Friday, March 9, 2012

Parenting Tips: My Favorite Books to Read Aloud and Discuss with my Children

by Deborah Pace Rowley
(Tiffany reading to my children, before she had any of her own)
I love reading to my children. I loved reading their favorite picture books over and over again when they were small. But I almost can’t wait until my children are old enough to listen to a longer story read aloud. Children are usually ready to sit and listen to a chapter in a compelling novel by the time they are about five, long before they are able to read a book that big on their own.  I love to see their excitement to begin each night’s reading. I love to hear them beg for just one more chapter. I love to discuss the powerful ideas presented in the books together. I usually continue our read aloud tradition until my kids are about 11 or 12. That is when they begin sneaking chapters without me. They are off and reading everything they can find on their own. Here are a few of my favorite books to read aloud. I have listed them in order from simplest and shortest to longest and most complex. The first books listed in each category can be read to children from 5 to 8 years old. The books listed last in each category can be read to children from 8 or 9 to 11 years old.  Nothing fosters discussion about these significant topics like a good book. My absolute favorites are listed with a star.

About Love and Family Relationships
            Sarah, Plain and Tall
            The Little House in the Big Woods
*The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane- Get ready with a box of Kleenex as you read this amazing book. Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors. You can’t go wrong with her books.
The Tale of Despereaux-
The Inventions of Hugo Cabaret
*Heidi- It is fun to share an old classic with your children and then watch the movie based on the book together.
            The Secret Garden
            The Little Princess
About Growing Up and Finding Yourself
            The Hundred Dresses
Dealing with Dragons
Love, Ruby Lavender
*The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs-We all laughed at this sweet and surprising story. Then we tried to figure out what our seven wonders are.
Ella Enchanted
Where the Red Fern Grows
*The Chronicles of Narnia- This is a family tradition. All of our children have been read the seven books in the Narnian Series. We love to discuss the Christian symbolism in the stories together.
            Gregor the Overlander
The Mysterious Benedict Society
About Race Relationships
*Twenty and Ten- I read this to Katie when she was 7. It is a little scary but not too scary and I have been amazed at how often it comes up in conversation and how it has influenced her.                   
Number the Stars
A Pocketful of Seeds
*The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had- I just discovered this powerful story about the friendship between a white boy and a black girl in Alabama in 1920. I plan to read it to my class every year. 
            The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963
*Hitler’s Canary- I love this story based on the true account of how the Danish people resisted Hitler to protect their Jewish neighbors.  It leads to amazing discussions about how we would respond if a certain ethnic group was threatened.
            The Devil’s Arithmetic
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