More Top 10 Read Alouds

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A few years ago I listed our Top Ten Read Alouds. Since then, we have read many more good books, so I have created a new list – books that, again, should appeal to boys and girls of any age.

You may wonder what criteria we use to choose a book to read and to place on our Top List. It's very simple: it must have adventure, be family-oriented, and include “universal truths” and Christian values, even if the book may not be strictly a “Christian” book. So select one of these books that you have not read yet (or one from our old Top Ten Read Alouds or The Newest Top 10 Read Alouds), gather up the kids, and enjoy a good family read aloud together!

1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini

We started reading this book simply because a homeschooler wrote it, but we all have enjoyed it! Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire. The first one is the best in the series. (The movie does not follow the book.)

2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that was devouring his pancreas and that would claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, and often cheerfully, darkly funny. Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the funny and inspiring book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. You would think the book would be morbidly sad, but it is not! Although Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008, his legacy will continue to inspire us all for generations to come.

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker

This may be the surprise on the list! Narrated from several viewpoints, Dracula is a complex story that many know, or think they know, but few have actually read. Contrary to what you may think, just by judging from movies and television, Dracula has explicit Christian themes of good vs. evil. Bram Stoker’s Dracula suggests that the forces which would destroy humanity are not lurking in the shadows of the night, but within the human soul, and that evil cannot be overcome alone, but only with the Lord's help. An apparently routine business venture becomes a battle for a young man’s very soul. Almost too late, Jonathan Harker realizes that the charismatic and seductive Count Dracula of Transylvania has come to England with a purpose much more sinister than merely to purchase an English estate. Will the Count succeed in his quest to create a race of blood-lusting creatures of the night? It is not gory, but a great Gothic novel. (Do not get an abridged version. You may want to get one that includes a glossary and notes to help the modern reader appreciate Stoker’s allusions, rich vocabulary, and Victorian setting. By the way, the movies do not follow the book very much at all!)

4. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Again, this is a book I read in high school and eagerly anticipated reading to my children when we studied world history. As the author says, “Every experience God gives us . . . is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.” How true! Author Corrie ten Boom is a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler's concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Among her family, only Corrie survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil. (Watch the movie after you read the book!)

5. Bruchko: The Astonishing True Story of a 19-Year-Old American, His Capture by the Motilone Indians and His Adventures in Christianizing the Stone Age Tribe by Bruce Olson

This is a riveting, true story of a 19-year-old young man who was so passionate about winning lost South American tribes for Jesus Christ that he plunges himself into the work and immerses himself into the culture. Bruce was turned away by mission organizations because of his young age and inexperience, so he set off on his own to tell the head-hunting Motilones of South America about Christ. Bruchko is the name given him by the Motilone tribe. You have to pinch yourself to remember that this is a true story! The adventures are incredible!

6. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

With nearly 1,500 Broadway performances, six Tony Awards, more than three million albums sold, and five Academy Awards, The Sound of Music, based on the lives of Maria, the baron, and their singing children, is as familiar to most of us as our own family history. But much about the real-life woman and her family was left untold. Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America.

7. Life with Father by Clarence Day

Set in 1890s New York, Clarence Day’s tales of his father, Clarence “Clare” Day, Sr., portray a willful, rambunctious, short-fused Wall Street broker who demands perfection. Intolerant and tyrannical in his determined battle to harness the world to his way of thinking, Clarence blusters at his wife, his cook, his horse, shopkeepers, servants, and, of course, his children and their inability to live up to his preposterous standards. Yet, the more he rants, the more comical he becomes—and the more he seems to endear himself to his beleaguered and bemused family. First published in 1935, and serialized in The New Yorker, Life with Father was adapted for the stage in 1939, brought to the screen in 1947, and went on to become a much-loved television series in the 1950s.

8. Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

This classic of American Children's Literature was written in 1865 by a woman who had great respect for Holland, but had never been there herself. Based on meticulous research, this book became popular in Europe as well as in America. From glistening ice roads to frozen canals, in a wonderland where even the richest nobles thrill to the gliding joys of winter, everyone is awaiting the fabulous race to win the magnificent Silver Skates – except Hans Brinker and his sister Gretel, who are desperately poor. With a father felled by a crippling head wound, Mother and the children must battle simply to survive. And while Hans and Gretel are strong, fast, disciplined, and loyal, on hand-crafted wooden skates they can't complete against trained rich kids with fine steel blades. But sometimes...sometimes...good people are given a chance. Sometimes strangers do care. And sometimes a family's love and loyalty can struggle against even the cruelest twists of fate.

9. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensey, the heroes and heroines from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, return in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series. Although this is marketed as the fourth book, it should be read as the second book. The four children are transported from an English train station to an island in the world of Narnia. Though Narnia has been at peace since the children left, it is now under the control of wicked King Mirax. The youngsters, along with Aslan the great lion, must help young Prince Caspian restore Narnia's glorious past.

10. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

A beloved classic since its initial publication in 1947, this vivid, insightful journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary on her 13th birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Her marvelously detailed, engagingly personal entries chronicle 25 trying months of claustrophobic, quarrelsome intimacy with her parents, sister, a second family, and a middle-aged dentist who has little tolerance for Anne's vivacity. The diary's universal appeal stems from its riveting blend of the grubby particulars of life during wartime (scant, bad food; shabby, outgrown clothes that can't be replaced; constant fear of discovery) and candid discussion of emotions familiar to every adolescent (everyone criticizes me, no one sees my real nature, when will I be loved?). Yet Frank was no ordinary teen: the later entries reveal a sense of compassion and a spiritual depth remarkable in a girl barely 15. Her death epitomizes the madness of the Holocaust, but for the millions who meet Anne through her diary, her death is also a very individual loss.



Homeschooling More Than One ChildAbout the Author:
Carren W. Joye is the author of Homeschooling More Than One Child: A Practical Guide for Families (ISBN 0-595-34259-0), Alabama State History Curriculum for grades K-9, and A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups (ISBN 0-595-14684-8). A homeschooling mom of four children and administrator of Outlook Academy, she has founded four successful playgroups, a homeschool support group, homeschool covering, and homeschool co-op. For more information on her books and state history curriculum, visit her web site at www.carrenjoye.com.