live with her gruff grandfather in the Alps.
  56. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson): The six horrible Herdman kids turn the annual Christmas program upside down and it ends up better than anyone could have imagined.
  57. The Cricket in Times Square (George Selden): Chester Cricket tours NYC with his new friends Tucker, Harry, and Mario.
  58. Watership Down (Richard Adams): The classic story of rabbits who flee the destruction of their home, searching for a safe haven.
  59. Follow My Leader (James Garfield): Jimmy is accidentally blinded by a firecracker. With the help of his guide dog, he perseveres.
  60. Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio (Peg Kehret): Tells of the author’s battle with polio as a young girl. Mesmerizing.
  61. Hitty, Her First 100 Years (Rachel Field): From one owner to another, the doll Hitty sees tremendous changes in the world over the course of 100 years.
  62. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee): A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
  63. Laddie (Stratton-Porter): Thus sweet story about a wholesome Mid-West farming family who are wholesome, very well educated and loving in their inter-personal relationships. There are quiet testimonies of courage, and the utter commitment of teamwork that the best marriages demonstrate. It is a delightful read. It put me in mind of Wendell Berry’s essay, “The Gift of Good Land.”



Of course there are hundreds more awesome chapter books for kids, but this at least gives you a place to start. Did I leave one of your favorites off the list? Let me know in the comments!



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  1. Great list! I appreciate it so much!

  2. Have you read the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place? Six-book series, great moral lessons about kindness, courage, pluck, and hope in a beautifully-told story, lots of references to classical literature, supernatural elements but in the real world rather than fantasy, a bit of satire, some great geeky-laugh-out-loud moments. I read the whole series aloud to my kids aged 4-10, and they all loved it.

  3. Kerry Paul says:

    your blog is really help me alot

  4. Thanks for this great list! My oldest is still quite small for this, but I love the idea and I have pinned it and bookmarked it for future reference. Lots of great books on here, I can’t wait to pick one and get started!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Books are the best, aren’t they?

  5. This is a fantastic list. I’m saving this for when my son is just a little bit older. I’m looking forward to reading a chapter each night!!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Sounds fun! You can start by reading aloud baby books. Sandra Boynton books are favorites at our house, and pretty much anything with animals. Oh, and we love touchy, feely books for baby read aloud’s, too.

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      I love to use a list of trusted recommendations when I’m looking for books. The library is a little overwhelming and you’re never quite sure whether unknow books will be up to your standards.

  6. Wow this list brought me back! The Giver, The Secret Garden. Love, love, love.

  7. Wow! Your list looks so much like our family list! There were a few on your list that I haven’t read yet, so I’ll have to check them out. I’ve pinned this to my parenting ideas board as well. Happy reading!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Happy reading to you, too! I think most of the very best read-alouds find their way onto everyone’s list, just because they are so fabulous!

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