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12 Books I Plan to Read to Kierstyn in 2021

Why I Prioritize Reading Aloud

From the time our three older kids were little babies, I prioritized reading aloud to them. And not just reading picture books — although we enjoy lots of those! — but also reading chapter books.

I know that some people find it strange that I would read chapter books to babies and toddlers. Yes, they can’t understand a lot of what is being read when they are little, but developing a long for reading and learning can begin at a very young age. Plus, as they get older, they will begin to understand and comprehend much more quickly than we often give them credit for.

One of the biggest reasons why I love reading aloud to kids — even when they are little — is because it encourages them to develop a love for books and literature and it helps me establish the habit of reading aloud from a very young age. When they are tiny, I’m the one who enjoys the books more than they do. But as they grow, they quickly begin falling in love with read aloud time, too (or at least that’s what happened with our older three!)

Our older three will tell you that they learned so much from the books we read when they were little and the audiobooks and audio dramas they listened to. And I have so many special memories of the hours and hours we spent reading together.

(The three older kids when they were much younger. Oh the sweet memories I have of all the reading we did together!)

How to Get Started Reading Aloud

If you are looking for some advice and ideas for reading aloud to preschoolers and grade schoolers, be sure to read my post on How to Get Your Kids Excited About Reading Aloud + this post on 10 Tips to Read Aloud to Kids.

By the way, I have listed some of our favorite read alouds when my kids were younger here. I also have a few more suggestions and chapter book ideas here.

For a long list of book ideas, check out my post on 37 Books I Planned to Read Aloud to My Kids in 2013 (this was when they were 8, 6, and 4 and we were homeschooling). Spoiler alert! We didn’t get through that entire list, but we read a lot of them.

When I Read Aloud to Kierstyn

Right now, Kierstyn and I read together in the mornings. It’s either usually while I’m nursing her or right after I nurse her. We read a chapter from the Bible, we read through her ABC verse book, and we read a chapter from our current read aloud. We also often we a picture book or two. By reading a chapter of a book aloud almost every day, we can pretty easily get through more than one book a month!

12 Books I Plan to Read to Kierstyn in 2021

I picked out the books I want to for sure read to Kierstyn based upon what books we already had on our shelf. I tried to go for a variety of books — some I loved reading to the older kids, some that are classics I’ve wanted to read aloud, and some that are newer.

I love the E.B. White classic book shown above because it has three E.B. White books in one. We’ve already read Stuart Little (the first book in it) and now we’re working our way through the rest of it. So these are the first two books on my list for 2021:

1. Charlotte’s Web

2. The Trumpet of the Swan

And here’s the rest of our stack:

3. The War That Saved My Life

4. The BFG

5. The Imagination Station: Voyage with the Vikings

6. The Imagination Station: Attack on the Arena

7. The Imagination Station: Pearl in the Palace

8. The King’s Highway

9. Fantastic Mr. Fox

10. The Story of Eli Whitney

11. Robinson Crusoe

12. Amy Carmichael

What are your favorite children’s chapter books?

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23 Comments

  • Jan says:

    I read to my babies even before they were born, and so did my husband. They recognized his voice immediately after birth. They were reading by the time they were four.

  • JJ says:

    I love that you read to her!!! We did the 1,000 books before Kindergarten program that our library offered. My two older kids were 4 and 5 when they completed it(I hadn’t known about it until my oldest was 3…it’s suppose to start at newborn). Well at my then 2 year old’s checkup they asked if I read to him. By default he had heard at least 1,000, because of the older two doing the program(and he finished at 2 years old). After they all completed it, they got a bag with a coloring book, a new book as a gift, crayons, a crayon holder and some other small things. They were so excited! My then 2 year old is now 5 and is reading so well for his grade(Preschool). My children’s interests and ability to learn so much more have resulted from being read to. Your posts from waaaaay back inspired me to read so much to my kids. Thank you for the huge impact!!!

    Some of our favorites:

    A Cricket in Times Square
    Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
    Paddington
    Little House series

    When I read aloud to my 3rd graders way back, they loved The Borrowers.

    Your little girl is sooooo cute!!! So happy for you guys!!!

  • Beth says:

    Just so people don’t get discouraged or pressure their preschoolers into something they aren’t ready for: lots of reading to very young children does NOT always equal an early reader. And isn’t really the point. My oldest would sit through books being read to him at 10 months old. He absolutely loved to be read to. His comprehension has been above average. However, in the actual mechanics of learning to read he was very average. We did some phonics when he was 3-4 years old. It was a waste of time. He just didn’t have the mental maturity until kindergarten and first grade. And it was work to teach him to read. Now he’s in second grade and loves reading on his own. My second child may be the opposite. He wasn’t interested in being read to for quite a while (we did it anyway) but now he’s four and is trying to sound out letters and “spell” words. The point of reading aloud is to develop a love for reading, vocabulary, stories, other perspectives, etc. I don’t think Crystal has ever said the point of reading aloud is to have early readers but I see that “goal” among many parents my age (and preschools). There’s a reason schools in the past didn’t focus on the actual mechanics of reading until kids were 6 or even 7. Many are not ready until that age. Just enjoy reading to young kids without pressuring them to do it themselves until they are really ready.

    • Beth says:

      I hope that didn’t sound judgemental towards families that have early readers! I just wanted to encourage families not to assume that reading aloud a lot will guarantee an early reader. Don’t be frustrated when your 4 or 5 year old boy has no interest in learning to read or is struggling. Give him or her time and just keep reading to them.

    • I so agree! The girls were early readers and Silas was a “late” reader. But I read to all of them just the same (Silas, actually, probably had more reading just because he listened in to so much read aloud time that I did with the girls, too!) Every child is different and they all learn at different rates and in different ways. For me, reading aloud is exactly what you said: to enjoy books and stories and time together and to hopefully foster a love of learning from an early age!

  • I just recently bought a copy of “Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You” that you are holding in one of the pictures in this post and LOVE IT. The toddler I take care of one to two days a week brings it to me several times a day. Such a good story.

  • Stephanie Greer says:

    I would just issue a gentle caution about The War that Saved My Life. I know that you are reading it to a baby that won’t understand its themes, but it has some intense ones. I’m sure you’ve done your homework on it or maybe you’ve already read it. But its a book that my daughter struggled with and I finally just took it away. There are also two characters whose relationship while described as a friendship was one my daughter also caught onto.

    • Thank you for letting me know! I was going to read it aloud as a family, but I looked through it and it looked like it was probably more of a kids’ book and my older kids wouldn’t enjoy it, so that’s why I added it to Kierstyn’s stack — even though it’s definitely above her level. I had heard a lot of good things about it. But I really appreciate you mentioning that so I can be cautious as I read.

      • Jenny says:

        I love The War That Saved My Life. It’s beautifully written and tells of a family that is made by bonds of love not blood. Yes, there is the idea of a relationship that is more than a friendship but it is never actually said. The kids save the woman and vice versa. I worked in an elementary library and recommended it to all of my history buff kiddos.

  • Mel says:

    I think the series has a new name now but I enjoyed ‘Childhood of Famous Americans’.

  • Erin says:

    Do you count these toward your personal reading goals? (I count the chapter books I read to my kids, for sure!)

  • I never read much to my kids because they never wanted to sit still. This Christmas I purchased the Disney Storybook Advent Calendar…and they loved it! They took turns each night reading a book.

    They loved it so much, we’re putting together a book list so we can start reading aloud every night.

    • My biggest tip when reading aloud with kids: read while they are eating or doing something with their hands (LEGOs, crafts, coloring, etc.) I’ve found that they actually listen better if their hands are busy! 🙂

    • Dineen says:

      It bothered me when my daughter didn’t sit still when I would read to her. I eventually learned, that she absorbed more from what I was reading if she could move. The rule evolved that she could play quietly and even move about the room as long as she didn’t become too much of a distraction to ME. She is a teen now and still enjoys having me read aloud from time to time, and prefers movement to sitting still.

  • Csandst1 says:

    I similarly read to both my boys regularly until early middle school. Both hate books and have never voluntarily read a book. EVER. Very disappointing. My husband and I enjoy reading.

    On a side note, Little House and the Prairie books are my favorites.

    • Do they enjoy audiobooks or audio dramas? My kids don’t enjoy reading as much as they once did, but they still love listening to books on audio. They still have fond memories of us reading and remember so many details from the books we read — even if they don’t enjoy reading as much as I do!

  • Sabrina Moore says:

    I have a 5th grader and a 9th grader neither one of them like to read and I use to read to them all the time when they were little any advise I would love.

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