One of the joys of my life has been reading books aloud to my kids.
It can be tricky to find good books for kids, and specifically good books to read aloud, and even more specifically: good books to read aloud to boys.
Here is a list of books that we have enjoyed reading together over many years, between his ages of 6 and 9.
Appropriateness for certain books & content will always depend on many factors: exposure, personal interest, birth order (!), parenting style, etc. For example, in our house, we don't read Harry Potter until age 10, though we did read The Hobbit when he was 7 or 8. Roald Dahl is a fave because of his adult suspicion and zany characters, but you may not want the idea of shrinking Grandma into oblivion in your child's head! As a parent (or grandparent, or mentor, aunt, friend, etc.), you can, of course, approach with your own discernment.
Is every good book good for reading aloud? No. I have fond memories of The Secret Garden, but when I tried to read it to my daughter, it was a miss 🙅♀️. (Conversely, there are some books that may have been a slog to tackle alone, but are better tackled aloud — I'm thinking of Anne of Green Gables & the first 100 pages of LOTR, for two). My kids have enjoyed Magic Tree House, Bad Guys, "I Survived", graphic novels, and many other books, but... not with me.
There is little "new news" here, and nothing that you won't find on other lists! Feel free to comment below with any other books to add to the list, or questions about our experience. Happy reading!
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia - We have read through these twice: First I read these to my son, along with his older sister, when he was quite young, 5 or 6. He enjoyed them and wasn't put off by the language, as I might have thought. We re-read the series — minus The Horse and His Boy, the most boring one, and not in the main narrative — when he was 9, and he did not remember much at all from the first go-round; it was like a new series.
- Roald Dahl - My favorite childhood author (and maybe still? 😏), so I'm probably biased. Most of the books I ever seek out to read together, I'm trying to capture the mix of whimsy, honesty, tenderness, and humor of Dahl's books. We did not read these sequentially, but interspersed among the other, longer books.
- George's Marvellous Medicine
- The BFG
- The Twits
- Danny, the Champion of the World
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
- The Witches was a DNF (did not finish) for us — I think a bit too freaky.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox, James & the Giant Peach, & Matilda are all also great & I read them with my girls — but, my son was not as motivated to read these books, after seeing too much of the films!
- I would not recommend Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator, which was a total disappointment.
Robert C. O'Brien, Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nimh - An underrated story, imo. Family, loyalty, innovation, society... lots of subjects, plus it sparks kids' imaginations about what it would be like to build their own (underground) world.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit - so much action & excitement in this story makes it huge bang-for-buck. I had never read or watched the movies before, so it was a really fun read for us both.
- (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings - DNF - We read The Fellowship of the Ring and into the next one, but ran out of steam)
Mac Barnett, Mac B, Kid Spy series - If you're looking for a book that's campy & humorous, with a spy vibe, and you learn about the Cold War... this is it! 😂 They are very silly, but legitimately I learned about some modern history (and my son learned about some 80's references)
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
I have also read aloud The Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little with my daughter — faves, as well!
- Louis Sachar, Holes - This one definitely was on the edge of appropriate for us; some violence and more mature subject matter, and I would err to older kids for this one. Like a Dahl book, the adults are almost cartoonishly evil; that and the touch of magical realism are probably why we enjoyed it.