What was your favorite read aloud as an elementary or middle school child?
Most parents think of read aloud as something you do at bedtime for preschoolers, but read aloud is valuable at any age. It is especially helpful during the middle years as upper elementary and middle school kids are learning to think critically and to make sense of the world around them. Reading aloud and discussing it helps you guide and stretch their thinking.
As a fourth grade teacher, my students and I loved read aloud time. It was a great way to teach across subjects and objectives, and it leveled the playing field for the wide range of reading abilities in my classroom. The discussions were rich and the “five extra minutes of read aloud” was a highly coveted prize in my weekly ticket drawing. I often found my parent volunteers listening to it as well.
There are so many new books and books lists available by categories online, but I tend to favor older forgotten books that not every kid has read already. I look for books that have a strong character and often a topic that’s a bit of a controversy so we can have a good discussion. I like a little suspense so I can stop reading at that spot and leave the kids hanging over the weekend! (Hence the popularity of my “five extra minutes of read aloud” coupons that my students once secretly collected until they had 15 extra minutes built up and we almost missed the bus on a Friday afternoon!)
In addition, when I come across a book with language that has since become politically incorrect, I use it as a discussion tool if appropriate or just replace the word as I read. When I come across a sentence or paragraph that is rich with descriptive language, I pause to reread it and point it out. I encourage kids to make text to text and text to world connections in the books, characters, and situations. I let them ask questions. I encourage the use of context clues to define new vocabulary. Some of my book choices were too hard for some students to read independently but they were easy to follow as a read aloud.
Lastly, read alouds are not limited to preschoolers or classrooms. Read aloud to your kids after dinner or daily on a family vacation. Take note that the Princess Bride movie was a read aloud on sickday! Below are 20 of my favorite books for read alouds and book clubs for the middle years.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (any of this series)
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Rascal by Sterling North
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
True, Sort of by Katherine Hannigan
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper
The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow by Tim Kehoe
Blue by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
Love that Dog by Sharon Creech
Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The End of the Beginning by Avi
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’ Engle
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
Seen Art? By Jon Scieszka
Which of these books was your favorite read? Post in the comments below.
Tip: Always read the book to yourself first and see if it is a good fit for your audience.
Look for these books at your local public library. If you particularly like one, ask the children’s librarian to recommend a similar one for you to read next.
Table Talk: What were some read aloud books you enjoyed in your childhood? When was the last time you read aloud a book?