An everyday part of our routine is read aloud books. C and L have always loved to sit and listen to books, even some that I expected to go over their heads. H is not as into them, but we have tried a few and she is getting better. She often gets sucked into the books that I am reading to the older two. Ken and I both love to read and its important to us to try to foster a love for reading in our girls.
The thing about books is that its not always possible to find an accurate review of the content of the book. This summer I was able to get an audio book of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” I was so excited, I remember watching the black and white movie with my mom as a kid and I was excited to listen to it with the girls. Unfortunately we did not make it very far into the book. It was full of inappropriate language, and (when I looked up a review online) lots of other things that I DO NOT want my three to listen to.
I wasn’t expecting this kind of content because its an older book and a classic and the movie was not at all like that. But it goes to show that you can never be too careful. Two resources I have started using to vet our books are Common Sense Media, and Goodreads.
Common Sense Media approaches their reviews from a moral stand point, and have a suggested age along with each review. The drawback is that not every book has a review, and if it has been made into a movie, it can be hard to find the book review.
Goodreads is available as an app, and includes a synopsis of a book and reader reviews. They aren’t geared towards helping discern if a book is appropriate, but usually it is possible to tell from reading the reviews.
My kids love the fantasy genre, and would probably read exclusively fantasy books, but I try to include variety when I read aloud. I have compiled a list of some of our favorites that I feel encourage good character traits.
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Books for Lower Elementary:
- Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder- This is the third book in the Little House on the Prairie set. The main character is confronted several times with an opportunity to choose between telling the truth or lying. I love that he makes the right choice even though it seems like an insignificant thing to lie about. He respects his father a lot, and wants to earn his father’s approval. His father is stern, but it is clear that he loves his son. Age- 5+
- Mrs Piggle Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald– This is a series that will have your children giggling at its ridiculousness. Mrs Piggle Wiggle is known for her cures for children. But she is not curing run of the mill ailments. She offers cures for children who are Answer-Backers, and Won’t-Go-To-Bedders. I’ve been reading this to H, but I often catch the twins listening in. Age -4+
- These Are My People, by Mildred T. Howard- This is a missionary biography of Gladys Alward who was responsible for starting an orphanage in China and saving the lives of over 200 orphans when World War 1 begins. She makes many sacrifices in order to get to the mission field and many sacrifices on the field. Age- 6+
Books for Upper Elementary and Preteens:
- Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIHM or The Secret of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien- This is one for a little bit older child, simply because it has more adventure throughout it. It encourages thankfulness, loyalty, empathy, bravery and more. If you have seen the poorly done cartoon that bears the books’ name just erase that from your mind and give it a chance. Its one of my favorite books. Age- 8+ (younger if your child is not easily upset by intense-trying to escape danger type scenes)
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry- This book is so unique. It takes place in a utopian type society, so there are tons of conversations that you will be able to have all through the book. The biggest lesson is in the end when the main character feels he can no longer participate in the deception and evil hidden by the community. It has an open ended conclusion, leaving you free to imagine many possibilities. Age- 8+
- Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery- So many things to love about this book. It shows the compassion of a brother and sister who never married and decide to adopt an orphan. When they don’t receive the child they were expecting they debate sending her back to the orphanage. It shows adoption in a positive light. Anne struggles with self control of her anger and not wanting to forgive. She memorizes scripture and grows in maturity into a wonderful young lady. Age- 9+ (has a high level vocabulary)
- A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton-Porter- This book examines a strained mother daughter relationship. It shows reconciliation, forgiveness, and praises hard work to achieve a goal. In the first half of the book the Mom is not kind to her daughter, but in the second half they are reconciled. Age- 10+
- Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss- You might want to try an abridged version of this to keep the story moving. The father of this story leads his family in thanking God for sparing their lives after they are shipwrecked alone on a deserted island. He corrects his children in their anger and encourages them to work hard. He also leads the family in worship each Sunday on the island. Its a great example of a father being the spiritual leader of his family. Age- 9+
I based the ages of these books on how I feel about reading them to my own kids.
I would love to hear your recommendations! We are always looking for the next book to read, what are you reading right now?