Saturday, July 20, 2013

Books for family read-aloud

Our family loves family read-aloud! We try to make time for it every evening, except on church nights, or if we are out late for some reason. Not only does reading together make for some great family time, take us on journeys to faraway places and adventures in years past, it also helps quiet the little ones for bedtime. Many of the below stories tie in important character lessons, or deal with biblical concepts, so there's some spiritual food thrown in there, too.

This list is far from exhaustive. These are just some of the books we have read in recent years.

Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

We have read through these twice now, and will surely do it again in the not too distant future. Both our boys and girls, older and younger, enjoyed these greatly.

Our little funny family twist: Whenever my husband would read out loud, he would change Ma's tone to a very angry and mean one, without changing the actual words. If you know how sweet and meek Ma is in the books, you will cry laughing when you realize how changing her tone turns the story on its head.

Arty Anderson series by Mark L. Redmond

From Sword of the Lord Publishers, this has been a great series, one the boys have read and re-read many times.

Old West adventures and Bible truths tied side by side - it doesn't get much better than that.

Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

There are four books in this series, which are translated from Swedish. The author is well-known all over Europe, although in the US she is probably only known for having authored "Pippi Longstockings." I cannot recommend all of her books, but these are very sweet and funny, full of childish innocence of yesteryear.

"Future historians may look back on the Arnold Pent family and describe them as the “first modern home school family.” Long before there were any state home schooling organizations or curriculum fairs, Arnold Pent declared his independence from government education and his dependence on Jesus Christ in the training of his children.

No one told him to do this. He simply read the Bible and determined to follow the clear principles found within its pages and to be obedient to God — regardless of the consequences.

Like all great visionary leaders, Arnold Pent was a man with many wonderful directives for his family. The world would probably describe these initiatives as eccentricities, but they were not.

In fact, Arnold Pent discovered something that all fathers would be well advised to consider: True Christian leadership in the household is born in the fire of adversity. The noblest and most God-blessed expressions of biblical fatherhood are cultivated always and only by taking the path less traveled." (quoted from Vision Forum)

My favorite aspect of this book is how much Bible it perfectly ties into the storyline, as it quotes verse after verse. Funny, inspiring, and spiritually challenging, we are currently reading this and very much enjoying it.
The Adventures of Lily Lapp by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger

The three (soon four) books in this series follow Lily, a young girl growing up in an Amish home. The stories are based upon the real-life experiences of the author, Mary Ann Kinsinger. Because of the lifestyle of the Amish, they are reminiscent of the Little House books, as well as highly entertaining. While we are not Amish, these books do not teach any strange doctrines, but rather tell childhood stories.

Tiger and Tom / The King's Daughter 

These character books are over 100 years old, aimed at boys, as well as at girls. Each book contains many short stories on various character traits. A bit stilted and slow-moving at times, our older children have really soaked these in much more than I expected. The stories are short enough to be added on to another chapter book, or to be read on their own if the reading time has to be shortened.

"Created for Work" and "Boyhood and Beyond" by Bob Schultz

Written by a Christian carpenter, these two books give young men practical insights and wisdom into becoming godly, hardworking, knowledgeable men. Our boys really loved these, and it certainly never hurts for young ladies to learn how to discern a wise young man.


Please add your own recommendations of wholesome books in the comments below.


  1. What a sweet way to spend time together as a family!

    I love the Little House books and have the King's Daughter book too.

    Have you read any of the Rod & Staff books? I have read a few like Rita Comes Home, The Upward Way, and Like a Child at Home and really liked them! x

  2. Thanks its hard to find good books!

  3. Ten P's in a Pod is one of our favorite books and the Little House books have been read and re-read numerous times. I had never heard of the Arty Anderson series and will now have to see if I can find them to add to our ever growing library. And of-course it makes me happy to see you enjoy the Lily books. :)

    Have you read the books by Patricia St. John? We really enjoyed Treasures of the Snow, Star of Light, and Rainbow Garden by her and have another one here waiting to be read soon. We also liked Moni the Goat Boy by Johanna Spyri, the Elsie Dinsmore series is available on our bookshelves but the children don't seem to care for them, yet. Kinda wordy and boring, but I used to really enjoy them

    We also enjoy books by Horatio Alger Jr. They were out of print for a long time but an Amish publishing company has obtained the rights to reprint at least seven of them. I can give you the address to their book catalog if you're interested. They offer a lot of great family books that aren't Amish related other than being found read and enjoyed in their homes.

    I think I spot Rainbow Resources on your coffee table. :) That's what I have been enjoying reading for the past several weeks, so many delightful options, and so few actual purchases.

  4. I love this post!! The photo of the coffee table laden with books and reading material makes me smile.

    We read the Little House Books many times boys and girls alike and when my oldest came home on leave he made himself a snack and sat down with the The Little House in the Big Woods to reread-he is 24! Kindness, love, family, and many character traits lacking today are in those books. I would highly recommend to anyone who has never read.

    I remember a woman that seemed very old when I married and she told me something ever so wise. She told me if I want my family to turn out a certain way, fill my home with these items...and for me I wanted a place where manners, love, kindness and our Love of the Lord exists so I worked hard to not welcome items that went against this in the home. Books are one place that many parents run the risk of welcoming a bad influence as many Newberry or award winning books are filth. Preread books and definitely ask other believers for book reviews.

    Love the photos!


  5. Dear Zsuzsanna:

    I was and still am a great lover of the 'Little House' books! One suggestion I might make (although they all, understandably, center around young girls) are some of the earlier American Girl Books, such as those about Kirsten (an immigrant traveling from Sweden with her family,) Addy (an African-American girl that escapes slavery,) Felicity (a tomboy that must learn to be a lady during the American Revolution,) Samantha (an upper-class but lonely orphan that befriends her next-door-neighbor's child maid and family), Molly (whose father, a physician, must serve during WWII and the family has a special guest/refugee from England,) and so on. I believe they're focused around age seven and of course the content is up to your discretion, and although they are wholesome, the books do deal with some serious historical issues (slavery, revolution,, orphans during the Industrial Revolution, the difficulties of immigrants, etc.) Each is a set about each girl containing six or seven books, each beginning with 'Meet Molly' or 'Meet Kirsten' and so forth. I remember them giving me the history 'bug!'

    Other books that I'd suggest for the younger and more horse inclined set are the 'Blaze' series of books written in the 1940s or 1950s. They are just wonderful books that I cannot bear to get rid of to this day.

    It is so good to see a family curled up in the living room READING! Such a joyous thing!

    God bless you, Dad, and the seven,


  6. Dear Zsuzsanna:

    I do hope you don't mind me adding a few more books, I do love them so and want to share! If you'd rather not publish this second message, I certainly won't be offended. Other books I'd suggest include:

    'My Name Is Miriam' by Yona Levy Grosman, that tells the story of Moses' sister Miriam. I looked it up and it's made for around six, just perfect for your Miriam!

    'Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children' by Jan Pinborough. It follows the story of the woman who created the first children's library, as it was once thought that reading was unimportant to children. (Excuse me whilst I swoon at the thought--haha)

    There's a set called 'World History Biographies' by John Phillips and include Da Vinci, Galileo, Marco Polo, and are set up for the eight and over crowd.

    Daniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness, by John Mason Brown. I'm a member of an organisation of those descendants of Mr. Boone and we start this one amongst the 9 to 12 year olds.

    I'd also suggest 'The Boxcar Children' by Gertrude Warren that are mystery series starring four young orphans and their grandfather. As I recall they were great fun and not *too* scary.

    'Sarah, Plain and Tall' and its sequels by Patricia MacLachlan are also excellent reads that are acceptable for the whole family.

    If you have any questions about children's books regarding historical figures, I'd more than happy to help--it's a bit of a hobby! (I believe you have my google mail.) Right now I would especially focus on Nelson Mandela ('Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom', by Chris van Wyk--with illustrations) and of course the British Royals, who are expecting a new prince or princess any day now! ('Kings & Queens of England and Scotland' by DK Publishing, it's really more of a very simple guide appropriate for all ages!)

    Happy Reading and God Bless!


  7. Hi Zsuzsa! You have gotten so thin! You look great, as always. Love this post! I have several of the above and love them. I am gonna try the Arty ones you recommend and a few more. Okay, we LOOOOVE the Moody Family Series. Found at the Maxwell family blog store. Also all of the Keepers of Faith Books, found at their site. Pathway readers are wonderful readers for young all the way up to a higher level. I recommend any of their readings.

    You have mentioned the Hardy Boys.....what is your thoughts on those? I have a few. We also have Boxcar Children set. Innocent, creative, fun. That is all I can think up for now.

    Oh another real good one, is, "Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends," by Sarah Malley, I believe. Real good read aloud for siblings.


  8. I always enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables series when I was an older child, as well as Boxcar Children, American Girl, Pollyanna, A Little Princess, Dear America diaries, Nancy Drew, Cheaper by the Dozen, the Secret Garden, to name a few. Not all of them may interest your children but those were some of my wholesome favorites.

  9. Oh, boy! More books to add to my list! Can't wait to try these. :)

  10. I am surprised you would allow the Little House books since Laura chooses not to promise to obey her husband in her marital vows, and in general follows her own conscience.

  11. For your girls (though the boys might like it too), What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge is an excellent novel about a large family. The mother is dead and they live with their father and an aunt who cares for them. One day, the eldest (Katy) disobeys her aunt and suffers long-lasting consequences. Despite this somewhat dire description, it's actually a very positive book showing the love of a family and the importance of kindness and respect for others, as well as self-discipline and responsibility. The kids would probably love reading about a fun group of kids (each of whom are very different and described very well) and there's definitely some good messages. It's not an explicitly Christian novel but due to the time of its writing (19th century), the family is rather religious and the whole thing is framed with God as the ultimate Teacher.

  12. The Little House books are my favorite books in the world! I read the entire series to my own children when they were growing up. We even took a family trip to visit the various home sites of the Ingalls family. Now my daughters read the books aloud to their own children.

    I agree with the person who suggested the Patricia M. St. John books. My third grade teacher read Treasures of the Snow and The Tanglewoods Secret aloud to us (in a public school in the 1960s), and I loved them so much that my mother bought me copies of both books. I later discovered Rainbow Garden and Star of Light. I believe she has written some others, too, but I haven't read them. They are all wonderful stories that teach of God's love and forgiveness from a child's point of view.

    They are on Amazon: Patricia M. St. John books.

  13. Great post. I think it's wonderful that your family does this. I remember I hated reading until I was eleven or Twelve and the book series that got me into reading was the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm getting the Created for Work book ASAP!! Just what I was looking for.

  15. Being read to before bed is one of my most cherished childhood memories. There are few things better than listening to mom or dad's voice bringing characters to life.

    I liked the Grandma's Attic series for reading aloud when I was a child. There are several, and all of the stories therein are light, child-friendly, and contain character lessons. In some ways, they're reminiscent of Little House, and they're great for reading aloud because each chapter is a self-contained story. I think the stories are entertaining and thought-provoking enough for older children, without being too scary or action-packed for the little ones.

    I liked Caddie Woodlawn and Anne of Green Gables too, but their protagonists may be too rebellious for your family.

    For me, there is something so pleasant and relaxing about reading historical stories, set before (almost) everybody was constantly connected to their iWhatever and updating Facebook.

    I liked the original few Boxcar Children books, too. The children are independent but understand the value of family.

    (Also, I can't believe how grown-up Stephen is looking!)

  16. As a Canadian I have to recommend "Anne of Green Gables" and the "Anne of Avonlea" series. They are wonderful books and good literature.

  17. I will add Concord Cunningham the Scripture Sleuth (Concord Cunningham Mysteries)

  18. I don't know if you read fantasy type books, but my kids love Harry Potter! They very clearly understand that the magic aspect isn't real, and there are actually some very good life lessons in those books. We've also enjoyed reading the Roald Dahl books together, in particular Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  19. Since you grew up in Germany, did you read the Nesthäkchen and Trotzkopf books as a girl? I absolutely adored them and can't wait to have daughters to read them to.

  20. I can think of a couple of books that your brood would enjoy.

    BABY ISLAND, by Carol Ryrie Brink--The story of two little girls, Mary and Jean, traveling on a ship to meet their father in Australia (I believe the father is a missionary). When the ship is wrecked in a storm, they save four babies from the ship in a life raft and drift to an island where they have to take care of the babies until they are rescued. My cousin and I used to read this book and then play "Baby Island" for days afterward. I can see Miriam and Rebecca doing the same thing. :o)

    THE FAMILY NOBODY WANTED, By Helen Doss--True story about a minister, Carl Doss, and his wife Helen who were unable to have children and ended up adopting 12 children of various ethnicities (white, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Mexican, and Native American) at a time (the 1950's) when interracial adoption was considered unthinkable. The story is beautifully written and centers around how Carl and Helen strive to bring their love of God to life in their family.

    THE FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS, By Margaret Sidney--I think there are five or six "Five LIttle Peppers" books, written in the late 19th century, about a family of five children and their mother who have to rely upon themselves, their love of God, and the kindness of strangers to survive. I remember reading these books and when I was little and wanting to name my first daughter "Phronsie" after Phronsie Pepper.

    MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE and STORMY, MISTY'S FOAL, By Marguerite Henry. Wonderful books for children about Misty, a pony born to a wild horse, and the family that rescues and raises her. The horses on Chincoteague Island (Virginia) are supposed to be descendants of horses which survived the wreck of a Spanish galleon in 1750, so "Misty" always serves as a springboard to discussions of history as well.

    Of course you would have to read these yourself and make sure that they don't contain things you don't want your children exposed to but I remember them as wonderful children's books. In fact I've still got the Doss book and "Baby Island" in my own library. Happy Reading!!

  21. Thank you for the list. I have several that you mentioned. Some of my favorites are: Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry (she has several horse books. I read many as a child. We even visited Chincoteague Island once.) I love Janette Oke animal stories for children. I don't see them often, but I do have Ducktails and Trouble in a Fur Coat. One of my favorite books is Naya Nuki Girl Who Ran by Kenneth Thomasma. Naya Nuki was Shoshoni and a friend of Sacajawea who were captured by another tribe. I read it several times to my students when I was teaching. My kids right now enjoy the Boxcar Children books and American Girl books.
    Miss you all

  22. The Bobbsey Twins were favorites of mine growing up, but they're out of print so may be hard to find. I love the Little House series and have the original the boxed set with which I grew up.

  23. I was just wondering, you said about Astrid Lindgren that you cannot recommend all her books. So I was just wondering why? Are there some that are not good and if so whats the reason? Because I am looking for some good children's book as well. I have not looked into her books yet so I am just curious. Thanks!

  24. So great to see families to be together especially with all your children together/ your children Mrs. Anderson are so cute/ adorable/ I see in your pictures that your face shines when you are with your children. Many families should read your blog and follow the example of what a loving family that stays together is all about. I read the veggie tales lots, for when I babysit very young kids. Thank you for adding to the collection of books that you read to your children. Do you read together the Bible with your whole family also? I never had this blessing of my family together with of such. Sharing this is a blessing to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Rosita :)

  25. I do have a question for you, maybe you can answer it when you do one of you question answer post sometime again. I did read your Husbands blog about how your both met and ended up getting married. My question is, did you already only wear skirts and dresses when you both met or was this a issue that you talked about after you got to know each other and you both decided on that? Or did he tell you that you cannot wear pants? So was it something that you alone decided on your own, or you both together or did he make that decision?

  26. I wrote a post today about the favorite books from my childhood that I am having my own kids read. I also read a lot of Mark Twain books which I purposely omitted from the list due to his atheist views. Anyway, you might find some books on my list that you don't already know about...

  27. Love your list! I have added them to my personal booklist!

    Some that come to mind....

    Anne of Green Gabes series
    Paddington Bear
    Bobbsey Twins
    Cheaper by the Dozen, and sequel (preview first)
    Boxcar Children
    Caddie Woodlawn
    Anything by Elizabeth George Speare

    Have a great night!

  28. Hi Ms. Susanna,

    I really admire your family. I love your hard work. I am thinking of homeschooling my kids too when i get married but I did not grow up here in the U.S and I am a little nervous about everything. I am thinking i might not be able to give them proper education or enough fun time because i am not really creative. I am also a little skeptical about marriage and i was wondering if u can make a blog on how to deal with your spouse (husband).


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