This year my kids took on the work of bedtime reading themselves, so our count of read aloud books isn’t what it used to be. I’m not too sad about it, though, because the fact that my kids have turned into people who require a book to read by the light of a bedside lamp every night feels like a huge accomplishment. These are the books we read aloud together in our morning time and for our book club this year.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden is the cozy, old-fashioned story of two children who need an attitude adjustment. I say that light-heartedly, but, for real. The underlying message of this story is that one’s attitude steers one’s life.
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn – I love a spooky real aloud for October, and this favorite from my childhood certainly fits the bill. In this creepy classic, a newly blended family moves to an old, repurposed church. The kids soon discover the church’s cemetery, and young Heather finds herself drawn to Helen, the ghost of a little girl who has a little too much in common with Heather.
Restart by Gordon Korman – Middle schooler Chase has an accident and wakes up with amnesia. Restart is all about second chances, choosing who you want to be, and doing the right thing.
Shiloh by Phyllis Naylor – Shiloh takes on some complex ethical dilemmas. When is it okay to lie? Is it ever okay to take something that isn’t yours? This story takes on big ideas within a sweet story of a boy and his dog, so it falls within the scope of children’s experiences.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – I’ve read so very much WWII historical fiction, but this book still managed to feel fresh and helped me see a perspective of the time period that I hadn’t visited before. This book was a favorite in our book club.
Savvy by Ingrid Law – The Beaumonts each possess a unique “savvy”, superpowers that range from controlling the weather to magical tendencies toward perfection. If your young readers enjoy magical realism, they’ll enjoy this novel about growing up and finding one’s own superpower.
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau – After an unnamed apocalypse, survivors live in an underground city. But the city is dying as supplies run out and mechanisms fail. Leave it to a couple of 12-year-olds to save humanity.
Find my discussion questions and book club activities for City of Ember here.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien – Part animal tale, part science fiction, this story imagines the lives of lab rats who gained human-level intelligence thanks to an experiment. They have escaped, and the novel tells the story of how they build a new kind of civilization.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt – Living forever sounds like an exciting proposition at first, but as Winnie Foster learns when she encounters the immortal Tuck family, it’s not that simple.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio – I love putting kids in the way of books that help develop empathy, and Wonder is a book that does just that.
P.S. Mr. Browne’s Precepts, a companion book to Wonder, is a wonderful source for copywork passages.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt – Ally has a secret. She can’t read. A new teacher sees the brilliance beneath the distractions that have fooled everyone else, though, and he helps her understand her dyslexia and begin to overcome her challenges. This is a story that helps develop empathy in readers, and dyslexic kids will see some of their struggles represented.
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