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best read-aloud books for kids

One of our favorite family activities is read-aloud time.  It is part of our homeschool time, but also part of every vacation road trip.  The key to making reading aloud enjoyable is to find good books to read. So today I’m going to share some of my favorite read-aloud books for kids that are fun for them to listen to and fun for you to read.

After years of read-aloud time I know find my three teenagers up in their room reading books aloud to each other.  My heart is full…

Why Read-Aloud to Kids Who Can Already Read?

There are many reasons to continue read-aloud time long after your kids learn to read.  Some of my biggest reasons for making this a regular part of our day:

  1. It builds their vocabulary.  
    My older girls are brilliant (seriously) but they still pronounce words incorrectly if they haven’t heard them before and have only read them in their head.
  2. Teaches phrases, expressions, and idoms.  
    Kids are very literal and many times when they read books to themselves they skip over phrases that make no sense to them.  You can pause your reading at any point and discuss parts that you think they might not understand.
  3. Strengthens listening skills.
    Every person on earth needs to learn how to listen better.  Listening to stories regularly helps your kids develop the ability to listen intently so they don’t miss out on the story.
  4. Teaches that reading is fun.
    Many times kids will hesitate to pick up longer books or branch out of genres they enjoy.  As you pick books you can find books you know they will love and slowly show them that day by day you can read all sorts of great stories!

Note: All of the links below will take you to Amazon, where you can find copies of the books in different formats (Kindle, paperback, hardcover, etc.), but my best frugal recommendation is to always check the library first! I even found that many of these are available through Hoopla and Overdrive (apps that are free through most libraries).

35 Best Read-Aloud Books for Kids


Pie by Sarah Weeks
A story about Alice and her search for a missing pie crust recipe and solve the mystery of what happened to her much loved Aunt Polly.   We recently read this aloud and every person in the house stopped to listen (even Dad).  We were laughing so hard we cried!

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo
Sometimes when you love a toy it really does come alive.  Follow the story of a much loved toy as he ventures from home to home and adventure to adventure.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Inspired by a true story, follow Ivan a captive gorilla that has forgotten about life in the wild until he makes a new friend in a baby elephant. This is a great story for older elementary kids.

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Your kids have probably seen the movie, but you don’t know the full story until you read the book!  There is more fun and shenanigans in the original story (and more kids than just Jane & Michael). If you love the first story, there are quite a few more books!


Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
This short trilogy is perfect for early elementary school kids and will have them begging you to read just one more chapter before bed!


Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
When I first read this book to my older kids, they had me reread the same section 10 times in a row because they thought it was so funny. If your children like this first book, there are many more books about Pippi you can read as well.


Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Published in the 1940s, this sweet story about two little girls who become best friends will be loved by young girls!


Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Although this is technically the 3rd book in the series (The first is Little House in the Big Woods; the second is Farmer Boy), it’s normally billed as the first book and is a fine place to start. Then you can go on and read the rest of them!


The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Even if you’re not planning to read the whole series right away, your best bet is to either start with The Magician’s Nephew or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.


Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
These sweet stories by A.A. Milne are sure to enthrall even the youngest listeners.


The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
This illustrated version of the book is a great way to introduce young kids to Middle Earth and the adventures of Bilbo Baggins.


Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
These books were a favorite of mine as a kid, and I’ve found my children to love them just as much despite my fear of them being outdated.


The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The first book in the series was published in 2005, which is why when I found out about these I wondered how I had missed these books as  a child—they weren’t out yet! It is a story about four sisters and their dog, but I have friends who read this book to their boys and who also loved it.


The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
My mom read this aloud to me as a child, and so I’m excited to read it to my own children. Loosely inspired by the historical events surrounding the Salem witch trials, this fiction book set in the late 1600s will resonate with older kids.


Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Caddie is an adventurous young girl whose bravery and spirit will inspire boys and girls alike!


Watership Down by Richard Adams
I just recently listened to this on audiobook because I had never read it as a child. I fell in love with it and can’t wait to share it with my own kids! It’s got some scary/violent scenes (of rabbits hurting other rabbits) so would be best for older elementary school students.


James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Anything by Roald Dahl makes a fun read aloud, but this is a fun one to start with because you can watch the movie after you read it!


Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
I decided to read this one again myself recently and was just as delighted as I was as a child. Your kids will love the antics of Ramona!  After this one grab other Beverly Cleary favorites like Henry & Ribsy.


The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
A boy realizes the toy in his cupboard is alive… and the rest of the book is a fun adventure!


Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
This book is better for older children, as there are some scary parts, but it’s an inspiring story about a boy and his hunting dogs.  This is one of those stories that leaves you crying…


Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Another book more suitable for older children because of the darker themes surrounding the Holocaust, but a book that focuses on an important part of history.


Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
I read this one aloud to my kids and they loved it and point it out any time they see it somewhere else!


Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
No childhood is complete without having read this book. Although it centers on a young girl, boys and girls alike will be delighted by Anne’s story.


The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Small people live in the walls of a house, and you can only imagine what results when the people who live in the house realize they have extra housemates!


The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This classic is a wonderful book to read aloud, especially if you can come up with different voices for the different animals!


The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
You may have already seen the movie Hugo, which was based on this book. The movie is delightful and beautiful, but the book is also a wonderful story about a little boy who lives alone in a train station.


Redwall by Brian Jacques
This series was one of my favorites as a child, and I’m eager to introduce them to my own children. There are no humans in this story, only small creatures like mice, rats, voles, and weasels. But their stories and adventures are real and will pull you right in!


Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
This sweet story is about a little girl who has experienced loss and who finds herself coming out of her shell because of an unexpected friendship with a dog.


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
An old, classic story that is perfect for any child that loves animals!


The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
This is the story of a doctor who can talk to animals and who eventually goes on some pretty amazing travels!


Paddington by Michael Bond
The Paddington series is perfect for younger children because they are short and sweet! They will love this story of a bear who might as well be human and his life with his human family.


Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
This is a story about a strong young girl that will inspire later elementary school girls and boys!


The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
This series is said to be like the Little House on the Prairie series, only from the Native American perspective. This seems like an uncommon viewpoint so I’m excited to have my girls listen to this!


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
See where the original story of Dorothy and Toto came from! The book is extremely differet than the movie, but charming in its own way.


The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
Another book that got turned into a movie, this is the story of a little mouse who is larger than life.  Really any of her books are great.  So start with one and just keep on reading!


Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
My kids love these books and have read almost all of the ones in the series. Each chapter is the story of a different kid at the school, which is full of many strange happenings.

What are your favorite read alouds for kids? Let us know in the comments!

Going on a road trip and need something to listen to? Check out our list of the best podcasts for kids!

35 Best Read-Aloud Books for Kids