Reading aloud is a favorite pastime of many homeschool families. It’s not just fun; reading aloud also has many practical benefits to encourage a love of stories and a love of learning in students. Seems like a worthwhile way to spend part of the school day, right?
10 Books to Read Aloud Together as a Family
To help provide some read-aloud material for your family, we’ve compiled this list of ten of our favorite books to read aloud. Many of these stories, such as the Echoes trilogy from Classical Conversations®, are specifically edited with your read-aloud time in mind, making them perfect for readers and listeners of all ages. Happy reading!
As each family member reads out loud, they are practicing enunciation, pronunciation, and public speaking, as well as expanding vocabulary and reading speed. Reading aloud allows you to share funny lines or important phrases with people engaged in the same story while the ideas are fresh in your head.”
– Leigh Bortins, The Core (p. 91)
Full of imaginative and humorous wordplay, The Phantom Tollbooth will spark amusement and laughter in any word-loving family. Join Milo on a memorable journey through a world where sounds can be seen, sights can be heard, and puns literally come to life. The clear, witty prose and imaginative sketches create a fun story that promotes the value of vocabulary, encourages a sense of wonder for both words and numbers, and leads to discussions about avoiding jumping to conclusions. The Phantom Tollbooth is recommended reading in our Challenge B program, although students of any age can enjoy this fantastic tale.
There’s no surprise with this one! J. R. R. Tolkien’s whimsical, epic prequel to The Lord of the Rings has been a read-aloud family favorite for generations. This book especially comes to life when the whole family embarks together on Bilbo’s journey to the Lonely Mountain. While reading, consider allowing each family member to deliver a specific character’s dialogue for more engagement. When concluding a read-aloud session with The Hobbit, expect discussions around loyalty, bravery, risk, the temptation of power, and how even the unlikeliest of heroes can make a difference in the world.
The Chronicles of Narnia
Whether you choose to have each family member read a specific character’s dialogue or simply read the stories aloud to your littles, C. S. Lewis’s classic adventure series is a fantastic read-aloud for the whole family. The Chronicles of Narnia encompasses a wide breadth of relatable characters with diverse personalities, whether in the shape of magical creatures or children. It doesn’t matter what age a reader is—enjoying these books, especially in the company of others, will undoubtedly spark conversations around truth, beauty, and goodness as well as the deadliness of greed, selfishness, and betrayal.
Mark Twain’s classic about the mischievous adventures of Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi River is a simple plot, but it’s one that will captivate any listener—child or adult—when read aloud, especially during scenes of cleverly written dialogue. Comedy, satire, and folk narrative are all wrapped into this charming story. Amidst moments of laughable childhood revels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer will also have your family considering more serious topics and issues, such as the place for pranks and jokes, the effects of racial prejudice, and the value of strong moral character. Although recommended for our Challenge I students, Tom’s thrilling episodes will inspire and entertain readers of all ages.
What makes a great read-aloud? It doesn’t have to be a fairy tale, but it does have to be a good story. There are hardly any stories better than the narrative of world history. That’s why The Story of the World makes for an excellent family read-aloud. This four-volume series retells world history through easy-to-read, captivating stories that span the breadth of human civilization. Reading The Story of the World aloud with your child has many advantages, from reinforcing their understanding of the historical timeline and geography to developing their sense of awe for God’s plan throughout time. We recommend parents read The Story of the World series aloud or listen to the audiobook versions with their Foundations students, although older students will certainly enjoy these historical narratives, too.
Reading and discussing literature together is a favorite family pastime. If there were no church to attend, no work to occupy us, or no neighbors to keep up with, we would still feel connected to the world through great books.”
– Leigh Bortins, The Core (p. 105)
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s beautiful retelling of timeless tales from Greek mythology makes for an enchanting read-aloud with the family. Tanglewood Tales is a colorful introduction to six classic myths, including “The Minotaur,” “The Dragon’s Teeth,” and “The Golden Fleece.” It’s an excellent companion for Foundations students as they study ancient history in Cycle 1 or for older students and parents revisiting these spellbinding legends. Whoever your audience, Tanglewood Tales will transport your family on a memorable journey encountering larger-than-life heroes, kings, giants, and other magical creatures in the world of mythical Ancient Greece.
Ancient World Echoes is a collection of myths, short stories, and fables correlating with the Foundations Cycle 1 study of ancient history. This volume, like the others in the Echoes trilogy, is thoughtfully edited to provide thirty-minute reads of 2–3 stories and poems for each week in the Foundations year. These easy-to-read tales can be enjoyed by students of all ages, from Foundations littles, to Challenge graduates, to homeschool parents and grandparents. Beautiful paintings and sketches throughout the book bring to life such narratives as Aesop’s truth-revealing fables from Ancient Greece and Muh-Lan’s courageous adventure in Ancient China.
If you’re looking to expand your family’s understanding of foreign historical cultures, then Old World Echoes is a must to read aloud. It pairs perfectly with Foundations Cycle 2, though older students are also encouraged to join along on these adventures. This book enables families to time travel to great lands from long ago through enchanting stories and poems originating from England, France, Germany, Russia, the Middle East, Japan, Korea, and other regions. Encounter bold characters from Thor and Loki, to King Arthur and Merlin, to Aladdin and the Genie in this engaging, beautifully illustrated text.
New World Echoes concludes the Echoes trilogy with stories and poems from the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland to complement the Foundation Cycle 3 year. You’ll encounter works from familiar authors and poets in New World Echoes— including Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Davy Crockett, whose characters and narratives are sure to spark engaging, thoughtful conversations with your student, no matter their age!
The first in an upcoming Classical Conversations trilogy narrating the formation of Western civilization through enthralling stories, Kings of Rome was intentionally edited to be read aloud with the family. This storybook includes one thirty-minute story for each week in the Foundations Cycle 1 year, though students of all ages can enjoy this mesmerizing text. As your family unpacks the origins of Ancient Rome through the easy-to-read narratives and beautiful illustrations, you’ll lay the foundations for understanding Western civilization, augment your family’s Latin vocabulary, and be prompted toward discussions around morality, bravery, leadership, and God’s hand throughout history.
What Are Your Favorite Read-Alouds?
Are you ready to cultivate a family culture of reading aloud? Although these books are some Classical Conversations family favorites, there are many other great read-alouds out there. Chances are, you probably have several fantastic stories on your shelf already. Open one up, snuggle next to the kiddos, and enjoy the adventures and conversations together.
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you! To learn more about us, click here.