10 favorite family read aloud books (ages 10 and up)

Though my kids are 10 and 16, we still read books aloud together each week. It’s a moment that I treasure as we start our homeschool day, or while they work on washing the lunch dishes, or before everyone heads off to their own books and beds.

Often it’s just my 10 year old and me, but the books that follow captivated my teen as well and we savored them–together.

As summer turns toward autumn, I wanted to encourage you to begin (or continue!) your own family read-aloud tradition by sharing a list of our favorite read-aloud books with you.


Since one of my children has been sensitive to violent or suspenseful content, I shared
themes you may want to be aware of in the text that follows for families with a tenderheart of their own, or simply for your own awareness. For our family, these themes open doors for meaningful conversations and now that everyone is ready to handle them we don’t shy away.

Many of these books are laced with magic as well. While we love this, I understand it’s not a match for every family’s beliefs and values, so I mention it.

Check your library for these captivating titles, buy them at your local bookstore, or use the afflinked pictures and titles that follow! However you do it, make a habit of reading together as a family. I am certain it’s a choice you won’t regret.

Happy reading, friends.

Our 10 favorite family read aloud books

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

We read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon a few autumns ago and I remember it being the first children’s book that I truly fell in love with as an adult. The day we cracked it open we spread a blanket on the grass and read all day long, carrying our lunches out to the blanket and reading straight through until dinnertime.

It’s that captivating, for adults and children alike, and the subsequent books in the series (Starry River of the Sky, and When the Sea Turned to Silver) are as good as the first.

Themes to be aware of: magic, violence, kidnapping.

 Wildwood Chronciles

We picked up Wildwood on a whim at the library last winter and were hooked from the start (all of us)! We followed up with the sequels without even a pause, and enjoyed the three books so much we’re planning to start the series again soon. We love Wildwood. The characters, the child-heroes, the animals, the magic, everything.

There are some intense parts (especially  in the latter two books), however, so I was glad I waited until my youngest was ready.

Themes to be aware of: magic, violence, death.

The Girl who Drank the Moon


The night we started this book we thought it might be too much. It begins with a local legend of a witch who lives in the forest and eats children, and is well told (read: scary).

I stopped reading and checked in with my plot-sensitive kid. She wasn’t so sure. So we read the book flap and she decided she was ready to dig in. And how glad we all were! A beautiful book laced with deep magic. If your family isn’t plot sensitive, don’t read the book flap, though. There are major spoilers found there.

Themes to be aware of: magic, violence, death, bigotry.

The Inquisitor’s Tale

We fell in love with the main characters in this book from the very start. The girl, the boys, the dog… There is a copious amount blood and other unapologetic violence here, but it’s handled quite well. Themes of racism, sexism, and religious persecution make for excellent conversations after the book has been put away. A family favorite to be sure.

Themes to be aware of: magic, violence, death, racism, sexism, spiritual persecution.

The Goblin’s Puzzle

Our current read-aloud, I am as captivated as my 11 and 16 year olds. Some intense themes, but a wonderful read full of strong girls (and boys!) that save the day.

Themes to be aware of: magic, violence, death, slavery.

The Penderwicks

Books 1 through 3 are on our very short list of favorite books. (Book 4 takes place much later in the girl’s lives, so it was harder to get into but still an enjoyable read.) Though we read these books years ago, the characters are still discussed often in our home, almost like old friends. There is discussion of cancer and the loss of a parent.

Edited to add: a friend just emailed me to say that there is a 5th Penderwicks book that just came out this spring! Looks like our next read-aloud is scheduled!

Themes: cancer, death.

My Side of the Mountain

A friend picked up a copy of My Side of the Mountain at a thrift store for Sage when he was 8 or 9. We’re read it together several times since then, reveling in the story of a boy’s solitary life in the wilds. An inspiring and captivating tale that will make you want to run off to the hills.

Themes to be aware of: runaway.

The Harry Potter Series

I would be remiss to not mention everyone’s classic family read-aloud, the Harry Potter books. We have gotten as far as book 4 (when things start to get even more intense than in earlier books), and we’re taking a break now. My eldest has read them all, but book four and up are better suited for older or less sensitive kids (okay, and adults).

Themes to be aware of: magic, violence, death.

Chronicles of Narnia 

I would be remiss in not mentioning Narnia! Most of us read these as kids ourselves, and they’re every bit as captivating as adults, sharing them with our children. Reading the whole series (rather than just the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) puts Narnia into a greater context.

Themes to be aware of: magic, violence.

The Little House on the Prairie series

Another classic read-aloud series, Little House requires a mention as well. One of my own favorites from childhood, the books are still as captivating as they were back then.

Published in the 1930’s and 40’s, there is unapologetic racism peppered throughout these books that sparked meaningful conversations in our home about the time at which they were written and what life in colonized America might have been like for both First Nations peoples and white immigrants. Don’t miss the opportunity to discuss racism when reading this series.

Themes to be aware of: racism.

And what do you say we add an 11th: my own book, due out this fall!

Herbal Adventures

While a how-to book like Herbal Adventures might not be the first to come to mind as a read-aloud, I’ve written it to be just that! Each plant chapter begins with a first-person plant introduction, and each of these backyard herbs comes to life in their own words.

And since it was designed for parents and kids to explore together, the recipes, crafts, and projects included are the perfect transition from reading time into hands-on learning time–together.


What’s your family’s favorite read aloud? Share it in the comments below! 

Family read-aloud book list. Our favorite chapter books for ages 10 and up. #readaloud #familybooklist #chapterbooks

13 thoughts on “10 favorite family read aloud books (ages 10 and up)

  1. Brooklyn says:

    I suggest The Mysterious Benedict Society!! It’s got mystery, strong female characters, and a really great plot. I loved it at 11 years old and I still love it now at 19!

    • Rachel Wolf says:

      We just reserved the Hobbit from the library for your upcoming road trip! It’s been decades since I have read it. Can’t wait!

  2. Casey says:

    I’d love to hear your favourite books for supporting kids in adolescence. All that I’ve found focus strongly on peer pressure, peer orientation, sexual pressure etc which are all great topics to touch on but it’s like folks have forgotten that there are still kids growing up without those factors weighing strongly in their lives.

    • Rachel Wolf says:

      I agree with your overview – these themes are persistent in books for older kids. I’ll give your question some thought and see what I come up with. Thanks, Casey. Random, but my kids enjoyed the Sarah books from Esther Hicks. It goes into some of the struggles of adolescence, but them focuses the child on seeing the positive and the magic in each day. Maybe that would be a match. The book is here (afflink): https://amzn.to/2MHfxoH

  3. Sally-Jo says:

    These all sound wonderful and many I’ve not heard of.looking forward to reading them together with my children when they are a bit older. My oldest is almost 6 and loves to be read to but is quite sensitive. Do you have any favourite magical stories you and your children enjoyed when they were younger? We are reading My Fathers Dragon right now. It’s quite fun with some adventure and silly animal characters.

    • Rachel Wolf says:

      When the children were younger we loved The Tale of Tiptoes Lightly series! The Seven Year Wonder Book was also magical and wonderful. Enjoy!

  4. Erin says:

    I love all of your suggestions. I would add the Tale of Desperaux and the Magicians Elephant by Kate Dicamillo. Also the amazing Golden Compass series by Phillip Pullman.

  5. momma maggie says:

    Thanks for sharing this great list! My six-year-old and I recently discovered The Birchbark House series written by Louise Erdrich. There are four books in the series, all about an Ojibwa family from the Madeline Island area in the 1850’s. My son and I are both completely captivated by these stories. Themes to be aware of: death, violence, kidnapping (in the fourth book).

    Also, we are homeschooling/unschooling and I’d love to see your list of favorite books on that topic if you’re willing! 🙂

  6. Aaron says:

    Hey Rachel! This book list looks wonderful! I found it while searching for another list I think I remember you posting about last year. I think I remember it was topical and had suggested books for a number of given topics (Herbal books for kids, holiday traditions, etc) I’m trying to find it but haven’t been able to. Are you able to point me in the right direction?

    • Rachel Wolf says:

      Hi Aaron. The original list was an Amazon Bookstore, a program they have since discontinued. I didn’t have a backup copy of the list created, so I have yet to recreate it. It’s on my to-do list for the coming season, however. If there was something specific you were after let me know and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Leave a Reply