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Best Books to Read Aloud to Kids

Updated on December 22, 2007
Photo:  Smellyknee, Flickr
Photo: Smellyknee, Flickr

Some of the best time you spend with your kids is reading to them. Reading aloud also lets you expose children to great literature. With school teachers having more and more tests to teach to, there is less time for luxuries like art, music, and reading to kids. Whatever you loved as a child, you're kids will probably also adore. These are my personal favorites.

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White is a great book to start with when you want to begin reading longer works aloud to your child. The barnyard community will be a familiar setting for younger audiences. A lovable pig named Wilbur strikes up an unlikely friendship with a spider named Charlotte. Kids will be as sad to learn of Wilbur's fate as is his human companion, Fern. However, it's Charlotte who ultimately saves her friend with her skillful web spinning. Author E.B. White reminds parents and children to keep our eyes open to the wonder and miracle in ordinary things.

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl is one of his best in my opinion, but you can't really go wrong with any of this author's work. The language is a joy to speak out loud and the kids will be swept away in the fantastical world Dahl creates. James, an orphan is sent to live with his awful aunts, but soon escapes thanks to some magic crystals. He sets off for adventure inside an overgrown peach with an assortment of insects who have also grown to monstrous size.

Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie, as well as the other books in the series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, are the answer to many children's questions about what it was like in the olden days. Each chapter is a story, an adventure. Plus, the way Ingalls Wilder structures the chapters, they are just right for before bed reading. Rather than ending in a cliffhanger, she usually tidies the stories up at the end of the chapters so that the children in the story are often snug in their beds just as you are tucking your own in!

Watership Down

Watership Down by Richard Adams is a different kind of read. I'd recommend it for older children who are ready to appreciate more complex literature but may not yet have the patience to read it on their own. This is the story of the difficult journey of a band of rabbits to find a safe home. Watership Down is a complex story that can be read on many different levels. Often praised as an allegory about freedom, ethics, and human nature, it's also equally enjoyable as an adventure. It may be difficult to know what age is appropriate, but you'll know by the first few pages if kids are going to be interested or not.


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  • TheHubKing profile image

    TheHubKing 6 years ago from Philippines

    Great list. James and the Giant Peach is one of the very best. :)

  • BarbaraMay profile image

    BarbaraMay 10 years ago from Canada

    And I'd add the Narnia books. I read the whole C.S. Lewis series to my four boys, starting when the eldest was 7 and the youngest 2. In fact, we read them several times over the course of the years.

    Although the level of language is high, the imagery and adventure totally captivated my kids from the start.

  • caspar profile image

    caspar 10 years ago from UK

    Great ideas Lela. I read Charlotte's Web to my older daughter when she was about 5 years old - too young to tackle it herself. Books with chapters are great for bedtime reading. With my kids, I used to read a chapter and then allow them to read another chapter by themselves if they wanted to find out what happened next, which really developed their reading skills and stamina. Of course the next night I'd have to ask them to tell me what I'd missed!

  • RFox profile image

    RFox 10 years ago

    These were all favorites of mine as a child. Watership Down particularly so! Great recommendations.

  • Lela Davidson profile image

    Lela Davidson 10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

    I agree! My Side of the Mountain is amazing!

  • Marye Audet profile image

    Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    I would add My Side of the Mountain to that excellent list.