We picture all of our darling children curled around us, listening happily as we share a story together

BUT … What if we have toddlers and teens? Or just lots of kids with strong opinions?!

Is there ANYTHING we can do?

YES! Today’s episode is all about finding the read-aloud sweet spot when you have a wide range of ages in your family.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • why you should ignore common advice when it comes to reading to a wide age span
  • whether it’s OK to read under some of your kids’ reading level
  • 15+ crowd-pleasing books that you and kids of varying ages will enjoy

Click that play button below to hear the podcast:

Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

  • 2:28 Don’t be afraid to separate
  • 3:24 Shoot for the middle
  • 6:36 Keeping them engaged is the key
  • 7:55 Books under your kids’ reading level
  • 10:09 ‘Life’s greatest delights’
  • 11:39 Family and animal stories
  • 14:08 Historical recommendations
  • 17:06 A touch of magic
  • 18:59 Fantasy books
  • 21:50 Go on a literary journey … together
  • 22:44 Let the kids speak

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Quotes to remember:

“We want them to see reading as one of life’s greatest delights. We want to choose books that meet kids at all different ages, that will appeal to everyone, and that everyone can follow along the storyline.” – Sarah Mackenzie

“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” – C.S. Lewis

We don’t need to be afraid of reading things that are under our  … oldest children’s reading level. If we realize that they can still get so much benefit from the books we’re reading aloud to them (even if they’re not above or even at their reading level), that opens the door to enjoying so many other books as a family.” – Sarah Mackenzie

(Download the transcript above for more quotes and pull-outs.)

Books from this episode:

(All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Episode 113
Poppy

Poppy

A young mouse embarks on an adventurous tale and finds bravery where she didn't know it existed. Also wonderful as an audio book. (This is second in a series, but I recommend starting here anyway.) Listen to the author, Avi, in his Author Access replay at RAR Premium.

More info →
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The Green Ember

The Green Ember

FROM SARAH:

A Read-Aloud Revival community favorite. Rabbits with Swords! This story will inspire heroic virtue in your children (and who knows... maybe you too!). This is first in a truly wonderful fantasy series. Your kids can meet author S.D. Smith at his Author Access video replay in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

More info →
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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

FROM SARAH:

Minli sets off on an adventurous journey to find the Old Man on the Moon and change her family's fortune. Elements of fantasy and folklore intertwine as Minli discovers answers to her most pressing questions. Full-color illustrations by the author make this one a special treat! Your kids can meet Grace Lin in her Author Access video replay in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune.

More info →
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The Bark of the Bog Owl (Wilderking Trilogy)

The Bark of the Bog Owl (Wilderking Trilogy)

FROM SARAH:

The whole Wilderking Trilogy is one you don't want your kids to miss. Start here, with The Bark of the Bog Owl.  Ideal for kids 8-14, though you'll enjoy it every bit as much as your kids will. The less you know before reading it, the better, so try to skip reading reviews ahead of time, if you can!

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

12-year-old Aidan Errolson, comes from a long line of adventurers. His grandparents were among the first settlers of Corenwald's Eastern Frontier. His father had been one of the kingdom's greatest warriors. Aidan, on the other hand, lives the quiet, comfortable life, of a nobleman's son. He never has any real adventures, and that, he believes, is the one great injustice of his otherwise happy life.

More info →
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Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

The Cuthberts are expecting a boy to help work on their farm, Green Gables. Instead, they get “Anne with an e,” who will surely win girls’ hearts with her spunky personality and big imagination.

More info →
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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2)

FROM THE PUBLISHER

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, a series that has become part of the canon of classic literature, drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over fifty years.

FROM SARAH

If you're looking for a story to inspire heroic virtue, and sweep everyone away in an unforgettable tale, The Chronicles of Narnia cannot be outdone. I recommend beginning the series with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (you can circle back to The Magician's Nephew at the very end.)

More info →
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By the Great Horn Spoon!

By the Great Horn Spoon!

$7.99

Set during the Gold Rush, Jack is searching for wealth to help his aunt. Along with his butler Praiseworthy, he sets off on the adventure of a lifetime. Will Jack find gold? (This one is laugh-out-loud funny!)

More info →
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Half Magic

Half Magic

FROM SARAH

It’s such a boring summer, so when Jane finds a coin, she wishes something exciting would happen. Of course, it does! A funny and classic family tale for all ages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

It all begins with a strange coin on a sun-warmed sidewalk. Jane finds the coin, and because she and her siblings are having the worst, most dreadfully boring summer ever, she idly wishes something exciting would happen. And something does: Her wish is granted. Or not quite. Only half of her wish comes true.

More info →
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On to Oregon!

On to Oregon!

$6.99

**Description from Amazon: The epic journey of the Sager children by covered wagon from Missouri to Oregon in 1848.

More info →
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Little House (9 Volume Set)

Little House (9 Volume Set)

The set includes: Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years.

More info →
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Happy Little Family (Fairchild Family Story)

Happy Little Family (Fairchild Family Story)

$12.95

FROM SARAH

Told from the perspective for 4-year-old Bonnie (the youngest in the family), this cute series of stories features a look at family life in Kentucky in the early 1900s. Happy Little Family is the first in the series.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Bonnie is more than ready to join her older sisters and brother in the many adventures she sees come their way, whether it be sliding along the ice, searching for arrowheads, or going on that journey of all journeys-across the swinging bridge to school. Winter or summer, something is always happening in the Fairchild house, tucked amidst the pine trees of the Kentucky hills one hundred years ago or more.

More info →
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The Penderwicks

The Penderwicks

FROM SARAH:

One of my tippy-top recommendations... if your kids haven't met the Penderwicks yet, it's time! A summer of misadventure ensues when four sisters meet a very interesting boy (and a couple of rabbits, too!) at a summer cottage in New England. Boys and girls alike enjoy this whole series. Hear Jeanne Birdsall talk about writing this series on her episode of Read-Aloud Revival.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts.

More info →
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Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

Little House in the Big Woods: Little House, Book 1

The book that started it all! Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in Laura Ingalls Wilder's treasured Little House series, which is based on her life growing up as an American pioneer. Told from four-year-old Laura's point of view, this story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the e...

More info →
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Happy Little Family: Fairchild Family Story, Book 1

Happy Little Family: Fairchild Family Story, Book 1

NARRATED BY: Mary Sarah

BEST FOR AGES: 6+

LISTENING LENGTH: 1 hour, 31 min

More info →
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Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Who can resist a mystery about a very good girl, a talking rat, and a horrible, wicked nanny? This page-turner is laugh-out-loud funny and will keep you and your kids guessing to the very end.

More info →
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Schoolroom in the Parlor: Fairchild Family Story, Book 4

Schoolroom in the Parlor: Fairchild Family Story, Book 4

NARRATED BY: Mary Sarah

BEST FOR AGES: 6+

LISTENING LENGTH: 2 hours, 32 min

More info →
Buy from Amazon
Schoolhouse in the Woods: Fairchild Family Stories, Book 2

Schoolhouse in the Woods: Fairchild Family Stories, Book 2

NARRATED BY: Mary Sarah

BEST FOR AGES: 6+

LISTENING LENGTH: 1 hour, 53 min

More info →
Buy from Amazon
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

FROM SARAH:

Ten-year-old Persimmony Smudge lives a boring life on the Island in the Middle of Everything, but she longs for adventure. And she soon gets it when she overhears a life-altering secret and suddenly finds herself in the middle of an amazing journey. Fantastically funny. Your kids can meet author/illustrator Jennifer Trafton at her Author Access video replay in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Ten-year-old Persimmony Smudge lives a boring life on the Island in the Middle of Everything, but she longs for adventure. And she soon gets it when she overhears a life-altering secret and suddenly finds herself in the middle of an amazing journey. It turns out that Mount Majestic, the rising and falling mountain in the center of the island, is not really a mountain - it's the belly of a sleeping giant!

More info →
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The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

FROM SARAH:

When their landlord decides he's not going to renew the Vanderbeekers' lease, the five Vanderbeeker kids launch a full-blown mission to change his mind. Highly recommended for kids of all ages (I read it to all six of my kids, from preschool through teen). A practically perfect family story that's first in a wonderful series. Meet the author, Karina Yan Glaser, in her Author Access replay in RAR Premium.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

More info →
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The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

**Description from Amazon: A New York Times bestseller!  Return to Harlem's "wildly entertaining" family in this funny, heartwarming sequel. When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbors, the Vanderbeeker children set out to build the best, most magical healing garden in Harlem—in spite of a locked fence, this...

More info →
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