35 Favorite Read Aloud Books

 

One of my favorite things in the whole world is snuggling with my children and reading aloud from a great book. We enjoy picture books as well, but there is nothing like a fantastic chapter book or novel read aloud. I've found that our read alouds really deepen our bond and helps us to connect as a family. Plus I get to re-read some of my favorite childhood books. So, here is a list of 35 of our favorite read aloud books!

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Read Aloud Tips

But first, here are a few things to remember as you begin reading aloud to your children.

  1. If there is a book that your child finds boring, or too scary, it's Ok to put it aside. Do not feel that you have to finish every book you start. You may find that even though you adore a particular book, your child does not. Such was the case for me and one of my childhood favorites "Sarah Plain and Tall!" Our son found this book simply boring. What could I do except put it away and read it at my own leisure. Books are supposed to be lovely, fun, inspirational and only scary if you want them to be. Boring is not something I strive for in our family read alouds. Therefore, we have put aside many books over the years. Find stories that EVERYONE enjoys.
  2. Read alouds pave the way for big juicy conversations! Get ready for conversations you may not have expected about people, places, and circumstances. Talk through your own questions as you read. Think out loud. This helps your children understand the work that goes into comprehending a story and its characters.
  3. Books can help develop empathy in children. Talking about characters and their feelings is a great way to help your child and yourself discover how you would react if you were in the story yourselves!
  4. If you have a child that's advanced enough to take turns reading with you, then try making that a part of your read aloud time. Otherwise let your children color, paint, build with Lego's or blocks, even put puzzles together while you read. Trust me; even though their hands are busy, their ears are listening to the story.
  5. Read aloud can happen any time during the day! It is not just for bedtime. Find the time that works best for you and your family. Maybe read aloud is easier in the morning or perhaps early afternoon. Find your family's rhythm. 
  6. This may be the most important tip...Do The Voices. Give every character a unique voice. Get animated with it! Our children LOVE my version of the Mountain Trolls from "The Hobbit," although my husband says I sound like Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady...ha! If you want a real challenge try reading "Treasure Island" with all of the pirate voices. Let me know how that goes for you. I'm sure your kids will never forget that tale!
 

35 Favorite Read Aloud Books

I've compiled a list of 35 of our favorite read aloud books for you. The books on this list had to be adored by both our 9 year old adventure seeking son and our 4 year old princess loving daughter. So, rest assured it's a pretty fantastic list of books. 

 

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren - Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall - This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate - Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.

Grace Level: 3-7

 
 
 

The Green Ember by S. D. Smith - Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world. 

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. 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. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That's because he's being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he's really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny. 

Grade Level: 4-7

 
 
 

Matilda by Roald Dahl - Matilda is a brilliant and sensitive child, but her parents think of her only as a nuisance. When one day she is attacked by her odious headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, Matilda suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to avenge herself!

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteSome Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.

Grade Level: 2 and Up

 
 
 

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery - Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her. 

Grade Level: 4 and Up

 
 
 

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner - The story of the Boxcar children is about 3 young orphaned children who survive on their own in an abandoned boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.

Grade Level: 2-5

 
 
 

Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand -  Mr. and Mrs. Brown were forever having trouble with their numerous and incredibly naughty children . . . until the day Nurse Matilda entered their lives. Nurse Matilda is a combination of Mary Poppins, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and TV's Super Nanny all in one!

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine -  At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy's gift—the "gift" of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett - The story begins when Elmer Elevator (the narrator's father as a boy) runs away with an old alley cat to rescue a flying baby dragon being exploited on a faraway island. With the help of two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a fine-toothed comb, Elmer disarms the fiercest of beasts on Wild Island.

Grade Level: 1-5

 
 
 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl -  Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormous boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket - Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent children. They are charming, and resourceful, and have pleasant facial features. Unfortunately, they are exceptionally unlucky.  The three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, and a plot to steal their fortune!

Grade Level: 4 and Up

 
 
 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle - It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. "Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

Grade Level: 6-10

 
 
 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams!

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo - Despereaux Tilling is a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives.

Grade Level: 2-5

 
 
 

The BFG by Roald Dahl - Sophie discovers that giants not only exist, but that there are a great many of them who like to guzzle and swallomp nice little chiddlers. But not the Big Friendly Giant. He and Sophie cook up an ingenious plot to free the world of troggle-humping -- forever.

Grade Level: 5-8

 
 
 

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood - Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

On the Edge of the Dark Sea (the Wingfeather Saga) by Andrew Peterson -  Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Grade Level: 7-10

 
 
 

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson - This is the delightfully warm and enjoyable story of an old Parisian named Armand, who relished his solitary life. Children, he said, were like starlings, and one was better off without them. But the children who lived under the bridge recognized a true friend when they met one, even if the friend seemed a trifle unwilling at the start. And it did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he loved with all his heart, and one for whom he would have to find a better home than the bridge.

Grade Level 3-7

 
 
 

The Borrowers by Mary Norton - The Clock family: Homily, Pod, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Arrietty, to be precise 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? 

Grade Level: 2-5

 
 
 

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - Follow the Yellow Brick Road on an unforgettable journey that takes them from Dorothy’s gray Kansas home into the blue Munchkin land; the sparkling bejeweled Emerald City; the dark, foreboding forest; and the ruby-red throne room of Glinda the Good Witch. 

Grade Level: Kindergarten and Up

 
 
 

Mr. Poppper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater - How many penguins in the house is too many? Mr. Popper is a humble house painter living in Stillwater who dreams of faraway places like the South Pole. When an explorer responds to his letter by sending him a penguin named Captain Cook, Mr. Popper and his family’s lives change forever. Soon one penguin becomes twelve, and the Poppers must set out on their own adventure to preserve their home.

Grade Level: 3 and Up

 
 
 

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White - Like the rest of his family, 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?

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy - Prue and her friend Curtis uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.

Grade Level: 3 and Up

 
 
 

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father, a book binder. But her father has a deep secret. He possesses an extraordinary magical power. One day a mysterious stranger arrives who seems linked to her father's past. Suddenly, Meggie is involved in a breathless game of escape and intrigue as her father's life is put in danger.

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

The Witches by Roald Dahl - When the young hero of Roald Dahl's story is orphaned in an automobile accident, he is left in the care of his aged grandmother―a formidable cigar-smoking lady who happens to be a retired expert on dealing with witches. In spite of her warnings about how to spot these horrific creatures, her grandson accidentally wanders into the annual convocation of the witches of England―and overhears the horrifying plans in store for every child in the country. But before he can escape to reveal the witches' plot, he is captured and turned into a mouse. However, he is no ordinary mouse and this is no ordinary tale. 

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie - This is the story of a boy who wouldn't grow up. Follow Peter Pan with Wendy to Neverland and share in their adventures with the lost boys, Tinker Bell and the evil Captain Hook.

Grade Level: Kindergarten and Up

 
 
 

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Told from four-year-old Laura's point-of-view, this story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack. Pioneer life is sometimes hard for the family, since they must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But it is also exciting as Laura and her family celebrates Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. And every night they are safe and warm in their little house, with the happy sound of Pa's fiddle sending Laura and her sisters off to sleep.

Grade Level: 3-7

 
 
 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien - Bilbo Baggins enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling farther than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep to whisk him away on a journey to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. 

 
 
 

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards - What on earth is a Whangdoodle? A "fanciful creature of undefined nature," it is the wisest, kindest, most fun loving living thing in the world -- until people stop believing in it. When that lack of faith became widespread,  the last of the really great Whangdoodles created a special land full of extraordinary: furry Flukes, the sly High-Behind Splintercat, and the wonderful Whiffle Bird. But when an open minded Professor, the only adult that still believes in the Whangdoodle, joins forces with three children with active imaginations, they become an unstoppable team on a fantastic and sometimes terrifying journey to Whangdoodleland.

Grade Level: 4-7

 
 
 

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly - Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones. With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Grade Level: 4-7

 
 
 

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on.

Grade Level: 3-7