All-Time Great Family Read-Alouds

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 19, 2015

Every summer, we have families asking for books they can read aloud (or listen to on audio) that will work for the whole family — kids from, say, ages 6 to 16, and that will entertain the adult as well. Because this is such a common request, I thought I’d create a poster of recommendations to help my staffers as well as the families.
It can be hard to find books that resonate with such a broad range of ages, so I dipped into the classics quite a bit while also looking for more recent additions to keep the list current and diverse. I polled bookselling colleagues for titles they would add to their Great Family Read-Alouds lists, and got some terrific recommendations. Here’s the first iteration of the poster:

3And in case you can’t recognize all of these teeny icon covers, here’s the list, which I’ve also printed on the back of the poster:


I do think most of these — though not all — would work for the younger kids in a family as well as the teens.

Readers, what books (chapter books, novels, nonfiction) would you add to this list? What titles have timeless, ageless resonance, or inspire peals of laughter from the whole gang? I’d like to add more diverse books especially, but all suggestions are eagerly welcomed.


15 thoughts on “All-Time Great Family Read-Alouds

  1. dee

    I really appreciate the list. We use audios for trips or just unwinding after busy days. I would add:
    Because of Winn Dixie (it was a huge hit with the entire family!)

    1. Elizabeth

      Yes! Because of Winn-Dixie is another grand suggestion. I already had Despereaux on the list and was trying to give only one slot per author. Honestly, you could choose almost any title by Kate DiC for this list. She is timeless. Same goes for Katherine Paterson. And Gerald Morris.

  2. Alicia C

    The Bloody Jack series– especially the audiobooks. Funny and adventuresome, and even my husband enjoyed them! May not be appropriate for the youngest listeners, but anyone 10 and above should get a kick out of them.

  3. Monica

    This is wonderful! Mymother read us The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I’m looking forward to my daughter being able to sit through a chapter a night! Will this be available for others to use? I’d love to have it in my library.

      1. Laurie

        Could you e-mail me a copy for my library, too? That would be fabulous! Thank you so much for compiling this list.

    1. Elizabeth Bluemle Post author

      Gwyneth, would it work for, say, a six-year-old family member? (The goal of this poster is to find books that the entire family from youngest to oldest can listen to and enjoy.)

      1. Meggan

        I don’t think there is anything in it that would be bad for a six year old to listen to. It’s a great intro to science, physicists, and some of the great minds who have helped our knowledge of science grow. A six year old might not be as engaged, but I think they would enjoy it. Our family really liked it as well, and we have a range of 2-11.

  4. Melissa

    My husband and I have been listening to the audiobooks of the “How to Train Your Dragon” series. They are great! Funny with enough adventure and suspense to hold your interest for long periods. These would be great for all ages.

  5. Janessa

    I love that you included Wee Free Men! I read this aloud with my four children and it was a hit with all ages. One of our all-time favorites!

    1. Elizabeth

      Hooray! I’m so glad it was a hit. It is one of those rare books with broad age appeal and nothing so scary or disturbing that the young ones will be traumatized!

  6. DeeDee

    I read “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson aloud to my 11 year old grandson and we both loved it! Endearing adventure fantasy about how Peter became Peter Pan.


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