I love reading to my children. I read to the boys each night while Rebecca reads to the girls. My favorite books are the ones that are fun to read out loud. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. This was one of the first books I read with William. He picked it out and I thought it would be too difficult for him. I was wrong and I have learned that kids understand a lot more than most people give them credit. It is a beautifully written story.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I read these stories several years ago to my boys and they were riveted. There is nothing better than talking animals, magic, and children heroes. The relations between the children are also wonderfully done.
3. The Witches by Roald Dahl. Anything by Roald Dahl is great. I just listed The Witches because I do a great Grant High Witch voice. “Vitches of Inkland you good for nothing vorms.”
4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. It is a great adventure book, which our whole family got into. We would go on drives just so we could all read it together. The dialog makes for great voices.
5. The Grimm Brothers. This isn’t the watered down Disney version but the real fairy tales. There are lots of difficult words and archaic language but the stories are so fascinating. The kids love them even if they can’t understand every word. Plus a lot of the stories have great lessons like don’t go walking off into the woods alone or obey your parents.
6. Journey to the West. This is one of the great four classic Chinese novels. It tells of a monk’s journey to fetch the Buddhist scriptures in India. The journey if fraught with danger and monsters, but the monk is protected by four magical servants. The greatest of which is the mischievous Monkey King. It is written like the old radio serials or something you might here from a street storyteller with each chapter ending with you wanting to tune in next week. I prefer the Anthony Yu translation over the Arthur Waley’s Monkey. It keeps the feeling of the original Chinese.
7. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne. The stories are so fun and the narration read like a father telling a bedtime story. The narrator’s dialog is great, though it is probably the hardest book on this list to read smoothly out loud.
8. Dr. Seuss. All Dr. Seuss books are so fun I couldn’t chose one. He was a master at tongue twisters and lyrical rhymes. The Lorax and the Horton Hears a Who are some of our favorites.
9. Berenstain Bears. We like the early Berenstain Bear books, like Spooky Old Tree and Inside, Outside, Upside Down, which are just fun and simple. The later books are all about lessons like The Berenstain Bears Learn About Bike Safety, which just aren’t very fun.
10. The Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett. Most of Jan Brett’s books are really amazing, but this one has fun trolls which keep shouting “Want Dog!” The kids love it.
11. The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. Anyone with a name like Rudyard Kipling must have a way with words. The stories are short and imaginative. Most deal with origin myths like How the Camel Got Its Hump. Trust me “O Best Beloved” stories are made to be read out loud.
12. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. It is a book about a town with weather problems. What that doesn’t sound interesting? Well is it when the weather is food. Haven’t you ever wished it would rain donuts? Mmm . . . donuts.
13. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. I can’t stand the voices in the cartoon, except for Templeton, and didn’t think I would like the reading the book out loud. But that all changed once we found out that Wilber wasn’t such a whiner and was actually deserving of Charlotte’s friendship and sacrifice.