Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 18 – Thought-Provoking Read Alouds. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school, and one is also a brand-new college graduate!
I have loved reading aloud to my children since my oldest daughter was born, 23 years ago. At first, this was simply to help foster a love of stories and reading books in general. Eventually, one of the best reasons became introducing them to books and ideas that they might not have discovered on their own. We then talked about the story and the ideas within. I particularly love sharing thought-provoking books with them. Living books, as we have discussed numerous times, are great for this. The more well-written, engaging, and memorable a story was, the deeper and more involved these follow-up discussions became.
Today I want to recommend some books that will make you and your children think long after closing the book. These books will stick with you and hopefully be a great starting point for building great discussions in your homeschool!
The first four books below are middle–grade, appropriate for children ages 8 – 12. The last book is a Young Adult title, best for ages 12+. But younger listeners can absolutely benefit from listening in!
The first book I want to mention is Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. I’ve read this book numerous times at various stages of our homeschooling journey, and all four of my children have enjoyed it. This story is about immortality. Winnie meets a strange family living in the woods only to find out that they will live forever.
I love the questions this book poses. On the surface, immortality may sound great! You will never get sick and you will never die. But would you really want to live forever? So many pros and cons to discuss! My youngest and I read this book about 3 years ago and she STILL talks about it today.
Yonder by Ali Standish is a brand-new release. It came out on May 10 and I just reviewed it on our History Book By Book site.
This story is set during World War II on the American home front. It asks us to consider quite a thought-provoking topic, what does it mean to be a hero? Is it grand gestures? Is it being fearless? Or is it simply standing up for what you think is right and true even if no one else does?
This story has so many messages and layers. It talks about segregation, the Holocaust (particularly the fact that people in America were aware of it but chose to not intervene), patriotism, and war, and it paints a vivid picture of American life in the 1940s South.
The next book I want to talk about is My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson. This is a story about children at a Catholic boarding school in Alaska during the 1960s. Most of the students were Indigenous peoples native to Alaska.
What I found so thought-provoking in this story is that it gives a realistic picture of what life in those schools was like. You might hear in passing that Indigenous kids were sent to boarding schools to force them to assimilate, but reading a story about it really puts you in their shoes. It led us to want to learn more about why this happened and how long it had been going on. We also found the information about the Inupiaq and life on the Tundra to be fascinating.
Next is a book my oldest recommended for this discussion – The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. What’s more thought-provoking than a mystery? This is such a fun book, full of puzzles and riddles, adventures, and a mystery full of twists and turns.
Four children are asked to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inquisitive can complete. It’s not going to change your child’s worldview necessarily, but it will give them things to puzzle out and discuss. Sometimes that’s what kids need, a fun story that makes them think about the mysteries within! And if they enjoy this book, there are more in the series!
The last book I want to talk about today is one that I think about frequently, though it has been many years since I last read it. Eva by Peter Dickinson is a story that asks us to consider, can science go too far? How closely related are we to chimpanzees?
A 13-year-old girl was in a terrible accident, and when she awakens in the hospital, she feels different. Something has changed but no one will explain it to her just yet. This story is set in the near future, where the world has become so industrialized that there are no more wild animals. All that are left live on reserves. Eva’s parents are scientists who work with chimpanzees. She’s grown up around these animals. But what happens when science has kept her alive by putting her brain into the body of a chimpanzee?
This story haunts me. The world that the author created in this book feels like it could actually be a plausible, realistic picture of our future. I think about it often because it asks the perennial question – just because you can… should you?
What are your favorite thought-provoking read-aloud books? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.