Reading aloud to kids (even older ones) reaps so many benefits; here are our fave chapter books for kids of all ages that are equally fun for mamas!
It’s confirmed: read aloud to your children well after they can read for themselves and they will grow up to be empathetic and kind billionaires whose most cherished memories are of the stories you shared together and who bear no marks from all the yelling and other iffy parenting moves you’ve made along the way.
Or something along those lines.
To create a thriving read-aloud ritual, I believe in giving them what they want (don’t be a snob – they’ll surprise you with their sophistication at some point but you’ve got to be willing to read about farts); not being afraid to read books recommended for older children (much better to entice them with a glimpse into an older kid’s brain than to turn them off with a main character who seems babyish), and allowing yourself to jump-ship after a few chapters if the book just isn’t doing it for you. You should all love it and look forward to reading it every night – there are hundreds of books that will do this for you, so don’t spend time with a book that doesn’t.
At my house, almost every evening for the past year plus has had us deep in the magical world of Harry Potter. Now as we wistfully make our way through the final book, we’re anticipating a Wizarding World hangover. Which brings us to the big question: what’s next? Well, it just so happens I have been amassing quite a TBR (“to be read”) list. I’m planning to introduce a few retro titles, try some new genres, and treat myself to some well-earned short chapters.
For you parents who have let the read-aloud ritual peter out as your kids have gotten older, or for those who just need some fresh ideas, I give you the next five books on our bedtime reading list. What are your families’ read aloud favourites? We’d love to know!
Recommended for ages 8 to 12
No doubt I’m way late to the party on this one, as it comes highly recommended from a handful of friends. I’ve skimmed it and I can’t wait to share it with the boys…sarcasm and wit used to open hearts and minds? Sign us up. Hailed as this generation’s Roald Dahl, certainly Walliams deserves a spot on every kid’s bookshelf.
Recommended for ages 10 to 13
With a premise that sounds like X-Men meets So and so’s Got Talent, this seems like a sure win. Dozens of children respond to an advertisement looking for “gifted” children and are subjected to mind-bending tests (which you can take, too!). Ultimately, two boys and two girls are selected for a mission with no rules (hooray!). The four travel to an isolated school where students are being trained by a criminal mastermind to participate in his schemes to take over the world. The young investigators need to use their special talents and work together to save the world.
Recommended for ages 8 to 12
First published in 1941, this classic tale tells the story of the four Melendy children who live with their father and their beloved housekeeper in New York City. There’s thirteen-year-old Mona, who has decided to become an actress; twelve-year-old mischievous Rush; ten-and-a-half-year-old Randy, who loves to dance and paint; and thoughtful Oliver, who is just six. They come up with a plan to dispel weekend boredom by pooling their allowances to create an adventure club. I, for one, look forward to the discussion of what weekends were like for kids before organized sports, homework, and iPads.
Recommended for ages 10+
My sisters went bananas for this book as young readers, but I missed the boat likely due to my unwavering devotion to the Babysitters Club. Now it’s time to make up for lost time and earn a Reese- and Oprah-studded family movie night.
The roundly beloved 1963 Newberry medal winner chronicles the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles, and Calvin (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school) as they take an epic journey in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.
Recommended for ages 6+
This might be pushing it, but I’m going to try. Nothing captivated me as a child like these books did. I’m hoping they have a similar effect on my boys, transporting them to American frontier times with a wholesome, loving, hardworking family. Ah, the literary equivalent of a glass of warm milk. And if they come out of it with little more than an appreciation for the cushy modern life they lead? Still a win.