Great read aloud books: Wingfeather Saga, Ember Rising, Redwall & The Wilderking Series

Reading Aloud GREAT books to our kids

In our house we love books, so much so we don’t have any further room for more books shelves or more room on current book shelves. We have collected books from the years from op shops, 2nd hand book sales and brought the family sets as family gifts for Christmas. We all have a great love of a well written book

We also love reading them aloud, but not just any books – exciting books, great books, legendary books. Who doesn’t want to be drawn into Middle Earth and follow the journeys of 4 intrepid hobbits? Or walk in the woodland of Narnia with the Pevensie children? In our house it’s a resounding yes please! We are drawn to books full of adventure, edge of your seat excitement & character development. Some of our favourite authors include J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, S.D. Smith, Philip and Erin Ulrich, Jonathon Rogers, Brian Jacques and Andrew Peterson. But why are we drawn to these authors?

The reasons are numerous but the primary one is due to the positive effect their stories have had and are having on our sons and daughters. They can relate to the characters in books, their struggles, worries, concerns and then we share their joy when they overcome these. Particular favourites for us are Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings, Aidan Errolson in the Wilderking Trilogy and Heather and Picket Longtreader in the Green Ember Saga.

This gives them insights that Dad & Mum can (sometimes) try to give but miss the mark, what is even better is that they learn these lessons without conscious thought. This holds true from the simple but lovely Growly Books by Philip and Erin Ulrich right through the beautiful Redwall books by Brian Jacques to the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, which is either being read, watched or listened too near monthly in our busy house.

The reading of these both aloud and individually sparks many hours of discussion, entertainment & imaginary play by my fast-growing boys. They love imitating the quaint speech of the moles from Redwall and even renaming the meals in our house to align with the hobbit names, and then proceeding to eat like them. From these small things invariably comes a discussion on our favourite books, characters & the reasons why. This gives them the opportunity to put into words their own interpretation their current ‘favourite’ book & also allows them to summarise what happened. Learning like this you can’t quantify.

Indeed, one of my sons was (and to be fair still is) so enamoured of the Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathon Rogers that he frequently dresses like a Feechie, hollers like a Feechie, speaks like a Feechie and (when he can get away with it) he eats like a Feechie. This can and often does spark off hours of imaginary play where my boys act out scenes from the books and even improvise their own. It has gotten to the point where their 18 year old brother and even mother are both reading the books just so they can understand what a Feechie actually is.

Without boring you too much about the innerworkings of the Watts household we have, as a result of continuing to read aloud to all our children & then encouraging our children to read the same books themselves when they are able, we have noticed some huge benefits. What we have realised is reading above children’s reading level and exposing them to new ideas grows them in a number of ways. We have personally noticed an increase in vocabulary, story-telling (of particular use when imaginary play is being explained), story writing, spelling and communication. The experience gained comes about with them either thinking on what they have heard and asking questions later or asking what a word means that they haven’t heard before. This can often mean a diversion for however long it takes to either a, satisfy their insatiable curiosity or b, explain it to the extent they will think what has been said. One of the benefits that we have found when reading to multiple children at once, is that more often than not they will explain (or give a very good attempt) what is going on with the story and relate it to something they have watched/read/experienced together, this they do to each other more often than not. Also as our younger children get read aloud a book that the older siblings have already heard – we find they tend to hang around within listening distance or pick up the book to read themselves – they love the story so much.


Top Tips:

# when choosing a book to read aloud to your children – pick one that is not only just above their own reading and comprehension level but pick one that you yourself haven’t yet read or one you adore and want to hear again. This way you yourself also get swept up in the story and are willing to pick it up again to read the next day or to read “just one more chapter please” because you also want to know what happens next!

#Audio books totally count! We have collected many audio books over our years of home educating our children and they have been a life saver more than once. When kids are sick, when there has been a new born in the house, when younger ones need engaging so we can work with older siblings or on long car trips! We enjoy ones that are acted out the best – they are a worthwhile investment for sure. Audio books are also useful for adults whom tend to not have as much leisure time to read but really want to know what the heck is a toothie cow and why we should be running away from them or why we are now no longer afraid of the sock man.  

Some of our favourite family read aloud, some which are a little less known:

  • The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by R.R. Tolkien
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – all 7 books! 
  • The Green Ember Series by S.D. Smith
Main core series: Ember Falls, Ember Rising and Embers End
Tales of Old Natalia series: The Black Star of Kingston, The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner and Prince Lander & the Dragon War
The Green Ember Archer series: The Last Archer, The First Fowler and The Archers Cup
  •  The Growly Books by Philip and Erin Ulrich:

Begin, Widewater, Morning, Haven, Winter & Wavecrasher

  •  The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathon Rogers

The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, The Way of the Wilderking

  •  Wingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, North! Or be eaten, The Monster in the Hollows, The Warden and the Wolf King

  •  Redwall Series by Brain Jacques (over 22 books!) 
  •  Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne 
  •  Anything by Enid Blyton but Particularly The Faraway Tree Series



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