Inside: Discover 50 family read alouds from eight different genres you and your family will love reading!
Homeschoolers are known for their love of reading aloud. What what if your family isn’t one that enjoys it and you don’t know why?
If you pull out a chapter book to read and your children whine, rolls their eyes, or run to do chores, you might be choosing the wrong one. Family read alouds are one of the easiest ways to teach your children and have many benefits when the right book captures your child’s attention.
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I have put together a list of family read aloud books from several genres. Every single book is an excellent read. You’re sure to find some family favorites.
Table of Contents
Best Read Aloud Chapter Books
Mysterious Family Read Alouds
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
If your kids enjoy quirky books, this series will fit the bill. A Series of Unfortunate Events is about three children who are orphaned after a house fire takes their parents. They find themselves at the doorstep of the villain, Count Olaf. The children seem to be the only ones who know something is off and soon find out he is after their inheritance.
Through a series of “unfortunate” events, the Baudelaire children try to get away from him and are moved to different homes with other strange foster parents. Somehow Count Olaf keeps finding them by showing up in disguise. The children face one tragedy after another as they try to get away from this evil man and his henchmen while discovering clues about the mystery of their parents’ death.
While these books sound depressing and scary, the author has done an amazing job of putting a humorous spin on them. They are a fun read. You can use the Fortunately For You unit study that has been written to go along with the first three books.
Britfield & the Lost Crown by C. R. Stewart
I can’t say enough good things about this book. We reviewed it and fell in love! I have written a full review about it you can read. It’s a mystery/adventure novel written for middle schoolers, but I think upper elementary and high schoolers would enjoy this read aloud book as well. I also recommend the audiobook.
Britfield & the Lost Crown grabs you from the moment you start reading. It begins at Weatherly Orphanage, run by cruel people who mistreat the orphans and seem to hide a secret. Tom has gone his whole life believing his parents are dead. Until one day, when he finds out that may not be true. Realizing he must find out the truth, he plans to leave Weatherly.
With the help of other orphans, he and his best friend Sarah manage to escape. But just before leaving, he’s handed a piece of paper with the word Britfield on it. This is the only clue to his past he has to go on.
It is an adventure novel with lots of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
This book is about four children who answer a newspaper ad looking for gifted children to take a series of tests. They end up being the only ones chosen by Mr. Benedict to attend the very prestigious Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. Their true purpose is to spy on the headmaster of the school and find out what evil is planned. They each use their special abilities to try to save the world from danger. If your children like clever books with puzzles and codes, they won’t even realize they are reading a 400 plus page book.
Timeless Classic Family Read Alouds
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White- link to unit study
Everyone has heard of Charlotte’s Web, but if your children haven’t experienced it yet, you should read it. This book is about a little pig born at the Zuckerman farm and all the friends he makes who try to save him from ending up on the dinner table. It will steal your heart.
Use the Within the Web unit study along with the book.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
This is a great science fiction/fantasy book about a family whose father disappears while working on a science project about a tesseract (a wrinkle in time). Warning: We have not read the entire series but I have heard that book 5 is unlike the others and contains mature content.
Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This is one of the most popular classics with homeschoolers. What is there not to love about the Ingall’s family and all the adventures they have when moving from Kansas and settling in Kansas? Did you know there are 9 books in the series? Well worth the read!
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
This is a wonderful story that deals with kindness and the homeless. When we started it, we knew nothing about it other than we saw it recommended on several reading lists. Everyone enjoyed this family read aloud. Caution: It’s a great read aloud but there are topics you may want to discuss such as stealing, lying, and wandering off with strangers.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary Lennox is an orphan who has to go live at her uncle’s house on the Yorkshire Moors. There are a lot of rooms and at night she hears crying from one of them at the end of a long corridor. There is a secret being kept, and she wants to find out what it is.
Through exploring the property, she finds a large garden that’s surrounded by walls and locked. She discovers a way in and spends much of her time secretly trying to bring it back to life. She ends up doing much more than that.
While they often suggest this book for girls, my son enjoyed it when he was in elementary school. Use the Gatherings from the Garden unit study to go along with it.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
This is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series. It’s about four children who discover a door in the back of a wardrobe. It leads to the land of Narnia, which is ruled by the White Witch. After many years of being under her rule, the children arriving, and rumors of Aslan, the Great Lion, returning bring hope to the people of Narnia that things are about to change.
We loved this book. I recommend viewing the movie after you read the book if you haven’t seen it already. Use the Wisdom from the Wardrobe unit study that goes along with it from Fortunately For You Books.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Marilla and her brother Matthew want to adopt a boy to help around the farm. They end up with Anne, who is a talkative, freckle-faced, energetic girl. Marilla wants to return her immediately, but Matthew is charmed by her spunky personality. Marilla finally comes around and lets her stay but not without many antics and embarrassing social situations.
You cannot help but love Anne and this will most likely become one of your daughter’s favorite childhood books. Warning: There is a scene in the book where Anne accidentally becomes drunk on currant wine.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
One of the rabbits has a vision about a catastrophe that will destroy their colony. While most don’t believe it, a small group decide to make a long journey across the countryside in search of a new home. It’s a suspenseful story about self-sacrifice, honor, courage, and heroes.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi is a young girl who moves in to her father’s cottage Villa Villekulla after he disappears at sea. Tommy and his sister Annika live next door and are thrilled when learn they finally have a neighbor. Pippi is unlike any girl they have ever met. She can lift a horse and she has a pet monkey. Together the three of them have all kinds of fun.
I grew up watching Pippi Longstocking and loved her. I recently read the book to my girls and had no idea they would love it so much. They could not wait for me to read it each day.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
A little girl from a poor family is teased at school because she wears the same faded blue dress every day. She tells the students she has 100 dresses at home, but they know it’s not true. This story teaches about bullying and also the culture of the 1940s. Boys and girls both will learn a lot from this book. There are many opportunities for discussions.
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Jemmy is Prince Brat’s whipping boy. When the prince decides to run away and take Jemmy with him, they end up accidentally switching places and find themselves in trouble with some outlaws. This story is humorous but teaches some great lessons.
Funny Family Read Alouds
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
This book is amusing. Mr. Popper is a house painter who spends his free time reading about explorers in the South Pole. After writing to one of them, a penguin arrives on his front door step. He spends the winter taking care of it and the ten others that follow. They get into all sorts of trouble and your children will get a kick out of it. I used to read this to my fifth grade class as well when I was a school teacher and it was always a favorite!
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is by far my favorite author! I fell in love with his writing as a young school teacher and bought every one of his books. He has a very quirky and humorous writing style, which is what I love.
Everyone is familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but he has so many other great books you need to explore. Esio Trot is one of them. This is a very short read, but your kids will giggle at Mr. Hoppy as he tries to win Mrs. Silver’s heart through her tortoise.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This book is about four sisters who take a summer vacation to Arundel Hall with their father. While they explore the area, they discover a boy, the son of Arundel’s owner, who becomes their companion. Together they have many adventures and seem to grow up during those three short weeks. The author manages to capture the essence of childhood in this sweet book that is a great read.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Herdman children are an unruly bunch, “the worst kids in the history of the world.” They have never heard of the Christmas story before and they have a few ideas of their own for the Christmas Pageant at the church. Your kids will laugh out loud at this hilarious book. This is a must read in your homeschool during the time leading up to Christmas. (There are a few curse words you may want to omit.)
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the ability to overlook children’s faults and instead zero in on something positive they can do, even if it’s tiny. She has the answer for every situation and it always works. Fans of Mary Poppins or Nanny McPhee will love this.
Adventurous Family Read Alouds
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Your kids have probably seen the movie, but you need to read the book if you haven’t. It’s so much better! Willy Wonka has decided to open his chocolate factory for a tour and is giving away five golden tickets to get inside. Charlie Bucket, along with four other children are the lucky winners. Come along as the children experience candy in a way they never have before and learn some valuable lessons in the process. Mr. Wonka has a reason for allowing these children into his factory and someone is going to be very happy!
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
This was the first Roald Dahl book I ever read. It’s a story about a little boy and lives with his two horrible aunts. Life is miserable there. After dropping some magic crystals near a peach tree, an enormous peach grows. James climbs inside and meets some oversized friends. They decide to roll away and that’s where the adventures begin.I read this to my class many years ago and the story captivated us. If you like Roald Dahl’s writing, this is another book you need to read. Warning: there are a few curse words you may want to omit.
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
This is a story about three animals’ devotion to their owners as they travel a great distance and endure dangerous conditions to reunite with them. If you like Where the Red Fern Grows or Shiloh, this will be a favorite.
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Clock family are tiny people who live under the kitchen floor of an English country manor. Whatever they need, they borrow from the family upstairs. They must be very careful not to be seen because those who are, are never found again. Only Pod, the father, may venture out. However, their daughter, Arrietty, doesn’t listen. She wants to find a friend and is willing to take the chance.
The BFG by Roald Dahl
This book has become very popular because of the movie release. While the movie was enjoyable, I still think the book was better. Little Sophie, an orphan in London, is captured during the witching hour by a giant. She soon learns he’s the Big Friendly Giant who lives in Giant Country with giants twice his size that eat children. Sophie convinces the BFG to come up with a plan to stop this horrible act that goes on each night. Their plan will involve dreams, sneaking past the giants, traveling a great distance in one night, and meeting the Queen of England. Don’t worry, this book is full of humor and not scary at all. Your kids won’t want you to stop reading.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
When Keith and his family check into the hotel, Ralph the Mouse can hardly believe it when he sees Keith has a motorcycle. All his life, Ralph has wanted to see what’s beyond the second floor, and maybe even what’s outdoors. One day when no one is around, he goes for a ride. He ends up getting in trouble, but Keith discovers Ralph is riding his motorcycle and encourages him to ride. He even teaches him a few things. Ralph ha quite a few adventures and gets into some sticky situations in this adorable book. Fans of Stewart Little with like this one.
The Green Ember Series by S. D. Smith
This is an epic drama about rabbits against wolves. Good versus evil. They are in a battle for the missing heir and there’s lots of action and suspense! You will fall in love with the main characters, Heather and Picket, as well as some others. We have only read book one, but I have heard good things about the others also.
Poppy by Avi
Poppy, a lovable mouse, makes a bad decision to follow her boyfriend Ragweed to Bannock Hill, even though they were told never to go there. Mr. Ocax, the great owl who rules the Dimwood Forest, catches and eats Ragweed, leaving Poppy terrified and alone to make the journey home.
On her return, she finds out her family has decided they must relocate because there is not enough food where they live. The only problem is, they must get permission from Mr. Ocax and Poppy must go with her father to ask.
After being denied permission to move, the family is mad and blames Poppy, but she feels there is something Mr. Ocax is hiding. Poppy decides she must make a dangerous trip to the new house to find out what Mr. Ocax doesn’t want them to know and set things right again. She must be brave, face dangerous situations, and meet an unexpected ally.
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
Omni is not happy that all he got from his best friend for his birthday is a little plastic Indian toy. He puts it away in a cupboard and locks the door using a skeleton key from his great-grandmother. Omni has no idea the key is magical, and when turned, the Indian will change into a real man and their adventures will begin.
Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankelweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Claudia runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and take her brother along. Once in the museum, they get involved in the mystery of an angel statue purchased by the museum at an auction. This story is similar to Night at the Museum.
Dramatic Family Read Alouds
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Billy’s family is very poor, but he has a dream of owning his own pair of hunting dogs. After lots of hard work and saving his money, he finally gets his them. His trains hard and his dogs become the best hunting team around. But with fame, comes jealousy and as a result, tragedy strikes. It’s a story of true love, integrity, hard work, and hope.This is my most memorable story from childhood. It has stuck with me over the years and I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to share it with them. This is a tear jerker!
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
August Pullman is born with a facial deformity. Until this point, he has been homeschooled. But in 5th grade, he will go to public school and wants to be treated like a normal kid. This is both a heartwarming and humorous book that teaches about friendship, compassion, family, and growing up.
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Paul and Maureen Beebe want to own and tame Phantom. They save up enough money, but no one can capture her. Then Paul surprises them all and captures both Phantom and her newborn colt. Now they have to figure out how to earn enough money to purchase them both.
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
The theme of the book is about a father who is wrongly accused of being a spy and put in jail. As a result, the children and their mother have to move to a cottage near a railway station. They meet an Old Gentleman who helps to prove the father’s innocence and bring the family together again. There’s lots of mystery, excitement, and adventure.
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Marty finds a beagle pup as he’s wandering the hills behind his home. There is an instant connection, and he wants to own him. He finds out his owner is a mean man who abuses his dogs. Shiloh, realizing he would be treated kindly, runs away to find Marty. Marty hides the dog for a while, but the situation gets out of hand. This is a story of good and evil, honesty and lies, sympathy, and lessons learned.
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
This story is based on a legend. Little Willy’s grandfather becomes very sick and may lose the farm because he can’t work. Little Willy decides he will win the National Dogsled Race and use the money to save the farm. He and his dog Searchlight are up against a Native American, named Stone Fox, who has never lost a race. You may not have a dry eye in the house when you are done reading this.
You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. ~Paul Sweeney
Faith-Filled Family Read Alouds
Twice Freed by Patricia St. John
This story is about a young slave boy during Ancient Roman times who deals with a lot of fear and hatred. He runs away to start a new life. In the process, he is introduced to Paul and the teachings of Christ but wants nothing to do with any of it. Along the way, he will learn the true meaning of freedom.
Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin
This is the famous Pilgrim’s Progress story retold for children. It is done so well! It has wonderful illustrations and your kids will be pulled in to the story of staying on the straight and narrow path.
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Daniel bar Jamin witnesses his father’s death by Roman soldiers. His hatred for them grows until he decides to join an outlaw band that raids and drives the Roman legions out of Israel. His plans are changed when he has to move back home to take care of his sister after his grandmother dies and run the blacksmith shop of a friend.While leading a group of boys who are getting revenge on the Romans, he learns of Jesus of Nazareth and is drawn to his teachings. However, he’s irritated that Jesus doesn’t want to help get back at the Romans. Consumed with his own hatred, he has no concern for those who are close to him, which could put all of them in danger.
Treasures in the Snow by Patricia M. St. John
Annette and Lucien do not get along. When Annette gets Lucien in trouble at school, he decides he will get revenge by using the most important thing to her, her little brother Dani. Unfortunately his plan goes wrong and turns into a tragedy. Annette is so filled with hatred, she gets back at him every chance she gets. Only Christ can transform these two children and change their bitter hearts. This book is such a great example of forgiveness even when it seems impossible.
Star of Light by Patricia M. St. John
Hamid’s little sister, Kinza, is blind. His stepfather considers her a burden to the family and wants to sell her as a slave. Hamid, who is only a young boy himself, put his life on the line to save her. He plans their escape and tries to find her a new home. What happens after that is is life changing. This is another book that has a special place in our hearts.
City of the Golden House by Madeleine Poland
A kind Roman soldier brings Gretorix to Rome where he becomes the body slave to Diomed. Diomed is the son of a Roman senator. There’s just one problem, he’s crippled. The two boys become friends and want to learn more about Simon Peter, the man who is preaching a new religion and healing the sick.
Historical and Educational Family Read Alouds
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Ellen Rosen is taken in and hidden as if she’s part of Annemarie Johansen’s family when the Germans start to relocate the Jews of Denmark. This story shows how the people of Denmark managed to smuggle almost the whole Jewish population in Denmark across the sea to Sweden during WWII. While the topic is of the holocaust, it is written for children and is a much milder version of the events. An amazing historical fiction every student should read!
The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Ranofer dreams of becoming a master goldsmith like his father. But things seem impossible when he’s under his evil half-brother Gebu. When he finds a golden goblet in Gebu’s room, he realizes that may be his only chance of escaping the abuse and changing his future.
Sara Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton leaves Maine and goes to the prairie when she answers an advertisement to become a wife and mother. Life is very different for her as she tries to adjust to becoming Anna and Caleb’s mom. Fans of the Little House on the Prairie series will enjoy this. It’s a very short book, but it captures your heart right away.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Series by Maryrose Wood
The Incorrigibles are discovered in the forest of Ashton Place. They are not like normal children. When Miss Penelope Lumley becomes their governess, she has her hands full. Before she can teach them any academics, she first has to figure out how to stop them from acting like dogs and turn then into well-behaved children for Lady Constance’s holiday ball. There’s also Old Timothy who keeps popping up everywhere. This is a fun and quirky mystery that will make you lose track of time while reading. If you enjoy A Series of Unfortunate Events, you will most likely appreciate these as well.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
This book takes place in Flint, Michigan during the depression. Bud has been put in his third foster home. Tired of his situation and convinced the items his mother left him will help him find his father, he leaves to go in search of him and make it on his own. There are some emotional parts, but also some humor mixed in.
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Jethro is nine-years old. The Civil War is about to start and his brother and cousin are both old enough to fight in it. The family becomes divided and bonds are tested. This is a good historical fiction to read when studying the Civil War.
Fantasy Family Read Alouds
Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
I’m not even sure how to explain these books. We’ve only read the first book and cannot wait to read the second! They are fantasy books in the truest sense of the word. The Igiby children’s father died years ago and they live with their mother and grandfather in a town ruled by the Fangs of Dang (reptilian creatures). The Fangs are after the Igiby family and the children do not understand why. There are secrets, lots of action, suspense, and humor. One of our favorites!
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Jonas lives in a perfect world. No one argues. They just conform. Then Jonas receives his life assignment as Receiver of Memory and he starts to questions their way of life and discover the dark secrets of their world.
The Chronicles of Prydain Series by Lloyd Alexander
These books are loosely based on Welsh myths. If your kids love books where the children are the heroines, they will enjoy these. There’s lots of action and battles of good versus evil. It’s like reading Tolkien but for kids.
The Best Read Aloud Chapter Books Are Timeless
Many of these I read years ago when my son was little. I am working my way through them again with my girls and they are still the best read aloud chapter books. Others are new ones I have added to the list at the recommendation of friends and we plan to use them as family read alouds as well. Not every one of them may appeal to your family and that’s okay. That’s why I’ve listed so many.
Pick what suits your and your children. Don’t forget that some books start off slow and you need to stick with them for a while. I think you will find it’s worth it. These are books that make an impact and will stay with your children into adulthood. Best of all, when you pull out the book you’ll be glad they don’t whine, roll their eyes, or run off to do chores (okay maybe there was a benefit to that one).