Beyond Books, Family Read Alouds, Raising Readers, Resources
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Five Family Read Alouds

Long winter nights and the occasional snow day make for excellent read-aloud weather.  Here are five favorites that can be enjoyed by the whole family.  (Or,  if you’d rather listen, several of these titles have been made into excellent audiobooks.)

Wolf Story by William McCleery.  NYR Children’s Collection,  reprint, 2012.  88 pages.  wolfstory

A man is putting his five-year-old son to bed, when the boy requests a story.  Over the next few weeks, the father relates the story of Waldo the wolf and his attempts to kidnap Rainbow, the hen.  Short chapters, entertaining humor, and an engaging narrative make this an excellent read-aloud.  Be prepared to read it more than once, or invest in the unabridged audiobook —the narrator is wonderful.  One warning: the word “damn” is used once by the five-year old in disappointment.  He is quickly corrected by his father, and there is a discussion about what words are acceptable for a boy.  While easy to skip over, it can also be used as a teachable moment, but it is harder to skip with the audiobook version.

Freddy Goes to Florida by Walter R. Brooks.  Puffin Books, reprint, 2001.  208 pages.   freddygoestoflorida

The animals on the Bean Farm are not looking forward to winter.  Inspired by the birds flying south, a group of barnyard animals decides to migrate to Florida.  Their journey is filled with adventures and fun.  Be prepared to laugh!  Friendship and loyalty are emphasized in this story, and the animals each have distinct personalities.  If you enjoy Freddy Goes to Florida, there is a whole series of Freddy the Pig books waiting to be read.  Or, if you would rather listen, Recorded Books has excellent audiobook versions.

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.  Originally published 1916*, 182 pages.  understoodbetsy  

Elizabeth Ann is a little girl, raised and coddled by her great aunt and her cousin Francis.  When her aunt becomes sick, Elizabeth Ann is sent to live with the dreaded Putney cousins.  The Putneys live far from the city, on a farm in the hills of Vermont.  Not only do they live on a farm, the Putneys, horror of horrors, expect children to do chores.  “Betsy,” as her cousins call her, is convinced that she will be miserable. Slowly though, under the loving yet no-nonsense care of the Putneys, she begins to flourish.  A sweet story that would especially be enjoyed by girls.

*There are multiple reprint editions of Understood Betsy; mine is an old paperback copy.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. Simon & Schuster, 1935.  292 pages.caddie

You know about Laura Ingalls, but have you read about Caddie Woodlawn, who also grew up in the wilds of Wisconsin?  Part of a large, loving family, eleven-year-old Caddie is a tomboy, roaming the fields and woods with her partners in crime, Tom and Warren.  Based on the true childhood of the author’s grandmother, this a beautiful story that brings to life one family in 19th century Wisconsin.  The audiobook version is also wonderful.

Magyk by Angie Sage.  Katherine Tegen Books, 2005.  564 pages. image-2

The first book in the Septimus Heap series occurs largely during the winter months, so why not start it this winter?  In a fantasy world, slightly similar to Europe, the family of Silas Heap is secretly raising Jenna, rightful heir to the Castle.  When Jenna is discovered, the family must flee, and so begins a rambling adventure that involves boats, secret tunnels, purple python shoes, and one loquacious messenger rat.  If your family enjoys fantasy, try this light-hearted adventure filled with memorable characters and moments.

Have you read any good read-alouds recently?  Comment to tell us what books your family is enjoying this winter!

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