I had certain books I wanted my kids to read as they were growing up, my favorites of course, but they wouldn’t comply. They wouldn’t read the books I recommended or put on their pillows or talked about. I’m not exactly sure why not. But, I get to choose the books I read out loud to them and we didn’t stop with Dr. Seuss. Even after they could read on their own, we kept reading out loud.
Still, with two in high school, we read out loud. I can think of no better way to get teenagers to sit close and lean in than to read out loud together. Inevitably, the books I loved and wanted them to love became the books they started reading in secret, to find out what happened before I could read to those parts. I had to hide the books we were reading together or they would get too far ahead. Turns out they did love the books I loved, I just had to jump start the journey.
Here are seven of our favorites middle-grade out loud books.
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This book led to deep questions about morality, power, authority, leadership, character. We read it every morning while waiting for the bus during a snowy Minnesota winter. I don’t, however, recommend reading about Simon’s death seconds before the bus arrives!
- This Island Isn’t Big Enough for the Four of Us! by Gery Greer and Bob Ruddick
This book was all about laughing together. It was my favorite book as a kid and I still love it, I wore off the cover and could probably finish almost any sentence. Two boys on the verge of junior high are off for a boys-only adventure on a ‘wild and uninhabited’ island. Except they find two girls, also on the verge of junior high, have already arrived on the island. What follows is creative, clean, prankster fun.
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward
This book, the first in a series (I’m a big fan of quality series) was one the kids stole from me to find out what was going to happen. Fun, funny, creative, and smart.
- Number the Stars by Lowis Lowry
We also read this book while waiting for the bus on those dark snowy days and had lively discussions about history and bravery and World War 2.
- The Giver (Giver Quartet) by Lowis Lowry
I love getting my kids hooked on an author who will always deliver and Lowry is one of those. This book really got us all thinking about right and wrong, making choices, and memory.
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Again, I love a good series. We read all seven of these after dinner while waiting for daddy to come home from work. We still listen to them on audiotape and learn something new every time. Gripping story-telling, brilliant imagination, and lots of fun character.
- The Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’Engle
This book led to talking about science, magic, faith, and courage.
Really, any book will do. Grab Harry Potter and read it together, grab Treasure Island or Pride and Prejudice. Reading out loud means if something seems over a kid’s head you can talk about it right there. Some books read smoother than others and when I find myself tangling my tongue or simply annoyed by a certain writing style, I get to set that book aside and choose a new one.
Other out loud favorites?