Remember back in elementary or middle school when the teacher read a book out loud to the class? They did voices and really made the story come to life. Heck, I even had a teacher in high school English class who read Tuesdays With Morrie to us, one chapter every Tuesday, and we loved it. We looked forward to the next chapter every week and left class discussing what we think would happen in the story.
Once kids start to be able to read on their own, get to upper elementary or middle school, a lot of parents stop reading to them. Just because a kid can read themselves doesn’t mean they don’t still like to listen to a story.
Imagine for a moment what it might be like to gather your kids in a room and read a story together? To have a weekly (or nightly if you can swing it) time where you all enjoy a chapter or two of a book as a family and then you can discuss it over the next week, and look forward to what will happen.
As a book reviewer and book editor, I’ve often noted to myself “this book would be awesome to read aloud.” The story, the language, the tone and pacing, it all lends itself to be a great read-aloud for middle graders.
Here are some of the books that I think would be great books to read aloud as a family.
The Fearless Traveller’s Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler
When twelve-year-old Nell’s mom is captured by witches and turned into a bird, Nell must travel into the Wicked Places – the world where nightmares live – to rescue her. There’s magic and humour and some great friendships and sibling relationships in this adventure. The language in this book is simply beautiful. See my review of this enchanting book here.
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Crowell
Hiccup is small for his age. Very small. But he still has to capture and train a dragon so he can join his Viking folk and make his father, the chief of the Hairy Hooligans, proud. While now a major movie franchise, the book is even better. It’s ridiculous and sweet and full of opportunities for silly voices and loud laughter. And, it has some quirky illustrations too and has a whole series to continue the reading fun.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
I know, I know, everyone already knows about this book and its series. Personally, this first book is probably my favourite. It’s still sweet and not nearly as dark and brooding as the later books get. (It’s also significantly shorter than the later books.) Harry is turns eleven at the beginning of this book and so begins his adventures at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. A lot of kids grew up with Harry reading these books as he grew up (ages 11 to 17). Now that gorgeous illustrated editions are being published, the series promises to be even more fun to read aloud with kids, from upper elementary to middle grade.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy gets in trouble at school a lot. He can’t focus on his schoolwork and he has a bit of a temper. And people keep turning into monsters and attacking him. And it all kind of (but not really) makes sense when he finds out he’s a demigod and son of Poseidon. He’s sent to Camp Half-Blood to make sure he’s safe, but ends up leaving there with some friends and roadtripping across the U.S. to solve a mystery. This book is a thrilling adventure for middle graders. It’s also the start of a rad series (that I need to read more of). See my review of this book here.
The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
This book, while definitely geared towards younger kids, is still one of my favourite books to read aloud. It’s hilarious. It’s all about the silly sounds. I think a lot of middle graders would get a kick out it’s utter ridiculousness. This book was written to be read aloud. Here’s a video of the author reading it out loud to a group of kids.
What are your favourite middle grade books to read aloud?