I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Favorite Read Alouds from 2020

shelf of children's books

Our read-aloud time in 2020 was bittersweet. We read so many great books and made so many literary memories together, but we made most of them without my daughter. As a high school senior working at a local ice cream shop and taking dual enrollment credits from an area Christian university, she was rarely ever available to join us during the school day. 

With or without her, we carried on. And as always, we read some really great stories. Here's a list of our top 10 favorites from this past year. 

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Favorite Read Alouds from 2020 #homeschool #readaloud

Favorite Read Alouds from 2020

10. The Tale of Despereaux

by Kate DiCamillo

This book is divided into three parts--each one featuring a different main character: a mouse, a rat, and a servant girl in a king's castle. The three parts eventually converge to knit all the character's lives together. In true Kate DiCamillo style, the book whispers weighted themes like courage, kindness, and perseverance and with the exception of one scene in a dungeon doesn't feel overwrought or heavy-handed. Like many contemporary middle-grade fictions, the storyline was a bit disjointed with oversimplified vocabulary. That said, my boys did enjoy the plot overall. 

9. Titanic Crossing

by Barbara Williams

Boarding the Titanic in England with his mother, uncle, and little sister, young Albert has visions of a great adventure at sea. With the recent death of his father, Albert wants to use his time onboard to show his mom how grown-up and responsible he can be. He has no idea how his character will be tested in the coming days when the ship unexpectedly hits an iceberg. 

Please note: This book begins with quite a lot of sibling rivalry, something that many parents try to avoid in read-alouds, myself included. However, the author uses Albert's contentious attitude and his sister's spoiled behavior to reveal the steady transformation in the boy's maturity. 

8. Brother Andrew: God's Secret Agent

by Janet & Geoff Benge

As the only non-fiction on our list of favorites, this book deserves high praise. In full disclosure, we've always been big fans of the Christian Heroes, Then & Now series, but not all the books have been as enjoyable as others. This particular title follows the life of Andrew Van Der Bijl as he joins the Dutch Resistance against the Nazi occupation during WWII and later dedicates his life to smuggling Bibles behind the iron curtain. 

7. The Last Holiday Concert

by Andrew Clements

Fed up with the antics of the 6th-grade choir members, Mr. Meinert decides to teach them all a valuable lesson. Much to his dismay, Hart Evans, the ring-leader of the trouble, unexpectedly finds himself organizing and directing the annual choir holiday concert. What starts out as a punishment turns into a wonderful opportunity for the kids to learn the value of empathy, teamwork, and time management.

As with most books by Clements, this story begins with the bad attitudes and overall disappointing behavior of kids in a traditional classroom but shows how the care and concern of one dedicated teacher can turn the whole group around.

6. Heart of a Samurai

by Margi Preus

This is the true-ish story of Manjiro, a 14-year-old boy who is lost off the coast of Japan with several of his fishing companions. They get rescued by the "barbarians" of an American whaling vessel. Manjiro makes quite an impression with the captain and is given the opportunity to go to New England and establish a new life. After years in the States, however, the boy longs to return to his native land. But will they accept him now that he's been "polluted" with western ideals?

5. The Pushcart War

by Jean Merrill

There's a growing frustration between the pushcart vendors and the big trucking companies of New York City. After one seemingly accidental incident, the frustration turns to rage which turns to violence. The author expertly uses humor and exaggeration to show the foolishness of ungrace, pride, and a me-first mindset and how one small disagreement can eventually lead to war. Written over fifty years ago, The Pushcart War still carries a timely message for all of us today.

4. The Saturdays

Elizabeth Enright

Long before the popularity of the Penderwick or Vanderbeeker series, the Melendy family was delighting children for decades. In this first book, the four Melendy siblings decide to pool their allowance in order to send one of them out on a Saturday adventure each week. Although their plan, affectionately known as I.S.A.A.C. was intended to give them all their own independent fun, it actually finds all four kids having a month of Saturday misadventures together. 

3. The Wild Robot

by Peter Brown

I'll be honest, the story started kind of bumpy and underwhelming, in my opinion. Like most contemporary kid lit, the language was not very rich. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much we all ended up enjoying it. With themes of sacrificial love, unlikely friendships, and admirable work ethic, it was a great example of how children's literature can be character building without being overtly preachy and naggy. As an added bonus, it taught us all quite a bit about the habits and instincts of wild animals.

2. The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

Set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike gold rush, this timeless classic is told through the eyes of Buck, a domesticated dog that has been stolen and sold to the owner of a sled dog team. While Buck loves the thrill of the race and the responsibility of leading the pack, something in him knows that he was made for much more. In the end, he must decide whether to stay with his master and team or join a group of wolves that have invited him into the wild of the woods. 

1. Sweep

by Jonathan Auxier

In this surprisingly delightful story an unlikely friendship forms between Nan Sparrow, a young orphaned chimney sweep, and Charlie, a soot monster given to her by her father before his untimely death. Both Nan and Charlie carry deep pain and learn to rely on the comfort the other can provide. When Nan is threatened by Wilkie Crudd, the neighborhood chimney seep master, she relies on her brain and Charlie's brawn to escape Crudd's evil grip. 

We read a few flops this past year--books that just didn't quite live up to our expectations. But, as you can see, we had plenty of crowd-pleasers too. 

We started a new year with a new book. We're only a few chapters in, but it's shaping up to be a story that will no doubt make our list of favorites for 2021. Here's hoping!

Looking for more lists like this?

Once a month I email a book list to the members of the Biblio-files. Every title on the list has been personally read and vetted by me and has been compiled by age range in order to help you navigate the library with your kids. In addition, I also include a few books that you should be aware of--books that contain explicit language, sexual agenda, graphic violence, etc. so that you can make an educated decision when/if your kids should ever be interested in reading any of them. What's more, members are invited to join me in a private Facebook group where we help each other find just the right books for our kids and each other. We'd love to have you join us!


  1. Can you believe I haven't read any of these books? Several look like they would appeal to my kids, though!

    1. They would all make great read-alones for kids too!