Reading to Kids

Why (and What) Should I Read to My Kids?

When my children were toddlers, I read them a book entitled I'll Teach My Dog a Hundred Words by Michael Frith. It served as a delightful introduction to vocabulary for the children, as the little boy taught the hundred words to his dog. I read aloud to my children almost every day after that, for the next twelve years. I read over a thousand books and short stories to my kids, and we had great fun. Our imaginations hung on every word of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and we couldn't wait to turn the pages as C.S. Lewis led us on our first visit to Narnia. Our reading accounted for much of the time that we have spent together, averaging 30 minutes to one hour per day. In a time when fathers spend so little time with their kids, it's ideal to share this fun activity that we all enjoy. I'm no better than the next dad at spending time with my kids, but reading greatly increased the amount of time we spent talking and listening to each other.

Reading is how we learn things. As we read biographies of great statesman like Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, great church leaders like Martin Luther and Billy Graham, and all the great men of science, we discovered that one consistent common denominator was that they read everything they could get their hands on. It's also important that our children see us reading and understand that reading is not just for kids. Also, reading stimulates our imaginations, and reading means not watching TV.

Parents should read their children all different types of books. Read fiction, like Samuel Clemens' Tom Sawyer. Laugh together at all of Louis Sachar's students in Sideways Stories From Wayside School. Cry together with E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, or Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia. Read nonfiction, too. Besides biographies of people they should know about, kids need to learn about history, geography, science, and the Bible.

Finally, below is a list of the best 100 books that we read. I believe that I would have been remiss as a father not to have read these particular books aloud to my kids. In order to be placed on this list, each book had to receive a four-start rating from my son, my daughter, and myself. Each of these books passed the careful scrutiny my son and my daughter, as well as myself. No matter whether you have sons or daughters, you should enjoy reading these:

100 Read Aloud Books For Children

1) Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
2) Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Patterson
3) The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynn Reid Banks
4) Sideways Stories of Wayside School, by Louis Sachar
5) The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
6) The Witches, by Roald Dahl
7) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
8) The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
9) The Door in the Dragon's Throat, by Frank Peretti
10) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
11) Skinny Bones, by Barbara Park
12) Building Blocks, by Cynthia Voight
13) Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth
14) If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever, by M.E. Kerr
15) Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
16) Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
17) Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson
18) A Dog Called Kitty, by Bill Wallace
19) Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume
20) The Computer Nut, by Betsy Byars
21) How the West Was Won, by Louis L'Amour
22) Island of the Blue Dolphin, by Scott O'dell
23) The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford
24) The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman
25) How to Eat Fried Worms, by Thomas Rockwell
26) The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare
27) Home From Far, by Jean Little
28) The Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls
29) Bunnicula, by Deborah and James Howe
30) A Ghost in the House, by Betty Ren Wright
31) The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright
32) Ghost Beneath Our Feet, by Betty Ren Wright
33) The Wizard of Oz, by Frank Baum
34) My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Colier
35) The Return of the Indian, by Lynn Reid Banks
36) Cybil War, by Betsy Byars
37) Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars
38) The Midnight Fox, by Betsy Byars
39) There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom, by Louis Sachar
40) The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
41) The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
42) Trumpet of the Swans, by E. B. White
43) Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You, by Barth DeClements
44) Anastasia Again, by Lois Lowry
45) Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
46) Switch Around, by Lois Lowry
47) The Light in the Forest, by Conrad Richter
48) The Hot and Cold Summer, by Barbara Park
49) The Cold and Hot Winter, by Barbara Park
50) Almost Starring Skinny Bones, by Barbara Park
51) Partners in Grime, by Barbara Park
52) The Kid in the Red Jacket, by Barbara Park
53) Rip-Roaring Russell, by Joanna Hurwitz
54) Prince Caspian, C. S. Lewis
55) The Silver Chair, C. S. Lewis
56) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis
57) The Horse and His Boy, C. S. Lewis
58) The Magician's Nephew, C. S. Lewis
59) The Last Battle, C. S. Lewis
60) Escape From the Island of Aquarius, by Frank Peretti
61) The Tombs of Anak, by Frank Peretti
62) Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea, by Frank Peretti
63) The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe
64) Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case, by Donald J. Sobol
65) Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day, by Donald J. Sobol
66) Sarah, Plain & Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
67) Come Sing, Jimmy Jo, by Katherine Paterson
68) Lassie Come Home, by Eric Knight
69) The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
70) Big Red, by Jim Kjelgaard
71) The Stone Fox, by John Reynolds Gardiner
72) The Bully of Barkham Street, by Mary Stolz
73) The Bremen Town Musicians, by Grimm
74) Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingals Wilder
75) The Emperor's New Clothes, by Hans Christian Anderson
76) Anderson's Tales, by Hans Christian Anderson
77) Aesop's Fables
78) Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parrish
79) Are You My Mother?, by Dr. Seuss
80) I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words, by Michael Frith
81) Preparing for Adolescence, by James Dobson

Books of The Bible:

82) Genesis
83) Exodus (Chapters 1-12)
84) Judges
85) Ruth
86) John
87) Acts
88) Romans
89) Philippians
90) Revelation

Biographies:

91) Walt Disney
92) Helen Keller
93) Sam Houston
94) Abraham Lincoln
95) Franlkin D. Roosevelt
96) Jimmy Carter
97) Ronald Reagan
98) Martin Luther
99) John Wesley
100) Billy Graham

Paraphrasing from "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan, in The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease:

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a parent who read to me.

Owen Weber 2009