Are you looking for read-alouds that appeal to multiple ages? Are you having trouble keeping all the children engaged and interested in the books you are choosing? Here’s how to choose books everyone will love (including you!)
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When I first began homeschooling, read aloud books were easy to choose. I simply read to the only child I had in school and his 2 year old sister listened nearby as she played, often crawling up in my lap alongside her brother.
But as we added more children to our home and homeschool, I found myself juggling, shushing, and wondering if I needed to have 2 or 3 different read-aloud times to make sure everyone got something out of the books I was choosing.
I finally decided there was no way I had time in my day for several read alouds, but there were ways I could appeal to all the kids and still enjoy read-aloud time myself.
Here are a few ideas to help you choose books everyone in your family will love!
Read to the “middle” (or slightly above)
When you choose read-alouds that need to appeal to the vast majority of your children, look at the age of your middle-most child. My middle-most child is 10. I like to choose read-alouds that are listed for 10-12 year olds. There is often plenty my younger kids understand, and my older kids are often quite entertained by these too-young-for-them books.
NOTE: If you are using the books for a homeschool read-aloud time rather than a family read-aloud time, it’s best to consider only the children who are currently in school when deciding what age bracket to read from. You can always read from “little kid” books before bedtime.
Look through book lists
Start with the book lists included with your curriculum. These book suggestions typically match topics and historical events you are studying in order to reinforce what the children are learning. We have found some wonderful books like the All of a Kind Family series and Jotham’s Journey this way.
If your curriculum doesn’t have book suggestions, then try online book lists like Ambleside or books with aggregated lists like Honey for a Child’s Heart. (You can find more book list ideas in this post.)
It’s ok to be random with your read-alouds; although, I have always preferred to have them coincide with what we are learning in other subjects.
Go to #readaloudrevival
#ReadAloudRevival is a sub-community of Instagram founded by Sarah Mackenzie of @readaloudrevival. It is full of reviews, ideas, and of course, beautiful photos of BOOKS! If you follow the hashtag, you’ll see the posts show up in your feed and you’ll discover new books to read and new friends to follow!
Read through a series
As I mentioned earlier, we found a new series to love – All of a Kind Family – simply because our curriculum suggested it!
A series is a great way to get read-aloud time going. Think Little House on the Prairie or Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. Once you get started, your kids are bound to want to know what else might be going on with the characters they have grown fond of!
When in doubt, go for history
I’ve written about a few of our favorite history read-alouds, but there are so many more! A simple Google search will turn up tons of ideas you can try out.
I’d suggest getting them from your local library before buying (Interlibrary Loan is awesome!) just in case the book is a flop. However, see my next point because sometimes a flop isn’t really a flop!
Negative feedback doesn’t mean the book was a flop
Sometimes commentary about how dumb a book or character is isn’t actually a protestation of the books as much as it is a child choosing to voice a passionate opinion about the literature – this is good! Encourage their thoughts and ideas and read on!
One of the most talked about books we ever had as a read-aloud was one I was tempted to chalk up as a failure. The book Bruchko was maddening to my children. This true story had them exclaiming over the main character’s ill-prepared and ill-fated missionary stories. BUT…they are still talking about the book 6 YEARS after we read it! That’s NOT a failure!
Don’t be afraid to walk away
If a book really isn’t a good fit, it’s ok to put it in the DNF (“did not finish”) pile and call it good. However, don’t spend a bunch of time and energy apologizing about a book or a read-aloud experience. Just move on.
Final thoughts on read-alouds with multiple ages…
*Kids don’t need age-graded books to have a wonderful educational experience.
*Older kids like younger kid books.
*Younger kids like older kid book.
*If you can’t get an entire chapter read, it’s ok.
*Sometimes read-aloud time is beautiful. Sometimes it’s not.
Keep reading, friends!
Looking for a curriculum full of living books?
Check out Sonlight!