Cozy up with a good book.

Books and ZhuZhu PetWritten by Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats

Over the last two weeks, my kids and I have been engrossed in a family read aloud. I checked out the digital edition of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Since it was only a two-week check-out, it was a race to complete the book before it magically disappeared from my iPad.

Books, and specifically family read-alouds, have been a unifying thread in the fabric of our family since my eldest was about three years old. He’s always been a good listener and back then while I nursed his baby brother we read through The Little House books and Narnia. Ever since then I have always felt more “at one” with my children when we have a chapter book going.

My youngest child, a four-year old child of the technology age is not quite “into” our read alouds yet. But the others, ages 6, 8, 10, and 12, all enjoy them. Even today at fifteen, my eldest son lurks in the shadows or mutes the hockey game so that he can hear me read to his siblings.

And then he sneaks the book when I’m not looking so he can read the parts he missed or read ahead in case he’s not around to eavesdrop later.

This shows me the value of a good family read-aloud. Reading stories, particularly lengthy children’s literature, is a great way to share an experience with your children without going anywhere. We share theories about how the plot will progress, make guesses as to how it will end, reminisce over the surprises and favorite parts, and anticipate the next installment of series books.

Reading aloud to my kids does a number of things for me and for them.

  • We make a designated time each day to sit and spend together.
  • We talk more.
  • We share what we’re thinking and feeling.
  • We unplug. Except for the ipad or Kindle screen, we’re looking at real faces.
  • We interact in a human way, discussing characters’ situations or how they make us feel.
  • We learn new vocabulary and punctuation. Four of my kids can read on their own, but time and again, someone will look over my shoulder and comment, “Oh! Is that how you say that word?”

Family read-alouds are one important tool that helps me feel connected to my kids. I love the time we spend together and that we’re learning together while we do it.

Further reading:

* Top 25 read-alouds (ages 5-12)

Have you got a favorite read aloud book?

About Jessica

Once a public high school teacher, Jessica now homeschools five of her six children, covering 2nd through 10th grades. Her oldest is in college, so the experiment appears to have worked! Grab a copy of Jessica’s new cookbook Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less and the accompanying monthly meal plan to help you save money, eat well, and enjoy some freer time.


  1. we love read alouds. one thing i’ve really made an effort to do is to read to my daughter even though she is a great reader herself (age 6). now that she can read, i often want her to read to ME (to work on her skills) – but she often wants me to read to her…and it’s a sort of nuturing thing. It’s a balance, but me reading to her definitely makes her feel comforted and taken care of – and it’s just fun. I also have my 6 year old read to her younger siblings, and that is awesome to witness – and really helps their bond.

    erika’s latest post: Violet is 15 Months!

  2. I don’t know what my favorite read a loud is but one that we really enjoyed was Just So Stories. The kids and I both loved reading How the Elephant got his Trunk and the imagination Kipling used to come up with his stories. More than that, this book sticks with me because of where we were when we read it. We were on a camping trip and I would read it to them before they went to sleep in our crowded tent. We also read while the hail and rain was pelting outside and we had nothing else to do. I love how books, the people you’re with, and your surroundings can make such wonderful lasting memories.
    Paula’s latest post: I’m Tired of the Mommy Battles

  3. I am huge on reading to my kids, and have been ever since my oldest (almost 5!) was an infant. I started out reading all the fairy tales to her as soon as we brought her home from the hospital, but I got bored of reading those stories over and over, and we graduated to reading Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Little House books very early on – I’m not sure she remembers Harry Potter from her 6 month old days 🙂

    Now, both of my children will just sit and listen to books for long periods of time, they really enjoy it. And I enjoy having chapter books available to read to them. Teaching them the love of reading at a young age is very important to me and my goals for homeschooling.
    Heather’s latest post: what i am eating

  4. Preach it! Reading aloud builds community and creates a safe place to explore the world. Happy my 11 and 9 year old are still interested in sharing this time.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Fast Five: Picture Book Biographies

  5. I began reading chapter books to my kids a couple of years ago. It is one if my favorite things! Our entire family lays on our sons’ bed each night and We read. Currently it is Stuart Little. We loved Çall of the Wild, Dr. Doolittle and Charlotte’s Web. I’m choosing our next book and I’m picking The Indian In The Cupboard.
    Sanz’s latest post: All About Spelling Level 1

  6. So true! I still fondly remember my Dad reading aloud to me before bed. I spent hours reading aloud Harry Potter to the boys I used to nanny for, and now read the same picture books over and over and over again to my 2 year old. It is such a great connection, and I can’t wait to read aloud my childhood faves as my kids get older.

  7. Shannon says:

    My children are 15b, 12g, 7b, 7b. My oldest was also 3 when his sister was born. We spent that summer with me nursing and rocking her and reading the Little House series to him. Him being my first, I didn’t know how unusual it was for a child that age to listen to such a long story with no photos (bc I was sitting in the rocking chair and he was on the couch). We LIVED Laura for years – those books were instrumental in his early childhood.

    I still read aloud to all my children – not as a family read bc they have such different interests. I read for about half an hour to my two younger sons, then half an hour to my daughter, then half an hour to my almost 16yo son. People are amazed he still wants me to read to him but I think my daughter will give it up before he does! It provides a great point of connection for us (esp as he doesn’t home school). We select books together. Last year we went through the Little Britches series. This year it is the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series. We also read classic books that pertain to his life interests, such as sailing. I highly recommend keeping up the reading, even as your children grow into the teen years.

    • Shannon says:

      I did mean to say the half hour reads are at bedtime. Makes for a long getting-to-bed time, but I treasure it. I read a lot more to my two younger sons who home school. 🙂

  8. Reading aloud is such a wonderful shared experience. Even if your listeners are readers, it can help build their fluency to listen to you modeling expression and self-correcting. And I LOVE The Mysterious Benedict Society–a great series!
    Lynda @ Rhody Reader’s latest post: Anna Karenina Cleans My House

  9. I still remember many of the books my mom read to me even as a teen. My oldest (almost 6) loves to read and be read to but it’s nearly impossible when my toddler is awake, he takes reading time as permission to get in all sorts of trouble.

  10. Loved this post! We just are on the second Mysterious Benedict Society book and we are engrossed — experiencing all the joys of read-alouds and how they bond our family together. So much fun!

  11. Courtney says:

    My oldest (and so far only) child is 15 months. I would love to start reading aloud to him more often. What books can anyone recommend for an almost one-and-a-half year old? What should I begin with? Just simple children’s picture books, or are the longer books that would be good?

  12. Oooh, I can’t wait to start reading The Mysterious Benedict Society with my kids!
    Sounds like three books of mystery, puzzles and adventure – the perfect combination.
    Read Aloud Dad
    Read Aloud Dad’s latest post: THE Book Lance Armstrong Should Have Read As A Child

  13. I find as a grandmother that reading books aloud with my grandchildren is rewarding for both myself and the boys. They tend to turn up at my house armed with their laptops, psp’s etc and I thought I might have a battle in wanting them to read with me. But not all – I think this is something we all now look forward to – and have their suggestions ready for what to read next.

  14. Shelley Taylor says:

    I’ve always read to my kids, but now that they are 7 and 9 and can read on their own, I especially enjoy reading with them. It is such special time together, and we have discovered some great books too!

  15. Reading aloud with my stepsons was the first real bonding experience I had with them. I purposefully chose a really disgusting book called The Gigglers, about little pixies that leave dog poo in the way of unsuspecting adults. Their laughter was music to my ears and I felt that I could really contribute something to their lives by being their bedtime storyteller. It’s become my job now when they come and stay, and I love it.

  16. Some of our best memories were made during “quiet time” where everyone holed up with their own stacks of books but the read-alouds were probably the best part of homeschooling. I would sit in the hall at bedtime and read aloud so all four kids could hear. I would read aloud while they drew in the afternoon, or played with Legos. We did all the Little House books, the Hobbit, the Just So Stories, and more. Good stuff.

  17. Read alouds are my favorite part of the day. It’s such a special, treasured family time. Thank you for this 🙂
    Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies’s latest post: On Motherhood

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