12 Books I Plan to Read Aloud to Get Us Out of a Read-Aloud Slump

In this post, I’m sharing the books I plan to read aloud this year to my 1st, 4th, and 6th graders. We also have a toddler roaming around, but I doubt he’ll notice much. This list though is a mix of classic stories and hilarious tales that will be sure to delight us all!

Reading aloud has been a part of our family culture since my oldest was still in my womb. We’ve literally read aloud hundreds of books together.

I love reading with my children, and with each new family addition, it’s been so fun to watch him or her graft into our nightly reading routine in his or her own special way. Together as a family, we’ve shared countless stories, and until my fourth child was born we were pretty regular and faithful in our read-aloud times.

Spring 2018

However, I noticed this last year read-alouds felt more like a chore than a joy, and I often let the nightly reading time slip, saying, “We’ll try again tomorrow night.” By the time bedtime rolled around I was zonked, barely able to string two sentences together, and definitely exhausted from corralling children all day. To be honest, I felt pretty guilty most of the time. In some ways, I was being lazy, but in a lot of ways, I finally realized, I was simply being human.

At Intentional By Grace, I talk a lot about living within your current season of life. What you do in one season won’t always translate over into a new season of life. One of the questions I ask myself regularly is, “What are you doing in this season that can be put aside until another season?”

We don’t have to do all the things, all the time, in every season. We’re not meant to. We are human. We have capacity and limits. We have weaknesses and frailties and seasons of trials and tribulations. We have seasons where simply getting through a day is a feat, or choosing to brush our hair is a triumph. This last year was one of those years I had to face my limitations and choose what was best for the current season. It wasn’t easy, and I definitely missed reading aloud. But once I reminded myself it was a season, not forever, I was able to lean into where we were as a family, eagerly watching for the moment our season would change and allow space for reading aloud more regularly together again.

I think sometimes we’re afraid to let things go for a season because we’re afraid we won’t pick it back up again. But I’m learning that a life lived in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is a life where I am encouraged, equipped, and empowered to live according to His plans for me. I don’t have to be afraid to let things go.

At the start of this year, I sensed a desire growing in me to prioritize nightly read-alouds with my bigger kids. By His grace and power, we will reestablish this habit and enjoy wonderful stories together this year. My goal is to read aloud twelve books together.

As I contemplated how to pursue this worthy goal, one of the things I realized was a barrier last year to reading more was not knowing what to read. With our range of ages, I want books that are just as delightful and interesting to my sixth grader as they would be for my first grader. I want easy-to-read-aloud stories because nothing kills read-aloud time like huge words and long sentences that are meant to be read silently and not aloud. To regain our momentum, I knew I needed to choose books that would give us some solid wins under our belt, but I also want to read aloud some of those classic stories I’ve put off but don’t want them to miss.

I decided to make a list of books to read aloud this year, and I’m pretty excited about what I’ve come up with. Many of these titles are brand new to me, but some of them are my old friends that I want to share with my children, not just hand them to read themselves. I think it’s going to be a rather fun year of reading.

I curated my read-aloud list using The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. It’s a great resource for anyone wondering what to read aloud with children. I like how he organizes the treasury of books to choose from, and I stuck pretty closely to the books from his Short Novels section. I highly recommend this resource.

Now, without further ado, here’s my list of books to read-aloud this year.

12 Books I Plan to Read Aloud in 2023

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Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier:: We loved Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. It’s one of my all-time favorite read-alouds. My oldest read Sophie Quire by himself and wanted to share it as a family, so we started it in 2022. We didn’t finish it, so it will count toward this year’s read-aloud goal. It’s a commitment to get through. It’s not easy to read-aloud, so it’s been a little bit of a slog. However, it’s a GREAT read, so we’re going to finish it before moving on to the rest of my list.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White:: I read this aloud when the older boys were smaller, and we laughed out loud so much. I want to revisit it with them, but also enjoy it with my little girl for the first time. This is one of my absolute favorite books to read aloud.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell:: Another classic story I don’t want them to miss. It was one of my favorite books as a kid, but I remember wishing I had someone to talk to about it. This will be a delight to share together.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan:: I’ve had this one on my list for a long time. I can’t remember where it was originally recommended to me, but I’m looking forward to sharing this story with my kids.

Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days by Stephen Manes:: Not sure what to expect from this one, but I’m hoping for laugh out loud funny.

The Half-A-Moon Inn by Paul Fleischmann:: This one seems interesting and different from what we normally pick up. I will probably save it for an October read-aloud. It just seems like a book you want to read in the fall.

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson:: I’m probably taking a risk with this one since my kids are pretty sensitive with animal stories. But this story is just one of my favorites from childhood, so I want to try.

Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford:: This is a super short book, maybe even too short for our liking. However, I’m trying to focus on WINS this year, so I’m keeping it on the list. Plus I love any book set in a library.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink:: I don’t know how I’ve missed this one year after year. My kids love the Little House series, so I’m sure this one will be a winner.

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling:: This is a play on the Midas touch story of old. It popped up on several lists, so I can’t wait to read it AND eat chocolate with my kids. I might stock up on different types of chocolate to try while we read.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien:: Another title I’ve heard about for years but keep skipping over. I can’t wait to give it a try!

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser:: I’m planning this one for December since some of the story takes place around Christmas time. It’s a little longer in length, so hopefully by the end of the year we’ve got our old reading habits back and can zip through it at a steady pace.

What about you? What are you planning to read aloud this year? Have you read any of from my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

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  1. I love finding recommendations to read aloud or hand to my kids to read. We started “Caddie Woodlawn” together, but I ended up finishing it on my own. The note I made in my book log was that the middle chapters were talking about massacre scares and a scalp belt and I did not want that to create difficult bedtimes with my younger ones (5 and 8 at the time). We loved “The Trumpet of the Swan” and my kids are always excited for the next Vanderbeekers book to read together.

    1. Thanks for the info about Caddie Woodlawn! Maybe this is why I’ve waited so long. My boys are 12 and 9. My girl is almost 7 now, and probably will be 7 by the time we read it. I’ve heard so many good things about the Vanderbeeker series! I can’t wait to give it a go!