I started reading some of these classic children’s stories to my own children while they were still in the womb, mainly because I wanted to justify re-reading them again myself. Sharing a great story is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give your children and I promise you, they will always remember the countless nights you spent reading “just one more chapter” as you struggled to stay awake.
20 Classic Read Aloud Books for Families
- Eloise by Kay Thompson – Growing up, I always wanted to reside in a fancy hotel, and Eloise gets to do just that. This 6-year-old lives at the Plaza Hotel in New York City and has been amusing readers for years with her precocious charm. A librarian told me that rumor has it Thompson modeled Eloise after her goddaughter Liza Minnelli (Wikipedia.com also notes the same rumor).
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – Your children are probably familiar with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but maybe they’d like to actually hear the original story that will bring all new meaning to the Tinkerbell costumes they beg to wear every Halloween. Barrie’s treasured tale of the boy who refuses to grow up, his battles with Captain Hook, the Darling children, and of course, Tinkerbell will continue to delight children for many more generations to come.
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – The story of the orphan Anne Shirley and how she finds her place in the town of Avonlea and goes about winning over her newly adoptive parents (who had been hoping for a boy) is a classic that still warms hearts after all these years.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I still have the copy that my mother used to read to my sister and I from, and I have re-read it many, many times. Science fiction, fantasy and strong siblings will be a delight for the whole family.
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – The classic tale of a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole and enters a fantasy world filled with talking animals and a cat with a very large smile. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence Atwater – I have decided to pass on this rule of thumb to my kids: always read the book before you see the movie. It’s no fun to see the movie first AND then try and read the book. This book is a silly read and guaranteed to induce giggling, I mean, it’s not everyday that a penguin is delivered to your doorstep.
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – Another favorite that my mother would read to us; the story tells of Mary who leaves India after the death of her parents to live with her uncle. Mary is a spoiled child who was raised by servants and is certain she won’t like her new home, until she finds a garden on the grounds of the estate that has been boarded up since her aunt died ten years ago. Mary works to transform the garden in hopes that it will help her invalid cousin Colin, and in turn the garden transforms them all.
- Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar – A childhood favorite of many, including yours truly, Wayside School was accidentally built one classroom on top of another – 30 stories high. And inside are some rather interesting goings on, but the absurdness mixed with the realities of school keep young readers enthralled and laughing.
- Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White – The endearing tale of a little girl named Fern, her pet pig Wilbur and his friend, a spider named Charlotte. Warning: will induce tears.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – My closet does not lead to anywhere exciting but man I wish that it did! In this epic tale, siblings Peter, Edmund and Lucy, discover that through their wardrobe lies Narnia, a land beyond their wildest imaginations.