You’ve been reading chapter books to your kids since your oldest was 2. You’ve read through all of the Narnia and all of the Little House books–twice. You cheered Harry on through his years at Hogwarts, went on a tour of Mr. Wonka’s amazing chocolate factory, and teared up when Charlotte died. You’ve even made it through classics like The Secret Garden and Peter Pan.
Your voice is permanently hoarse and you’ve just about run out of book ideas.
Try one of these as your next family read-aloud:
My Father’s Dragon and sequels by Ruth Stiles Gannet
This series is the perfect introduction to chapter books for younger, wigglier children. The few black-and-white illustrations are appealing, the chapters are short and episodic, and the tale is wildly improbably and fun.
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
This lovely fairy tale features a brave miner boy, a truthful princess, a many-times-great grandmother with rose-scented magic, and a dastardly goblin plot.
The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
This is David’s current read-aloud with the olders. Both of us Gale parents LOVED this MG fantasy series as kids. There’s some confusion over the fact the series is named after the second book. You want to start with Over Sea, Under Stone.
And the movie adaptation sucks. Don’t bother with it.
For a more humorous fantasy angle, check out The Boggart by the same author. A Canadian family accidentally take a boggart from Scotland back home to Toronto. Mayhem and hilarity ensue.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Now I’ll be the first to admit that these books aren’t superbly written (I always want to edit as I read aloud). And the whole “natives and explorers” angle might bother some folks. BUT these adventurous children–none of them teens yet–are capable, kind, courageous, and resourceful. Their parents let them go off on a sailing/camping adventure and TRUST them to not drown–and these kids live up to the responsibility. For older books, they are also refreshingly free of gender problems. Four of the six children are girls, and there’s never any indication that they are not as capable as boys.
I found these books very empowering when I was a child, and my kids do too. They’re the next best thing to running away and having their own adventures!
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
If you like the Ramona books, you’ll like the Moffats. Perfect for when you just want an old-fashioned, nostalgic read about small town families.
What are some of your favorite read-alouds? Share in the comments!