One of my favorite memories with my children has been the opportunity to read to them when they were young. I remember vividly one summer when we were canning peaches together as a family how much fun it was to read James and the Giant Peach for those many hours of canning over several days. Whether you read at bedtime, after school or just any time, these great and timeless books will be favorites for your children for years to come.
The classic Robert Louis Stevenson book about pirates and buried treasure is a must read for any family. Young Jim Hawkins, the son of tavern owners, finds himself on a ship with the ultimate pirate Long John Silver seeking for buried treasure on the Spanish Main. Lots of adventure, sword fighting, mutiny and more that will keep kids (especially boys) entertained for hours! Read a review of Treasure Island from About.com.
James is a young man orphaned when his parents are attacked and eaten by a rhino. He is sent to live with his two angry and obstinate aunts Sponge and Spiker. Befriended by a mysterious wizard, James receives some magical crystals which he drops at the base of a peach tree. An enormous peach begins to grow at the top of the tree and soon it is bigger than the nearby house. The entrepreneurial aunts begin charging admission to people to see the giant peach, but eventually James finds a hole in the large peach and soon finds himself crawling through tunnels until he meets some creatures at the center of the peach. Then the peach breaks off the tree and begins rolling and taking James and his friends on a world adventure. One of the most engaging and simply fun books in this list, James and the Giant Peach is a book the kids and dad will love! Read a review of James and the Giant Peach from About.com
3. Little Women
Who can resist the story of the March girls - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy - and their family who lives in New England during the Civil War. Written by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women appeals to both girls and boys, although the girls will more quickly be enamored by the characters and the setting. Boys will laugh at their antics and the occasions of sibling rivalry. It is an engaging and entertaining read and will hold the kids' interest over many readings. Read a review of Little Women from About.com.
4. Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl was one of my youngest son's favorite books and series. Artemis is a twelve year old genius and one of the greatest criminal masterminds ever. He sets out on a quest to recover his family's fortune by kidnapping a fairy and waiting for ransom. But he discovers that he has kidnapped the captain of a band of armed and dangerous fairies, and that leads to a series of misadventures that will keep the kids laughing and engaged. A fast-paced fantasy, Artemis Fowl will be a favorite for all of the kids and their dad.
Four siblings aged 5 to 15 are on their own after the death of their parents. Sent to live with a grandfather they have never met but who has a bad reputation, the children find an abandoned boxcar in the woods and set up their own household. This is the first of a series of many books featuring mysteries solved by the Boxcar Children, so if you enjoy this one with the kids, there are many more to follow.
The first in the Chronicles of Narnia series by Christian author C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe introduces us to the prominent characters in the series. The four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sent to live with relatives where they discover that a wardrobe in one of the bedrooms is the gateway to the magical kingdom of Narnia. There they encounter very memorable characters including Aslan, the lion, who is the king of Narnia. This book is great as a standalone volume, or it may lead you and your children into the other books in the series. Filled with adventure and intrigue, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be a read you won't every forget. Learn more about The Chronicles of Narnia from About.com.
The ultimate free-spirited and adventurous boy, Tom Sawyer's story as penned by American author and humorist Mark Twain is one of the earliest "coming-of-age" books of the modern era. The adventures of Tom, his friend Huckleberry Finn and the beautiful little Becky Thatcher are unmatched. From watching his own funeral in town as people gave him up as lost to conning his friends into whitewashing a fence to pay for Tom's missing school, the book is a classic must-read for boys and girls alike. Read a review of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer from About.com.
What father and daughters would not love Anne of Green Gables? The story of a red-headed orphan accidentally adopted by an elderly man and his sister in scenic Prince Edward Island, Canada is endearing and entertaining. As Anne finds her place in the world and reconciles her dreams to reality, the reader can't help but fall in love with Anne and her free spirit. The writing is simply amazing and the story line is one that you just can't resist. Read a review of Anne of Green Gables from About.com.
Despereaux Tilling is a mouse on the move, and this fairy tale will be absolutely enchanting for you and your children. Despereaux and his companions Roscuro the rat and Miggery Sow, a little girl embark on an adventure that will take the reader from soaring highs to discouraging lows, but will teach lessons about life and love. This is one of my all time favorite children's books and will make a lot of fun memories reading together.Read a review of The Tale of Despereaux from About.com.
Winn-Dixie is a big, happy mutt that becomes the cherished companion of little Opal after her mother abandons her and her preacher father. With Winn-Dixie in tow, Opal learns more about her mother, the folks in her new town and about life in general. This is a great book to read with school-aged children and will have you falling in love with both Opal and her personality-laden dog. Read a review of Because of Winn-Dixie from About.com.