9 Books for Parents and Kids to Read Together
They’re good for the whole gang
Think about the books you're most likely to read as an adult: some memoirs, some comic essay collections, some serious literary fiction. And while we're not suggesting you abandon grown-up books altogether, it's sometimes nice to take a family approach and all read the same titles. Here, nine wonderful books that kids, tweens, teens and adults alike will adore.
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” by Judy Blume
Best with ages 9 to 12. Anyone who’s ever grown up (or is in the process of growing up) will recognize Margaret’s triumphs, struggles and confusion. And while today’s kids might not recognize some of the more dated references (oh, sanitary belts…), adults will certainly relate to Margaret’s pre-cell phone, Snapchat and Facebook puberty.
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Best with ages 9 to 12. A bit more accessible and consistently engaging than The Lord of the Rings, this is just a really great adventure story. The themes of personal growth and overcoming challenges—told through the story of a pint-size hero—are just icing on the cake.
“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Best with ages 12 to 16. According to its website, this surreal fairy tale is “a book for children written for grown-ups” about an aviator stranded in the Sahara desert who meets the titular little prince. Between philosophical questions and social criticism, its remarks on the strangeness of adulthood are spot-on and highly relatable.
“A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein
Best with ages 4 to 8. Silverstein’s delightful poems and illustrations are at their best in this classic collection, which is slightly controversial, a touch morbid and extravagantly witty. Funny and whimsical, A Light in the Attic requires almost zero commitment and is sure to make you feel like an elementary-school kid again.
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry
Best with ages 11 to 15. Lowry was all over the dystopia thing way before The Hunger Games series, telling the story of Jonas, a 12-year-old boy chosen to keep all the world’s memories to take the burden off of the community. It’s got powerful messages that are only amplified for world-weary adults.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snicket
Best with ages 10 to 14. Like Dickens but funnier, the first of Snicket’s 13-book series introduces us to Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, siblings whose parents died in a tragic fire. Their exploits are absurd and charmingly dark, and the older set will appreciate the author’s intricate prose and parodying of literary conventions.
“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
Best with ages 12 to 16. This National Book Award-winning tome is a collection of personal poetry about growing up as a black girl in South Carolina and New York in the ’60s and ’70s, and should be considered required reading for everyone—regardless of their age. Woodson’s poems alternate between innocence and experience, but all are touching and powerful.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Magaret Atwood
Best with ages 14 to 18. Set in a totalitarian theocracy, Atwood’s haunting fiction is disconcertingly relevant today in regard to women’s rights and religious freedom. While some of the subtext might go over a younger reader’s head, The Handmaid’s Tale is emotionally draining, moving and weirdly empowering (in that reading it makes you want to do anything to avoid the fate of its female characters).
The Entire “Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling
Best with ages 8 to 12. What, you thought we wouldn’t include the greatest series of all time?