Thursday 3: Great Read-alouds for Families

Recently I was in a bookstore.  You might not think that sounds like news, but it’s actually pretty rare.  Between working for a book company and being a regular library user, I don’t get to bookstores very often.  My daughter went directly to a spinning rack of easy readers with her favorite characters on the covers while I stood in the entrance to the children’s area taking in the view of all the books I have yet to read.  Frankly, it was even more overwhelming than the stack(s) of advance reading copies that are always piled on my desk at work or on the book cart that lives in my cube.  I mean, at least those books aren’t even published yet.  Here were all sorts of books old and new that either I want to read myself or that I want to read with my daughter.

Here’s the question that occurred to me as I stood there taking in all the books: How do you choose what to read with your kids?  It’s my job to know the good books, and I still felt overwhelmed.

In case anyone else out there is feeling overwhelmed, I thought I’d share a few recommendations for family read-alouds.

  • Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins – There are many, many books about toys that are secretly alive, but this book is near the top of that mountainous stack.  It’s funny and often insightful.  Not to mention, there’s the mystery of what Plastic could possibly be.  Why it Works as a Read-Aloud: There’s something about this book that appeals to a wide age-range, so for families with multiple kids of various ages, this is one you can enjoy reading with your preschooler and your primary grader.  
  • Violet Mackerel’s Remarkable Recovery by Anna Branford – I discovered this book at work and brought home the ARC to read to my five-year-old daughter.  We loved it!  Violet Mackerel is a delightful character with big ideas and creative problem solving.  We tracked down the first book in the series at the library, and we will likely keep up with the series.  Why it Works as a Read-Aloud: There are several instances of characters bursting into song that can be fun if you are willing to get into the spirit.  Also, the chapters are pretty short, so it isn’t a huge time commitment to read a bit when you can.
  • The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy – A cat who likes cheese who teams up with a bunch of mice to get what he wants?  It’s kind of silly, but it’s a lot of fun.  Why it Works as a Read-Aloud: There’s humor, wordplay, and references to Dickens and other British writers.  Some of it will go above the kids’ heads, but there’s a lot they will like here too.

Need more recommendations?  Check out this Family Reading Guide I created for a parenting group I attended.  Or the condensed version I handed out at the zine fest last year.

What have you been reading with your kids?  What have been some of your favorite read-alouds?

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