Reading as a Family: The Benefits & Favorite Family Book List

Reading as a Family: The Benefits & Favorite Family Book List

Reading Aloud TO Your Children Throughout Childhood

Because I am a storyteller by nature, sharing stories with others brings me incredible joy. With this in mind, I am obsessed with reading as a family.

A trip to the library or bookstore is exciting for me because I love books. Looking through all the book covers, flipping through pages of text and images lights up my day. Book -lovers are famous for hoarding books in their Amazon carts. Likewise, my Amazon wish list is loaded with over 500 book titles that I dream to one day read.

Most importantly, my greatest joy is when we are reading as a family. Honestly, some of the sweetest times that we have had in our homeschool is our time enjoying books together. When I think back over the past 9 years of school, my heart swells the most when I reminisce about our times sharing a story together.

“Sharing Story” Memories

All in all, there is nothing I get more excited for each day than the time when we “press pause” and begin reading as a family.

  1. Those beautiful spring days when my girls and I would read for hours while relaxing on the screened-in porch.
  2. Or the freezing-cold winter snow days when we would all curl up on the couch and get lost in Narnia.
  3. Reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales while the girls sat at the kitchen island eating breakfast.
  4. Reading Hop on Pop with my 5 year-old son while at the kitchen table
  5. Or exploring the anatomy of spiders and butterflies with him through books
  6. And with my girls, hanging out in one of our rooms late at night, reading devotions together
  7. Heck, even reading from our Science book is amazing!

I simply love reading anything with my family.

Flexibility is Key When Reading As a Family

Regardless of where we are or what season we are in, we can always find a reading spot and a good story to share.

During our Read Aloud time, the girls (and my son, who is now interested in listening in), draw or doodle. My oldest went through a Rubik’s Cube phase as well. She would manipulate that Cube the entire time I read to them. However, she was always engaged in the story line despite the “distraction.”

Recently, it has become common within the homeschooling community to create shared experiences through books and stories. It is important to realize that reading aloud as a ritual and natural habit of school and home life is incredibly beneficial. Thank you, Ms. Sarah MacKenzie, at the Read Aloud Revival for sharing this passion with the world. (I highly recommend you check out her podcast!)



Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Children as Family

By and large, reading aloud TO your children provides many benefits:

  • The exposure to beautiful and well-written language
  • Similarly, exposure to ideas and principles that are common in higher-level literature
  • Even more beneficial, developing a love for books as a form of entertainment (no screens!)
  • Additionally, for those with Auditory Processing Disorder, reading aloud gives your child opportunities to develop the skill of listening and visualizing
  • family cohesion and bonding
  • a natural set-up for the school day
  • much needed mental break after more laborious school tasks (math, reading, writing)
  • Sharing stories creates conversations that may not otherwise occur
  • the list goes on.

While eating dinner with my family a few weeks ago, we had a conversation about our favorite books that we have read throughout the years.

My Family’s Top Memory-Making Books

Without further delay, here is our list of favorite books to share as a family. Hope you enjoy!

C.S Lewis



Undoubtedly, this is one of C.S. Lewis’s best books ever! The story of Aslan and Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy is a classic story that can be read over and over again.



Are you noticing a theme? We love C.S. Lewis. Consequently, we believe the entire Narnia Series is phenomenal! Every story of the land of Narnia is filled with rich concepts and language and yet so intriguing for all ages.

Beverly Cleary



Who doesn’t love Ramona? For one thing, she is hilarious and quirky! Her antics are always getting her into trouble. Keeping this in mind, our young readers can often relate to her questions about life. We love Ramona! As a matter of fact, we have read them all multiple times. This is a classic series for all ages.



Once we find an author we enjoy, we tend to stick with them. As a matter of fact, according to my 13 year-old daughter, the Henry Huggins series, “is like Ramona Quimby except its Henry. Its fun to read about Henry and his adventures with his dog.” 🙂 Without doubt, Beverly Cleary will always be a favorite author in our home.

Kate DiCamillo



I held a book club for my middle daughter and some friends last summer. We read Flora and Ulysses and had a blast. Lots of beautiful comic-version illustrations. The book is NOT a comic, but it is about a little girl who enjoys comics and squirrels. Fun!!



To reiterate, we love our favorite authors. In addition to Flora and Ulysseys, Because of Winn Dixie is another favorite by Kate DiCamillo. It is such a sweet story about a young girl who lives with her father. In spite of her mother’s recent departure, Opal adjusts well under the circumstances. One morning, she befriends a precious mutt and many quirky townspeople. Above all, they enjoy adventures. Sucked us all in and was an easy, relaxing read!

Katherine Applegate



This is an intriguing story about a gorilla living in a mall. Given that the animals live in captivity, there are scenes that are pretty disheartening. Thus, more tender-hearted children may want to skip this. The relationship between Ivan and a baby elephant is precious. hat he can Sweet story.

Elizabeth George Speare



My oldest and I absolutely LOVED this book! There is a major romance component that is simply magical. For this reason, I would recommend this book for 5th grade and up. Historical fiction at its best!

This story follows the journey of a beautiful young lady who is suddenly living in Puritan New England. She befriends a lovely woman whom the townspeople refer to as a “witch.” In the long run, our protagonist shakes up the town. The story is amazing!

 



As mentioned previously, Elizabeth George Spears is an amazing historical fiction writer. Accordingly, the Sign of the Beaver does not disappoint. It is based in the newly colonized Americas. story follows a young boy left alone to fend for himself in early America. Despite this, he develops a friendship with a Native American teen. In short, this story is phenomenal.

Clara Dillingham Pierson

Clara Dillingham Pierson wrote a series of phenomenal children’s books based upon various natural settings including farm animals, creatures found in meadows, forests and water. Included in the series are Among the Night People, Among the Meadow People, Among the Pond People, Among the Forest People, & Among the Farmyard People. These stories are amazing read-alouds and are incredibly well-written literature.



From time to time, my oldest daughter has experienced insomnia. In fact, at the age of 7, her insomnia lasted for about a year. I couldn’t let her suffer alone in the dark of night. Consequently, I would lie on her floor and read this series aloud to her from my Kindle. As horrible as the insomnia was, God did create a sweet memory for us through this shared series. In light of that, this series has a special place in my heart!

James Baldwin



This is a collection of classic stories told in a highly engaging format.

When short on time, Fifty Famous Stories Retold is a great choice. Throw it in the car in the event that you become stuck in traffic.

The Shared Stories Challenge

Even if you haven’t developed the habit of sharing stories aloud as a family, give it a try.

In light of all of the benefits of reading aloud as a family, why not give it a shot? Choose a title and read it together over the next month (or two). Even five minutes together in story will create a safe and cozy memory for your family.

Let me know if you are trying this Shared Stories Reading Challenge. Read aloud and don’t force your kids to read. In the hopes that you may instill a love of books in your children, I encourage you to read to them.

Now that we have discussed the benefits of reading aloud as a family, check out my series on different reading instruction strategies for kids who learn differently.






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What about you? What are your favorite books? Comment below.

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My Top 3 Phonics Resources for Parents & Kids to Enjoy

My Top 3 Phonics Resources for Parents & Kids to Enjoy

Top 3 Resources for Phonics Fun at Home

As a homeschool mom, I have had the blessing of being home with my kids to educate them. Of our homeschool experiences, I would say that my top accomplishment with my girls (I have yet to teach my son) is teaching them to read. Over the years, I have used a ton of different phonics resources and curriculum in my homeschool.

As I am circling back to basic skills with my son who is now 5, I am pulling out materials that I used with my girls. Over the past few years, my son has developed a fascination with all-things letters and numbers. Because of this, I have been propelled to explore many more early learning resources.

 All Parents are Teachers

You don’t have to homeschool your children to reap the joy that comes with teaching your children. The following phonics resources for parents and children to use at home are very user-friendly. Each option will allow any parent the opportunity to enhance the education of his or her kids in a fun and engaging way. Formal instruction is greatly enriched when mom and dad are a part of the process. The following three phonics resources for parents have proven to be some of our favorites. Hope these are helpful! 🙂

Need For “All-Things” Letters

As mentioned earlier, my son is absolutely in love with letters (and numbers).  He has been obsessed with the alphabet since he was 2 years old!  Now, to be fair, my son has severe special needs which have impacted his brain cognition in specific areas.  Namely, he has been diagnosed with a pretty significant speech delay which has impacted his ability to communicate well. His brain differences have also given him the ability to hyperfocus which we hope to harness as a gifting (as opposed to a detriment) for his success.

My son’s inability to verbalize his thoughts contributed to severe meltdowns which started when he was around 15 months old. You can read more about my son’s severe developmental and behavioral issues here. What is so fascinating, however, is how God has created our brains in such an intricate and brilliant way. As such, there are parts of my son’s brain that are and have been extraordinarily advanced and strong.  His long-term memory is one of these areas.

Keeping It Real

I point out his strong long-term memory because when he was about 2 years old he became enthralled with letters. I was often running to and from various doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions and classes for my older girls. My to my son’s disapproval, he was often strapped into his car seat. Long gone were the days when my life revolved around nap time. Unfortunately, my sweet boy was miserable almost “24/7” due to developmental delays. Add to that his aversion to the car and one can easily understand that he was not a happy passenger. Ultimately, I had to come up with a plan to ease the pain of our daily drives throughout town.

Fortunately, I pulled out my secret weapon. Yep, I used that 2007 Honda Odyssey’s greatest feature… the built-in DVD player. Then I popped in my tried and true Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD.  Yes, I am keeping it real here.  My son was 2 years old and was secured in a car seat for extended periods of time.  Being the youngest, he had to roll with our schedule.

Yes, he had screen time in the car.  (It is my own feeling of insecurity coming out here so I feel the need to justify the screen time… oh well.) I was determined, however, to expose him to content that would actually benefit him in some way. Enter in the Leap Frog Letter Factory series.

Leap Frog Letter Factory Series



These DVDs are educational screen time at its best.  I had been introduced to this little series about 9 years ago when I was teaching my oldest to read.  She had hit a wall in her motivation to read (probably because she was too young to have mommy pressuring her to read).  In first-time homeschool mom desperation, I headed over to my local homeschool store to seek advice. Thank God for the precious veteran homeschool moms who worked there to help us rookie mommas. One of these ladies lovingly educated me on the need to know when to “back off” of a young child.

“She is so young.  Give her a break and make learning fun.”

She gave me some great suggestions having to do with magnetic letters and magnetized white boards.  She then suggested the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD as a fun way to reinforce all that my daughter had learned through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

I took that sweet lady’s advice, and took a step back from the formal instruction.  My daughter and I played with magnetized letters, read fun books (think Dr. Suess) and while in the car, I popped in the Leap Frog DVDs.  Both of my daughters ended up loving these, so when my son came around 4 years later, it was a no-brainer to use them again. However, he surprised us with his retention of the content.  This DVD series originally began with the Letter Factory DVD.  (There are more in the series now that are also fantastic. ) The Original Letter Factory DVD is an adorable story about a little “boy” (frog) who wants to nominate his father for “Dad of the Year.”  He needs to write a letter about his dad and so enters the Letter Factory to learn the letters of the alphabet as well as their sounds.  Every letter of the alphabet is introduced through song, chants, and fun alphabet characters.  Imagine a large, red, uppercase A who is regularly frightened by others.  In response to his fear, the Letter A screams, “Aaaah!”  My son enjoyed repeatedly acting out the scenes from the movie. He thought it hilarious to incessantly scream “Aaaah!”  In advance, I apologize for any excited screaming that may occur while showing this DVD. Ha!  My son learned all of his short and long letter sounds by the age of two because of this series.  Short sounds are introduced in the Letter Factory DVD and the long vowel sounds are introduced in the Talking Words Factory DVD.  It was in this order that I introduced them to my kiddos.   

Leap Frog Has Expanded

The Leap Frog Series has since expanded their DVD series to include many more options and story lines to engage and support your child’s early learning. They also have mathematics and number-based DVDs that are fun and effective as well. Because I recommend The Letter Factory and The Talking Word Factory in that order, I linked to those separate DVDs individually. Leap Frog currently does not have an option to purchase these two titles together in a set. Fortunately, purchasing them individually will cost approximately $13. Such a deal. This Leap Frog Mega-Pack set of DVDs contains more DVD options that you may find useful when you have completed the first two DVDs.  

Multi-Sensory

I cannot more highly recommend the Leap Frog DVD Series for preschool age children. These DVDs will be helpful for any children who may be struggling with identifying letters and letter sounds.  The use of imagery allows the child to receive information visually, while the use of song and rhythm activates the musical part and auditory areas, and of course, the child singing along is another benefit as the child is using the speech area to do so.  Using multiple areas of the brain to receive and process information is key to retention of new information and Leap Frog Company does a great job to provide this type of learning.  Click below to purchase the DVD Series.  (I receive a small commission when you purchase through my Amazon link.  This helps me in providing more free content on my page.  I appreciate your support.) However, I will only ever recommend high-quality products that I have used and found effective.  

Melissa and Doug Alphabet & Number Sticker Set

In my son’s season of letter obsession (numbers as well… but that will be another post), I searched high and low to find the most fun and engaging resources to continue his love of letters.  Eventually I came upon this fabulous and thorough sticker set of ABCs and Numbers from Melissa and Doug.  My son was over the moon when he opened this Amazon package one fall afternoon.  There are many sheet of letters designed in a variety of themes.  Primary colored letters, pastels, animal prints and even varying fonts and sizes.  I love that Melissa and Doug included the use of different fonts because some children become so fixated on what is a “correct” letter symbol.  This helps mom or dad or grandma or big sister (you get the idea), help a child identify letters that may look a bit different depending upon font used.  The Melissa and Doug Large Alphabet and Number Sticker sets are great for letter recognition, sound recognition if used to spell words (highly recommend actually using the letters to spell), and also the use of stickers is a wonderful fine-motor activity. I used to spell my son’s name on a large piece of paper and then had him identify the letters, peel them and stick them on top of the hand-written letters.  You can have your sweet kiddo choose his own words to stick and spell.  

Melissa and Doug Letter & Number Stamps

The Melissa and Doug Company is an educator’s dream company.  They do a fabulous job or creating quality educational products that can withstand the beatings that often come from being primarily used by young children. This set of alphabet letter and number stamp set is another tool (but my son thinks they are a toy).  He loves using the stamps to “spell” his name and the names of our family members.  Another reason that I particularly like these stamps is that the set includes some basic punctuation marks (periods, question mark, etc.) and numbers.    Having these punctuation marks available allows the educator to introduce the basic structure of a sentence and therefore, can be used for years. The numbers are an added bonus for obvious reasons. The child also works on his or her fine motor skills when using these stamps simply by the specific grip that he or she must employ in order to hold, ink and imprint the stamps on paper.  The options are endless with this Melissa and Doug Alphabet & Number stamp set:

    • Practice Letter Name Identification 
  • Practice Letter Sound to Letter Symbol Correspondence 
  • Word Building by Copying 
  • Spelling By Sound (once simple sounds are mastered) 
  • Number Recognition 

All in all, these 3 tools are just a few of my favorite resources to use when teaching beginning phonics, reading and spelling. 

All About Learning Press

 

ABC Crafts for Uppercase Letters-468x60All About Reading Pre-reading I have to give a shout-out to All About Learning Press who does a phenomenal job breaking down the spelling and reading process step-by-step to accommodate children who learn differently. I have used their All About Spelling materials and absolutely LOVED it for both of my girls. I have also used it in my tutoring with children who are struggling with traditional reading strategies. I am so excited about using their Pre-reading program with my son and had to share. This company has so many phenomenal articles and resources to equip learners of every age and stage. Can’t wait to get started with them! 🙂 These resources have been instrumental in my children’s literacy journey and I hope they prove to be helpful for your family! 🙂

 

What about You, Friend?

How about you?  What are your favorite preschool and early elementary phonics, reading and spelling tools? 

Grab Your Free 4 Steps to Meltdown Recovery Cheat Sheet!

 

Deepen your parent-child relationship.

Equip your child with  tools to navigate BIG emotions in a healthy way.

Empower your unique child to live a life of confidence and purpose.

Create peace & joy in your home and ENJOY your child.