One of the great pleasures of my day is reading out loud to the boys at bedtime. Beloved and I take turns; one night I’ll read to Lucas and he’ll read to Tristan and Simon, and then we’ll switch. Lately, Tristan and Simon and I have taken to sharing some of the reading – they’ll read a page or two each, and then I’ll read the rest. It’s been a great way to (a) keep them engaged in the story, (b) share the love of reading and (c) monitor their reading progress.
We’ve been all over the map with our book choices, from JK Rowling to Dave Barry to Judy Blume, and we’re always looking for new suggestions, so I thought I’d share some of our recent favourites. By the way, I called this post “five great books to read aloud to boys” intentionally — while I’m sure that many girls (myself included!) would enjoy these books, I think it’s a little harder to engage boys in reading and these ones have done that well.
1. Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
This is a wonderful book to read out loud – the language just flows, the dialogue is engaging, and the story is a real page-turner. When I was reading it to the boys this summer, they’d ask me to start reading a little earlier than usual so we could read more, and we’d sit on the porch in the receding light to enjoy it. It’s a quirky, imaginative twist on the Peter Pan story, written by humourist and columnist Dave Barry. There are three more books in this series, and I look forward to working our way through all of them.
2. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – Judy Blume
I read this when I was Tristan’s age, back when I devoured everything Judy Blume had written. Although some of the references are a little dated, the boys loved the interaction between 9 year old Peter, his pesky younger brother Fudge and their baby sister. There are now five books in this series, and we worked our way through all of them this summer. Simon especially seemed to love the antics of Fudge – more than one allusion from Fudge to Lucas was drawn! This one is impressively engaging for a 40 year old novel.
3. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
I tried to read Lord of the Rings several times in my life. I’d pick it up, put it down. Pick it up, put it down. I loved the mythology (I taught myself Tolkien’s rune alphabet when I was in highschool and used to write notes to friends using it) and loved the movies, but the books — ugh. I just couldn’t get through those pages and pages of Hobbit geneology. But The Hobbit itself? Love it. It’s the perfect quest novel – a diminutive hero, mythical and mysterious creatures, battles, treasure. What more could a young boy want? We’re about 1/3 of the way in right now, and although Simon was a little reluctant at first, I had them both sitting on the edge of the bed last night trying to figure out the riddles that Gollum and Bilbo were trading. (Tristan dropped my jaw by figuring out a few of them as I was reading, and then made up his own rhyming riddle on the spot!) Did you know Peter Jackson is filming a version of the Hobbit? It’s due to be released next year.
4. Percy Jackson books – Rick Riordan
I can’t personally testify to these books, as its Beloved who has been working through them with the boys since last Christmas. All three of them love the series, based largely in the world of Greek mythology. In fact, Beloved and I have occasionally bartered for more reading time when he was reading Percy Jackson and I was reading Peter and the Starcatchers — we each wanted to know what was going to happen next in our respective stories.
5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
We read the first book in the series earlier this year, and the boys loved it. I know the books get darker as the series progresses, but I find the first few books to be perfect for where they are right now. Given that it takes a month or so for us to read the average novel (I had to renew Peter and the Starcatchers three times from the library and still incurred a few days of late charges to wade through all 480 pages, and that was an easy read!) I figure by the time we work our way up to Deathly Hallows the boys will be in their teens anyway! I’m trying to read them each book before we watch the movies, but they’ve already seen The Chamber of Secrets — I’ve got some catching up to do!
Clearly, we have a fondness for science fiction and fantasy in our reading material! So, Christmas book-giving season is nearly upon us — what books are on your kids’ wish-lists this year? (Stand by for five more book recommendations for the preschooler in your life!)
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