As the long days of winter stretch on, fill your nights with books that are perfect for read alouds. Even family members with short attention spans will love it.
It’s a family tradition here at Joybilee Farm to spend the long winter nights, reading aloud. Beginning around December 10th as soon as night time chores are finished, and even before the dinner dishes are done we take turns reading aloud our favorite stories. We’ll continue doing this well into January and the first half of February.
As long as the winter is pushing those dark nights, we read.
This helps the long, Canadian winter evenings pass more quickly. We have the fire in the woodstove, warming us against the winter chill, and the fire of our imaginations kindled by the stories. Take a minute to think back to the favorite read-aloud books of your youth. Weren’t those safe and pleasant memories? Much better than video games and certainly better than television.
You can have this same atmosphere in your own home with only a tiny investment, a library card, a Kindle device, or a stack of new or used books from the local book store.
In our home, we take turns reading the story, and then each of us can spend time knitting, spinning, or carving to keep our hands busy while the other takes their turn reading a chapter. Then we switch readers, with each one reading for an hour at a time or a chapter at a time. It’s not unusual for us to read till midnight if the story is very exciting.
The Benefits of Reading Aloud
Reading aloud, builds memories, exercises the imagination, builds vocabulary, and grows a love of reading and discernment of good writing. While listening to the stories, my homeschooled children practiced other skills like carving, and knitting, so that the time was full of productivity and pleasant feelings.
One year we bought an Audible membership and listened to CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, and Melville’s Moby Dick. That was money well spent, in winter, but in summer we didn’t have the time to listen to stories, so much. Using an annual Audible membership that gives us 12 books per year works better for us than the month by month membership, where we are limited to 1 ”free” book a month with our paid membership.
Another year we purchased books on CDs from Christian Book Distributors. This gave us more Christian selections than Audible gave us, and we could loan the CDs to family and friends. But since the selection was limited, we quickly ran out of choices, and sometimes the CDs didn’t return home or have been misplaced.
When you are picking an audiobook look for ones that are “unabridged”. Unabridged books have nothing taken away from the original books. Whereas books labeled “abridged” have entire scenes missing from the original transcript the author intended.
Reading Aloud is free
On the other hand, reading aloud is free. It develops confidence in reading out loud and speaking in public. If you will devote the time, reading aloud strengthens family relationships, and trains in consistency and reliability.
Our family favorite read-a-loud books
Here are some of our favorite Christmas and winter read alouds. You will be able to find most of them at Amazon, or at your public library. Some may be available as free Kindle books, too. Maybe you have one or two that you could add to the list. Leave a comment and let me know your favorite books to read aloud in the winter.
Most very good children’s books can be enjoyed by the whole family. Some of the shorter picture books like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Christmas Tapestry are better as hardcovers, that can be read over and over to younger children.
But I saw the movie
I have never read a book that was better than its movie, so please don’t think that if you’ve seen the movie you’ve read the book. In many cases, the movie and the book are completely different. When you skip reading and opt for the movie instead of the book, you miss the beautiful way the words are threaded together bu the author. I like to think of the difference between a movie and a book, like the difference between fast food and food made from scratch. Scratch cooking has more nourishment. The original book has more nourishment for the mind than the movie.
These are some of our very favorite stories to read in December and January. Let me know if I picked one of your favorites, too.
25 Winter Read Alouds in both Kindle edition and audiobooks:
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
on Kindle and The audiobook
Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates by Mary Maples Dodge
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
on Kindle and Audiobook
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingles Wilder
The Long Winter by Laura Ingles Wilder
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingles Wilder
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
on Kindle and The Audio Book
The Little Match Girl by Jerry Pinkney
on Kindle and The Audio Book
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Christmas Tapestry (picture book)
This is one of my favorite authors. Many of Patricia Polacco’s books can be found in your public library. Be sure and buy used copies of your favorites though. These are books you’ll read over and over again. (Have a box of tissues nearby. I can’t read this one without tears.)
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
(This is a short classic. Pick it up at your public library if you can.)
The Nativity Christmas Story by the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Hardcover retelling of the Bible Story from Matthew and Luke with paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s extensive and rich collection. This one is sure to be treasured for many years. Used copies of this one are available on Amazon.
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
on Kindle and The Audio Book
One of Our Favorite Read Alouds is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl
Stuart Little by EB White
The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
The Father Christmas Confessions by Emily Ann Benedict
(for older children) on Kindle only
This is just scratching the surface of all the wonderful, wholesome stories that are waiting to offer JOY and HOPE to your winter evenings, around the hearth fire. When you fill your nights with books, you’ll make memories that will last far beyond the long days of winter.
If you have internet access, why not have someone read to you? The Indianapolis Public Library has a collection of famous actors reading popular children’s books. Check it out at 100 Free Video Read Alouds.
What are your favorite read-aloud for long winter evenings? Perhaps it’s one that I could add to our own evening pleasures at Joybilee Farm.