In our house books are an incredibly important part of our lives. We all read books and we have books shelves full of books, but we also love to have family novel time, where we read aloud to each other in the evenings instead of watching television.
When we went camping recently we read aloud Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (first published in 1883), the language used is old fashioned and we had to stop numerous times to discuss/guess at the meaning of certain words and phrases, nevertheless we were all fascinated and loved this book – its a rollicking pirate adventure. In the past we have read the Harry Potter series, The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (one of our favourite books of last year) and The borrowers series (this was my favourite book as a child so am very pleased my kids love it now too!).
Reading aloud to kids is a great way to introduce them to books that they might not be up to reading by themselves yet (and are also really interesting for the adults to read and listen to too), and also to give them the confidence to read it themselves afterwards. My kids are always keen to go off and read our family novels more than once!
Our favourite books this year for the 7 and over age group:
How to train your dragon is a wonderful series of books – suitable for early readers and boys and everyone who loves a funny book about dragons and tricksters. My kids (age 9 + 11 respectively) took this series away with us when we went camping for a month recently and they read the whole series in tandem with each other – they both loved it!
The Septimus Heap series (there are 6 books so far – I think the next one is the last one – due to be published next year), is a another series of books that both my kids have loved and read this past year. We read the first two in the series aloud then they took over and grabbed them and read them late into the night by themselves. Books full of magic, dragons, heroes etc … you get the idea. Lots of fun.
The Artemis Fowl series (by Eoin Colfer) is a much loved read and re-read book by my 9 year old son. He has finally persuaded us to include it in our read aloud sessions and we are all enjoying it now too – a boy hero (who is a bit dastardly mixed with magic and adventure – you can’t go wrong!)
Recent-ish books discovered this year include: The tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Gladiator by Simon Scarrow (the first of a new series for young readers) and When you reach me by Rebecca Stead a book that my 11 year old daughter really enjoyed.
Classics which we have revisted this year and which the kids have discovered by themselves include: The Witches by Roald Dahl and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White both suitable for all ages and Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien (suitable for older kids who are into sci-fi).
So I urge you to read aloud to your kids – no matter what their age – don’t stop reading to them just because they know how to read. Keep reading – it is not only a relaxing and fun bonding family time together, but a great way to expand vocabulary, understanding and broaden everyone’s literature horizons.