2 Terrific Family Read-Alouds

Here are two books that are big read-alouds at schools this year.  Both of these titles were well reviewed and on the Newbery Medal list, one as a winner and one as a finalist.  Though these are considered children's or Young Adult books they are excellent and worth the time to read.  Let us know if you agree!


Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I loved this Newbery honor book! Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan. The first part of the book is Auggie telling his story, and I imagine anyone reading it would get something from listening to Auggie and learning about his life. It would be wonderful for class or a family discussion, actually I would be happy if everyone would read it to get an idea of how exceptional people are just people with exceptionalities.

As the book expands you read the story as told by the other characters in the story. R. J. Palacio, gave Via, (Auggie's sister) wonderful lines and a fresh believable voice, while other characters also filled in gaps and finished telling the story in its entirety.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This is a sweet book, and in my opinion has earned the Newbery Medal it received in 2013. Written by Katherine Applegate, the author of the cheesy series, The Animorphs (if you were a middle-schooler in the 1990's you have to remember those!) I was rather surprised at the quality of writing this book had.

Ivan is a gorilla who has lived at Exit 8 for decades in a run down mini mall. His other animal friends include an elephant named Stella, a seal, and a homeless dog named Bob. Lonely and bored he narrates the story and tells about the arrival of a new young elephant named Ruby, who the owner hopes will help spike attendance at the struggling establishment. The stories of how the animals came to be is told and the reader learns to empathize with the way humans treat animals. Also included is information on the animals native habitat, unethical treatment for profit (not too graphic) and the death of one of the characters. The Zoo is portrayed as a humane place where animals who have been taken from their habitats are cared for in the best way possible. Ivan grows as a character from a lowly gorilla to a mighty Silverback, which really adds to the feeling of well being at the end of the story.

Great choice for a teacher or parent to read to a child to inspire discussions on all sorts of topics about animals and humane treatment.