As I mentioned in my post on read aloud books for 9-year-olds, it is a real joy to read aloud to older kids. Not only can you begin choosing more sophisticated reading material, like the titles on this list of read aloud books for 10-year-olds, but you can have in-depth conversations about mature topics.
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Books to Read Aloud to 10 Year Olds
Your ten-year-olds may have very definite opinions as to what genre book they want to listen to. Does your 10-year-old like fantasy? Comedy, history or realism? Whatever their tastes, there is a book on this list to suit them!
Catherine Called Birdy
by Karen Cushman
In the 13th century, 14-year-old Catherine, the daughter of a landed knight, has a little more gumption than a girl in her times is supposed to have. Her father is trying to marry her off to enrich his coffers but she would rather run around with the peasants on the manor and thwart his efforts. This short novel is told in a diary format and is hilarious. Spend time discussing the differences and similarities of how girls are treated in the middle ages vs. today.
The Pushcart War
by Jean Merrill
Merrill may have penned this classic tale of underdogs in 1964, but its appeal endures. Narrated as a sort of historical documentary, the story, set in New York City, follows the fate of the pushcart vendors when they dare to stand up to the truck drivers who are taking over the city streets. The vendors sabotage the bully truckers with the Pea Shooter Campaign. The Pushcart War offers so much to talk about with your kids. Discuss the writing style and humor as well as the larger theme of the big guys vs. the small guys.
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
by Carlos Hernandez
My son listened to this on audiobook and loved it! He was alternating between gasping and laughing. Salvador Vidón is the new kid, but is also an unusual kid because he is able to open portals into alternate universes with his mind. He meets Gabi Reál who is a bit suspicious of his explanation about the mysterious things that happen when he is around. This is a really fun book, with lots of fast-paced action and crazy humor. Highly recommended!
A Place to Belong
by Cynthia Kadohata
After World War II, thousands of Japanese-born American citizens were coerced into renouncing their citizenship and forced to emigrate to Japan. This is the story of one family’s experience told through the eyes of 12 year old Hanako. She and her brother, along with their parents move in with her grandparents, tenant farmers in a small Japanese village. Discuss with your children the right of citizenship, the struggle of immigrants, and the experiences of living in an unfamiliar country. You can also chat about the value of familial relationships between generations.
The Journey of Pale Bear
by Susan Fletcher
Arthur, a boy living in Norway, runs away from his abusive stepfather and stepbrothers. He has a letter from his Welsh cousins, which he assumes is asking him to return to Wales and claim his birthright. Unfortunately, he can’t actually read the letter. In the port town of Bergen he encounters a caged polar bear and two ruffians shove him in the cage. When Arthur soothes the bear he is enlisted to accompany the bear on a ship to England, for the bear is a gift from King Haakon to King Henry. Hair-raising, heart-searching and page-turning adventure follows. The story was inspired by a 13th century “pale bear” who lived in the Tower of London menagerie, a gift from Norway.
Anya and the Dragon
by Sofiya Pasternack
I read this aloud and my son absolutely loved it. Set in medieval Russia where the common use of magic is now against the law, Anya still hopes that her own magic talent will reveal itself to her. Because her family is Jewish, they are outsiders in their village and the local magistrate is trying to force them out. When Ivan and his family, a family allowed to use magic, come to the town they enlist Anya’s help in tracking down a mysterious water dragon. Anya agrees to help them in order to save her family’s farm. Anya and Ivan must protect the dragon from others who want to destroy it. Pasternack skillfully draws upon story elements from Russian, Slavic and Jewish folklore.
I Can Make this Promise
by Christine Day
This was a terrific read. Edie lives in a loving family, but she knows her mother doesn’t like to talk much about her own ancestry. Her mother, of mixed Native American heritage, was adopted by white parents. One day, Edie discovers a box of letters signed “Edith” and wonders who her mysterious namesake is. The story follows Edie’s journey as she learns the truth and reconnects with her Suquamish/Duwamish heritage. I can’t recommend this book enough! Be sure to talk with your kids about how important it is to read stories which counteract the harmful stereotypes of American Indians that are too often taught in school.
by Aisha Saeed
This is an important book to remind our children that there are still boys and girls around the world who are denied an education and the freedom that comes with living in a developed country. In her Pakistani village, Amal dreams of becoming a teacher one day, but an unfortunate event changes her life and she must live as an indentured servant in the household of the village’s corrupt landlord. Amal is a strong protagonist who takes matters into her own hands, determined to achieve her goals, despite her circumstances.
The Best Man
by Richard Peck
Author Peck is well known for his book, A Long Way From Chicago. This book is full of the same trademark humor. Archer looks up to a few men in his life and tries to learn from them: his grandfather, his dad, his uncle Paul and his teacher, a former military man. His relationships with these men helps him navigate the peril of living on the edge of adolescence as he deals with friendships, bullies and general kid stuff. Then, his uncle and teacher fall in love and Archer’s world view expands even further.
As Brave As You
by Jason Reynolds
Both my kid and I loved this book about 11 year old Genie and his brother who have come to rural Virginia to spend the summer with their grandparents. Genie is a boy who loves to ask questions and when he learns about his grandfather’s blindness he has a lot to ask! During the summer Genie struggles with making sure he makes the right decisions as he uncovers the secrets of his family’s history.
by Kelly Yang
Mia Tang lives in a motel where her immigrant parents are the managers for an exploitative owner. Mia wants to be a writer but worries about her English skills. She takes over running the front desk of the motel and makes friends wherever she goes. She dreams of winning a writing contest so her parents can own their own hotel instead of working endlessly for little pay. Yang based the novel on her own experiences growing up in similar circumstances. A winning, funny and heartwarming novel; not to be missed.