I’ve always read out loud to my children, even before they were born! Later, I would read to them at bedtime. I’ve also always encouraged audiobooks. These were great as my children were beginning readers and later as we made road trips or drove around town doing errands. So I definitely believe in the benefit of reading—and listening—to books out loud!
As a school librarian, I advocate for audiobooks and encourage students to listen to stories. To get students into books, I often read even just the first few lines of a new book. It’s amazing how that works to get them hooked. Here are a few books to read aloud with your kids as they move into upper elementary and middle school. It’s a great way to widen their horizons but also to connect as a family! Who doesn’t like to hear a good story?
The BFG by Roald Dahl
This one’s a classic. And even if your family has seen the 2016 movie, it’s worth the read. There are funny parts and who can resist a Big Friendly Giant in a story? The main character, Sophie, has to help her 24-foot friend navigate England, a visit to the Queen, and more. After reading the book, your family may want to watch the movie for the first time or even rewatch it.
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
This is a refreshing and fun take on Grimm’s fairy tales. Your kids will enjoy the reminders of the classic stories revamped in a whole new way. Gidwitz adds humor and twists that you and your kids will love. You might take turns reading this as it’s fun to be the one in on “the know.” This might be fun to read with a flashlight in a dim room! This is the first book of the series, so if you like this one you can continue on.
Restart by Gordon Korman
The main character is a boy who gets a new start after a memory-loss-inducing accident. Afterwards, he realizes what a bully and jerk he was. He can’t believe he actually did those things and who his friends were. But will he change or revert back to his old self? This is a good storyline that shows both sides of being a bully and being bullied. Perfect lesson for kids as they enter that awkward middle school world but not done in a preachy way.
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
This is an adventure story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It definitely might be out of our Texas scope with the dog sledding in Wyoming storyline, but who doesn’t like a good dog story? You will certainly learn something but also enjoy a heartwarming story. There are many levels to this book with the relationship with the main character and his grandfather and then also with the dogs who they depend on. Warning: you may want to keep tissues handy for the ending.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya
This is a story of a big Cuban family whose main character is caught one summer working at the family restaurant that the family might lose. He’s also caught in the awkward position of crushing on a girl who is a family friend. The summer break is not working out exactly like he thought it would! Will Arturo help save the restaurant? Will Arturo win over the girl? Lots of out loud laughs with this story as you follow Arturo through his summer.
Whatever story you begin with, a classic or an adventure, reading together may be a new family pastime that will lead to discussions that you might not otherwise have. Also, books can transport you to new adventures and new places that might give you insight on how others live. What a great way to be introduced to these new things as a family! A funny story might have you sharing a few laughs that we all need right now. Pick a story together and jump right in!