I’m convinced that one of the greatest activities I can do with my kids is to read out loud to them. There are whole websites devoted to the topic, like Read-Aloud Revival, so I won’t dig into that. But even if your children are great readers, there’s something wonderful that happens when you read an amazing book to them.
Armed with a book list and a cozy spot to snuggle, you can educate and engage with your kiddos, without a super detailed schedule or complicated homeschooling plan. I guarantee you can both learn tons that you’ll actually remember by choosing “living books”.
Here are some read-alouds that we’ve enjoyed, recommended for elementary to tweens:
Bloomability by Sharon Creech
My favorite book by my favorite author. This gave us so much conversation, about what it’s like to move to a different country, blooming in difficult circumstances, even dealing with “friends” who don’t actually treat you well. This book takes you away to an international school in the Swiss Alps.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Not only a thoughtful story of understanding each other by “walking in their shoes,” it’s also a wonderful glimpse into a multi-generational relationship. It tells about a 13-year-old girl in search of her mother. Definitely a good book for opening up conversations with your older children.
Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles
A sweet beautiful story of a Mississippi nine-year old writing to her grandma. It does bring up coping with death, which may lead to more questions by children. (I also dearly love Each Little Bird That Sings by the same author, though as it deals directly with death you may want to read it before introducing it your children.)
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
Set in 1967, this is a year in the life of a 7th-grade boy, forced to read Shakespeare and deal with a whole lot of life. It’s humorous, and a great way to talk about how previous generations have dealt with difficulty.
Books to Take You Away
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
This is the chance for you and your children to solve a mystery in Venice, while sitting in your living room! Two orphans join a gang of street children in the search for magic. It’ll definitely have you pulling up images of this delightful city to learn more.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede (Dealing With Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Talking to Dragons)
The most satisfying fantasy ever, with a quick-thinking, brave princess who saves her own self. Plenty for everyone to enjoy, including Kazul, the female King of the Dragons, wizards who melt, and the King of the Enchanted Forest who is a rockstar of a human.
The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon
You know the saying, to be a fly on the wall? Well, this book gives you the chance to be a cricket in NYC! Also the most adorable book written, with friendship and humor. You’ll never look at crickets the same.
Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The next best thing to actually becoming a possum! We learned so very much about their habitats and lives. Instead of a dirty rodent, you’ll see these marsupials as the consummate actors of the animal world. Possums are now our favorite.
Historical Fiction to Read Aloud
Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry
I hope you read all the horse books when you were little. It’s time to dust them off for the kids! We loved learning about this plucky American breed.
Carry on, Mr.Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
Inspire your children to be curious and interested in teaching themselves! Great story of a math lover who didn’t get to go to college and yet still made history. Not a dry biography, and a great introduction to early American sailing. It’s also the source of my favorite phrase, “sailing by ash breeze,” meaning to row with ash wood oars when there’s no breeze. I loved talking about this concept of working hard when things aren’t going our way.
Om-Kas-Toe by Kenneth Thomasma
We loved learning about how the Blackfeet tribe began to use horses. We were obsessed with maps of the region and how the author interviewed Native Americans and the oral traditions and stories that inspired this book. There are more tales in this Amazing Indian Children series.
Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady
I loved how this book is about taking action even when you’re scared. It also explained a lot of history, from NYC’s Dutch roots, to the British occupation of the city.