Jul 5

Summer Read . . . Alouds?

Summers are long and thick and lazy and sticky and beachy and full of water-gun, sunshine-y, read aloud fun.

“Read aloud fun?” you ask. “That’s a little random.”

Yep and . . . yes, a little.

We are a read-aloud sort-of-family. I’ve read aloud to each of my four kids since they couldn’t even lift up their heads and I’d have to hold a burp-cloth under their little baby chins. While my husband romps on the trampoline (Mama’s stomach doesn’t do the trampoline) and shoots hockey pucks in our basement (good bye drywall), my special thing with them has always been reading. I’ve even begun to read aloud to my husband and myself while he sits at the kitchen table and ties his flies for his fly-fishing adventures. It’s a shared sort-of magic that we have together.

And there’s no better time than in the lazy summer heat, during an afternoon thunderstorm, or on cool summer evenings to pick up a book and start to read . . . aloud.

So, I’m going to give you some of my favorite—and my kids favorite—read-alouds. And since I’m a middle grade author and middle grade books tend to be the very best read aloud books for the widest audience around, that’s what I’m going to give you. I’ve also tested each of these on my four chickens and they agree. So without further ado…

Summer . . . (and Fall and Winter and Spring) . . . Read Alouds:

Matilda by Roald Dahl (and pretty much all of his books: The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc): Well, ever since I was in fifth grade, this book had been my all-time favorite book around. It’s perfect in so many ways and if you could’ve seen the look on my kids faces when they found out The Trunchbull was Ms. Honey’s aunt, well, it would bring tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat. The power of story…whew!

Harry Potter by JK Rowling…all 7 of them…yes, all 7 of them: I just finished reading the very last one to my kids about a week ago. Wow. Ummm . . . yeah, there isn’t much else that I can say without sounding like the Potter-crazy-34-year-old-mom that I am. So just read them aloud . . . all 7 of them. (I LOVE you, RONALD WEASLEY)

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: This book, in and of itself, is beautiful, but read aloud it is even more magical. My kids loved it and of course, I cried and blubbered through the end.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo: For those of you who haven’t read this book, I have a mixture of feelings towards you. It’s between pity that you haven’t experienced it’s magic yet, and jealousy that you get to read the magic for the first time. This is a beautiful story and is probably one of the most perfect read-aloud books on the planet.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry: this is perfect for anyone who loves adventure, humor, mystery, and magic. The chapters are short, the plot is complex, and it’s just all-around fun, fun, fun. I adore this book so much and it’s perfect with all the different voices.

Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn: Okay, so I haven’t actually read this one aloud to my kids. The only reason being that they wouldn’t sleep for a month…or probably a year. But I still remember sitting on the carpet in fifth grade listening to Mrs. Baughman read this book and even today, I still can’t walk by an old pond and not imagine Helen emerging from the depths and waving (insert creepy chills). It’s so deliciously eerie…perfect for a girl or boy or adult who likes ghost stories.

So as July bounces along like a big multi-colored beach ball, grab a lemonade, cuddle up on the couch, clear that throat and enjoy some of your very own shared-summer-magic.

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