Are you looking for some new chapter books to read aloud to your kids in the coming year? Here are the 15 books we read last year…and whether I’d recommend them.
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Ever since they were babies, reading aloud to my three boys before bed has been a staple of our nightime routine. It’s one of my favorite parts of motherhood, and it’s a great way to finish off the day on a positive note.
Even though they are all fully capable of reading on their own now, they still pile onto my bed most nights for “mommy reading time.” We have read dozens of books over the years, and I am looking forward to dozens more.
And we don’t just read at bedtime either. We also listen to audiobooks in the car when we’re on roadtrips (you can get in a lot of reading on a 13 hour drive to California), and sometimes I’ll read extra during the day, especially in the summertime or if we have a book that we’re just really loving.
All those minutes of reading add up, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes some days. Over the past year, we read 15 chapter books together!
Some were fabulous. Some were mediocre. Check out the whole list below! Hopefully it gives you some good ideas of what to read with your own kids in the coming year.
Sidenote: If you want to make reading aloud part of your family culture, but aren’t sure how to make it work, I highly recommend The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie. It’s a fabulous resource that will not only remind you why reading aloud is so valuable, but it will also teach you practical ways to make it happen, even in busy families with kids who aren’t thrilled (yet) about reading.
On to the books!
15 chapter books I read with my kids last year
Wanted…Mud Blossom by Betsy Byars. We read this book because it was on the Battle of the Books list last year that my boys’ elementary school uses. It was a quick read, and a cute story, although I didn’t think it was particularly memorable. For me, it was just okay.
Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman. We listened to this book on a trip to Southern Utah over spring break. It’s a quirky story about a boy who lives (in modern times) in the house that used to belong to Harry Houdini…and then starts communicating with him from beyond the grave! It was interesting to learn about Houdini (my boys were fascinated), but the story itself is a little…weird. Something rubbed me the wrong way about the boy texting with a stranger (Houdini) on a magical cell phone his mom didn’t know about.
City Spies by James Ponti. This was our summer road trip book, and it was a hit! It’s an action-packed story about kids who are recruited for a super secret spy mission. It required a little willing suspension of disbelief, but we all enjoyed it as a fluffy, fun summer read. It would be a great one for kids who need a fast-paced story to keep them interested.
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. This was one of my favorite books of the year. It’s a graphic novel (not my usual genre of choice), and on the recommendation of Janssen from Everyday Reading, we listened to the audiobook version. That might seem like a weird choice for a graphic novel, but it feels more like listening to a radio play because it’s done with a full cast. It tells the story of a somali boy (the author) who grows up in a Kenyan refugee camp. It’s so well done, and it’s a powerful story that was really eye-opening for my privileged, first-world children.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. My boys have been begging to read the next Harry Potter book for almost a year, but I’ve been spreading them out a bit since they get significantly darker as the series goes on. This summer they were thrilled when I pulled out book number four, and I had so much fun re-reading this favorite with them. It’s my favorite book of the series, and they loved it too. It led to a Harry Potter birthday party for my middle son, too!
A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord. This was another that we read because it was on the Battle of the Books list, and I was surprised by how much I loved it. It’s a story of growing up and unlikely friendship between a small-town girl and a migrant farm worker. I didn’t know if my boys would enjoy it (both of the main characters are female) but they really did…especially the parts about the dog, Lucky.
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. This book was our first read of the year, and it started the year with a bang! It’s such a well-written story full of action and mystery…definitely a page-turner. Actually, writing this is making me want to finally pick up the sequel! Note: It does get a little intense in a few parts, so I’d recommend it for older elementary and above.
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat. Talk about an incredible story! I’ve been wanting to read this book for over a year, and we finally dug into it this fall. It’s a fascinating (and completely wild) TRUE story of a group of soccer players who got stranded in a cave in Thailand, and the weeks-long rescue attempt that involved thousands of volunteers from all over the world. Crazy, educational, and inspiring. I rarely say this, but you must read it.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong. Apparently this was our year for fascinating non-fiction, and I’m not mad about it. This true-story of Shackleton’s voyage to Antarctica in 1914 was another BIG winner for us. We listened to it on a road trip, and we all found ourselves shaking our heads in amazement that it was a true story.
The Wild Robot Protects by Peter Brown. I’ve been a long-time fan of the Wild Robot series (it made my previous list of fabulous read-aloud chapter books), so I was thrilled to see that Peter Brown had written a new addition to the series. Reading this story reminded me of all the reasons I love the first two books and it was just delightful to revisit Roz, the story’s brave, kind, and adventurous robot.
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. My mom read the Narnia series to me when I was a kid, and I’ve loved reading them to my boys over the last several years. This one is my favorite of the series, and I was thrilled to finally share it with my kids. Such a well-crafted story, and some deep thoughts to ponder, too.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. This was another childhood favorite that I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting with my boys. It’s a classic for a reason, and we loved the puzzle-like plot and the challenge of racing against the quirky characters to see who would solve the mystery first.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I loved the movie version of this story as a kid, but I had actually never read the book until this year! It’s a classic hero’s journey tale, but in a completely off-the-wall, silly, nonsensical style. And if you’re a word nerd, like me, you’ll absolutely love all the wordplay scattered throughout the book.
Restart by Gordon Korman. I really enjoyed this redemption story about a boy who loses his memory after an accident and isn’t thrilled when he learns what a bully he was in the past. It led to some great discussions with my boys about bullying, choosing the person you want to be, and forgiveness.
How Winston Came Home for Christmas by Alex Smith. This is the second Winston book, and we liked this one just as much as the first. The story is told in 24 (and a half) chapters, so I would read a chapter a day to my boys when they came home from school in December. It’s simple and charming, and it was a perfect Christmas read-aloud.
What did you read this year with your kids? Share your favorite chapter books for kids in the comments below!
Need more ideas of what to read to your kids? Try these!