I’ve been looking forward to making this list of family read alouds for spring! It rounds out my series of seasonal read aloud books the whole family will love (see bottom of post for additional lists). That’s not to say I won’t make more, but now there are read aloud book lists to take you through the whole year ’round.
I chose these chapter books for a variety of reasons; they don’t necessarily all take place during the spring. I felt as though all these titles would take readers’ imaginations out into nature, and they all foster a happy outlook on life. Many of these books truly are suitable for all ages, and in each review I’ve noted any special considerations that may be important. (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)
When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad is hands down my favorite read aloud so far this year. In early 20th century Denmark, an orphan girl meets her grandmother for the first time when she goes to live with her after the death of her mother. Inge Maria is a free spirit and even though trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes (hilarious trouble, to be sure) the townspeople and her grandmother can’t help but fall utterly in love with her. I thought Nannestad masterfully handled Inge Maria’s grief over her mother’s death, her joyous attitude towards new experiences, and her headstrong imagination. If you are a fan of Anne of Green Gables, you will love this book.
The Adventures of Miss Pettifour by Anne Michaels is a delightful collection of stories about the winsome Miss Pettifour and her sixteen cats, “Minky, Misty, Taffy, Purrsia, Pirate, Mustard, Moutarde, Hemdela, Earring, Grigorovitch, Clasby, Captain Captain, Captain Catkin, Captain Clothespin, Your Shyness and Sizzles.” (My son loved reciting the names during their frequent appearances.) Miss Pettifour travels from place to place with the help of a large tablecloth and a burst of wind. Her cats go with her, hanging on in line formation. Each of the quirky stories, such as the search for a missing postage stamp, or a trip to the jumble sale stand alone, for a satisfying read aloud session. The content is appropriate for all ages and lovely little drawings will charm everyone.
Firstborn is by Tor Seidler, the author of The Wainscott Weasel, one of our favorite read alouds of 2015. Initially my 11 year old read this book and afterwards he pronounced it “awesome!”, his younger brother insisted I read it. We actually ended up listening to it on audiobook, and my 7 year old and I agreed with the “awesome” assessment. Maggie the Magpie narrates the story of how she leaves her familiar home and meets a group of wolves. Maggie is impressed with the wolves and decides to cast her lot with them. Her description of the wolves’ behavior is fascinating, as well as her admiration for one the the firstborn wolves, Lamar, who exhibits non-wolf like interests. This is a truly wonderful book for kids who are interested in the natural world, but the story also abounds in examples of the harsh realities of the natural world. So if you don’t want to read about eating prey, premature death or the thrill of the hunt, this is not the book for you.
The Penderwicks in Spring is the final installment in The Penderwicks series. Start at the beginning if you haven’t already done so, but if you have read the first three books you will enjoy this story, told primarily through the eyes of the youngest sister, Batty and brother, Ben. There is a new sibling, Lydia, the return of a few favorite friends, like Nick, Jeffery, and — at last — Tommy, as well as some light romantic developments. Batty starts a dog walking business to earn money for voice lessons, and comes to terms with secret feelings held by her sister, Skye. As I’ve said previously, The Penderwicks books are for those of you who like books with old-fashioned charm.
Hickory by Palmer Brown is a very short and sweet novel and will be enjoyed by the youngest in your family as well as the oldest. Hickory, his brothers Dickory and Dock live with their parents in a grandfather clock. Hickory, however, longs to experience the outdoors. When spring comes he decides to explore the meadow and meets Hop the grasshopper. The two form a friendship and yet Hop tells Hickory that when the warm weather fades, so will the grasshopper’s song. Hickory convinces Hop to set out with him so that they will always be warm, thus thwarting inevitable mortality. The ending is ambiguous but not scary, and instead provides fodder for conversation with the kids.
The Little Water Sprite is another sweet, relatively unknown classic from German author, Otfried Preussler (who was born in Czechoslovakia). The book begins with the birth of Little Water Sprite and each chapter tells of a new adventure he has while learning and exploring in his little mill pond home. At first I thought my son would find this book dull, but he actually loved it, and hearing about the Water Sprite’s pranks and his friendship with Cyprian the Carp. The roles played by Mother and Father Water Sprite are quite dated but no more than in any other classic tale.
Adventures with Waffles. Trille and Lena are best friends in this Norwegian import. Or at least Trille thinks Lena is his best friend. He does frequently worry about that. But it doesn’t stop the pair of them from getting into mischief. Lena has her own insecurities, especially her desire for a father. One of the things I especially enjoyed was the emphasis on intergenerational relationships, and — of course — Auntie Granny’s delicious waffles.
Blue Mountain is the story of Tuk, a bighorn sheep who has a vision of a blue mountain. When the valley where his tribe feeds in winter grows bare and domesticated sheep bring disease, Tuk decides to lead his fellow bighorn to the blue mountain. Some are doubtful of Tuk’s promise of success and stay behind, but the small group of travelers set out and traverse a path beset with predators and dangers. Tuk manages to outwit bears and wolves and lead his followers in his hero’s quest. When they arrive at the blue mountain, Tuk turns back to fetch the rest of the herd. With its poetical text and interesting characters, Blue Mountain is a great read aloud.
Twig. This was a favorite of mine when I was a girl. With a few found objects Twig transforms her corner of Chicago into an imaginary, fairytale world. A little Elf, who comes out of a book shrinks her down to size so she can join the fairies… for a while. So sweet and charming it’s hard not to love this book. A great read aloud for fairy-loving kids.
The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry. Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored with her life, and a bit spoiled. She is horrified at the idea of her impending 16th birthday ball, at which she is required to choose a husband. She offers her maid a chance to spend the day reading Alice in Wonderland, in exchange for her peasant clothes and spends the next several days attending the local school. This is a highly entertaining story in which everyone seems to have a good time, there is lots of delicious word play and plenty of quirky characters to keep the family laughing. I recently finished reading this aloud to my 7 year old and he got quite a kick out of it and had a grand time laughing at the foibles of the characters, especially the ridiculous suitors.
The Story of Diva and Flea is a delightfully charming new early chapter book by Mo Willems and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. In Paris, the adventurous Flea convinces the intimidated Diva to take a trip around the city to explore the wonder of life outside on the streets. Then Diva assures Flea that inside an apartment isn’t so scary and the two friends embrace how much greater their world is now, for knowing each other.
The Wind in the Willows is a a classic which needs little introduction from me. We have always enjoyed reading chapters from this book outside in the summer, but if you have a garden head outside with a copy when the weather loses the last of the winter chill.
More seasonal read alouds the whole family will enjoy (all chapter books):
- Summer read alouds (1)
- Read aloud chapter books for summer (2)
- Fall read aloud books
- Holiday read aloud chapter books
- Winter chapter books to read aloud
- Christmas chapter books to read aloud
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