Read Alouds Reap Real Rewards
As a homeschooling family, we have had many opportunities to participate in amazing activities throughout the years. From field trips such as visits to the Fire Station or the U.S. Mint to Science Fairs and International Festivals, we have had our fair share of fun! However, as my now college-aged children look back over their lifetime of homeschooling, one of their favorite memories continues to be our read alouds!
Throughout the years, the chapter books that we chose to read aloud changed in topic and length though we usually read one chapter during each sitting. We began with books like Charlotte’s Web, Pearl’s Promise, and every YWAM Christian Heroes Then and Now book we could get our hands on! We moved on to books like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit. Later, we graduated to books like God’s Smuggler and The Cross and the Switchblade.
At first, our read aloud time took place after lunch every day. As time passed and the days grew busier, it became an evening routine. During the latter years of homeschooling, it became a once a week pastime. Though the choices of material and times changed, it was something we never got rid of entirely. We all came to look forward to gathering together to hear a story read.
At times, we took turns reading, but mostly I served as narrator. Whether my children lay back on the quilt covered trampoline for story time or cozied up on the couch, they looked forward to hearing the next chapter in whatever saga we were advancing through. They wanted to know what happened to Eustice once he became a dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. They couldn’t wait to find out how Nate Saint went from fixing planes to flying over the Huaorani people dropping gifts with Jim Elliot.
While we enjoyed classic tales in the early years, I always tried to choose books with purpose and a Biblical worldview during those formative teen years. I’ve been able to see the fruit of my homeschooling labor now that both my children are in college. They have a deep appreciation for literature and have developed an avid appetite for reading, whether that be reading online or listening to audio books in the car.
Early on, I would accompany our read alouds with a lapbook or activity. I’ll never forget the time we read in Charlotte’s Web about Wilbur getting loose and then filled a bag full of pink balloons with air and bounced them all around trying to catch all the pigs! Later on, we used thoughtful discussion questions and open-ended conversation starters to enhance our reading sessions.
As a degreed educator turned homeschool mom, I knew too well the importance of reading to your children. The children in my traditional school classes whose parent/s read to them were much more likely to excel at reading themselves. In addition, research has shown that children who are read to develop higher levels of vocabulary and language skills, do better in school, have a wider imagination, have an increased attention span, and often become avid readers themselves.
I’ve developed a list of some of our favorite books for reading aloud which I hope your family will enjoy.
Books for Elementary Aged Children:
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Pearl’s Promise by Frank Asch
YWAM Christian Heroes Then and Now series
Torch Lighters, Heroes of the Faith series
Little House on the Prairie (any books in this series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Books for Preteens:
The Chronicles of Narnia (all seven books) by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
Books for Teens and Young Adults:
God’s Smuggler by Brother Aaron
The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Some helpful suggestions to bear in mind when choosing which books to read aloud to your children are their ages and interests. Most homeschooling families have multiple aged children. If this is the case for your family, meet in the middle. Books on the teen list may include subject matter not suitable for elementary aged children, but everyone should enjoy something from the preteen list. If your children are all teens, try not to choose something from the younger book lists, which they will analyze and scrutinize. If the plots and twists are too simple, they will become disinterested.
Regardless of what you choose to read, make reading together regularly a priority. When your children look back over their homeschool journey, I am sure this time together will have created a fond memory, and you can rest assured that all those hours of reading aloud will reap real rewards!
About the Author:
Kathy A. Hutto is a degreed educator with over twenty-five years of experience teaching and homeschooling. She has written over two hundred resources for kids and families. Her articles have appeared in Lifeway’s Journey magazines, Lifeway Kids, The Old Schoolhouse® magazines, Christian Living in the Mature Years magazine, and more. She is passionate about getting kids to read and study their own Bibles. She has appeared on popular Podcasts including Write Where You Are, Women Living Well, Coffee and Bible Time, and Schoolhouse Rocked. Her website is kathyahutto.com.