Our Six Best Elementary Read-Alouds

With all these "Best of 2009" posts flying around, I realized that I never followed up on my promise to share the best books we read with our reader this year.  So without further adieu, here are the six (sorry, I couldn't resist the tie-in) best elementary level books we read aloud this year.

In no particular order:

  1. The Harry Potter series.  This series has been a part of Mike and Elena's read-aloud time for over a year now.  They're currently on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  There's nothing I can add to attest to the magic of Harry Potter on young (and old!) readers other than thank you, J.K. Rowling!
  2. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  I've yet to read a book by Ms. DiCamillo that I didn't love, but this is my favorite.  I have a soft spot for stories set in the South.  Elena has a soft spot for stories with animals.  Ms. DiCamillo creates realistic characters with human flaws, dealing with difficult situations, that manage to be perfectly age-appropriate.
  3. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  Don't be put off by the size of this book (It's like the War and Peace of the juvenile fiction section).  This already evocative story is filled with page after page of breath-taking pencil sketches.  Elena and I couldn't wait to pick up the book every evening because we had no clue how the story would end.  And then it did and we were sad, because it was that good.
  4. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.  This is the first of a two book series.  I was drawn to the book by its cover (I'm a sucker for silhouettes), but the story stands all on its own.  The summer adventures of "four sisters, two rabbits and a very interesting boy" are thoroughly entertaining.  It's a relatively new book, but it has the look and feel of an old classic.  The audio books in this series are equally fabulous, and perfect for long car trips or days when a mom needs a little quiet time from a certain non-napping child.
  5. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.  How did I miss this book as a child?  A classic that hasn't lost one ounce of charm.  Elena was enthralled with the idea of running away and living in a museum – the adventure! the trickery! the freedom!  I was enthralled with the charming, vintage sketches.  It's one of those books whose illustrations you hope are never updated.
  6. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  We are in the middle of the second book of this series.  Another example of a book with a great cover whose story doesn't disappoint.  It feels a bit like "Lost" for the elementary set.  You know it's a good story when you're bummed that it isn't your turn to read, because you just need to know what happens next.

Now it's your turn!  What were your favorite books you read aloud this year (any book, any reading level)?  In the meantime, snuggle up and read!

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  1. Angie, we read through both the Narinia and Little House series this year. Enjoyed by the 7 year old and the adults readers. He also enjoyed My Father’s Dragon and Despereaux. I think we are headed to Harrry Potter next. The adults in the house have poured over them time and again and the 7 year old is now expressing interest. Thanks for your posts.

  2. “Mixed Up Files” was a favorite of mine growing up. I got it as a gift from an aunt that I wasn’t fond of but who had a real knack for finding good books. She also introduced me to “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Witch_of_Blackbird_Pond
    I always enjoyed The Littles books, too. And Judy Blume. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Littles

  3. Anna and I read and loved The Penderwicks too. I had no idea there was a sequel! I’m putting it on the wish list now…
    Around the same time we conquered The Penderwicks we also read The Tale of Despereaux. The book was wonderful — so much better than the movie, which we both found to be a bit of a disappointment after reading the book together.
    Bill and Anna have been through the Little House series but I thought those were snoozers. He bought the Anne of Green Gables series for Anna *last* Christmas but they only made it through the first book so far.
    This year Anna and I have read a few that she really enjoyed:
    The Wanderer
    The Schwa Was Here
    Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat
    The Book of One Hundred Truths
    Of those, the one that is most appropriate for a 7YO is Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. It has good lessons, excitement, a little fantasy, and really neat artwork around the edge of the pages.
    Right now she and Bill are going through Bud, Not Buddy, which I think she’s digging.
    She is a voracious reader on her own but I’ve only mentioned books that we read together…you know, since that’s the topic here. 🙂 We have Anna 50% of the time and we only read for about 30 minutes at bedtime so it takes a while to get through a book together, but I’m always amazed at how accurately she can recall the story’s details.

  4. Aimee Gebhart says:

    Angie, I love reading aloud The Tale of Despereaux. Such a beautiful story…so much so, that I refuse to watch the movie.

  5. Thanks for this informative list, Angie. #3 and #6 are now on our “get from the library list”. Good news for all us Penderwicks fans – it’s actually a 5 part series. Birdsall plans for one to come out every 3 years, meaning the next one will be out in 2011. (Let the countdown begin!) I must second the suggestion of the “Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis. My girls have also enjoyed the “Orphan Train” series by Joan Lowery Nixon, the “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” series by Betty MacDonald, and the “Dr. Dolittle” series by Hugh Lofting. And, for a fun picture book, read Bill Peet’s “Eli”.

  6. Youre the third person to recommend My Fathers Dragon. It must be a good one! Thanks for joining the discussion, Jaime.

  7. Again, awesome suggestions! I forgot all about The Witch of Blackbird Pond. A favorite of mine growing up, too. I adored the Little House series, but Elena just isnt that into them right now. I hope she changes her mind, seeing as how I had big plans for a Mother-Daughter Road Trip to visit sites from Little House! Thanks for adding the discussion!

  8. Zigged, you are awesome as usual! Did you see Jenns comment after yours? Apparently Penderwicks is going to be a 5 part series – yipee! I agree wholeheartedly that The Tale of Despereaux was a disappointing movie. It was Elenas first introduction to The Book is Always Better Than the Movie. Ill be looking into Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. Im intrigued by the artwork around the edge of the pages.

  9. Dont watch it! Youre not missing anything! Youre right, though, Despereaux is a great read aloud.

  10. I had no idea Bill Peet had a book called Eli! I love his stuff (hes a Hoosier, you know!). Thanks for passing on the good news about the Penderwicks! Elena will be thrilled.