A year of reading out loud (for the pre-teen / teen ages)

November 26, 2012

Next year on our Family Road Trip (a year around Australia camping and homeschooling and working on the road) we have big plans for a reading out loud year. We need books that we can all enjoy, that will stretch and challenge us and will create discussion and arguments and conversation.

We are a book loving family. But we all have a book rut that we are in. So the plan is to read out loud for a year. Some books will have more challenges that others — where we can have some critical discussion and we can use the novel as a basis for some writing and homeschooling activities.

We are choosing books from different genres, that have deep characters and somewhat controversial concepts, I want the kids to be exposed to different language styles and history too — I want us all to think as well as enjoying ourselves.

[Note: some emails suggested that many of the books on these lists are not suitable for under 14s. I disagree, as the whole concept of reading out loud enables a great amount of discussion of issues -- however you must decide for yourself what you consider to be suitable reading. I have said 10 years and up as a general guide for the list below -- some of the issues may not be fully understood on all levels -- but I think that's ok too!]

[ps. I am going to write a follow up post about how to discuss books with your kids.]

Great books to read out loud [for 10 years and up]

Books on my list for the next year for this are:

  • :: Enders Game
  • :: Day of the Triffids
  • :: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • :: Moby Dick
  • :: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-exupery
  • :: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
  • :: Tomorrow, When the War Began
  • :: The Giver
  • :: Animal Farm by George Orwell

Other books that we will read — maybe together — maybe separately include: 

  • :: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
  • :: Swamplandia!
  • :: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • :: The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents
  • :: And we are all currently reading The Hunger Games

Past books we have read — and which I highly recommend for a year of reading out loud (for this pre-teen / teen age group) include:

  • :: The Graveyard Book
  • :: The Harry Potter series
  • :: Treasure Island
  • :: The BFG
  • :: The Inheritance Cycle
  • :: Holes by Louis Sachar
  • :: The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
  • :: The borrowers
  • :: The Mysterious Benedict Society series
  • :: His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman (our fave books ever)
Some great reader suggestions, many of which I will be adding to the list:
  • :: The Mortal Engines series (also known as Predator Cities or Hungry City Chronicles by Phillip Reeve)
  • :: Wildwood series by Colin Meloy
  • :: Jacky Faber series by LA Meyer
  • :: Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
  • :: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • :: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  • :: Diana Wynne-Jones’ books, especially Fire and Hemlock or Charmed Life [and I have added Howl’s Moving Castle to my list too
  • :: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • :: Veronica Roth’s books, Divergent and Insurgent (and the final book to the series yet to be published)
  • :: The dog who would’t be
  • :: The Avion my uncle flew
  • :: Island of Blue Dolphins
  • :: Sign of the Beaver
  • :: Hatchett
  • :: Julie of the wolves

    Here is my Amazon list for these books: A year of reading out loud.

Will you join in on a year of reading out loud – kids are not too young to start nor too old to enjoy! Will you turn off the TV, gather around with a book, some snacks (a pot of tea and a platter of cheese, crackers and fruit is always a winner) and read out loud together?

I would love to hear of book recommendations — please include the age of your kids too! {I am updating the list above and my Amazon list with many of the book suggestions that I am getting – thanks so much.}

Book list resources

  • Oh and I want to send you to Read Aloud America website which has recommended reading for books to read out loud for all age groups
  • The comments of this post – a lot of lovely children’s books for all ages

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Mel W November 26, 2012 at 12:41 am

A year of reading out loud sounds like a fantastic idea! I have taken this year (National Year of Reading) quite seriously and have themed all of my reading on the monthly themes set by the NYR12 people.
Also, we are loving the new Action Pack here in our house. My eldest is desperate to make her own toothpaste and is also keen to make enough healing salve to give it as Christmas presents to our family this year.

kath_red November 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Hi Mel
Hope the gift salve making goes well. And good luck with finishing up the National Year of Reading – I would love to know what some of your fave books for the year were.


Justine S November 26, 2012 at 5:48 am

Some of the read-alouds we have enjoyed (aside from those you have already mentioned) include the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; The Jungle Book; The Secret Garden; and The Hobbit. My oldest is 7, so definitely younger than pre-teen, but these are all books that could be enjoyed as read-alouds for older kids and adults. I would also recommend any of Dianna Wynne-Jones’ books, but especially Fire and Hemlock or Charmed Life.

If you are going to read the Giver, you may know that there are two companion books: Gathering Blue and a new book called The Son (which I haven’t yet read). Also, if you are liking the Hunger Games and the dystopian fiction genre, you may want to try Veronica Roth’s books, Divergent and Insurgent – of course, there is a final book to the series yet to be published. Finally, maybe I am making a big assumption because you are Australian, but have you read The Ranger’s Apprentice series?

How could I forget? For teens I would also definitely recommend Frances Hardinge’s books, Fly by Night, Twilight Robbery, and A Face Like Glass. And also The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

OK, I’ll stop now. Maybe you can tell we are book people too. I always have lots of good suggestions…!


kath_red November 26, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Hi Justine

Wow! Great list – thanks so much for some must-read recommendations – I have just added a few of these to our list.


Justine S November 28, 2012 at 5:49 am

One other thing I just thought about as I was reading your list over again…I know you say the list is for 10+, but quite honestly, I think The Giver is the one book on the list I would say that parents might want to give some thought to before embarking on. If you have a child who is very sensitive, you may want to pre-read it and see whether you think your child would be OK with it. Do not misunderstand me — it is a GREAT book, richly deserving of the awards and praise it has received, and I personally loved it, but it is also quite dark; and dark in quite a chilling way because it the actions are done so matter of factly in the story. For kids who aren’t affected by dark, or *love* dark, it is a winner. A lot of writers have borrowed from Lowry’s distopian setting for a reason.

(I only mention this small caveat because I wouldn’t say that about any of the other books listed.) j:)

kath_red November 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

Absolutely great idea for parents to do some pre-research on some of these books before getting started on reading them out loud. Great suggestion. and thanks for the warning about The Giver — I will be prepared.

Allana November 26, 2012 at 8:22 am

I love, love, love this idea! I just finished reading The reading Promise by Alice Ozema and I love the idea of extending our nightly reading aloud into so much more. We have been phasing out the TV also so building this into our family rhythm during other times will be lovely. Thanks for the prompt…

kath_red November 26, 2012 at 10:03 pm

oh I have heard about this story – how amazing it is. We phased out TV years ago and it gave us so much extra family time – good luck with your reading.

Natalie November 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Do you know Howl’s Moving Castel as a book? The plot is more complex as in the film and for Harry Potter-readers fine. Also from Diana Wynne Jones is the Game, with figures from greek Mythologie. I started reading MOMO from Michael Ende to my son (7). It’s childhood memory for me and gray men who steal one’s time and people not talk to each other…
Best Regards Natalie

Anna in Atlanta November 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm

What a wonderful year ahead of you — I so wish my circumstances put us in the same position! I say go ahead with The Giver, but if I were you I’d ditch Moby Dick. The kids will probably be bored out of their minds, it’s REALLY long and will take up time so much better used on other titles, and I truly believe it’s among the novels best found as an adult (unless you find it on your own as a special kind of kid).

Have y’all already exhausted Oz’s own YA favorites, like the John Marsden series on your list, or Melina Marchetti? I’m out of date but I remember Playing Beattie Bow, historical fiction set in 19th c. Sydney. What about Tim Winton, or memorizing the epic ballads (we caught a lift with a male nurse who could recite The Man from Snowy River from memory!) Just thinking that finding locally set reads could enrich the travel experience as well as bring the family together. Bon voyage!!

kath_red November 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm

thanks for the heads up about Moby Dick, I do remember it being long as a kid, in the end we vote on a selection of books so who knows which ones we will actually get to read.

And yes I know I need to add more Aussie books to the list — suggestions welcome!

Justine S December 6, 2012 at 5:04 am

Maybe if you want seafaring but not quite so long you could read Melville’s book Billy Budd instead of Moby Dick? Or, even Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brien. I second the vote for Tim Winton, but it depends (of course) what your kids are really interested in!

Melissa November 30, 2012 at 5:21 am

one of the books I really really enjoyed as a kid was Shabunu

I’m sure if I reread it now, I would catch many more details about the political issues, but it was beautifully written. I think it could bring up some great discussions.

I LOVE island of the blue dolphins :)

Becca December 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for the inspiration! We will be joining you for certain. One series we are excited about are the Wildwood books by Collin Meloy and Carson Ellis. Colin is the songwriter for The Decemberists, and he spins some amazing yarns. I am looking forward to reading them!

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