Family Read Alouds

One of the traditions in our family is our nightly gathering for our family read-alouds. The kids love to snuggle under quilts while lounging on couches or bean bags. It’s a quiet time spent relaxing from a busy or trying day. There are just a few rules that have to be followed: 1. Everyone must be quiet so all can hear.  2. All must be present (We read a few times without my husband and had to re-read the chapters because he wanted to hear what he missed).  3. I always do the reading. Rule #3 came about because my husband decided to read when the current book was “The Long Winter” from the Little House on the Prairie series. He started to cry just picturing how hard it must have been for Pa to worry about finding enough food and fuel to help his family survive. From then on, my husband found it easier to control any emotions when he did the listening. ☺

If you haven’t read books aloud before with your family it may be hard to get everyone to participate, especially teenagers and dads. As with anything new there is usually some trepidation at first but over time persistence pays off. Just start! And by all means don’t force anyone to sit and listen. I’ve found eventually everyone ends up coming to family read-alouds even if it takes several days. Don’t expect everyone to sit still either. Some of my daughters like to crochet or knit while my son enjoys driving his tractors around on the carpet. I don’t mind as long as it is quiet enough for all to hear. I can’t take credit for my husband liking the read-alouds, his mother is responsible for that. She read aloud to her children (all ten of them!) as he was growing up. In fact, it was his idea to start it with our own family.

And so without further ado, here are my family’s favorite read-alouds to date.

1. Sarah Whitcher’s Story by Elizabeth Yates. We love to read true stories. Back in the early days of New Hampshire little three year old Sarah Whitcher gets lost in the woods. A bear takes care of her bringing her food and keeping her warm at night. Searchers have given her up lost for good but her father persists on looking until she is found three days later. It is a short book able to be read in just a couple of days.

2. Come on Seabiscuit! by Ralph Moody. One of many Ralph Moody books we have loved to read. Another true tale, one of the most celebrated racehorses of all time, Seabiscuit, captures the hearts of Americans during the Great Depression as he shatters speed records and overcomes obstacle after obstacle. Perfect book for horse lovers.

3. Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert. Based on an actual occurence this book tells the story of little Ben McDonald, a farm boy living in the prairie country of Manitoba, Canada. He is a strange, silent boy who cannot communicate well with people but has a great affinity for animals. Becoming lost on the great prairies during a thunderstorm, he takes shelter in a large hole, which turns out to be the den of a female badger who is injured and has lost her pups. They form a fast friendship and spend the entire summer together before Ben is finally rescued. There are a couple of parts I skipped over while reading to the children that didn’t change the story at all. I just didn’t feel the need to read how Ben used the bathroom while out on the prairie.

4. Just David by Eleanor H. Porter. It is a delightful, innocent type of book written by the same author of Pollyanna. David, a ten-year-old orphan boy, is simply and purely good. His sweet innocence but wise observations of life have a disarming effect on the people around him.

David was taught by a loving father who secluded him from any influences of the outside world. He was taught to combine productive study (including Latin) with the simple pleasures of life. And always, there was music produced by their violins. When David’s father dies, David is thrust into a life unknown to him where people work hard without taking time to walk and enjoy nature, where they are surrounded by beauty but are not happy. Discoveries are made not only by David, but by those whom he meets that make for happy endings all around.

This is truly a great book that will be a treasured favorite for your family. It is for ours!

5. Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. The whole Narnia series has been fun to read together.

6. A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. A wonderfully descriptive book about sixteen year old Elnora Comstock who spends much of her time exploring the Limberlost Swamp near her home. She collects moths and butterflies, persues other dreams, and in the end is able to soften her mother’s lonely, bitter heart.

7. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. This book is full of good old fashioned family fun. The daily lives of a widow and her four rambunctious children are full of unexpected adventures such as two boys hitching a train ride on a boxcar, someone getting trapped in a breadbox, dumping the Salvation Army man off his own wagon, and a little girl afraid the policeman will arrest her because she’s been rude. Great, fun read.

8. Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody. Think “Little House on the Prairie” but for boys. The true life story of Ralph Moody and his family in the first two decades of the 1900’s are masterfully told through the whole series of eight books. The first book was a huge hit with our horse loving crowd as Ralph describes the wonderful trick-riding he and Hi Beckman perform. The end is a tear jerker even for my husband.

9. The Saturdays (The Melendy Quartet) by Elizabeth Enright. The first of a whole series of wonderful books, The Saturdays details the adventures of the Melendy children. Tired of wasting Saturdays doing nothing but wishing for larger allowances, the four Melendys jump at Randy’s idea to start the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club (I.S.A.A.C.). If they pool their resources and take turns spending the whole amount, they can each have at least one memorable Saturday afternoon of their own. Before long, I.S.A.A.C. is in operation and every Saturday is definitely one to remember. Another fun read for the whole family!

10. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. Another true story of a pioneer girl and her family’s adventures. Hilarious incidents occur that kept us laughing for days.

11. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. This classic of a ten-year-old boy growing up in the Ozarks with his inseparable pair of coonhounds was actually suggested by my brother-in-law who dared me to read it to the kids without crying. We all sobbed at the end.

12. The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The whole series of books are great to read aloud. We love very single one! {Although Farmer Boy is my personal favorite}

Does your family like to read books aloud together? What are some of your favorite books?

Montserrat Wadsworth is completely devoted to her wonderful husband, Joseph, and their eight children (seven girls and one boy!). They live on a 4,000 acre alfalfa farm nestled in a small Northern Nevada valley. They’ve been homeschooling for 11+ years. Montserrat enjoys, photography, cooking, crafting, chocolate, and sloppy goodnight kisses. She strives to live each day as God would have her do following Mary’s biblical supplication, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) You can find her at her blog Chocolate On My Cranium

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0 thoughts on “Family Read Alouds

  1. How delightful to read about your family read-a-louds. What a special time that must be for your whole family! We don’t hear much today about parents reading aloud to their children.

  2. Great list. Thanks for sharing!
    Our favorites include A Little Princess, A Cricket In Times Square, and The Birchbark House. We’re currently reading Mary Poppins :)

  3. I started reading aloud to my children after lunch every day when my 15-year-old was 5. I require all the children to be in earshot. If there are days when some are gone, we still read together, but I pick a short story to read, and resume the read-aloud book when everyone is back.

    We have read a lot of your suggestions, but I haven’t read any whole series, thinking that if I read the first one in the series, they might read the rest of the series themselves. I’m not sure that plan worked very well, though. I try to vary the genre from book to book. One book we read that all but the 5year old enjoyed was (surprisingly) Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We also read “The Yearling,” “The Wind in the Willows,” Understood Betsy,” “The BFG,” and so may more. We will have to go around again on some of them, because some of the kids were infants or not even born when we read the books.