9 books to read aloud to older children

Posted by Kelly Kessler - 15 December, 2015

MS libraryBy Kelly Kessler, Middle School Librarian, and Kim Simpson, Lower School Librarian

Winter Break is a wonderful time to rekindle the tradition of reading aloud to your older child.

Many of us read to our children each night at bedtime when they were younger. It was a treasured time in which we could share the magic of a good story and build memories with our child. But as kids got older and schedules got busier, some of us, myself included, fell out of the habit.

The Kids & Family Reading Report compiled by Scholastic finds that 54% of kids ages 0-5 are consistently read aloud with at home, while only 34% of kids ages 6-8 and 17% of kids ages 9-11 are still reading aloud with parents. And yet, 40% of those children ages 6-11 wanted to continue reading aloud. According to the report, “The top reason children say they enjoy being read aloud to is that it’s a special time with their parents.”

So this holiday season, consider reviving the tradition of reading aloud with your child, no matter their age. There are many holiday-themed books that adults will enjoy as much as kids. The following list provides a mix of classic and recent books set during the holiday season. All book descriptions are from the book publisher. Some of the books mentioned can be found in Randolph's libraries.

Winter Break is a wonderful time to rekindle the tradition of reading aloud to your older child.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson – grades 3-6. The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.

The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements – grades 3-6. It all started when Hart Evans zinged a rubber band that hit Mr. Meinert, the chorus director. Actually, it started before that, when Mr. Meinert learned he was out of a job because the town budget couldn't afford music and art teachers. Mr. Meinert got so mad at Hart that he told the sixth graders he'd had it -- they could produce the big holiday concert on their own. Or not. It was all up to them. What happens when a teacher steps aside and lets the kids run the show? Not what Mr. Meinert would have predicted. And not what Hart Evans would have guessed, not at all.

Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald – grades 3-6.  It was Christmas Eve. Big snowflakes fluttered slowly through the air like white feathers and made all of Heavenly Valley smooth and white and quiet and beautiful. So begins the story of two orphaned sisters at Mrs. Monday's Boarding School. But nothing is heavenly for Nancy and Pamela (aka Plum): their parents died in a tragic accident years ago, they're constantly punished by the cruel Mrs. Monday, and they're all alone for the holidays. Luckily, Nancy and Plum have each other, and though their prospects may be bleak, they're determined to change their lot for the better. If their plan works, the spirited sisters will never spend Christmas at the cold, dark boarding school again. But what will they find on the other side of Mrs. Monday's gate? Adventure, warmth, unforgettable characters, and unexpected kindness abound in this classic story by Betty MacDonald, which was originally published in 1952.

The Jar of Fools: Eight Hanukkah Stories from Chelm by Eric Kimmel – grades 1-4. Drawing on traditional Jewish folklore, these Hanukkah stories relate the antics of the people of Chelm, thought–perhaps incorrectly–to be a town of fools.

capoteA Christmas Memory by Truman Capote – grades 3-6. Originally published in 1956, this is the story from Capote's childhood of lovingly making fruitcakes from scratch at Christmas-time with his elderly cousin, and has stood the test of time to become known as an American holiday classic.

The True Gift: a Christmas Story by Patricia MacLachlan – grades 3-6. All year long Lily and Liam look forward to Christmas on their grandparents' farm. It's always the perfect trip -- walking to the lilac library, trimming the tree, giving gifts. But this year, thanks to a white cow alone in the meadow, things will be different. This Christmas, Lily and Liam will find out the meaning of a true gift.

The Toymaker's Apprentice by Sherri Smith – grades 4-7. Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia's princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family. Based on the original inspiration for the Nutcracker ballet, Sherri L. Smith brings the Nutcracker Prince to life in this fascinating journey into a world of toymaking, magical curses, clockmaking guilds, talking mice and erudite squirrels.

What Child Is This? A Christmas Story by Caroline B. Cooney – grades 6-10. When seventeen-year-old Matt tries to find a family for an eight-year-old foster child, his attempt backfires and both of them need a Christmas miracle.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – grades 6 and up. As much a part of the holiday season as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen wreaths, this perennial favorite continues to delight new readers and rekindle thoughts of charity and goodwill.

ozmaYour family may decide that reading together is a special experience that you want to continue after the holidays. The following resources discuss the benefits of reading aloud and will help you find books you will both enjoy:

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox

Topics: Academics, books, Chanukah stories, Christmas stories, family, Hanukkah stories, holiday reading, holiday stories, Lower School, Middle School, My favorite place, parents, reading, reading aloud

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