Last week, Ali and I had amazingly fantastical adventures every single day.
We found a golden ticket, sailed down a chocolate river in a pink candy boat, saw squirrels opening walnuts without breaking said walnuts, rode in a glass elevator with millions of buttons, and sat on the edge of our seats as a bad little girl got blown up into a giant blueberry and carried off by tiny people.
Obviously, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
This was a first for us, and a completely perspective-changing moment for me as a parent.
I’ve been reading books aloud to Ali since she was a baby, and started reading chapter books aloud last fall. But because I thought I needed to “hook” her into the idea of letting me read a long book, I bought inane “Tales from Pixie Hollow” books and borrowed ridiculously over-formulaic “Rainbow Magic Fairy” library books.
The plots were absurd, the stories all sounded the same, and I was slugging through it.
(And she was mildly interested, but certainly not hooked.)
Then a couple of weeks ago, my friends Ashley and Nikki mentioned that they had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory aloud to their kids.
Literature!! Real literature!! Well-written literature!! WHY haven’t I thought of this???
I felt like a complete nincompoop, to use a literary term.
The next day, I headed to the library, checked out a few Roald Dahl books, went straight home home and started reading aloud. And from the first chapter, we were both enthralled. We were excited, we were living it, we were completely sucked into the story – as should rightfully happen when one reads good literature.
So, in my excitement over this eureka moment, I began compiling a list of all of my favorite childhood books (that weren’t too intense for Ali – she scares easily), and other books that I wanted to read.
And I ended up with a to-do list 101 books long.
Clearly, this is going to take a while to accomplish. And perhaps, before I finish reading all of these aloud, Ali will take over and read them herself.
Here’s my list so far. I plan on printing it out and keeping it in my library bag – feel free to do the same. I would also really love to know what great books I’ve left off – let me know in the comments and I’ll add them!
* – books that I haven’t read at all yet.
1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl / Nothing can beat this book’s entertainment value when read aloud. Fabulous story with great moral lessons, and what kid doesn’t like hearing about fantastical candy??
2. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl
3-9. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis / Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of my Mom reading this series aloud to us. Engaging and beautiful.
10. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
11. Stuart Little – E.B. White
12. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren / I loved Pippi Longstocking as a kid!
13*. The BFG – Roald Dahl
14-21. The Ramona Series – Beverly Cleary / These were some of the first books that I read by myself, but I also remember my Mom reading them aloud. They are great bridge books for both reading aloud and reading alone.
22-26. The Fudge Series – Judy Blume / I loved these books as a kid! Great sibling interactions, and lots to discuss as well.
27*. Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard Atwater
28. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E.L. Konigsburg / This was one of the most magical, original stories that I read as a young child. I can’t wait to read it again!
29. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle / I fell in love with Madeleine L’Engle’s writing from this book, and proceeded to read nearly everything she wrote. Not all of her books, however, are appropriate for children.
30. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – Barbara Robinson / Fabulous story to read around the holidays – cute and heartwarming.
31*. Bartholomew’s Passage – Arnold Ytreeide / An Advent Adventure Book my Mom recommended
32*. Jotham’s Journey – Arnold Ytreeide / An Advent Adventure Book my Mom recommended
33-40. Anne of Green Gables Series – L.M. Montgomery / These are probably too old for Ali right now, but would be great family read-aloud books when she is slightly older. Or, if Ali beats me to it, she can read them herself in a few years.
41-44*. Magic Tree House Series – Mary Pope Osborne
45-49. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Set – Jeff Kinney / I read a couple of these aloud to Ali over a year ago (with occasional language changes), and she loved them! The pictures are engaging, and the stories are short enough to keep the attention of young children, even if they don’t understand everything. The movie, however, is painful to watch – I hate train-wrecks.
50. The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg
51. A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
52*. The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 – Christopher Paul Curtis / I found this book while researching for this list. I’ve not yet read it, but I am eager to read it myself first and see if it is a good book to introduce the subject of Civil Rights and the sadder parts of the history of our city.
53*. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg – Rodman Philbrick
54*. How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell
55. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett / This book always made me want to live in a giant manor in England with a large, mysterious garden.
56. Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
57. The Ralph Mouse Collection – Beverly Cleary
58. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective – Donald J. Sobol / I ADORED these as a kid. I never could figure out the mysteries, though. I was always so disappointed in myself!
59. Socks – Beverly Cleary
60. The Cricket in Times Square – George Selden
61*. The Hundred Dresses – Eleanor Estes
62. The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
63-66*. Junie B. Jones’s Series – Barbara Park
67-75. Little House on the Prairie Series – Laura Ingalls Wilder / I have to admit that I mentally relate these as being boring. But I know they weren’t! I remember enjoying them – they just seem boring.
76. Star of Light – Patricia St John
77*. Caddie Woodlawn – Carol Ryrie Brink
78. The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh – A.A. Milne / Winnie-The-Pooh stories always surprise me at how creative and refreshing their storylines are. So much better than I expect – every time!
79. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
80*. My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George
81*. Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl
82. James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
83*. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl
84*. The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets – Roald Dahl
85. James Herriot’s Treasury for Children – James Herriot / My Dad used to read these Veterinarian stories to us. They were simply amazing!
86*. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
87*. Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon – Ruth Stiles Gannett
88.The Five Chinese Brothers – Claire Huchet Bishop
89. Homer Price – Robert McCloskey / This is a rare book to find, but I LOVED it as a kid! Homer had some really fantastic adventures.
90. Andrew Henry’s Meadow – Doris Burn
91*. The Candymakers – Wendy Mass
92*. The Trumpet of the Swan – E.B. White
93*. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle – Betty McDonald
94. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh – Robert O’Brien
95. The Princess Bride – William Goldman / This book was written for adults, and if you haven’t read the book and are a Princess Bride fan like myself, then you’re missing out. With some skipping here and there, it’d make a great children’s read-aloud book as well. I wish they would come out with a children’s version…because, as always, the book is even better than the movie.
96*. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy – Jeanne Birdsall
97. Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan (Adapted for little readers)
98*. Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
99*. Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters – Lesley M. M. Blume
100. The Indian in the Cupboard – Lynne Reid Banks
101. Freckle Juice – Judy Blume
Please let me know what I need to add to the list!
Books Suggested By Y’all:
102. Strawberry Girl – Lois Lenski / Suggested by Mama Hen and Roxaline
103. Because of Winn-Dixie – Kate DiCamillo / Suggested by Jennifer Wendorf, Roxaline, and Becca Kennedy
104. The Tale of Despereaux – Kate Dicamillo / Suggested by Jennifer Wendorf and Gina
105. Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar / Suggested by Sam
106. Maniac Magee – Jerry Spinelli / Suggested by Sam
107. Sarah, Plain and Tall – Patricia McLachlan / Suggested by Roxaline
108. American Girl Books – Various Authors / Suggested by Roxaline and Gina
109. The Courage of Sarah Noble – Alice Dalgleish / Suggested by Roxaline
110. Betsy Series – Carolyn Haywood / Suggested by Roxaline
111. Clementine Series – Sara Pennypacker / Suggested by Jessica
112. Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Bobbit / Suggested by Laura Wilder
113. Esperanza Rising – Pam Munoz Ryan / Suggested by Laura Wilder
114. Shel Silverstein Poetry Books / Suggested by Laura Wilder
115. Gregor the Overlander Series – Suzanne Collins / Suggested by Cara
116. Little Pilgrim’s Progress – Helen Taylor / Suggested by Kristi
117. Misty of Chincoteague – Marguerite Henry / Suggested by Kristi
118. Matilda – Roald Dahl / Suggested by Marty
119. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie / Suggested by Marty
120. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum / Suggested by Marty and Robin
121. The Borrowers – Mary Norton / Suggested by Marty, Annie Gallitz, Becca Kennedy and Shiree
122. Owls in the Family – Farley Mowat / Suggested by Marty
123. Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket / Suggested by Marty
124. Shiloh – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor / Suggested by Kitty
125. The Littles – John Peterson / Suggested by Heidi
126. Bunnicula Series – Deborah Howe / Suggested by Heidi
127. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – Judy Blume / Suggested by Heidi
128. The Boxcar Children Series – Gertrude Chandler Warner / Suggested by Shiree and Jaisey
129. Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls / Suggested by Robin
130. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls / Suggested by Robin and JC and Rachel
131. Nancy Drew Series – Carolyn Keene / Suggested by Gina and Anita Wright and Jaisey
132. Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson / Suggested by Becca Kennedy
133. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine / Suggested by Becca Kennedy
134. Alvin Fernald Series – Clifford Hicks / Suggested by JC
135. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions – Edwin Abbott / Suggested by JC
136. The Hardy Boys Series – Franklin W. Dixon / Suggested by JC
137. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew – Margaret Sidney / Suggested by Katie and MBD
138. Eight Cousins – Louisa May Alcott / Suggested by Katie
139. Rose in Bloom – Louisa May Alcott / Suggested by Katie
140. Betsy-Tacy Books – Maud Hart Lovelace / Suggested by Forrest
141. Christy – Catherine Marshall / Suggested by Leanna and Jenna
142.Sugar Creek Gang Series – Paul Hutchens / Suggested by Stacey
143. Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves – Carol Hughes / Suggested by MBD
144. Redwall Series – Brian Jacques / Suggested by MBD
145. Little Britches – Ralph Moody / Suggested by MBD
146. Cheaper by the Dozen – Frank B. Gilbreth Jr / Suggested by MBD and Carol
147. The Great Turkey Walk – Kathleen Karr / Suggested by MBD
148. Talking Turkey – Lila Hopkins / Suggested by Laura
149. A Girl of the Limberlost – Gene Stratton-Porter / Suggested by Carol
150. Wishing-Chair Collection – Enid Blyton / Suggested by Mary @ Parenthood
151. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton / Suggested by Mary @ Parenthood
152. Mrs Pepperpot – Alf Proyson / Suggested by Mary @ Parenthood
153. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles – Julie Andrews Edwards / Suggested by Jenna
154. Martin’s Big Words – Bryan Collier / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
155. Pink and Say – Patricia Polacco / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
156. Skippyjon Jones Series – Judy Schnachner / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
157. The Wall – Eve Bunting / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
158. Gooney Bird Greene – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Pam Dennison
159. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien / Suggested by Hannah
160. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien / Suggested by Hannah
161. Alpha Centauri – Robert Siegal / Suggested by Hannah
162. Whalesong – Robert Siegal / Suggested by Hannah
163. The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald / Suggested by Hannah
164. The Princess and Curdie – George MacDonald / Suggested by Hannah
165. Poppy – Avi / Suggested by Carissa
166. Henry Huggins – Beverly Cleary / Suggested by Carissa
167. The Tower of Geburah (Archives of Anthropos) – John White / Suggested by Carissa
168. Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson / Suggested by Carissa and Shannon
169. Geronimo Stilton – Geronimo Stilton / Suggested by Carissa
170. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom – Louis Sachar / Suggested by Stephanie
171. Lois Lowry Books* Can be intense emotionally – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Laura
172. The War with Grandpa – Robert Kimmel Smith / Suggested by Lisa
173. Out of My Mind – Sharon M. Draper / Suggested by Claire
174. The Castle in the Attic – Elizabeth Winthrop / Suggested by Debbie and Lisa
175. Bud, Not Buddy – Christopher Paul Curtis / Suggested by Carrie
176. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare / Suggested by Carrie
177. The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin / Suggested by Krista Howland
178. Trixie Belden Series – Julie Campbell / Suggested by Anita Wright
179. The Railway Children – Edith Nesbit / Suggested by Anita Wright
180. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell / Suggested by Anita Wright
181. What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge / Suggested by Anita Wright
182. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll / Suggested by Anita Wright and Irma
183. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – T.S. Eliot / Suggested by Anita Wright
184. Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling / Suggested by Meg
185. Hatchet – Gary Paulson / Suggested by Lisa
186. Leo the Late Bloomer – Robert Kraus / Suggested by Amber Thomas
187. Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson / Suggested by Amber Thomas
188. The Duel: The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat – Eugene Field / Suggested by Amber Thomas
189. The Mysterious Benedict Society Series – Trenton Lee Stewart / Suggested by Shannon
190. Percy Jackson Series – Attila Futaki and Jose Villarrubia / Suggested by Shannon
191. The All-of-a-Kind Family series – Sydney Taylor / Suggested by Shannon
192. Fablehaven – Brandon Mull / Suggested by Suzanne Brazzell
193. Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls / Suggested by Suzanne Brazzell
194. Thunder Cake – Patricia Polacco / Suggested by Cynthia
195. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate DiCamillo / Suggested by Nicole
196. A Single Shard – Linda Sue Park / Suggested by Renee
197. A Long Way From Chicago – Richard Peck / Suggested by Renee
198. A Year Down Yonder – Richard Peck / Suggested by Renee
199. Princess Academy – Shannon Hale / Suggested by Renee
200. Kira-Kira – Cynthia Kadohata / Suggested by Renee
201. Crunch – Leslie Connor / Suggested by Jessica
202. Waiting for the Magic – Patricia MacLachlan / Suggested by Jessica
203. Masterpiece – Elise Broach / Suggested by Jessica
204. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat – Lynne Jonell / Suggested by Jessica
205. The Giver – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Kayla Essary
206. Number the Stars – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Kayla Essary
207. Paint The Wind – Pam Munoz Ryan
208. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Kristy Howells
209. The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale / Suggested by Eryn
210. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin / Suggested by Amber
211. Holes – Louis Sachar / Suggested by Amber
212. The Name of this Book Is Secret – Pseudonymous Bosch / Suggested by Amber
213. The Lion’s Paw – Robb White / Suggested by Melissa
214. Big Red – Jim Kjelgaard / Suggested by Rachel
215. Marguerite Henry Books – Marguerite Henry / Suggested by Rachel
Check out my homeschooling category for more possibly helpful posts!
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