One of my best childhood memories is my mom reading aloud to us almost every night.
We’d paint our nails or braid each other’s hair or draw and we’d beg for another chapter whenever she sounded like she might be ready to close up shop for the night.
Now reading aloud to my girls before they go to bed is one of my favorite parts of parenthood (especially if I can convince them to do my hair while I read!).
The secret for me it to pick a book I really enjoy – when it’s something I’m into, then I’m much more likely to make time to read in the evenings with my girls, and read for longer!
We’ve read many many read aloud books over the years but these have been some of our very favorites!
All of these are middle grade novels, recommended for about ages 8-12 (grades 3-6). If you have much younger kids, I’d recommend some of the books off this list instead and wait on these read aloud titles until they’re a bit older and can really enjoy them!
(P.S. We JUST finished A Place to Hang the Moon and it definitely deserves a place on this list too – it was SO GOOD!).
the Best read alouds
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
This was a GREAT book about a little girl, Minli, who sets out on a quest to find the Old Man on the Moon so she can find a fortune for her poor family. It was especially fun for my girls who are in a Mandarin Chinese immersion program at school. It’s full of little side stories that weave wonderfully into the main plot and gorgeous illustrations. Highly recommend.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
This historical fiction book about WWII was the first chapter book I read on my own and I still love it all these years later. It’s a fast read – we blew through it in about a week and it deserves that Newbery sticker for sure.
Houdini & Me by Dan Gutman
My girls were absolutely transfixed by this book (so much so that I put it on the Summer Reading Guide). They didn’t know much about Houdini before this and we all loved the photographs of the real Houdini scattered throughout the book. In this story, Harry is a young boy who lives in the house Houdini once inhabited and loves learning more about the famous magician. But things take a surprising turn when he discovers an old flip phone and it starts receiving texts from someone who claims to be the real Harry Houdini. Could it be possible? And what does Houdini want?
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafal by Firoozeh Dumas
I didn’t even know this book existed until after we did Funny in Farsi for the Everyday Reading Book Club this year. I’d read both of Firoozeh Dumas’ adult memoirs but I had no idea she’d written a middle grade novel! I picked it up this fall and read it aloud to the girls and we all loved this fictionalized story based on Dumas’ own childhood growing up as an Iranian in Southern California during the Iranian Revolution and the Iranian hostage crisis. Ella was very dubious about this one but it ended up being one of our best read alouds!
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
This book is just SO GOOD. I was worried my girls wouldn’t be into it (it’s about a young boy in the Ozark and his hunting dogs), but they were SO into it and they got ready early every morning so we’d have time to read before they left for school. I absolutely cried my face off at the end of it, which is always a sign of the very best read alouds.
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
I didn’t know I had any interest in 12th century Korea until I read this. Then I made everyone I know read it. It’s beautifully written and such a great story. I read this one on my own years before I had kids and then revisited it with them. (Full Review here)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O’Brien
If you’ve never read this Newbery winner about some very smart rats who help save a little mouse family, you’re missing out. The first chapter or two are bit slow, but after that we couldn’t read enough and we read long past bedtime many many nights. (I’ve never read the sequel – is it worth it?).
Holes by Louis Sachar
Holes is one of my favorite Newbery winners and since my girls love the Wayside School books, I couldn’t wait to introduce them to this one. It was just as good as I remembered and when we finished, we had a special outdoor movie night with our giant screen to watch the film version.
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson
This one has been compared a million times to the Ramona books and it’s an accurate comparison. We all LOVED this delightful novel about a little girl and her family in Portland, Oregon. It’s not terribly long either, so it’s great for younger listeners or if you want a book you can fly through in a week or so.
What have been some of your best read alouds? I’d love to hear – I’m always looking for new suggestions!
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