Favorite Family Summer Read-Alouds

Family summer reading

Summer may already be half over, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to implement family reading time!

My kiddos connect best with stories that feature a character who tries so desperately hard to ‘be good’, but somehow, constantly get into all kinds of mischief.

I’ve found that these types of books with a moral undertone are a FANTASTIC replacement for a lecture and so much more effective! Who can’t laugh and learn from the mistakes of lovable characters like Anne in Anne of Green Gables, tomboy-ish Jo in Little Women, or selfish Brother and Sister Bear in Berenstein Bears?

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Happy Summer!

* The list below is best for the 4-7 year old age group (although some of these are ageless!)

Family Summer Read on Character

The Berenstain Bears

This is a sweet little series about a family of bears and their various life adventures. Each book has a familiar parenting challenge (too much TV, forgiving, bullying, junk food, doing chores, etc.). I tend to select titles based on a character issue my kids are struggling with (lying, obeying, using manners, doing schoolwork well, etc.). You can pretty much find one on any topic. You can find most of these at your local library (but use the online hold system, as I rarely can find what I’m looking for when I walk in spontaneously).

A Family Treasury of Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books

These were my FAVORITES growing up. The glittering gold spine and colorful illustrations captured my attention. My kids especially love the older books such as the “We Help Mommy” and “We help Daddy” series (these are difficult to find – shop used on Amazon or eBay). Other favorites include: The Pokey Little Puppy, Saggy Baggy Elephant, The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Nurse Nancy.

grimms fairy tales

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

This is my son’s ABSOLUTE favorite read-aloud. If your child enjoys adventurous tales of heroism and can handle not-so-Disney-like-endings, this is a great pick.  I find it a little disturbing at times, but I appreciate the fact in many of the tales, there are natural consequences to greedy, selfish or deceitful choices. The illustrations are lovely, able to keep my wiggly son engaged.

little women

Peter Pan Junior Classic for Young ReadersLittle Princess Junior ClassicsTreasure Island Junior Classics for Young ReadersTom Sawyer Junior Classicsanne of green gables

Junior Classics for Young Readers

I stumbled upon this series while browsing the dollar bins at Target one afternoon. As an English major and avid reader, I’m always a bit skeptical of an abridged version of any classic work. But nevertheless, they were a dollar, so I bought a couple. These are PHENOMENAL. I love that the reading level has not been completely ‘dumbed-down’ but still contains much of the rich, elegant language of the original work. They are a shorter, abbreviated version of the original tales,  but simplified in a way that keeps my young readers engaged as I read to them and even stretches them a bit with regards to rich vocabulary.

The Courage of Sarah Noble

The Courage of Sarah Noble

This book was a required read-aloud for my first grader. I remember the night I read it aloud to both of my children (1st and Kinder at the time). We finished the book in ONE sitting. They were fascinated by the TRUE story of 8-year-old Sarah Noble, who temporarily lives with a neighboring Indian tribe while her family is away. Inspiring and simply written, making it an easy read!

Strega Nona Her Story

Strega Nona

This is a series by the famous author illustrator Tomie dePaola. I found the stories to be a little odd at first, with a mix of Italian culture, Catholicism and magic. But my kids LOVE the characters and illustrations. And, there is always a great moral! The book pictured above introduces how Strega Nona came to be ‘Grandma Witch.’ I find it helpful to start with, but the others can be read in no particular order as they are all individual stories (my kids favorites include Big Anthony, who is rather goofy!).

  • Strega Nona
  • Big Anthony: His Story
  • Big Anthony and the Magic Ring
  • Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons
  • Strega Nona Meets Her Match
  • Strega Nona’s Harvest
  • Merry Christmas, Strega Nona
  • Strega Nona and the Twins
  • Strega Nona Does it Again


Please leave a comment if you have other books or series of books that are great for summer read-alouds. Always on the hunt for new ones!



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