Top 5: Books to Read Aloud

July 8, 2022

This week we are recommending books to enjoy aloud. Gather a group of people and some good literature and try out a new, or classic, title! We hope you enjoy the beauty and imagination brought by great stories.

Kayt’s list: This is a mix of books I’ve enjoyed reading with my children (currently ages 5 & 7), and others I imagine we will enjoy reading in the future. My husband and I have also read many of the young adult books aloud together or with other adult friends.

  1. 1. Kids books about Gardens (not chapter books)
    1. A. A Year in Our New Garden | How Does My Garden Grow | How Does My Fruit Grow by Gerda Muller
    2. B. Up in the Garden and Down in The Dirt by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal is part of their enjoyable “Over and Under” series
  2. 2. The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber – A joyful book of tongue twisters this book is best read aloud by someone with a flexible tongue.
  3. 3. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede – A princess who just can’t fit into “proper” life, but instead chooses to volunteer as a dragon’s princess, this is a fun twist on fractured fairytales. 
  4. 4. The Wee Free Men by Terry Prachett – Like all classic Prachett, this reads aloud well; unlike all classic Prachett, this book is aimed at young adults.
  5. 5. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – this Newbury Medal-winning young adult novel is a tale that mixes a Greek-esqe mythology with the story of a young thief on a quest for survival in unexpected ways, and is quite possibly one of my favorite books of all time.
  6. Bonus 6. The Reading Bug – Aimed at kids ages 5-8, this podcast produced by an independent bookshop in California, crafts adventure narrative episodes that reference a variety of different books each time. It’s one of my kids’ current favorites.
  7. Bonus 7. The Cambist and Lord Iron by Daniel Abraham – Our family’s favorite read-aloud short story for adults, this “fairy tale of economics” is a relatively short read.

Ruth’s List: With the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, one positive rhythm we began and have continued in our home was regular read-alouds. All family members sharing a space and listening to a book while simultaneously coloring, building LEGO, drawing or crafting and coming together around good literature. Here are a few titles we’ve enjoyed: 

  1. 1. Ickabog by J.K. Rowling – alongside the pandemic shut-down, Rowling released a chapter at a time of this story. We read along, mostly on car drives, eagerly anticipating the release of the next adventurous chapters. 
  2. 2. The Lost Princess by George MacDonald – Filled with mystery and depth, this story of Rosamind, Agnes, and a Wise Woman resonates with beauty, cruelty, excess, and discipline. 
  3. 3. The VanderBeekers Series by Karina Yan Glaser – These precocious, zany siblings have many adventures in their neighborhood and fully grasp the beauty of community and caring for others. I’d recommend starting with the first book, The VanderBeekers of 141st St. (2017)
  4. 4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – My 10-year-old daughter and I enjoyed reading this together, and, by extension, we find ourselves channeling our inner-“Anne’s” while expressing curiosity and a heightened sense of wonder at our beautiful world. 
  5. 5. The Hobbit, & Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – We are currently working our way through these classic books, watching movie clips after a week’s worth of reading. 

Justin’s List

  1. 1. The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie – a book that gives lots of ideas for making reading aloud a more vital part of family life. Lots of great lists, too!
  2. 2. Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier – my favorite book I’ve ever read to my kiddos (when they were 7 and 9). Note: this book is a sequel to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, which you should also read, though it’s not necessary to appreciate the second book. 
  3. 3. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell – better than the (pretty great!) movie; we listened to it together as a family, since it is read by the inimitable David Tennant.
  4. 4. Half Magic by Edward Eager – a wonderful and hilarious story of children who find a magic metal that grants them half of whatever they wish. 
  5. 5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – Twain’s classic story with humor, suspense, and heroism. Chapters are the perfect length for pre-bedtime reading. 

Donald’s List

  1. 1. The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson – My kids (5, 6, and 9) aren’t quite ready for reading through the Lord of the Rings with me, but they have taken to this series quite well. As a story of children about their age growing up and wrestling with real dangers, emotions, and adventures, it has become a highlight of our bedtime routine.
  2. 2. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson – My sister has been reading these books aloud to my mom as they’ve gone on vacation and done other things together. I’m assuming she doesn’t attempt silly voices (like I do with my first recommendation), but it’s a good example of where reading aloud doesn’t just have to be parents reading to their young children.
  3. 3. Anything by Malcom Gladwell – I’m kind of cheating here in that I’ve mostly listened to these books as audio books, rather than read them aloud, but Gladwell is an important innovator in the podcasting space who increasingly crafted his books toward being listened to as much as read. Arguably, his most recent book, The Bomber Mafia is meant to be encountered by ear, rather than eye.
  4. 4. The Bible – Yeah, this is a cheap addition for a Christian in some ways, but it’s important to remember that hearing was the primary way that most Christians encountered God’s Word for much of history. While there was a remarkable tradition of producing and retaining sacred text, there were never as many of them as there are now, and they were read out in community. If you haven’t gone back to listen through books of Scripture recently, I commend the practice.
  5. 5. Police Craft by Adam Plantinga – If you want a ground-level introduction to the worldview of a patrol officer, this book nails it. It also does so in a way that’s mostly about relating stories of police work. I found myself reading some of these stories to my wife as I went through, which recommends reading it aloud. It’s entertaining, insightful, a little disturbing at points, and worth it for people who have a serious interest in what policing is like today.

This summer In All Things is light-heartedly including recommendations, tips, and joys that we would love to share with you, readers, in the format of Top Five Fridays, switching up our themes each week. Did we recommend any of your favorites? Share a comment if you echo our recommendations or with a title we missed.

About the Authors
  • Kayt Frisch is a wife and mother who serves an Associate Professor of Engineering at George Fox University. When not teaching in the classroom she can be found building relationships over good food, good coffee and board games, or hiking with her family.

  • Donald Roth serves as Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Co-Director of the Kuyper Honors Program, and Director of the Master of Public Administration Program at Dordt University.

  • Ruth (Van Essen) Clark resides in Sioux Center, Iowa, with her husband and three children, and serves as the Andreas Center Coordinator at Dordt. She also teaches in the Core Program. She especially enjoys good conversations around cups of coffee or plates of food, reading, games, cooking, gardening, traveling, and international cuisine. 

  • Justin Ariel Bailey works at the intersection of Christian theology, culture, and ministry. Having served as a pastor in a number of diverse settings, his research seeks to bridge gaps between church and academy, and the formational spaces where they overlap. He is the author of the book Reimagining Apologetics (IVP Academic, 2020) and the forthcoming volume Interpreting Your World (Baker Academic, 2022). He serves as associate professor of Theology at Dordt University and is the host of the In All Things podcast. 

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