Books we’ve read

A friend asked for a list of books that I’ve read with the girls, and I thought it might be useful to someone else too. So I’m posting it here.

I tend to go for unabridged versions rather than abridged, though we did start out with an abridged version of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the girls were a little young for the full book at the time) and one of Heidi, because it’s the version we had.  I will admit that I totally edit books as we go along, if they use a word we don’t, like “stupid”, I change it. But I don’t edit a lot.

I tend toward books that are magical- they don’t have to actually have magic in them, but they need to inspire imagination and have heart. Charlotte Mason would call them “living books” rather than “twaddle”.  One of my rough rules of thumb is that at least one of the main characters has to be within at least a few years of the girls’ ages. We’ve definitely read books with older protagonists, but we don’t do books with crushes or such- though a widowed parent finding love and remarrying has shown up. We are firmly in the kids having adventures zone.

These are the books I remember. I know we’ve read more, and we’ve started some that we’ve stopped.  (If they’re just not showing any interest we put it aside and move to something else and try again another time, or if I start to sense it’s going to be a little more mature than I’d prefer.) These are only the books we’ve read aloud, not books that Z has read on her own, though she has gone back and read some of them herself.

I’ve made notes of books that scared the girls (they’re a bit sensitive) and that they utterly loved. They at least really liked all of these, but there were some that just caught hold of their hearts. You know how it goes.

We started reading long chapter books when Z was about 4 and Tiny was about 2. Tiny doesn’t remember all of these books, and there are some that we’ve read multiple times because Zoe didn’t remember the whole thing either. Rereading is good.


Pippi Longstocking series- Astrid Lindgrin

My Father’s Dragon series- Ruth Stiles Gannet

James and the Giant Peach -Roald Dahl (They LOVE this book. I loved this book when I was their age. My mom read it to us in one night because we wouldn’t let her stop. It is marvelous.)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-Roald Dahl (LOVE.)

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator -Roald Dahl (This book is better read to kids that are a little older, I think.)

The Witches-Roald Dahl (This book scared Zoe, but she loved it, and loved being scared by it.)

Matilda- Roald Dahl (Just assume that if it’s Roald Dahl, and we read it, they loved it. )

The BFG- Roald Dahl (The girls were a bit scared during this one, but ultimately they loved it.)

George’s Magical Medicine-Roald Dahl

Heidi- Johanna Spyri (This one made Z upset because people aren’t nice to Heidi, but she ended up loving it.)

Tumtum and Nutmeg books – Emily Bearn

Winnie the Pooh-A. A. Milne

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll

Stuart Little- E.B.White

No Flying in the House – Betty Brock (LOVE)

Charlotte in Paris/Giverny/London – Joan MacPhail Knight

Wayside school series by Louis Sachar

Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard Atwater


This next part of the list is books we read when the girls were from 5 and 3 to now. I’m not saying you couldn’t read them younger, but my girls wouldn’t have been ready for them.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles- Julie Andrews Edwards

Mandy- Julie Andrews Edwards  (The girls LOVE this book.)

Remarkable- Elizabeth Foley (LOVE. There actually is a crush in this one, but it’s not the main character and there’s something to be learned from it, and it’s hilarious.)

Tuesdays at the Castle -Jessica Day George (LOVE.)

The Worst Witch series- Jill Murphy (LOVE, though they did get a bit concerned when the plot got  a little sticky.)

The Night Fairy- Laura Amy Schlitz

The Dragon of Lonely Island- Rebecca Rupp

Thomas and the Dragon Queen- Shutta Crum

Guardians of Childhood books- William Joyce (They love these books passionately, though again, they get a bit concerned when there’s tension in the plot.)

Where the Mountain meets the Moon- Grace Lin (LOVE.)

Starry River of the Sky- Grace Lin

Magic Treehouse series- Mary Pope Osborne (We’ve only read a couple of these, because they’re books that Z enjoys reading on her own.)

Geronimo Stilton/Thea Stilton series (Same with these, Z likes to read them, so I let her at it.)

The Heroes Guide to Saving your Kingdom- Christopher Healy

Emily’s Runaway Imagination- Beverly Cleary

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- Ian Fleming (LOVE.)

Magic By the Lake- Edward Eager

Half Magic – Edward Eager

Rootabaga Stories- Carl Sandburg (This book is odd and lyrical and really really odd, and the girls LOVE it.)

The Phantom Tollbooth- Norton Juster (The girls love this book almost beyond reason. We’ve read it 4 times.)

Oz series- L. Frank Baum (We’ve read The Road to Oz, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ozma of Oz, The Lost Princess of Oz, Dorothy and the Little Wizard of Oz- or something like that- I can’t remember the title exactly)

The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett (LOVE but the beginning is rough.)

Beyond the PawPaw Trees- Palmer Brown

Little House in the Big Woods- Laura Ingalls Wilder


And just for good measure, here are the books on our to-read shelf. I can’t vouch for how they’ll be received, but I have high hopes.

Just So Stories- Rudyard Kipling

The 21 Balloons- William Pene Du Bois

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery

Howl’s Moving Castle- Diana Wynne Jones

Castle in the Air- Diana Wynne Jones

House of Many Ways- Diana Wynne Jones

The Unseen World of Poppy Malone- Suzanne Harper

The Mouse and the Motorcycle- Beverly Cleary

Five Children and It- E. Nesbit

The Borrowers- Mary Norton (We’ve tried this before and it didn’t stick. We’ll give it a while and try again.)

Cats of Tanglewood Forest- Charles De Lint

The rest of the Little House on the Prairie books


What are your favorite read alouds?


4 thoughts on “Books we’ve read

  1. mindy on

    We used to read aloud at the lunch table (particularly when the youngest was still in a high chair) because it was the easiest way to keep three kids in one place long enough for a chapter in a book with few (if any) pictures. We’d also read on long car trips, especially from Northern to Southern CA back in the day before dvd players and handheld videogames. I remember reading Black Beauty and (much later) the first several Harry Potter books. Treasure Island was well received. Never could get them into The Borrowers (the girls did like the recent Arietty film, but the book bothered them for some reason. I loved it as a kid). Narnia books, probably Little Women, although I’m the only Alcott fan in the house. Dragged them through Little House in the Big Woods. The Five Children and It and all the other E Nesbit books were favorites. Thanks for sharing this list!

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