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Readers Choice

Every once in a great while, my brilliance amazes even me. And bear with me, I’ll get to it in a moment.

As a child, the way to my heart was to play with my hair. In the 6th Grade, there was a girl that sat behind me in school who would play with my hair. She fiddled and brushed and braided, until I nearly fell to the floor because I was so very relaxed.

Falling to the floor was something the nuns disapproved of, so I did my dead level best to appear interested in everything that was taught.

Which is never easy when you eyes have slammed shut and you’re drooling.

Good times.

You might say that my love language is touch. Fiddledaddy knows this well, and he has the ability to completely put me to sleep by simply stroking my head while he’s reading at night.

I’ve made a ritual of reading to my girls at night before they go to sleep. I use to grab a book from the library shelf, all willy nilly, and hope for the best.

But, after a few horrendous book choices, I began to peruse my copies of “Honey for a Child’s Heart”, “Books Children Love”, and “The Well Trained Mind” for book list recommendations. Books that use wonderful descriptive language, and have a character building story line. And aren’t stupid.

This reading ritual is a wonderful time for all concerned. And I’ll tell you why. One night, Emme decided that she would brush mommy’s hair. Not as an act of kindness, but as a ruse to get mommy to stay in the room longer.

And it worked!

So, I decided to use it to my advantage. Every night, before reading time, I bring in the nice soft hairbrush, and a box of hair accessories. The girls use to fight over who got to “decorate” mommy’s hair, but now I’ve established that they take turns.

To be fair, and all.

It’s a win-win situation. I get petted for as long as I read. Consequently, I read to them for a nice long time.


I exit their room with some interesting hair styles, to be sure. Fiddledaddy often refuses to have a serious conversation with me until I’ve taken out the 7 braids, 25 hair clips, and singular hair bow.

I am especially enjoying this reading time also because of, well, the reading. Lately, we’ve devoured “The Courage of Sarah Noble”, “The Wheel on the School”, and now we’re finishing “Henry Huggins.”

Which leads me to ask y’all for your recommendations for great read aloud books for kids.

It is my hope that I can keep this little ritual going until they leave for college. Or all my hair falls out. Whichever comes first.

48 Responses to Readers Choice

  • My kids like to brush my hair. Only for me, it’s more like getting a good beating.

    “The Wheel on the School?” WE LOVED THAT.

    Books we’ve liked lately are:

    “Owls in the Family”
    “The Dragonling”
    “The Sign of the Beaver”

    And the standards, of course. Junie B., Little House.

  • The Little House on the Prairie series. Little Women. Nancy Drew. I’m a fan of the classics. 🙂

  • How wonderful! Our favorites are: The Magic Tree House series, the Wishbone series, anything by Beverly Cleary, Junie B. (though she does use the word “stupid” a lot… we bleep it out), Little House, and with my 4-year-old, anything involving space, sharks, or construction vehicles!

  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle!

  • My boys can’t get enough of this series…. Captain Underpants !!!!

  • the BFG by Roald Dahl!!!

  • We love Thornton Burgess’ books so reasonable from Dover Books! We also love the American girl series. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to what you will write next. God Bless!

  • I second Little House books.

  • Oh, I have a huge list a mile long…I am passionate about books and am a firm believer in reading to children!

    So, here goes:
    *The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
    *The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    *The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye
    *Almost all the Roald Dahl books (some are a little scary), especially the BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach
    *The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
    *The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein (save the Lord of the Rings for when they’re older)
    *The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper (SO much better than that crappy movie)

    That’s a start… 🙂

  • There’s a bunch of stories which describe the adventures of “Fluffy the Guinea Pig”. My daughter & I read them starting when she was about 7, and I think they’re pretty darn funny – anything with a sense of humor can hold my attention (luckily, she liked ’em too). Plus she loved “Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing” so much she now has the entire series.

  • Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks. My kids love these books. They are good read-aloud books with lots of opportunities for funny character voices.

  • I love and adore the Carolyn Haywood ‘Betsy’ books. I ebayed them all a few years ago. I spent a fortune but it was worth it. I second the Little House books and American Girl books, but I cannot endorse the Junie B books at all! Ack!

  • The Little House books area must. make sure you read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson in the days leading up to Christmas.

    Lots of meaning with a ton of humor!

  • Ooooo, a post after my own heart! I’ve read to the kids at bedtime for over 10 years now and we love our reading time together. Although they don’t give me makeovers during! Let’s see….

    ~ The Narnia Series
    ~ The Potter series (If you approve of them. Reading them aloud is a great way to edit any content you don’t want them reading with their eyes, but they still get to find out what happened.)
    ~ Little House series
    ~ Ella Enchanted
    ~ The Phantom Tollbooth
    ~ The Thief Lord
    ~ The Magic Tree House series (a bit simplistic, but you learn a lot)
    ~ Trumpet of the Swan
    ~ Stuart Little
    ~ Charlotte’s Web
    ~ The City of Ember
    ~ Time Stops for No Mouse
    ~ The Sands of Time
    ~ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    ~ A Wrinkle in Time

    There, that’s a pretty good start! And we don’t always necessarily stick with “classic” or “great” books, we’ve read plenty of silly and/or “not great lit” stuff as well. The important thing is the bonding time and instilling the love of reading. And I guess, in your case, getting your hair brushed. 😉

  • Ok some of these titles will date me but oh well they are good lol. 🙂

    *Ramona Quimby series
    *Little house on the prairie series
    *the veleveteen rabbit
    *sarah plain and tall
    *the boxcar children
    *charlottes web
    *Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series (some of the names in there are so funny to read)
    that is about all I can think of. but good luck!

  • loved From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler!

    also, you are brilliant! (i am too! I used to give naps as rewards when my kids were small… as in “oh, you are getting cranky, if you don’t straighten up, no nap!” and hence I had lovely little nappers 🙂 )

  • Boxcar Children
    Four Story Mistake (my FAVORITE)
    James and the Giant Peach

  • You cannot fail with the Beverly Cleary books. My personal favorite was always Henry and the Paper Route. The Little House books – excellent, and the Boxcar Children. Also, the Alfred Hitchcock Three Investigators Series – there’s boocoodles of those books, but they were published in the 60’s I think. I don’t know if these are too “old” for your children but the CS Lewis Narnia books are good

  • I LOVE having my hair played with. I enjoyed the Box Car Children, too, and Little Women.


  • I have nothing to add but much to glean from everyone else!!

  • Catnip beat me to it so ditto to those suggestions.

  • The Boxcar Children — I’d forgotten about that series. Loved it as a child. Enjoyed the post and the comments 🙂

    What about “Owen & Mzee: The True Story Of A Remarkable Friendship”? A six-year-old and her father wrote the true story of a baby hippo orphaned during the 2004 tsunami and befriended by a giant tortoise. My 5yo nephew enjoyed it, though I was worried about the “orphaned” part bothering him. I think there is a sequel, too.

  • The “If You Give /Take . . .” series by Laura Numeroff. Here they are in no particular order, except that the Moose is my favorite.

    If You Give a Moose a Muffin
    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
    If You Give a Pig a Pancake
    If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
    If You Take a Mouse to School
    If you Give a Pig a Party
    If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

    Those and Amelia Bedelia

  • Ah . . . . my head is tingling just thinking about it!

  • Since you have girls (actually, I read several of these series to my boys, befoer I had my daughter, because I thought I was only ever going to have boys, and they LOVED these too), you have to read the:

    All of a Kind Family series
    Betsy-Tacy series
    Anything by Beverly Cleary
    The Moffats book series
    also by the same author, Ginger Pye, and Pinky Pye
    Understood Betsy

    and for more great selections, you need to get your hands on a Sonlight Curriculum catalog, and see what books they use for the early grades; so many great choices, but I’m not remembering all that we’ve read in our homeschool journey, so I’ll refer you there. The Wheel on the School was one of our favorite Sonlight books!!

  • Oh I adore having my hair brushed! *Sigh* It is the way to my heart =) With 3 girls, I am often adorned with the 25 hair clips and various other accessories you mentioned. LOL They want me to keep them in ALL day….even when we go out in public =S Yeah…..I’m a bad mother, because that just does not happen. I am too vain =P I also like reading, and reading to my girls. Today a reader….tomorrow a leader. One of my favorite quotes.

  • I too recommend looking at Sonlight’s book lists. Just get on their website. I still love all things Beverly Cleary.

  • I’ll second “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”

    My youngest son used that book for his “Grocery Bag Live Book Report” in 5th Grade We had a great time collecting all the “props” to put in the bag .. from a matchbox school bus to an angel Christmas ornament.

    BTW … he got an “A” and the class rated his book as the one they were most inspired to go read after all the students gave their reports in class.

  • Dee Dee,

    Yesterday my daughter came home from college to get something. I asked her to fix my hair for me (she puts it up in a way that I cannot do right). As she was doing it, I told her about how my sister and I used to comb, brush, roll, pin, curl her grandmother’s hair.

    Yes, touch is a beautiful love language. . . we all need it!

  • When I was teaching 3rd grade, my students LOVED The Chronicles of Narnia! They also loved: Because of Winn Dixie and The BFG.

  • Caddie Woodlawn is an excellent novel, another compelling young female protagonist in an American Pioneer setting; the book won a Newberry in 1936.

    -The Enormous Crocodile, Roald Dahl
    -Roland the Minstrel Pig, William Steig
    -Dr. DeSoto, William Steig
    -Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, William Steig
    -anything by Beatrix Potter
    -Angelina Ballerina books
    -stories by James Herriot (I haven’t read much of his works, we have one in children’s book form and though it’s long and the language is sometimes unusual, they have enjoyed it since they were quite young.)

  • Well, I TOTALLY could have written the first sentence of this post. And believed it as well.

    I also love to have my hair played with. My kids used to do this when they were small…sigh…the good ole days.

    Now, books. As a librarian, I love all the ones mentioned above but my latest favorite is “The Incredible Journey of Edward Tulane”. You will LOVE IT.

  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, The Magic Tollbooth, A Lion to Guard Us, Sarah Plain and Tall

    Books are a great thing!! I love to read…but so far have been struggling to get both kiddos to love it too.

  • I love having my hair brushed, too. My 10-month old only pulls on it, though. 🙂

    I love to read to my son, mostly board books, he gets bored before too long. 🙂

  • Best read-aloud book of ALL time: “Summer of the Monkeys” by Wilson Rawls.

  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Decamillo;
    The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall;
    The Penderwicks on Gardham Street, also by Birdsall;
    the Kit Kittredge series (American Girl); Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater.

  • Oh, I just couldn’t resist adding another favorite. So many are already listed, but you must read Kildee House by Rutherford G. Montgomery and Barbara Cooney. I laughed so hard reading it aloud to the family that hubby had to take the book away and finish for me. Boys will really like the parts about the skunks!

  • Oh, I had forgotten Mr. Popper’s Penguins. love it

    Anything by Patricia Polacco …she’s great. Picture books….but what she packs into them.

    Cythnia Rylant..great author.

  • The Pollyanna series – all written by different authors, but REALLY easy, page-turning read.
    Louisa May Alcott stories: Little Women, 8 Cousins, Little Men, etc
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    Chronicles of Narnia series (in the OLD order: starting with Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe) – listen to them in the car on CD’s by Focus on the Family. GREAT versions – my 5 yo LOVES them.
    Wizard of Oz books – better than the movie

    Is that enough? 🙂

  • I loved Strawberry Girl and the Ramona series. Enjoy the chick bonding!

  • Hi, DeeDee, it’s me – Karen. We met awhile back – I was that crazy homeschooling mom who kept gushing about your blog. 😉
    I’ll add my recommendation for The Phantom Tollbooth. It has always been one of my favorite books, even as an adult, primarily because of the wonderfully descriptive language and for all of the lessons it teaches. My kids are young – 3 and 4 – but after taking them to see the play last week I have started to read them the book. (The play was good, but no where near how wonderful the book is, of course.) The book is definitely written for grade-school children, but they are loving it! We have been reading a chapter a day before naptime and it is something they have been looking forward to every day since we started. 🙂

  • Sonlight.com

    We have good books there.

    That’s all I’m gonna say about that.


  • DeeDee,
    As a reading teacher it excites me to see all the comments and incredible books listed that parents are reading to their children. I expected to see the newer books, but I am THRILLED to see all the classics listed. Keep reading folks. Other than the gift of knowing Jesus, the gift of reading to your children is so important!
    Ditto to the Summer of the Monkeys and Caddie Woodlawn books. Boys will love them also.
    Most of the books listed were on my stack to read to my children. I’ll add just a few. Heidi by Johanna Spyri, Winnie-the-Pooh & When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, and Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.
    When talking about great reads, don’t forget to read the Bible to your children. Not just Bible stories, but the actual book. The best literature & poetry EVER!
    Blessings to all!

  • I am sure someone has already said this or you have already figured this out, but we love the Little House on the Praries series over here.

    So with you on the hair thing!!

  • I’m always trying to snooker my daughter into playing with my hair by calling it her Beauty Shop. I’ve been known to tell my husband if we’re ever super-duper-have-more-money-than-we-know-what-to-do-with-rich, I am going to hire a full time servant to comb my hair! Ahhh!

    So, anyway, about the books (some of these are the abridged versions since my daughter is only 5)….we love The Little House books, Charlotte’s Web, Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little, Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables, The American Girl Books, Amelia Bedilia books, Curious George books, all the old “my little golden book” books, Aesop’s Fables, Black Beauty, The “Grandma’s Attic” series. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’d love to know what’s on your “must read” list!

  • What a terrific thing for you to do with to your kids. Wonderful in so many ways.

    The Miraculous Joureny of Edward Tulane, The Tale of Desperaux and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo

    Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

    Ella Enchanted and Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

    The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

    Ginger Pye and Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes

    Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

    Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

  • I am amazed to see that no one has mentioned the Moomintroll books, by Tove Jansson. Fantastic imaginative stories in which the scary bad guy always turns out to be either kind or someone to be pitied rather than feared. Moomintroll and his parents, Moominmama and Moominpapa live in a little house in a valley, and open their doors to all sorts of little creatures. In the first book, living in the house with the Moomin family are the Snork and the Snork Maiden, the Hemulen, Muskrat, and later in the book, Thingumy and Bob move in. Clouds you can actually ride, a dictionary that comes to life (the words actually crawl out of the pages, like little bugs), a magic hat, and the scary hobgoblin make Finn Family Moomintroll one of my all time favorite books. I am currently reading to my children Moominland Midwinter, in which Moomintroll wakes from his hibernation, and can’t go back to sleep. The only other creatures awake are TooTicky, Little My, and the Squirrel With the Wonderful Tail.

  • Boy, I’ve gotten a few reading ideas from this post! Read-aloud books that my kids have enjoyed are:

    – Chronicles of Narnia
    – Little House
    – Amelia Bedelia
    – Winnie the Pooh
    – Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
    – The Selfish Giant and The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

    I haven’t read them yet, but on my list are the Mary Poppins books. When the kids are a little older, we’ll read Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Black Beauty and so on.

    If you can find them, a great series of books are the Value Tales by Spencer Johnson. They’re biographies but written around a particular value. For example, the story of Helen Keller illustrates determination; Jackie Robinson illustrates courage; the Mayo brothers illustrate sharing, etc. I read them growing up and my mom gave hers to me. My kids love them and they learn about real people.