Reading Aloud to Active Little Boys

by | Reading Aloud | 6 comments

I am a homeschooling mother of ten children.We have successfully graduated our three oldest children. Currently I am teaching the other seven. The first batch of children was 4 girls and 1 boy, the second is 4 boys and 1 girl. I am struggling with what to read to them and how often to read to them. Time permitting, of course, I read what I can, but I am finding that I may be reading too much to them as they prefer me to read it to them as opposed to reading it themselves. I got your book lists and have read Teaching The Trivium three times through. It is the way I have taught my children all the way through. Our oldest is 21. …. I am getting overwhelmed and having to regroup. What do you recommend for reading for boys? Especially when they are so energetic. Have you heard of the Little Britches series and the Andy Hardy series? It was so much easier to choose books for the older batch as the son in that batch was much more focused and quite a bit calmer. He is also very creative and we were able to do a lot of projects that have led to his career. I am an artist and have taught all of them to be so as well. My struggle is with reading material. I do not like cartoonish, foolishness, I like true to life material that they will enjoy learning about a real life. Are there series of books that you are aware of that would be helpful with energetic boys with short attention spans that are very creative? Thanks for all the materials you have provided. I have read them through and now I want to pick your brain. C. in Alaska

Yes, kids usually love Mom and Dad to read aloud to them and will often choose that over reading to themselves. I generally suggest about two hours a day for reading aloud, but I know in our house it was often more than that since Harvey and I both like to read aloud. Have you read through all the books listed in our book Hand That Rocks the Cradle? I list there the books I read to the kids from about 1980-1995. Do you allow the boys to play with something while you read aloud? Most boys need something to do even while listening. I imagine that reading aloud to four small boys will be a challenge to even the most patient parent. Perhaps your standards of having everything quiet and peaceful during read aloud times will need to be adjusted since I don’t see how four small active boys could keep quiet for very long. You want read aloud times to be a time of enjoyment without excessive reprimands, yet somewhat peaceful and quiet, so you’ll have to find the balance between the two. You might have to break up read aloud times into several 15-minute segments interspersed with other activities such as chores or exercise. I would also suggest making liberal use of recorded books, even using the dramatized versions.

I do not like cartoonish, foolishness. I like true to life material that they will enjoy learning about a real life.

I’m in agreement with you there. I don’t even like Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. My kids love them, but I always steadfastly refused to read them, much preferring historical fiction. Harvey read to us the Little Britches series and I recall that we all enjoyed them. I’m not familiar with Andy Hardy.

Perhaps our readers can give us some specific suggestions for read alouds. Please post your suggestions in the comment section.


  1. Karen

    What about the Dear America series? (It’s kind of like the American Girl series, but most of the main characters are boys. Plus, less merchandising!)

  2. Milehimama

    My boys are currently age 8,7, and 4; plus a girl age 6.
    We’ve read Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and Gulliver’s Travels aloud to our boys. Also Wizard of Oz series, but that is definitely “foolishness”!
    Also I read the lives of the Saints – they really like the ones about martyrs in the Colosseum.

    Have you tried James Fennimore Cooper? He has several short stories – the Leatherstocking tales – about Native Americans when the people from the New World showed up. My next read aloud is going to be Jack London’s White Fang. Dickens also often wrote about little boys and their many adventures. I read ahead to be able to skip parts that are too complicated or mature for them to handle, but they still get the story and the literary language.

    Loisa May Alcott also had a book, Little Men, but I haven’t read that one- I’ve only read Little Women.

    Tarzan books, Rikki Tiki Tavi, and other tales of boys in lands far away would probably be good.

    Many of these are no longer under copyright and you can browse online at to see if you feel they are appropriate before buying a copy.

  3. Christine Masloske

    I’d also like to offer a few suggestions. My husband and I read aloud to our 5 children (14yob, 12yog, 9yob, 5yob, 2yog) and have found Laurie’s suggestions to be right on the mark. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the booklist we’ve used, along with Lives in Print for biographies.

    We find that our sons and daughters really love action books and generally will end up role-playing after reading. Yes, that means sword fighting with various plastic tubes, k’nex made into swords or anything else they can think of, as well as making armor out of cardboard or whatever is handy. Also, boys in coonskin caps and girls in prairie dresses, queens and knights, or boys wandering in the Ozarks with their beloved dogs. Oh, the list goes on and on!

    When I read aloud during the day, the boys generally use their Erector or K’nex sets and build all sorts of fascinating things. They love read aloud time and can easily concentrate on both things. At night when my husband reads, it is right before bedtime and he wants the children to sit still and just listen to the stories. It has proven excellent training for those times when sitting and listening are required in life.

    Some books that we have absolutely loved are as follows:

    Books by Elizabeth George Speare such as The Bronze Bow and The Sign of the Beaver

    Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Books by Howard Pyle…these are the ones that really get the children dressing up, putting each other in dungeons and talking in some sort of 1600’s speak!

    Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

    All children seem to love dog books such as Where the Red Fern Grows, Sounder, Old Yeller and Ginger Pye.

    Biographies of missionaries and of settlers (I’d use books written years ago as opposed to modern versions which are very simple, as well, of course, as well as autobiographies).

    I hope this helps! Read aloud time is such a joy and blessing to families, as your family already knows!

    Love in Christ,

  4. local girl

    I’ll have to get back to you on the book suggestions. Sorry, I’m still amazed that you’re homeschooling Mom to 10 kids! You must be SuperMom!

    Thank you for sharing this post with the Carnival of Family Life.

  5. Lisa

    I don’t have any book suggestions for you, but I did want to say congrats on homeschooling 10 kids. That is quite impressive.

    Here via the carnival of family life.

  6. Ellen Walker

    A terrific and mostly-forgotten pioneer story is _That Callahan Spunk_ by Ames (set in Montana). Another, recent, Montana pioneer story, which has a girl as main character but also plenty of challenges is _Hattie Big-Sky_. A good dog story, also older, is _Bristleface_ by Ball. Depending on how old your boys are, a couple Newbery-winning historical fiction novels with boys for main characters are _Across Five Aprils_ and _Johnny Tremain_. Katherine Paterson’s books are mostly either realistic fiction or historical fiction, and are well-written and make good read-alouds.


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