Reading Aloud to Your Children

I often hear from parents who want help finding books to read to their children, and so I have decided to share the list of chapter books that my husband and I read to our homeschooled son when he was young.

My list is not a recommendation of what should be read, because lists will vary with each child’s interests and there are too many wonderful books to read them all! I don’t have a strong feeling that any particular book should be read at a certain age. My reason for sharing is to give you an idea of where you might begin by showing what one homeschooled little boy happily listened to once upon a time.

Photo by D. Masters

Most days, I would read to him during the day and his dad would read something different at night. Reading these books expanded his vocabulary and his thinking, and it also made him want to read more on his own.  Reading aloud was a wonderful shared experience, and we often talked about what we were reading. Ah, what wonderful memories!

If you are still in the picture book/easy reader rut when you read aloud to your school aged children, I encourage you to try longer and more challenging books. You may find that you and your children will enjoy them so much more! Perhaps this list will get you started on your own family reading adventure.

And what about picture books, and simple stories that were their first books? Sure, go ahead and slip them in too, along with poetry, non-fiction, and anything that interests them! But I really do urge you to regularly include longer more complex books as the main part of your read aloud plan – books that your child might not read on their own, or books that are above their reading level.

Of all the things we did as homeschoolers, reading aloud was one of the most important (and fun!) things we did. Here are some of the books we read to our son when he was young.  We read original unabridged versions:

Books We Read to David in First Grade

  • Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie
  • A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
  • Luther Burbank, Boy Wizard – Olive Burt
  • Wizard of Oz – F. Baum
  • Doctor Dolittle:  A Treasury – H. Lofting
  • Pollyanna – Porter
  • The First Year – Enid La Monte Meadowcroft
  • Squanto – Clyde Bulla
  • Bambi – F. Salten
  • Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
  • A Pioneer Sampler – Barbara Greenwood
  • Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
  • Stuart Little – E. B. White
  • By Wagon and Flatboat –Meadowcroft
  • History of US:  The First Americans – Joy Hakim
  • The Story of George Washington –Meadowcroft
  • Land of the Free –Meadowcroft
  • The Story of Helen Keller – Lorena Hickok
  • Silver for General Washington –Meadowcroft
  • By Secret Railway –Meadowcroft
  • The Black Stallion –  W. Farley
  • Lassie Come Home – Eric Knight
  • Heidi – Spyri
  • Duck on a Pond – Barbara Willard
  • The Incredible Journey of Lewis and Clark – Rhoda Blumberg
  • Magic or Not? – Edward Eager
  • Five Little Peppers – Margaret Sidney
  • The Wheel on the School – Meindert DeJong
  • Mountain Born – Elizabeth Yates
  • The Sign of the Beaver – Elizabeth George Speare
  • Castle – David Macaulay
  • The Cricket in Times Square – George Selden
  • Copper-Toed Boots – Marguerite de Angeli
  • Misty of Chincoteague – Marguerite Henry
  • Abel’s Island – William Steig
  • Children of the Covered Wagon – Mary Jane Carr
  • Happy Little Family – Rebecca Caudill
  • History of US:  Making Thirteen Colonies – Joy Hakim
  • Follow My Leader – James B. Garfield
  • The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
  • On Indian Trails with Daniel Boone – Meadowcroft

Books We Read to David in Second Grade

  • James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
  • Hurry Home Candy – Meindert DeJong
  • Thimble Summer – Elizabeth Enright
  • Time Traveller Book of Pharaohs and Pyramids (T. Allan – Usborne)
  • Mummies Made in Egypt – Aliki
  • California Mission Days – Helen Bauer
  • In the Beginning:  Creation Myths from Around the World – V. Hamilton
  • All about our changing rocks – Anne White
  • Sam and the Colonels – Bianca Bradbury
  • Time Traveler Book of Rome and Romans – Usborne
  • How would you survive as an ancient Roman?  A. Ganeri
  • The wonderful farm – Marcel Ayme
  • Charlie and the chocolate factory – Roald Dahl
  • Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson
  • White Stallion of Lipizza – Marguerite Henry
  • Pinky Pye – Eleanor Estes
  • Ginger Pye – Eleanor Estes
  • All about Inventors
  • Understood Betsy – Dorothy Canfield
  • Detectives in Togas – Henry Winterfeld
  • A time for watching – G. Norris
  • The little riders – M. Shemin
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Ian Fleming
  • The Apprentice – Pilar Llorente
  • Strawberry Girl – Lois Lenski
  • Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky – B. Schiller
  • Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
  • Freddy the Detective – Walter Brooks
  • Little Pear – Eleanor Lattimore
  • The Twenty-One Balloons – William Pene du Bois
  • Miss Hickory – Carolyn Bailey
  • The Great Wall – E. Mann
  • Usborne Book of World Geography
  • Nibble Nibble:  Poems for Children – Margaret Wise Brown
  • My Father’s Dragon – Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • The Wainscott Weasel – Tor Seidler
  • Mathematicians are people too – Luetta Reimer
  • Red Sails to Capri – Ann Weil
  • Tall Timber Tales:  More Paul Bunyan Stories – Dell McCormick
  • The Attic Mice – Ethel Pochocki
  • Leif the Lucky – Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Books We Read to David in Third Grade

  • Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  • First Farm in the Valley:  Anna’s Story
  • The Hundred Dresses – E. Estes
  • A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Whipping Boy – Sid Fleischman
  • The Tide in the Attic – Aleid Van Rhijn
  • The Adventures of Peter Cottontail – Thornton Burgess
  • The Adventures of Reddy Fox – Thornton Burgess
  • All about great rivers of the world – Anne Terry White
  • Henry Reed’s Big Show – Keith Robertson
  • Gay-Neck:  the story of a pigeon – Dhan Gopal Mukerji
  • The California Gold Rush – May McNeer
  • The Vikings – Elizabeth Janeway
  • Pedro’s Journal – Pam Conrad
  • Can’t You make them Behave, King George? – Jean Fritz
  • Peter the Great – Stanley
  • Runaway Slave:  the story of Harriet Tubman – McGovern
  • Marco Polo – Graves
  • Minstrel in the Tower – Skurzinsky
  • Daniel Boone – James Daugherty
  • Kildee House – Rutherford Montgomery
  • Family Under the Bridge – Natalie Carlson
  • Silver Chief:  Dog of the North – Jack O-Brien
  • What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin – Jean Fritz
  • Call it Courage – Armstrong Sperry
  • Carry on Mr. Bowditch – Jean Lee Latham
  • California Gold Days – Helen Bauer
  • All about Strange Beasts of the Past – Roy Andrews
  • Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

Books We Read to David in Fourth Grade

  • Young Thomas Edison – Sterling North
  • Across Five Aprils – Irene Hunt
  • All About Strange Beasts of the Present – Robert Lemmon
  • All About Famous Scientific Expeditions – Raymond Holden
  • Cheaper By The Dozen – Frank Gilbreth
  • Young People’s Story of the Ancient World Prehistory – 500 BC – Hillyer
  • Young People’s Story 500 BC – 500 AD – Hillyer
  • Eating the Plates – Lucille Penner
  • Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  • All About the Ice Age
  • All About the Desert – Sam Epstein
  • Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  • The Orphan of Ellis Island – Elvira Woodruff
  • Little Men – Louisa May Alcott
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian – Lloyd Alexander
  • Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World – Jennifer Armstrong
  • Great Lives:  Invention and Technology
  • Number the Stars – Lois Lowry

Books We Read to David in Fifth Grade

  • Trow Stone – Ted Soyles
  • Pearl Harbor is Burning – Kudlinski
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven – Coatsworth
  • Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun – Rhonda Blumberg
  • Lincoln: A Photobiography – Russell Freedman
  • Blizzard! – Jim Murphy
  • Pick and Shovel Poet -Jim Murphy
  • Beyond the Yellow Star – Inge Auerbacher
  • I am an American – Jerry Stanley
  • The Odyssey – Homer
  • Little Britches – Ralph Moody
  • The Man Who Counted – Malba Tahan
  • Man of the Family – Ralph Moody
  • The Home Ranch – Ralph Moody
  • Mary Emma and Company – Ralph Moody

I’m really glad I kept a list of books we read (and field trips too!) and would encourage you to do the same because it’s fun to look back and remember! If you click the booklist button at the top of this page, you’ll get some more book suggestions and reading tips.  I’ve also collected many lists of read alouds on CLA’s Pinterest page.  Have fun making memories together!


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.