stack of chapter books for reading aloud, sitting on table, with one open in the middle

Inside: You know reading aloud is important. But how do you choose the best read-aloud chapter books? Where do you even start? If you’re feeling a little lost, use this book list of homeschoolers’ favorite read alouds to guide you.

Reading aloud is the most important part of our homeschool day. It’s what I prioritize above everything. It’s what we do first every day.

I won’t go on and on about the benefits of reading aloud because other people say it better than I ever could.

But here are a few reasons it’s the number one priority in our homeschool:

  • You can cover multiple subjects with one book.
  • The story offers a variety of “rabbit trails” of learning (that you can pursue or not pursue – it’s up to you).
  • You build connections with your kids through shared a story.
  • Reading aloud develops empathy in children.

There’s so many more benefits, but you’re probably already convinced of the importance of reading aloud. Now you just want to know which chapter books are worth reading aloud.

We’re getting there – promise!

Related: 17 Unexpectedly Awesome Picture Books for Boys

mom drinking coffee and reading aloud a chapter book to her kids

What Makes a Good Read-Aloud?

There is a lot of debate about what makes a good read-aloud chapter book.

For some, a good read-aloud needs to have action that hooks the reader early on in the story.

For others, read-alouds should be classics, books that have stood the test of time and have been well-loved for generations.

Finally, some books simply read aloud better than others (with some being absolutely flops and far better read silently).

But what’s so frustrating about this qualification is there are so many different opinions on what “read aloud well” means. Taste varies so widely…what makes US yawn is another family’s favorite read-aloud of all time.

Case in point, we couldn’t make it past the first few pages of Green Ember, yet SO many homeschool families rave about it!

(And yes, Green Ember is on this list because another homeschool parent loved it.)

The quality that matters most to me? I – the one reading aloud – have to be genuinely interested in the story. I need to be excited about it.

I can’t just choose a random book off a list that someone else says my kids “need to read before they graduate”. I did that my first year homeschooling, and some of those books I flat out didn’t like and could not possibly understand how they made it onto a required book list for first and second graders.

I’ve found that besides reading aloud my personal favorites from childhood, the best source for finding good read-alouds is…other homeschoolers. Only when you’ve actually read a chapter book aloud (to real live kids) do you know if it’s worth recommending.

That’s why I asked homeschoolers I know (mostly fellow homeschool bloggers) to submit their family’s favorite read-aloud of all time, plus their children’s ages when they read the book.

While I hope you find it helpful, remember: taste varies. Go with your gut and the books that excite YOU.

Onto the list of best chapter books to read aloud to your kids!

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20+ Best Read-Aloud Chapter Books

Under some of the book recommendations, you’ll see which homeschool blogger recommended the book, and how old their children were at the time of reading.

If there is no name listed, that books is a read-aloud my family enjoyed at some point in the past four years, read to kids ranging in age from 7-11.

I will add to this list as our family discovers new and fantastic read-alouds!

You Might Also Like: Usborne Homeschool Books That Are Actually Worth Buying

1. The Hobbit

You can actually get this one for free on Kindle a LOT of the time. You can check if it’s still free HERE.

The prequel to Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit follows Bilbo Baggins on his journey to help a group of dwarves win back their home from dragon Smaug.

He doesn’t do it solely out of the goodness of his heart, but because he is promised a share of the treasure Smaug is guarding.

If you loved Lord of the Rings, you will likely enjoy the Hobbit as well. Readers suggested it was easy to follow and the characters were truly endearing. You really feel their wins and losses throughout the story.

The only drawback to this as a read-aloud are the long descriptions of settings. If you can persevere through those and you enjoy fantasy, you will love the book.

Submitted by Amy of Around the Thicket; read aloud to a 5- and 6-year-old.

2. Farmer Boy

Even though this book is often placed in the middle of the Little House series, Farmer Boy can easily stand alone. It tells the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband Almonzo, focusing on his childhood spent growing up on the family farm.

The story focuses on the ins and outs of farm life: chores, meals, school church. Rinse, repeat.

In my opinion, the best parts are the food descriptions. They literally made me want to jump into the story and sit down at the dinner table!

This book offers a much-needed glimpse into farm life before modernization – the importance of preserving food for the winter and the necessity of an entire family working together to put food on the table.

That being said, Farmer Boy does not have a fast-moving plot, so if this is one of your read-aloud requirements, this isn’t the book for you.

Submitted by Cindy of Our Journey Westward; read aloud to children ages 7-10.

3. Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again is about Ha, a young girl living in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. When Saigon falls and her father is still missing in action, her mother takes Ha and her brothers to America.

Ha is forced to mourn her father and acclimate to a new school in a foreigh country.

Experience the very real struggles of an immigrant attempting to adjust to a new life while surrounded by people who already dislike you intensely, simply because of your race.

Submitted by Gina of Oaxacaborn; read aloud to a 9 year-old.

4. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone

By now, Harry Potter is a household name, but if for some reason you don’t know the story, I’ll fill you in.

Harry’s parents died in a car crash when he was a baby (or so he was told). While his aunt and uncle did adopt him, they have no evident affection for him, especially since his bedroom is the closet under the stairs.

When Harry turns 11, he discovers that he is actually a wizard and receives an invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. His life completely changes when he discovers that his parents left him a fortune, and he can do magic.

He makes new friends and learns to use his newfound abilities, but there are mysteries to be solved at Hogwarts. Is evil wizard Voldemort really back from the dead? And if so, why would he want the Sorcerer’s Stone?

While the series does grow darker as Harry gets older, The Sorcerer’s Stone ,the first book in the series, is light, funny and fast-moving.

Especially if you have kids who are reluctant to dive into Harry Potter, reading the first book in the series aloud is a great way to get them hooked!

Submitted by Amy of Rock Your Homeschool; read aloud to children ages 5-11.

5. James & The Giant Peach

James is orphaned at the age of four when his parents were eaten by a rhinoceros escaped from the local zoo. Forced to live with his abusive aunts Spiker and Sponge, his life is miserable until a giant peach appears near his home.

His aunts decide to use the opportunity to make money by charging people to come view the curious sight. Poor James is responsible for cleaning up after everyone leaves for the night.

But when James discovers a tunnel inside the peach, he meets new friends, escapes his aunts and goes on a fantastical journey to a new and happier life.

Roald Dahl to the core, this offbeat fantasy novel has the potential to become a family favorite. However, you may want to prescreen “because of the story’s occasional macabre and potentially frightening content, it has become a regular target of censors” (source).

Submitted by Ashley of The Homeschool Resource Room; read to children ages 7-8.

6. Stuart Little

A classic by Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White, Stuart Little details the adventures of Stuart Little, a mouse born to a human family in New York City.

His adventures range from riding in toy boats to rescuing wedding rings, but his biggest adventure starts when his bird friend Margalo disappears and Stuart sets out to find her.

He leaves home for the first time and discovers the great big world full of new friends, experiences and surprises.

Recommended by Jessica of An Intentional Life; read to children ages 2, 4 and 10.

7. Anne of Green Gables

You can usually get the Kindle version of Anne of Green Gables for FREE on Amazon! Click HERE to snag it.

The classic tale of redheaded orphan Anne with an “e”, Anne of Green Gables continues to delight readers of all ages, in spite of (or maybe due to?) the flowery language and long descriptions.

Old maid Marilla Cuthbert and her brother Matthew decide to adopt a boy from a distant orphanage, but the message gets scrambled and they end up with 11 year-old Anne, instead.

After deciding to keep her, the Cuthberts now need to figure out exactly how to raise this pre-teen girl who is often lost in her own imagination and has both a fiery temper and serious stubborn streak.

Anne of Green Gables shares the often hilarious adventures of this peculiar orphan who finally finds a place to call home.

Personally, we attempted to read this one when my oldest was around age 7.5, but the old-fashioned language and slow-moving plot made her eyes glaze over. I quit after just few pages because I didn’t want to ruin Anne!

We tried again after she turned nine. Finally, she was able to persevere through the lengthy descriptions and fell in love with Anne, just like I did.

Submitted by Christine at This Bit of Life; read to kids ages 8 and 12.

8. Keeper of the Lost Cities (series)

Twelve-year-old Sophie can read minds, but she didn’t know that anyone else was like her until she meets Fitz. Her excitement is short-lived when Fitz informs her that her entire life is a lie.

She’s actually an elf, and she was hidden among humans. Now she is forced to leave the only family she’s ever known to learn the truth about who she is.

Keeper of the Lost Cities is a little bit Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a little bit Lord of the Rings, and a little bit Harry Potter. And it’s all fun!

Author Michael Buckley

If you have kids who are reluctant to dive into a series on their own, you can always read the first book in a series aloud (but not the rest). If they want to know what happens, they’ll have to read it on their own!

Submitted by Charlene of Hess Unacademy; read to children ages 6-11.

9. Little Women

This well-known classic follows the March Family: beloved sisters Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth.

The story begins during the Civil War, when Father is away at war and the women left at home are running out of money. The sisters come up with creative ways to pass the time, including befriending a wealthy new neighbor boy – Laurie.

Continue to follow the lives, loves and losses of the sisters as they grow.

The one complaint I see consistently regarding Little Women is the way women were treated and perceived during that time period. If that bothers you, this may not make a good read-aloud for your family.

And I have to say, THIS gorgeous hardcover version is swoon-worthy (even to a minimalist). I may need to purchase the series myself….

Submitted by Emily Copeland at Table Life Blog; read to kids ages 8 and 13.

10. The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden starts with Mary, a spoiled and selfish 10-year-old who has only ever known pampering, although that can’t make up for being neglected by parents.

But when her parents pass away unexpectedly from cholera, she is forced to leave India and go to live in England with an uncle she has never met, and who is rarely at home.

While she is told not to explore the mansion, she hears rumors about a beautiful garden that belonged to her late aunt. She finally discovers the garden and starts to care for it.

The garden’s transformation mirrors Mary’s and eventually brings healing and happiness back to the mansion and the entire family. And who can ask for a more heart-warming read-aloud than that?

Submitted by Sara Jordan of Heart & Soul Homeschooling; read to children ages 7-10.

11. The Penderwicks

Sisters Rosalind, Sky, Jane and Batty travel with their father on vacation at Arundel. Sky goes exploring and discovers a hedge, where she bumps into a boy named Jeffrey.

The children enjoy their summer together. It’s full of crazy happenings like burning baked goods, bunnies on the loose and an encounter with a bull.

But when Jeffrey’s mother wants to send him away to school, he decides to run away. Will the girls be able to talk him out of it?

It’s been described as a modern Little Women, so if you liked that, you will probably enjoy The Penderwicks.

12. The Lightning Thief

Percy is a demigod (son of Poseidon to be exact), but he doesn’t know it yet. Until he gets attacked by his teacher, who is actually a monster.

In this first book in Percy Jackson & The Olympians, you’re introduced to Percy Jackson and Camp Halfblood, a camp for Greek demigods to be trained and protected from the monsters that constantly hunt them.

Percy thinks he’s finally found a place to belong. But then camp leader Chiron learns that Zeus’s lightning bolt has been stolen.

Demigods need to find it, and guess who is leading the quest? Yep, Percy.

Follow Percy, Annabeth and Grover’s adventures as encounter various monsters and gods in their attempt to find the lightning bolt before Zeus starts a fight with the God of Olympus and to rescue Percy’s mother from the underworld.

This book – and the entire series- pairs perfectly with The Usborne Book of Greek Myths; we read them simultaneously.

14. The Green Ember

The Green Ember is currently free with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription. To try it for 30 days for FREE, click HERE.

Young rabbits Heather and Picket have heard bedtime stories about the great rabbit King Jupiter.

They thought the stories were nothing more than fairytales. But after their home burns to the ground and they are attacked by wolves, they realize there might be more to the stories after all.

Their Uncle Wilfred comes to rescue them, and they embark on a journey to find a new home. But the journey reveals that their family is connected to King Jupiter, and in darker ways than they would like to believe.

Submitted by Tricia of Homeschooling in Progress; read to children ages 7-12.

15. The Chronicles of Prydain (series)

Taran is a lowly assistant pig-keeper, but he dreams of being so much more. While trying to protect a magically clairvoyant pig, he ends up on several crazy adventures.

And as is the case with all fantasy novels, Taran attracts several fantastic comrades and companions along the way.

Will he and his friends be able to protect the kingdom of Prydain from threats all around it? And what if the greatest threat comes from within?

Chronicles of Prydain has been hailed as a gold standard for children’s fantasy novels, with two novels in the series winning Newbury honors.

If your family adores all things fantasy, you need to check out this series.

16. Beezus & Ramona

Beezus’s life would be just about perfect…except for her 4-year-old annoying little sister Ramona.

We all laughed out loud at the shenanigans Ramona got herself into, from eating just one bite of an entire crate of apples to inadvertently hosting a surprise party for all of her friends (15 to be exact).

Despite her annoyance, Beezus learns to love her little sister after all.

Beezus and Ramona is a short and easy read-aloud that families with a wide range of ages can enjoy together (we read all four in the “Ramona” series).

17. Half-Magic

If you’re looking for more Harry Potter like fantasy, you’ll love Half Magic!

In the middle of an extremely boring summer, Jane and her siblings find a coin that grants wishes. The only catch? It grants exactly HALF the wish.

The children need to learn the art of wishing for exactly twice more than they actually want. But they also struggle to figure out how to wish for the thing they want more than anything else in the world…but they really don’t want to screw up.

18. The Wishing Spell

Twins Alex and Connor Bailey know many fairytales by heart, mostly because their grandmother read them fairytales regularly. But they aren’t prepared for going inside those fairytales and meeting very much alive fairytale characters – some good and some evil.

After realizing their grandmother is THE actual fairy godmother, they’re delighted…but increasingly desperate to get back home to their mom, something that proves to be more challenging than they thought.

We absolutely adored this entire series of six books, and also read the prequel aloud as soon as it was released. Having read the Chronicles of Narnia aloud to my daughter, I would liken these books to a modern day Chronicles, without the obvious Christian allegory of course.

I confess that as much as I wanted to love Chronicles (and there were good parts), we all fell in love with Land of Stories. We will be rereading these for years to come.

19. The Moffats

The Moffats follows a typical family whose ordinary days are filled with extraordinary, everyday adventures. It’s a gentle, slow-moving chapter book that is sure to have children of all ages (and parents too!) laughing out loud in delight.

The author has a magical way of taking a tiny detail and exploring it through the eyes of a child. By the end of the book, main characters Sylvia, Joey, Janey, and Rufus had become part of our family too.

It’s the first book in a series of four, which makes reading it aloud a great hook for young readers (ages 8+) to continue the series on their own.”

Submitted by Meghann at Rooted Childhood; read to children ages 4 and up.

20. The Phantom Tollbooth

Ten year old Milo is bored out of his mind when he finds a tollbooth, just waiting for him to construct. After building it, he figures why not drive through it?

Without realizing it, he enters a world full of curious people like Tock (a “watch” dog), Dr. Dischord and the Spelling Bee and curious places like the Doldrums, Dictionopolis and the Island of Conclusions.

He sets off to rescue Rhyme and Reason and realizes along the way that life isn’t as boring as he once thought.

I adored reading this book growing up, and therefore enjoyed reading it to my kids. When you do read it aloud, you may need to show your kids certain words along the way so they can fully grasp the depth of wordplay.

If The Phantom Tollbooth holds no particular nostalgia for you, and you don’t enjoy wordplay, you may find this one just a so-so read-aloud and not really get why people rave about it.

21. The Lost Hero

After finishing Percy Jackson, we were thrilled to discover that Rick Riordan delivered yet another hit Greek Mythology series, complete with his wry humor and fast-moving plots.

This time Greek and Roman demigods are the stars.

It all starts with demigod Jason Grace who wakes up with two companion demigods – Piper and Leo. The only problem? He has no idea who he is or where he came from.

The Lost Hero takes Jason, Piper and Leo to the Greek demigod Camp Halfblood, and then on a quest to find the giant…and hopefully Jason’s memories in return.

Fans of the first Percy Jackson will be happy to know that Percy and Annabeth return in Book Two and are an integral part of the storyline where seven demigods need to defeat Mother Earth before she awakens and save Mt. Olympus (for the second time).

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The Best Chapter Books to Read Aloud? Start With Your Favorites

I already touched on this earlier, but I wanted to emphasize it again:

If you’re not excited about a read aloud, getting your kids to be excited about it is going to be an uphill battle.

That’s why I personally think that the best chapter books to read aloud are the ones you love and the ones you’re excited to read. So start with your childhood favorites and go from there.

Don’t have favorites? Think about your favorite genres of books or movies. If you love fantasy movies, for example, there’s a good chance you’ll love fantasy novels, too.

There’s no guarantee because your kids are not you, but if you love a book, there’s a much better chance that your kids will love that book, too. Happy reading aloud!

What are your favorite read aloud chapter books? Share in the comments!

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  1. Hi, thanks for the list. Is this possible to have it in printable format, thanks!

    1. Author

      You’re welcome! I will try to make one in the future if time allows.

  2. Is audiobooks the same as read aloud?

    1. Author

      Audiobooks are great, and my kids listen to them on their own a lot, but read-alouds focus on reading the same book together as a group. If you want, you can use audiobooks to read for you (if you don’t like reading aloud), but everyone is listening together. Then you can stop, define a new word, concept, etc. You can dive off into a rabbit trail of learning together.

  3. Walking With Miss Millie

    Gone Away Lake

    The Education of Little Tree
    (maybe more for older kids-some content kind of heavy, but worth reading, in my opinion)

    Pay It Forward (kids edition)

    1. Author

      Thanks for all of these suggestions!

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