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10 Amazing Books to Read Aloud to Big Kids

Common Sense Media logo Common Sense Media 6/20/2017 Regan McMahon

Reading out loud isn't just for little kids. Big kids (age 8–12) who can read on their own also enjoy being read to. And it has all kinds of benefits, including building vocabulary, comprehension, and listening skills. It's also a wonderful way to connect with your kids, share books you loved as a child, explore topics they love, or expose them to new ones. For more book suggestions, check out our Top Picks lists Read-Aloud Books and 50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 8+. A magical orphan boy enters wizarding school and struggles with his legacy in this start of the best-selling seven-volume series. Full of thrills and well-drawn characters, it's as fun and satisfying for adults as it is for kids.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, age 8+. A great introduction to the fantasy-adventure genre, this captivating classic of children's literature is easy to love (and if your kids like this one, there are six more Narnia books to read after it).

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, age 8+. This gripping Newbery Medal-winning tale of a brave, giant-eared mouse in love with a human princess is perfectly paced and plotted to hold a middle-grade reader's interest.

The Percy Jackson Series, age 9+. A fearless, sarcastic, contemporary young demigod (half mortal, half Greek god), Percy introduces kids to Greek mythology in this fast-paced adventure series. And there are many spin-off series to enjoy after finishing this one.

The War That Saved My Life, age 9+. This 2016 Newbery Honor tale of kids in the English countryside during World War II is an excellent first taste of historical fiction. Tough content includes a mother who's abusive toward her disabled daughter, which is sure to prompt discussion.

Brown Girl Dreaming, age 10+. Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, this memoir-in-verse captures what it was like to grow up as an African-American girl partly in the 1960s Jim Crow South, partly in New York City.

The Inquisitor's Tale, age 10+. Set in 1242 France during the Inquisition, this poignant, funny 2017 Newbery Honor book stars three tweens and a saintly dog, all with unusual powers, trying to avoid their persecutors. Expect irresistible characters and thought-provoking adventures.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, age 10+. In what's been called the Chinese Wizard of Oz, a young girl goes on a quest to help find fortune for her beloved parents, along the way befriending a dragon, an orphaned shepherd boy, and a prince.

A Long Walk to Water, age 11+. This harrowing novel based on a true story tells two interlocking tales set in Sudan more than 20 years apart. It covers the nation's bloody civil war (1983–2005) and the fate of the Lost Boys, seen though the eyes of an 11-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl.

Great Expectations, age 12+. Charles Dickens' 19th-century masterpiece, with its rich but old-fashioned language, is much easier to tackle when it's read out loud. This reversal-of-fortune tale is episodic and full of twists and turns -- perfect for reading bit by bit, a chapter or two at a time.

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