Inside: A great read aloud book is golden when it comes to family storytimes, but how do you choose the perfect story when you have kids of all ages? We are here to help. Check out our suggestions below!
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Read Aloud Books for the Entire Family!
In times of stress, stories comfort the soul.
In times of uncertainty, reading calms the mind.
In times of loneliness, books bring people together.
I’ve forever believed in the healing power of story to comfort readers during the darkest days. I’ve also forever believed that reading aloud as a family is a way to create lasting connections, memorable experiences, and strong bonds.
Tips for An Engaging Family Read Aloud Experience
It’s not always easy to choose a great chapter book to read together as a family. After all — some of us have kids ranging in our homes from toddlers to tweens! But, I promise, there are books out there that will delight your whole family, you just have to pick the perfect ones! Whether books make you all laugh or inspire thoughtful conversations, there are wonderful choices that will engage children big and small — and you, too.
Before we get to our selections, I encourage you to keep these tips in mind when when you settle down to read with your family:
Don’t be afraid to have your older kids read to your littlest ones. It’s amazing practice for your eldest children, and I guarantee it will be magical for your youngest. The adults don’t always have to be the reader!
Create a cozy reading space that is perfect for a read aloud. Whether it’s a tent set up in the living room, a child’s bed lined with stuffed animals, or around the kitchen table with mugs of hot chocolate, its nice to have a designated space for sharing stories together.
Use the stories you share as tools to spark important conversations with your family. Whether you need to discuss being kind, being brave, or the importance of understanding big emotions, books give parents “ins” to begin organic and valuable discussions. You will always be able to pull important values and concepts from the pages you read and apply them to your own family experiences!
While this is a list of chapter books, never underestimate the power of picture books! Reading picture books with your “big” kids can be a meaningful experience — you will be amazed by how much these stories resonate with your older kids in more powerful ways than your younger ones.
Let the stories you read together lead you to more learning. If you notice your child’s interest is piqued by a particular topic, try your best to gather fun and engaging materials that will help him learn more about the very thing that sparked such brightness in his eyes.
I know it can sometimes be challenging when there are kids involved, but try your hardest to make storytime relaxing and positive. If kids are bickering, not listening or if you are feeling impatient or stressed, take a breather and start again when the whole family is calmer. We want books to be associated with warm and happy memories!
Remember — kids are never too old for reading aloud!
And now, without further ado, we’ve compiled a list of memorable stories for your family based on your youngest child’s age, starting as early as pre-kindergarten.
We hope these stories get two trunks up from your family!
Great Family Read Aloud Books When Your Youngest is in Pre-K or Kindergarten
Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us, by Lauren Castillo: Stellar writing, quality story, and complex characters? Count me in! These characteristics are not easy to find in an easy chapter book, and I fell in love with this one immediately. In this darling book, Hedgehog lives on a small island with her stuffed dog, Mutty, as her only company. But when a big storm comes and Mutty disappears, its going to take courage — and maybe some new pals — to find Mutty and bring her home. This one is such a joy!
Princess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz and illustrated by Brian Floca: A brave princess who wants to climb trees, get dirty, and have a wild adventure? If that sounds like your kids or students, look no further. Written by a Newbery award winner, this easy chapter book has humor and heart, great illustrations, and a large, easy to read font which makes this perfect for your youngest readers. For our full review of Princess Cora and the Crocodile, click here!
The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi: Flea is an alley cat living on the streets of Paris, and Diva is a pampered dog who lives inside an apartment. When their paths unexpectedly cross one day, their lives are forever changed. Ooh, la, la, is this easy chapter book a winner!
Zoey and Sassafras, by Asia Citro and Marion Lindsay: Zoey and Sassafras has it all – magic, science, adventure and lots of animals. In the first book, Zoey makes a shocking discovery— wounded magical animals find their way to her backyard! Each story in this series of easy chapter books features a new magical animal – and discusses how science can help solve each problem.
Infamous Ratsos, by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Matt Myers: A Geisel Honor, this hilarious chapter book revolves around brothers Louie and Raphie who are tough, tough, tough — or so they think. Yet, every time they set out to show the world how tough they are, the Ratso brothers end up doing really good deeds. I loved this easy chapter book so much. It’s the perfect mix of humor and heart!
Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon: Dory may just be my favorite fictional character, and if you know me, that says a lot. But this series of books, about a little girl with a big imagination who desperately seeks the attention of her older siblings, has made me laugh in ways that so few books actually can. I cannot keep these out of my students’ hands. And I can’t get enough of them either. For our full review of the first book in the series, click here! This may just be one of my favorite chapter book series!
Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne: Jack and his sister, Annie, are just plain old regular kids. But one day, the siblings discover a tree house in the woods… and that’s when the magic happens! The two kids are whisked on a series of adventures every time they visit the tree house, visiting everything from dinosaurs and pirates along the way!
Jasmine Toguchi, by Debbi Michiko Florence and illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic: Jasmine Toguchi is one of my favorite new characters in kid lit, for her spunk, her pluck, and most importantly, her strong will to succeed at any new task she undertakes. I adore her diverse family and the wholesome plots and characters, and I simply can’t rave about the four books in this series enough! The newest book in the series, Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl, was a CYBILS winner for easy chapter books!
Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee: If you loved Ramona Quimby when you were growing up, you will adore Clementine — and so will your kids. Get ready for the escapades of this hilarious third grader, with her spunk, energy and unique take on school and friends. Your children will find themselves wishing Clementine was their real best friend, and they will be laughing out loud as they read these books, so much so that you will want to read them, too!
Great Family Read Aloud Books When Your Youngest is in 1st or 2nd Grade
Girls Who Code, by Stacia Deutsch and illustrated by Reshma Saujani: Girls in STEM? Yes please! We love this chapter book series! Published in partnership with Girls Who Code, this fabulous series is perfect for any child interested in coding, computer science, and technology. The books are centered around the school coding club and embrace themes of friendship and ingenuity as much as they focus on sequencing and loops. Hailed as The Baby-Sitters Club for this generation, you definitely do not want to miss this series!
The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate: Inspired by a true story, this beautiful, powerful novel is written from the perspective of Ivan, a captive gorilla who spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of an enclosure at a shopping center. Ivan grew accustomed to being watched by humans all day every day. Only when a new baby elephant is brought into captivity after being taken from the wild does Ivan recognize he needs a change — and all of the captive animals need a change — for the better.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo: A young girl named Abilene owns a three-foot tall china rabbit named Edward Tulane who she loves dearly. Edward, however, is only a toy who cannot speak, yet he can certainly think. And he thinks about one person only: himself. One day, Abilene loses her prized Edward when several mean boys on a boat throw him overboard. This is Edward’s story, from the ocean to the streets and among various different owners, each of whom leaves an imprint on Edward and, eventually, teach him how to open his heart and love.
The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin: This classic story won a Newbery award in 1945 and has never been out of print since. The story centers around Wanda Petronski, a Polish child living in Connecticut who wears the same faded blue dress to school every day. Though Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, her classmates ridicule her relentlessly, until the day that Wanda is pulled out of school. Her classmates are never able to apologize, and it is through their actions and regrets that we see a beautiful and important story about bullying, standing up for others, and accepting differences — a story that resonates as much today as it did when it was first written.
Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate: “Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories…” And so it is with Red, a majestic oak tree that is nearly two hundred and sixteen “rings” old, harboring secrets and stories that have been nearly forgotten by the people in the community in which it lives. Red is a wishtree who watches over the neighborhood, keeping mostly to himself. When a Muslim family moves onto the street, however, Red witnesses firsthand that all neighbors aren’t so welcoming, and even children are forced to undergo hateful messages. It is then that Red realizes his status as a wishtree is more important than ever, and it might be just the time to break with tradition and intervene. For our full review of Wishtree, click here!
The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown: Roz wakes up for the very first time alone on a remote island. She has no idea who she is or how she got there, but she knows one thing: she is a robot, and she is programmed to survive. How, though, when no one in the wild is like her? Roz must learn to adapt to her surroundings, but the only ones she can learn from are the island’s animals… and the animals aren’t so welcoming of the “monster” in their midst. Will an orphaned gosling help Roz save herself?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl: Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is opening!! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. Who will get those golden tickets? And what will happen when the kids get inside the magical, mysterious factory? Will the nice guy finish first, or will the other four be punished for all kinds of misbehavior? This is a tale of morality wrapped up in chocolate, and it has been entertaining kids for decades. Even in a world where imagination reigns supreme and life is filled with chocolate rivers and fizzy lifting drinks, children that are “good” and “bad” get just what they deserve!
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar: Oh no! A terrible mistake has been made! Wayside School has been built thirty stories high, with one classroom on top of another. The builder says he is sorry, but that doesn’t really help. Why? Because all sorts of shenanigans are in store, especially on the thirteenth floor. If your kids love to read funny stories, these classics will have them laughing out loud!
James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake: James loses his parents in a tragic way – they are eaten by a rhinoceros! Off he goes to live with his two aunts, where life simply ceases to be fun. But when he accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree, strange things begin to happen, and the peach at the top of the tree suddenly grows… and grows… and grows. And when it starts to roll away? Well, that’s when the adventure happens, of course!
Great Family Read Aloud Books When Your Youngest is in 3rd or 4th Grade
The Chocolate Touch, by Patrick Skene Catling and illustrated by Margot Apple: John Midas loves chocolate. He eats it every day, and he thinks there’s no such thing as too much chocolate. Or is there? In this fun and zany story, John discovers he has a magical touch — a touch that turns everything to chocolate! He’s about to find out if it’s possible to get too much of his favorite food.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio: “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. “ Talk about a book that will pull you in right from the outset. This is the the story of Auggie, a boy with severe facial anomalies. Up until fifth grade, he was schooled at home. But when he gets ready to begin fifth grade at a real school, he wants nothing more than to be treated like an ordinary kid. Will his new classmates be able to get past his jarring facial differences? This is the book that sparked the Choose Kind movement, and it is an extraordinary, poignant story that resonates deeply with both children and adults alike. Funny, tender, and oh-so-honest, this book should be required reading for every kid around the world. Absolutely phenomenal… and the best reminder that being cool is oh-so-kind.
Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley: Micah’s grandfather has forever told him tales of the enchanting Circus Mirandus, with its invisible tiger, flying birdwoman, and powerful magician known as the Man Who Bends Light. But is the circus truly real? Grandpa Ephraim eventually gives Micah the proof he needs, which leads Micah on one incredible adventure. After all, the Lightbender owes Micah’s dying Grandpa a miracle. And if Micah can find him, he might be able to save his grandfather from the brink of death. There’s just one problem… what if he does find the Lightbender, and this magical figure doesn’t want to keep his promise? A fantastical, imaginative journey, one that is as spellbinding as it is engaging.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis: Oh, Narnia! This is one of America’s top 100 most-loved novels, selected by PBS’ The Great American Read. In this story, the second book in the series, four adventurous siblings walk through a wardrobe door and find themselves in Narnia, a frozen land stuck in winter, held captive by the White Witch. Yet, when the Great Lion arrives, a great change — and a great sacrifice — may arrive as well. Utterly captivating, your children will be enthralled from start to finish! This book stands alone, or as part of the series.
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer: Milo thinks his life is a bore — until, that is, a mysterious tollbooth appears in his room. What is this tollbooth and why is it in his room? He has no idea, but since he’s bored he decides to enter it and is then launched into a whimsical journey through the Island of Conclusions with a dog named Tock, through the Doldrums, all while on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. A classic — a masterpiece — and insanely fun!
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart: This is one of those series I just cannot keep on the shelf in my school library! After an ad runs in the newspaper calling for “gifted children looking for special opportunities,” two boys and two girls pass the mind-bending tests and succeed. Their mission? A secret challenge that only the most innovative and intelligent children can complete. Yet, they’ll have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened to do so, where, surprisingly, there is only one rule: there are no rules. Will the four kids succeed? This is one to add to your child’s “must read” list!
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg: Claudia Kincaid knows it’s time to run away. But not from something — to something. So she decides to run to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her brother, hoping her time away will help her parents gain some necessary Claudia appreciation. The siblings set out to the museum right on schedule, but after they settle in Claudia encounters some problems. Not only does she not feel any different, but her journey through the museum leads her to discover a remarkable statute — a piece of art so breathtaking, she cannot go home until she discovers more about its creator — which could help her find the answers to her own personal challenges, too. A classic!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling: If you haven’t yet read Harry Potter yourself, the most perfect way to do so it is to share the experience with your own children by reading these books together. This magical, masterful series tells the story of young Harry Potter, who, upon being orphaned after the untimely death of his parents, discovers he is a young wizard. On his eleventh birthday, Harry is whisked off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, resulting in a journey you and your kids will never forget.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan and illustrated by John Rocco: Percy Jackson is a good kid — but he sometimes has trouble controlling his temper, and his time at boarding school seems to be going from bad to worse. When he thinks his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster who wants to kill him, Percy’s mom decides it’s time he learns the truth about who he really is… and that’s when his true journey begins. Mythical, magical, and masterful, this is one series you won’t forget!
The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall: The Penderwicks tells the story of a widower and his four daughters who have a wonderful surprise in store for them this summer — a holiday at Arundel, a beautiful estate in the Berkshires. While in Massachusetts, the girls embark on one adventure after another, from scrounging through treasure filled attics to taming gardens to taming rabbits. But not all is fun and games at Arundel, because Mrs. Tifton, the owner of the estate, does not approve of the Penderwick girls and warns them to stay out of trouble. A modern classic, this charming story will have young readers eager for the next installment in this witty series!!
Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt: Ally is good with people — so good, in fact, that she’s got a lot of them totally fooled. Why? Because she has a hard time reading, and to combat that, she creates many disruptive distractions to hide her fatal flaw. After all she knows she’s dumb, and that can’t be helped. Leave it to a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, to discover the brightness and creativity just below Ally’s troublemaker exterior, and Ally begins to discover that her dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of, and she has a lot more to be confident about than she ever realized.