Below I share our family’s favorite books to read together.
Books not only open up a whole new world for our children but as they’ve gotten older it provides us a springboard of great conversation to chat about their thoughts on the situations, issues and adventures we read about.
We Get our Books at…
We read as a family at home before getting them in bed, on long car trips using audio books, while camping in our tent or around the fire, at the beach or anytime were traveling with just our family. We buy used books at yard sales, get them at the Library or buy them on Amazon. We also like to listen to audio books that we check out from our local library or I use Audible.
This list are some of the books we have thoroughly enjoyed as a family and some that are on my list of books to read. We enjoy reading together with a book in hand but sometimes it’s audio books while on long drives having some of our own adventures. Some of these books are considered Juvenile fiction, biographies and others fall into the category of historical fiction. I personally like books on social justice and welfare, empathy, resilience and a little history sprinkled here and there.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a wonderful juvenile fiction book that both adults and children will enjoy. We began reading it as a family and then I read it with a group of friends in a book club. It was fabulous plus there’s a movie based on the book.
“August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.”
Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lamong – We read this book about 6 years ago as a family. This book was truly inspiring. It’s the epitome of resilience and hard work in the midst of challenging times. I was able to read most of this out loud to our kids but there were some parts that I skipped over because of the intensity of his hardship. I cried, we laughed and we cheered Lopez on as we read through his story.
“Lopez Lomong chronicles his inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team. Though most of us fall somewhere between the catastrophic lows and dizzying highs of Lomong’s incredible life, every reader will find in his story the human spark to pursue dreams that might seem unthinkable, even from circumstances that might appear hopeless.”
Fish in a Tree by Lynda M. Hunt -This juvenile fiction book is our most recent book. We listened to it in the car on our way to Shenandoah Valley. Our kids wanted us to take it in the hotel and finish listening to it every night because they couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. It touches on the real life struggle of dyslexic children. It encourages anyone and everyone not to compare yourself to others but instead discover your own abilities and never give up. As a former educator and the wife of a teacher it was refreshing to see how her teacher Mr. Daniels impacted her life. I highly recommend educators to read this and anyone really.
“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan – Is considered one of the most influential novels ever written. It’s a story full of symbolism and wisdom that you’ll enjoy. We started reading the modern edition because the original uses too many words that my children wouldn’t enjoy.
“The classic story of Pilgrim’s Progress is told in a fresh way as Christian faces many dangers and adventures on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. As Christian tries to stay on the right path he faces lions, giants, monsters, terrifying forests and people who try to steer him away. This story of a life adventure is told especially for young readers and the amazing illustrations bring Christian values to life.”
Poppy by Avi – Ben read this book to the boys over the school year. It’s a story of courage and determination.
“Poppy knew she was taking a risk following her beloved Ragweed to Bannock Hill, but a night of dancing with the handsome golden mouse was just too tempting. So when Ragweed is scooped up by the sinister owl, Mr. Ocax, who rules over Dimwood forest, she’s devastated. Her whole life she was warned of Mr. Ocax’s evil ways…how could she have been so foolish to put herself and Ragweed at risk?”
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie S Carlson – A touching story that tugs at our hearts to remember what truly is important in life.
“Armand, an old Parisian living on the streets of Paris, relished his solitary life. He begged and did odd jobs for money to keep himself warm and fed, and he liked his carefree life.
Then one day just before Christmas, a struggling mother and her three children walked into his life. Though he tried to ignore their troubles, Armand soon found himself caring for the family and sharing his unusual home under the bridge with them. It did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he loved with all his heart, and one for whom he would have to find a better home than the bridge.”
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is a series of books that appeal to children of all ages. Some of the books have also been made into movies which also make great motivators to finish a book–so we can see the movie.
“On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.
This is a stand-alone novel, but if you want to journey back to Narnia, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the second book in The Chronicles of Narnia.”
The Box Car Kids by Gertrude C. Warner – My husband read this as a child and loved it so he wanted to read it to our boys. It’s a great book series about adventure and mystery that your kids will love.
“Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden take care of one another. They have no parents, no other family—except for a grandfather they don’t care to see—and no home . . . until the night they find the boxcar. Old, rusty, lonely, and abandoned in the woods, it’s the perfect home for four brave children on their own.
Through hard work and courage, the Aldens begin to build a life full of fun and adventure. But when they’re faced with a problem they can’t solve themselves, they’re forced to look for adult help—and will find it in the most unlikely ally.”
Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway This book is good for older audiences and a few sections do require some explanations which we don’t mind having with our kids or you can also fast forward those parts. I only fast forwarded one section that had too much information about their personal relationships with men.
“Monique and the Mango Rains is the compelling story of the author’s decade-long friendship with Monique, an extraordinary midwife in rural Mali. It is a tale of Monique’s unquenchable passion to better the lives of women and children in the face of poverty, unhappy marriages, and endless backbreaking work, as well as her tragic and ironic death. In the course of this deeply personal narrative, as readers immerse in village life and learn firsthand the rhythms of Monique’s world, they come to know her as a friend, as a mother, and as an inspired woman who struggled to find her place in a male-dominated world.”
Hiding in the Light: Why I Risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus by Rifqa Bary This book is also another great book for families with older children because of it’s intensity.
“Hiding in the Light is the story of Rifqa’s remarkable spiritual journey from Islam to Christianity. It is also the untold story of how she ran from her father’s threats to find refuge with strangers in Florida, only to face a controversial court case that reached national headlines. Most of all, it is the story of a young girl who made life-changing sacrifices to follow Jesus—and who inspires us to do the same.”
The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop – This is a great book to read with your kids.
“This captivating adventure follows a young squire who travels a long, dangerous road beside his brave knight, on a quest for their king. The action builds until the final face-off with the monstrous, evil dragon. Only then does the squire learn of the secret beyond the cave that ends in a joyous celebration for the entire kingdom.Children will gain valuable insight as they learn, along with the young squire, what it means to face the dangers of temptation, and what it takes to guard one’s heart from all that is impure.”
God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew is a wonderful reminder of God’s protection and sovereignty. We love to read stories of missionaries so this was one we read last year.
“In the anniversary edition of this electrifying real-life story, readers are gripped from the first page by the harrowing account of a young man who risked his life to smuggle Bibles through the borders of closed nations. Now, sixty years after Brother Andrew first prayed for God’s miracle protection, this expanded edition of a classic work encourages new readers to meet this remarkable man and his mission for the first time.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a wonderful classic that has been made into a movie.
“A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.”
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan I cried, laughed and was deeply moved by this touching story.
“Esperanza thought she’d always live a privileged life on her family’s ranch in Mexico. She’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances-because Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.”
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom this is a wonderful book that will remind us what real love and forgiveness. How light triumphs over darkness! This story also contains some parts that you may want to skip over.
“Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Only Corrie among her family survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil.”
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly B. Bradley – We are about to finish this book and our kids listen to it intently every time we get in the car to run errands. I’ve been surprised how much they’ve enjoyed this book. It’s educational, you learn about War World 11 and the culture, and it has great values that focus on family, love, determination and resilience. This book maybe for older audiences, the main character’s history is troubling and might be hard for a sensitive child. It does bring up lots of topics for discussion with your children.
“Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.”
You Are Special by Max Lucado – This book is one of my favorites and the lesson behind this story resonates with kids of all ages even adults.
Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones–those with smooth wood and fine paint–always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.
Amon’s Adventure by Arnold Ytreeide is typically read around Easter but it really is a great book to read throughout the year.
Thirteen-year-old Amon, the son of Jotham and Tabitha, enjoys playing with his friends but is also ready to join his father in the temple court where only men are allowed. Eager to be considered a man, Amon struggles to divide his time betweenhis friends and his duties to family and faith. But when Jotham is falsely accused of a terrible crime, Amon willingly sacrifices his childhood ways in order to save his father’s life.