The magic of reading aloud
One of our favorite times of day for our whole family is the evening before bed. We all get cozy on the couch or in someone’s room or around the kitchen table. I pull out the book that we’ve been reading for weeks (sometimes months) and I begin conveying the words on the page aloud. I love the way the story images hang in the air above us as the adventure plays out for 20-30 minutes every night.
We’ve been reading for years and years now. Over that time we’ve read lots of books…some very long and some short and funny. I’m going to share a quick list here for you in case you’d like to begin reading out loud each night to your family.
The perfect time
The start of the school year is the perfect time to begin a tradition like this. Summer nights are crazy and everyone tries to stay out until the last sliver of sun falls below the horizon. School days mean back to trusted routines or creating new and better routines. Everyone misses summer but at the same time there’s a collective sign of relief to be back to what feels safe and familiar for a little while.
Adding reading aloud to your school day routine is an awesome way to create a connecting point with your family in your everyday life. During the school year life gets hectic and we can end up filling our days with so many things were we are just trying to get to the next thing on our crazy calendar for the day. Reading in the evening gives everyone a chance to slow down and be together and be filled up with just being near one another while the house is quiet and story words float up into the air of the little room you’re in.
Here’s our list of favorite Read Out Loud Books:
Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: This is the book that started it all. You can read more about it here. He’s also written another book called Wonderstruck. The fun of both of these books is that they are a perfect cross over from picture books to longer chapter books. They look like they will take a long time to read but they are actually flip books (think flipping pages to make it look like a cartoon is moving) mixed with a bigger story.
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows: These two girls get into all kinds of trouble and funniness. They are a quick read and perfect for those with all younger children.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: There are 13 books in this series. Each book is a pretty quick read but at about #9 we wondered if we were ever going to finish the books and if the Baudelaire children were ever going to catch a break. It was super fun to read how they would get out of their predicaments and outsmart Count Olaf at every turn…we were always in suspense.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo: One of our all time favorite books. You’ll want to have tissues nearby. We’ve loved every Kate DiCamillo book we’ve read. She also has written The One and Only Ivan, Flora and Ulysses, The Tiger Rising, and The Magicians’ Elephant. Every one of them is a beautiful story of love and redemption.
Clarice Bean by Lauren Child: Completely hilarious adventures. If you want to laugh and be inspired by her confidence this is a great book. Younger kids would love Clarice.
The Giver by Lois Lowry: This is an all time favorite book…in fact, this entire series is one of our favorites. Read The Giver first followed by: Gathering Blue, Messenger, Son. You won’t regret them. They are amazing. Messenger has a bit of scariness too it for younger kids near the end. This series would be best for kids 3rd grade and up.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: Every book in this series has been entertaining and, on so many levels, given us topics of conversation to discuss as a family. (One of the awesome things about reading at night together are the conversations that develop around the stories.)
City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau: Wonderful story. It’s part of series. We liked City of Ember best. The second book was good but we didn’t love the last book.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt: Sweet story that opens up all kinds of conversations about life and growing old and living forever. It’s also a pretty quick read.
Pollyana by Eleanor H. Porter: A classic story of keeping a positive mindset and it’s benefits no matter what happens in life.
Winne-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne: This entire series is fantastic. Funny and sweet. Perfect for elementary school age. Although, I read the series for the first time when I was in college and adored it.
Matilda by Roald Dahl: Awesome! Such a fun read…as are all Roald Dahl books. He’s also written Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, James and the Giant Peach, The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and many others.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Love this story of an unlikely friendship and the way it transforms everyone. Frances Hodgson Burnett also wrote The Little Princess which is an equally wonderful but less well known book.
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale: I adore the way Shannon Hale writes her heroines to have such a strong voice and through out the story gain a wonderful sense of who they are. She has also written The Princess Academy, Enna Burning, and River Secrets. Our all time favorite book of Shannon’s is Book of a Thousand Days (a must read). My daughter, Miriam, reviews Book of a Thousand days here.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley: Excellent book written about an amazing heroine! LOVE this book. Don’t miss the prequel: Hero and the Crown (it’s awesome, too!).
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse: Thoughtful book written in an unconventional but wonderful way. Karen is amazing at creating pictures in your mind with very little words. Quick read with huge impact. She’s also written The Music of Dolphins and Letters from Rifka. Loved all of her books. You can see a review of her books done by Miriam and Emma here.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls: Big insights into a completely way of growing up, loving and loss. You’ll need tissues.
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan: Wonderful humor and fun and adventure. Perfect for 4th/5th grade and up. My kids’ review is here.
Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull: High adventure, magic, friendship, suspense, and fun!
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai: A touching and thought provoking book of what it’s like to be a refugee. Powerful insight for kids on being thoughtful of others. Written in poignant verses; it’s funny, honest, insightful, and a pretty quick read.
I’d love to hear about some of your favorite read aloud books! Please share in the comments any that you think are a must for this list!
Here’s to magical nights of adventure and friendship!
Davina Fear is a Familyness Photographer and Adventurer. She photographs Day in the Life sessions for families while she road trips around the country and has plastic sword fights at QuikTrip at 4am (see those adventures on her instagram feed @davinafear ).
She blogs at davinafear.com. Click here to learn more about familyness or The Familyness Photo Workshop.