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Read Aloud for Family Unity


Family Unity with a Really BIG Payoff
​- age-appropriate reading list included –

SUMMARY: There are few family activities that are more fun or have a bigger payoff than reading aloud to kids, at home and in school, all ages and abilities (newborn through old age). I know because I began reading to my children when they were just a few hours old and continued until they were out of high school and into college. We had an awful lot of fun together and went on great adventures.

Reading Aloud gets the entire family involved (my family liked getting into bed together with our dog). We all went to wild and wonderful places that we might have missed, all from the comfort and safety of home (a reading-list by age is included below). This is one of the best ways I know to do the right thing.

QUICKSTART: Some of our all-time favorites: Good Night Moon, Aesop's Fables, Tales from the Bible, Cheaper by the Dozen, Little House on the Prairie, Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, I Go Pogo, Shackelton's Endurance and The Education of  H*Y*M*A*N*   K*A*P*L*A*N*.

BOOKMARK = To insure that you set your kids up for success, YOU do all the reading. At first you will stumble and perhaps feel awkward. Please be assured, "You will get much, much better in a very short time."

This rule of "YOU doing all the reading" is so important because when you are reading you eliminate any chance that you will correct or criticize your kids' reading. The child will feel safe and won't have to worry about making a mistake. There's plenty of time for testing later.

BOOKMARK = For now, YOU do all the reading. When you are reading you won't be correcting children or offering helpful hints. For the time being, when you do all the reading, kids can relax and know that, for a few minutes, they're not going to be quizzed or put on the spot to perform. This is a classic way for everyone to calm down before bedtime. 

I feel that reading aloud reclaims one of life's great pleasures, being together as a family. It's not too late to begin, even with recalcitrant teens. In my experience there are few parent-child activities with a bigger payoff so I recommend establishing a reading aloud agreement that can't be taken away. This is something you do like clockwork, not as as a reward or punishment. I hate to hear parents or teachers say, "You've lost your privilege. No reading aloud tonight." 

Don’t stop reading aloud once your kids start school. Parents and teachers commonly stop reading aloud to their children about the time they enter 1st – 3rd grade. FAR TOO EARLY – Keep reading aloud right through elementary, middle school and right into high school, even college. Learning to read aloud and listening to others read are two fundamental reading and study skills.

Remember, for now, YOU do all the reading.

    Double Dip

What a great opportunity for kids to double-dip. Listen to a story and earn for starting on time simultaneously. Wow! That’s a great deal. To get your kids on contracts and agreements that put them in charge of winning see Flood Your Kids With School Success.

Because video-screens are so rich in visual information the development of listening skills has been hindered. Audiences are not required to form mental images and exercise their imaginations – the machines eliminate effort, allowing kids to sit passively, eyes glazed. You've seen it. This is not a healthy look in children. Believe it or not, reading aloud clears eyes by affording a few moments of often needed rest, relaxation and enjoyment.

Listening allows the brain to go to work. Taking notes while listening supercharges the memory.

When children are being read to they are allowed to relax. They trust they’re not going to be suddenly tested, put on the spot, and embarrassed by not having the right answer. They don't have to compete with brothers, sisters or other students. "Listening" becomes associated with success. Is it a problem that some people fall asleep while being read to? I don’t think so. Additional rest is almost always important and it's very difficult to know what others are hearing, even if their eyes are closed.

Reading aloud sends a message, "If mom and dad think reading is important, it really must be."

Reading aloud allows children to be exposed to material far in advance of what they would be able to read on their own: kings and queens, explorers, saints and sinners…They are exposed to a wide range of new vocabulary and ideas, histories, philosophies, biographies… Landmark books are still excellent and a "children's literature" search on the Internet will provide numerous interesting suggestions. Perhaps you can find a biography of a really great man or woman to read aloud. Check out Brainsarefun's New Hero List for some ideas.

Once Mom and Dad have finished reading for the evening children may continue to listen by using prerecorded books from the local library or reading their own books to themselves. For many people the light from computer screens and televisions stimulates the brain in ways that make it difficult to go-to-sleep. Ten-minutes of "listening" calms most people, preparing them for a good night's sleep.

Showing your children that you really care enough to spend time with them provides immediate and massive success. I can't recommend reading aloud to your family enough.

Thank you for all you do to help kids read and succeed. Let me know how I can help.





HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS, excerpted from A Literature of Hope – Your librarian will be able to recommend many additional age-appropriate books. All recommendations below are also included in The Incredible Reading Machine.




  • 1,2,3, Count With Me, Sian Tucker
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Arthur's New Puppy and Arthur Babysits, Marc Brown
  • Arthur's Adventures, Marc Brown
  • Best Loved Poems of the American People, edited by Hazel Felleman
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Frog, Where are You? Mercer Mayer
  • Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
  • I Love My Busy Book, Cyndy Szekeres
  • Mother Goose, edited by Watty Piper
  • My Very First Mother Goose, Opie and Wells
  • Shakespeare for Children
  • Songs of Innocence and Experience, William Blake
  • The Children's Bible
  • The Oxford Book of English Verse
  • The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown



  • Arthur's Adventures, Marc Brown
  • Berenstain Bears
  • Dr, Seuss
  • George's Marvelous Medicine, Roald Dahl
  • Little Critters, Mercer Mayer
  • Little House of the Prairie, Laura Engels Wilder
  • Make Way for Ducklings, Robert Mcloskey
  • Songs of Innocence and Experience, William Blake
  • Stuart Little, E.B. White
  • The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper
  • The Tales of Uncle Rhemus, edited by Julius Lester
  • You and Me Little Bear, Martin Waddell



  • Arthur's Adventures, Marc Brown
  • Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
  • Dr, Seuss
  • Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, Margaret Sidney
  • Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
  • James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  • Landmark Biographies on cultural heroes: Washington, Lincoln, Ali, King…
  • Little House of the Prairie, Laura Engels Wilder
  • Pogo, Walt Kelly
  • Rascal and The Wolfling, Sterling North
  • Thank You, Jackie Robinson, Barbara Cohen
  • The Boxcar Children, Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Guard Dog, Dick King Smith
  • The Stray, Dick Smith
  • The Wright Brothers, Quentin Reynolds
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein



  • Call of the Wild, Jack London
  • Cheaper By The Dozen, Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
  • Hatchet, Gary Paulson
  • Landmark Book biographies
  • Life With Father, C. Day
  • The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein
  • Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway
  • Pogo, Walt Kelly
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
  • The Incredible Journey of Sir Ernest Shakelton
  • Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson



  • Animal Farm, George Orwell
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  • Black Like Me, J.H. Griffin
  • Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  • Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • King Arthur
  • Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  • Our Town, Thorton Wilder
  • Pogo, Walt Kelly
  • Tales of the Arabian Knights
  • The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
  • The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe



  • 67 Books Every Geek Should Read to Their Kids Before Age 10
  • The Chinaberry Catalog, with suggested books for young readers.
  • Type “books to read aloud” into your browser.
  • Your local librarian.
  • Books to Build On, a grade-by-grade resource guide for parents and teachers, Hirsch and Holdren
  • The Lifetime Reading Plan, an introduction to 100 classics of Western literature, Clifton Fadiman
  • Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children, William F. Russell
  • Reading for the Love of It, a guide to 400 children's books, Michele Landsberg
  • The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children
  • 100 Best Books for Children



The Wall Chart of World History, This oversized book unfolds to display a "history" of the world from both a secular and Biblical perspective, earliest times to the present.

Searching on-line, you'll discover a wide range of timelines, from dinosaurs to airplanes. Whenever studying a subject it is useful to see what else was occurring in other places at the same time. Many are beautiful and helped wallpaper my boys' work-areas as they were growing up.




The Core Knowledge sequence outlines significant content of interest to kids, grades K through 6. This series does a great job in describing a world of common content for all kids.

  • Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsch
  • The Schools We Need, E.D. Hirsch
  • The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, What Every American Needs to Know, Hirsch, Kett, Trefil
  • What Your Kindergartner Need to Know, E.D. Hirsch, editor
  • What Your First Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch, editor
  • What Your Second Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch, editor
  • What Your Third Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch, editor
  • What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch, editor
  • What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch, editor
  • What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch, editor
  • Hundreds of free courses, free to download at

Thank you for all you do to flood kids with reading, math and study-skill success. Our kids deserve it.


Rory Donaldson, Brainsarefun Chief Brain

What Makes Him So Smart?




DISCLAIMER – Does Brainsarefun really work with 100% of children, all the time? 
Yes, because everything we do is built of "success" and I've never met a kid (or adult) who didn't love success.
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: READ ALOUD FOR FAMILY UNITY © June 2006, 2014 by Rory Donaldson. All rights reserved. In order to help reverse the tide of academic failure and optimize success, individuals may copy Brainsarefun solutions for non-commercial use at no charge. Please don't sell or repackaged in any manner without my written permission. Since all material is copyrighted, please ensure that this entire copyright notice and contact information continues to be attached to each solution you forward to friends and family.