The Great 2020 Global Stay-at-Home has at least one positive side-effect:
more time for reading aloud together.
The deep enjoyment, family bonds, and literary acquaintances our family has gained from reading aloud together over the course of 30+ years –
I could never put a price on that.
We’ve read hundreds of books aloud,
beginning when my husband and I were dating, then adding children into the mix one by one,
and continuing on as they grew old enough to encounter David Copperfield or Jeeves and Wooster alongside of us.
It’s a piece of our family life that my kids, all adults now, treasure.
I cannot recommend strongly enough that you either begin or continue the practice of a regular family read-aloud time, or a housemate read-aloud time for that matter,
and this moment when evening schedules are not jam-packed lends itself to that perfectly.
Today I decided to list suggestions with three different scenarios in mind.
I hope these lists provide good fodder for some happy reading adventures!
20 Gentle Read-aloud Ideas for Young Listeners:
Short-ish. Nothing too scary! A bit of mild peril in a few titles.
Click to read my full review.
A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond, Peggy Fortnum
Warm, humorous adventures of that little bear from darkest Peru.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Ian Fleming, John Burningham
A fizzing adventure, much different than the old Disney film version.
Detective Gordon: The First Case – Ulf Nilsson, Gitte Spee
Such a jolly detective, and such jolly snacks!
Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep – Eleanor Farjeon, Charlotte Voake
A mesmerizing fairy tale, beautifully illustrated.
The Family Under the Bridge – Natalie Savage Carlson, Garth Williams
An all time favorite, brimming with kindness. Newbery Honor.
Good Night, Sleep Tight: Eleven-and-a-half Good Night Stories with Fox and Rabbit –Kristina Andres
Immensely charming, friendly stories.
Heartwood Hotel series – Kallie George, Stephanie Graegin
Small woodland creatures run a charming hotel in a tree, with a hair-raising adventure in each volume.
Henry and Ribsy – Beverly Cleary, Louis Darling
Did you know Ms. Cleary just turned 104!! These funny, nostalgic boy-and-his-dog stories are still winners.
The Jamie and Angus Stories – Anne Fine, Penny Dale
Warm, delightful tales of a boy and his stuffed Highland Bull.
Lulu stories by Hilary McKay, Priscilla Lamont
A series of early chapter books about a self-sufficient gal who loves animals. Funny, contemporary, gems.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard and Florence Atwater, Robert Lawson
The crazy adventures that befall the Popper family when a dozen penguins land in their household. Newbery Honor.
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle – Betty Macdonald, Hilary Knight
Magical Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is the one to call on for every parent’s child-rearing dilemma!
My Father’s Dragon trilogy – Ruth Stiles Gannett, Ruth Chrisman Gannett
A wonderful confection of a fantasy for the very young. Newbery Honor.
Old Mother West Wind – Thornton Burgess, Harrison Cady
Folksy storytelling narrating the busy lives of all the creatures inhabiting the woods, fields, ponds where Mother West Wind blows.
Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz, Brian Floca
Can a crocodile really pull off an epic swap with the princess to grant her a day of fun? Wild and wooly fun.
Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan – Frances O’Roark Dowell, Amy June Bates
Sam is a boy with a plan. A plan to get some money by raising chickens. What could go wrong?
The Stories Julian Tells – Ann Cameron, Ann Strugnell
Funny, warmhearted stories about two brothers. An absolute delight.
The Teddy Robinson Storybook – Joan G. Robinson
A collection of wee adventures between a loyal teddy bear and his little girl, Deborah. Charming tales for preschool listeners.
A Toad for Tuesday – Russell E. Erickson, Lawrence di Fiori
Warton the toad is captured by an owl who plans to eat him for a birthday treat on Tuesday. Egads! Can he manage an escape?
Winnie-the-Pooh – A. A. Milne, Ernest Shepard
Every child, every adult, ought to know the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Funny, comforting, timeless.
30 Read-aloud Ideas for a Wide Age Group:
Titles accessible to kids around age 8/9 which appeal to older listeners as well.
Read my reviews for a better sense of content. Some are not for the faint of heart.
Adam of the Road – Elizabeth Janet Gray, Robert Lawson
The medieval journeys and adventures of a young boy. Exquisite writing. A Newbery Medal winner.
Around the World in 100 Days — Gary L. Blackwood
Join Phileas Fogg’s son and his companions in a breakneck, disaster-ridden journey via the new-fangled horseless carriage. Breathless fun!
The Avion My Uncle Flew — Cyrus Fisher, illus. by Richard Floethe
This story awash in spies and wild flying escapades in post-war France is a treat. It is a big help to know how to read some basic French. Newbery Honor.
*The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander
The first of the Chronicles of Prydain, a beloved set of high fantasy by a masterful writer.
The Borrowers – Mary Norton, Beth and Joe Krush
The Borrowers are tiny people living in the floorboards of a house…and the exterminator has just been called in! First in a great series.
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White, Garth Williams
You know the story, but have you read the book? E.B. White’s prose is definitely worth reading, and not just for young children. Newbery Honor.
Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson
Perennial favorites coming to us from Finland, the Moomintroll books feature characters you will never meet elsewhere! Quirky, fantastical, endearing.
*Forest of Wonders — Linda Sue Park
The first in a fantasy trilogy by one of my favorite authors. A young apothecary accidentally brews a concoction with surprising results and unintended, far-reaching consequences. Fabulous!
Ginger Pye – Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin
The story of a dog named Ginger Pye who goes missing, and the devoted brother-sister team who determine to find him. Newbery Medal winner.
Gone-Away Lake – Elizabeth Enright, Joe and Beth Krush
Wonderful story about two cousins who explore an abandoned (almost!) settlement of cottages one summer and have unexpected adventures. Newbery Honor.
The Great Wheel – Robert Lawson
Fascinating historical fiction about the building of the first Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and the young Irish immigrant who joins the construction crew. Newbery Honor.
Gregor the Overlander — Suzanne Collins
The first in a series of books by the author of The Hunger Games, this fantastical subterranean world and its inhabitants will steal your hearts. Epic battles included.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
The enormously popular adventures of Bilbo the Hobbit. Prelude to The Lord of the Rings.
James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s wild tale of a boy named James, raised by two wretched aunts, who escapes in a giant, flying peach along with a weird cohort of allies.
*John Diamond – Leon Garfield
Dickensian atmosphere and suspense permeate this story of a young boy in Victorian London, desperately trying to solve a mystery left to him by his dying father.
Kildee House – Rutherford G. Montgomery, Barbara Cooney
A warm, delightful tale of a hermit whose small home in the Redwoods includes families of skunks and raccoons. Newbery Honor.
*Larklight – Philip Reeve, David Wyatt
A wild, steampunk adventure in which Arthur and his sister Myrtle careen around the solar system in an all-out effort to save the universe!
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer — L.R. Giles, illustrations by Dapo Adeola
Two cousins accidentally freeze time in their desire to have the last day of summer never end. Mayhem ensues!
The Midnight Fox – Betsy Byars, Ann Girfalconi
A boy who thinks he’s allergic to nature is shipped to the country during his parents’ holiday and discovers the elegant glory of a fox.
*Midshipman Quinn – Showell Styles
Entertaining, robust adventures of a midshipman during the Napoleonic wars. Like Horatio Hornblower with a dash of humor. Best for experienced listeners.
Minnow on the Say – Philippa Pearce
Two boys go adventuring in an old canoe, searching for long lost family treasure.
The Moorchild – Eloise McGraw
A changeling girl discovers her true identity and determines to right the wrong done when she was swapped for a human baby. Newbery Honor.
The Search for Delicious – Natalie Babbitt
A gorgeous, thought-provoking fairy-tale-esque story in which a search for the true definition of Delicious rides pell mell into civil war.
*Smith – Leon Garfield
Another Dickensian tale from master storyteller Garfield. A 12-year-old pickpocket accidentally witnesses murder, and the item he thieved is apparently what the murderers were after.
The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow – Allen French
An outstanding story told in the form of a saga set in Iceland at the dawn of Christianity in Norse lands. Journey with Rolf as he is unjustly outlawed from his home and family.
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
The first book in the classic British series narrating the keen sailing and camping adventures of two groups of siblings in England’s Lake District.
*The Twenty One Balloons – William Pène Du Bois
An adventurer relates his curious experiences of landing on the island of Krakatoa and becoming part of an extremely unusual settlement. Newbery Medal.
The Wheel on the School – Meindert De Jong, Maurice Sendak
De Jong leisurely unreels this gorgeous story of some Dutch schoolchildren searching for a cart wheel to install on the schoolhouse chimney in the hopes of enticing storks to return to their village. Newbery Medal
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin
A luscious Chinese fantasy in which a young girl ventures off to find the Old Man on the Moon to gain his wisdom and change her family’s fortunes. Newbery Honor.
Withering By Sea – Judith Rossell
A wild Victorian romp featuring grim aunts, intrepid orphans, musical cats, and a diabolical professor.
10 Read-aloud ideas for teen and adult listeners:
Titles on the above list marked with asterisks are also great options.
Ghost – Jason Reynolds
The first of master-storyteller Jason Reynold’s sports series starring real kids living in a messy world, digging deep to discover their best selves. National Book Award Finalist.
The Girl who Drank the Moon — Kelly Barnhill
An extraordinary fantasy in which suppositions, fears, and oppression collide with courage and love. Newbery Medal winner.
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Meet some of Dickens’ most memorable characters in Pip’s dramatic, jam-packed, coming-of-age story.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salmon Rushdie
A lush, extraordinary fantasy about what happens when the storytelling tap is turned off and Haroun sets out to fix it.
Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter books make fantastic read-alouds, even if you’ve already read them once, or twice, already.
My Family and Other Animals – Gerard Durrell
Durrell’s hilarious anecdotes of his youth on the island of Corfu, mixed with his naturalist observations. Great fun.
Nowhere Boy — Katherine Marsh
A teen-age American boy living in Brussels discovers an undocumented Syrian refugee secretly living in the wine cellar of his house.
Okay for Now – Gary D. Schmidt
Warmly humorous and deeply affecting, this is the story of Doug Swieteck and how he overcomes painful obstacles in his life and learns to thrive. National Book Award finalist.
The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer
A classic fantasy, abounding in wordplay, about one bored kid who rides a magical tollbooth into the Land of Wisdom.
A Single Shard — Linda Sue park
An outstanding story set in medieval Korea in which a young potter’s apprentice undertakes a dangerous journey. This Newbery Medal winner seems to be loved by everyone who reads it.
As always, there are gobs more titles available via the Fiction tab at the top of the blog.
Most of them would make fine read-alouds as well.
Get cozy and get reading!