Saturday, January 7, 2017

16 Favorite Read-Aloud Books in 2016

We read so many great books together in 2016. Ed and I both enjoy reading to the  children so we can have two or three books going at the same time.

Sharing books is one of our favorite activities. I discovered the Read-Aloud Revival podcast this past year and, even though I did not need encouragement to read to my children, it was nice knowing that I'm doing the right thing, especially as my children get older.

Here is a list of some of our favorite read-alouds this year. Many of these doubled as great historical fiction and excellent additions to our study of American history this year. And others we read just because they were good reads.

And here is hope for all  you moms with young children. You may be quite bored of the hundredeth rereading of Curious George and Richard Scarry (I know, those are two books we wore out.) But keep reading to your children and soon you'll be enjoying great books like these.

Skippack School by Marguerite de Angeli
Eli and his family have just arrived in their new home in Pennsylvania. Eli would rather help his dad than go to school, but his new teacher Christopher Dock might change his mind. We love de Angeli's books with their wonderful illustrations and also enjoyed Elin's Amerika.

Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen
Daniel and Will are finishing the cabin in the Ohio wilderness while Pa goes back to Pennsylvania to bring the rest of the family. Their dad must return soon since they only have enough food for a few weeks.

Orphan Samuel Collier dreams of picking up gold in the new colony of Virginia. But food begins to run low and his master, John Smith, will need to teach Samuel how to cooperate with the other colonists. Note: Contains some gritty details

Otter hunters have come to Karana's beautiful island off the California coast. But when her people decide to leave and Karana is left behind, she will need to survive alone on the island. 

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
Nathaniel came from a long line of sea captains, but he is too small to go to sea. He is a whiz at math but poverty forces him to leave school to be indentured for nine years. An amazing man told in a warm style.

And the Word Came With Power: How God Met and Changed a People Forever by Joanne Shetler
My top favorite missionary story and I have been looking forward to sharing this story from the Philippines with my children. It did not disappoint. We were all enthralled by the story of a dedicated young woman, a mountain people enslaved to the spirits, and how the Word of God transformed them both.

I, Juan dePareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

Juan longs to paint, but can't because he is a slave. Will his secret paintings be discovered? Juan tells the story of his life as a slave of the famous painter Velazquez in the court of Spain's king.  

Storm Warriors by Elisa Carbone
Nathan dreams of becoming a surfman, rescuing sailors from storms on Outer Banks, NC. But with every other black boy in town having the same dream, does he have a chance? A historical fiction about the only life-saving station with black staff in the late 1800's.

Home Ranch by Ralph Moody
Not sure if Ed or the children enjoyed this read-aloud the best. Another fine tale from Moody's childhood with daring adventures during his summer out on the ranch. Note: Contains "cowboy" language which Ed is good at editing out as he reads.

Old Yeller by Fred Gibson
This is one of those stories that I've been waiting for years for my children to get old enough to enjoy it. I'm not a huge fan of dog stories, but this story of a boy and his dog in Texas-hill country was as wonderful as I remembered. And since Ed read it out loud, I didn't have to sob my way through the sad parts.  

Miss Arabella longs to give ten orphan children a chance for a bright future and hatches a bold plan to homestead in Australia's bush. We've read so many books about American pioneers that it was good to read about pioneer life in early Austrailia's settlements.

Goonney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry
The second-grade class is fascinated by the new girl's style and lunches but, most of all, her stories. A fun way to teach children that all of us have a story to tell.

An old diary written by a fifteen-year-old boy inspired Sloane to follow a pioneer family through a year of working their land. Sloane's meticulous research and detailed pen-and-ink drawings make this a fascinating portrayal of early America.

Learn about the rare snow leopard, the scientist that study them, and the harsh land where they live. Incredible photography takes you through the mountains and deserts of Mongolia. We've also enjoyed other books by this author.

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
Trying to catch monkeys in the Oklahoma river bottom? This book had my children screaming with laughter as they followed a boy and his dog in their monkey adventures. 

Michael Faraday: Father of Electronics by Charles S. Ludwig Jr.
A fascinating biography about a talented scientist and dedicated Christian.

Do you have a favorite family read-aloud that we should add to our list for 2017?

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  1. We've read most of those books, and Switherby Pilgrims is on my shelf to be read. We read a lot aloud, too. Right now, the favorite is books by Lois Lenski. We're almost done with Prairie School, and to everyone's sorrow it's the last one we were able to get our hands on.

    1. Emma-
      I love Lois Lenski's books too but have trouble finding them. I wish some publisher would reprint them.

  2. Triogy by Jean Craigshead George: My Side of the Mountain, On the Far Side of the Mountain, and Frightful's Mountain.
    The author was a Naturalist who wrote for National Geographic in the 1950"s. Her children grew up to be Naturalists as well! This Triolgy is about a boy who decides to see if he can live off the land in the Andirondack Mountains, and then his sister joins him. The boy is a Falconer, and his falcon is named Frightful.
    I enjoy all of her books, but the triolgy is deemed a 'classic' children's adventure. I also like her books about Julie, an Inuit girl in the Alaskan tundra.
    Your book lists are always a treasure trove, thank you for sharing!

    1. My son is reading My Side of the Mountain right now. Great book!

  3. I discovered the Read Aloud Revival site/Podcasts this past year, too, and have also been encouraged to keep doing what I've been doing! In fact, my two oldest are doing the RAV January reading challenge right now, where they read out loud for 15 minutes a day, and they're enjoying that (and looking forward to some treats/prizes along the way!) I am reading The Penderwicks out loud right now, and sometimes I purposefully wait until evening to read it when my husband is home because he gets a kick out of the story, too! :) We have definitely found books to be something our whole family enjoys (not to mention a sanity-saver when we're cooped up indoors!) so thanks for your lists!

    1. We are doing the RAR reading challenge too! It has been a good way for our children to spend time enjoying books together. You are right, it has been perfect for these cold days!

  4. My kids, boys especially, liked the Diary of an Early American Boy. A new favorite this year has been Boxes for Katya. My nine-year-old is loving the Carolyn Haywood books. We all enjoyed The Year of the Rat, The Year of the Dog, and Dumpling Days by Grace Lin. They are about a girl who is Taiwanese-American. There is a lot of information about Chinese/Taiwanese culture that we enjoyed learning about, especially since three of our kids are Chinese-American. There is a lot about Buddhism in Dumpling Days. We used it as an opportunity to talk about the differences in faith.

  5. Have you ever read any James Herriot? So many good short animal stories..

    1. I love James Herriot's stories too. I need to pull out his children's books to enjoy with my younger children who may not have heard them yet.

    2. If your children like animal stories try these:
      RING OF BRIGHT WATER by Gavin Maxwell
      THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY by Sheila Burnford
      LAD A DOG by Albert Payson Terhune
      MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN by Jean Craighead George
      All the Marguerite Henry books and the Black Stallion books.

      The Herriot books as previously recommended by another reader...the full books and the chapter books.

      Animal books are well checked out in our church/school library.

  6. This strikes a chord in my heart! I have so many wonderful memories of all the time we spent reading aloud when the boys were young. I love your list and could go on a long time with favorites. I looked at lists of books with Newberry Awards and Caldecott Medals. I also had a book called "Honey for a Child's Heart" with lists of suggested books. A couple authors that come to mind were Jean Fritz and Elizabeth Speare. I liked historical fiction and biographies (there must have been something notable about a person if someone wrote a book about them). Blessings as you

    1. I think I have Honey for a Child's Heart somewhere on mys shelves. I need to get it out again.

  7. I love the RAR pod cast ...lots of inspiration there. If you don't mind me you homeschool? We are a homeschooling family and we use a curriculum called My Father's World. The books that you have listed are very similar to the ones we are using this year for their Adventures in US History program. I love reading aloud to the kids (I also take advantage of audiobooks).

    1. Yes, we homeschool. I have lots of friends who love My Father's World. I have got a lot of ideas from their booklists even though I don't actually use their curriculum.


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