These chapter books and picture books make marvelous family read alouds! We have books for a wide age range, books for young children, books for elementary school kids, and even read alouds for middle school and high school. Use this list to foster a lifelong tradition of reading together as a family.
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I received review copies of some of these books, but no other compensation and I was not required to review them here. All opinions are my own.
What Makes a Book Great for Family Read Alouds?
What You'll Find on This Page
A great family read aloud book has a few common elements:
- Interesting characters
- An exciting adventure and/or a lot of humor
- Diverse characters
Here are some of my favorites by age group.
Read Alouds for Mixed Ages
A read aloud for mixed ages needs enough sophistication to appeal to older children but also a simple enough plot for younger children to follow. These books met that test for my own children:
Read Alouds for Babies
The key to finding good books for babies is to choose books that you like! I’ve put together a list of board books for babies to get you started. You can also explore books by theme. Here’s a collection of art themed books for babies, for example.
Read Alouds for Toddlers
Toddlers love innovation and humor in picture books! They will also enjoy these bedtime stories.
Press Here Interactive Board Book
Toddlers love the interactive design of Press Here by Herve Tullet, and the book feels magical.
Sandra Boynton’s Board Books
Toddlers love anything by Sandra Boynton! Her illustrations really draw tots in, and her books include enough humor to entertain the adults reading.
Read Alouds for Preschoolers
Preschool is an exciting time for reading aloud, because suddenly children hold characters and plot details in their heads.
Faraway Tree Stories
Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree Stories collection is perfect for this age group. Characters are relatable, and nothing gets too frightening.
Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books are perfect for this age range. Children identify with the characters as they struggle to follow rules and get themselves into all sorts of mischief. and the illustrations are stunning.
Read Alouds for Elementary School
All of a Kind Family
I love books that open children’s eyes to different ways of living. Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family chronicles her own childhood. The chapters are self-contained, making this book wonderful as a bedtime read aloud.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Primary school aged children want adventures, but they very much need adults in their lives. Following Ralph the mouse’s adventures in The Mouse and the Motorcycle offers adventure and danger without any actual risk.
The Boy at the Back of the Class
Onjali Q. Rauf explores the importance of getting to know students who are different and standing up for what is right in The Boy at the Back of the Class. The author thoughtfully addresses several difficult topics through the story of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee.
Children love the independence of Pippi Longstocking, and the book makes for plenty of laughs.
Redwall by Brian Jacques
Warrior mice and tremendous feasts capture the imagination in Brian Jacques first book in the series, Redwall. later books in the series feel quite formulaic, but this one remains a favorite.
J.K. Rowling’s imaginative Harry Potter series makes for magical read alouds. The books do get quite dark, so we recommend starting this series in upper elementary or middle school.
Read Alouds for Middle School
Gordon Korman just “gets” middle schoolers – possibly because he published his first novel as a middle schooler! The quality of his books does vary greatly; we most recommend Restart and The Unteachables.
Number the Stars
Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars is a historical fiction novel all about doing the right thing even in tremendously difficult circumstances.
The Hobbit is my favorite Tolkien novel, and wonderfully accessible for middle schoolers.
Cheaper by the Dozen
The memoir of two children raised in a family with twelve children, Cheaper by the Dozen is nothing like the movie and well worth reading. You’ll find yourself laughing and crying.
Read Alouds for High School
I do have a few suggestions here, but really my top recommendation for high school is to read anything your child is interested in reading!
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give is one of my favorite books, and it deals with present day race relations in the United States. Characters are relatable and the book is easy to read despite the tough content. Watch the movie after reading the book, because you lose a lot of important details when the book is condensed to fit a film format.
My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Like many of Backman’s books, it may take a while to get into the story of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, but you won’t regret reading it. I’m amazed at Backman’s ability to channel a gifted seven-year-old girl, alongside a range of diverse characters.
Timeless Fairy Tales
If you want a fun fantasy read for high school, you can’t go wrong with K.M. Shea’s Timeless Fairy Tales. As promised the series offers fairy tales, but with twists that make them feel fresh and original. As an added bonus, this series is usually offered for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.
What are your favorite family read alouds? We’re always looking for recommendations to add to our list!