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11 ebooks the whole family can read together

POSTED January 30, 2018 8:59 a.m.
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You’ve probably heard statistics about children who are read to at home having higher success rates in school. But perhaps even deeper than the intellectual help that reading as a family offers young people is the way reading brings families together and gives them something in common to discuss around the dinner table.

As families are making New Year's resolutions, here are some old and new stories available as ebooks that your family might want to read together.

1. "Charlotte’s Web," by E.B. White

This beloved classic first published in 1952 tells the now-familiar story of a young girl named Fern who adopts a runt-of-the-litter baby pig and names him Wilbur. The tender tale that follows has introduced many young reader to Wilbur's fellow barn animal friends, a rat named Templeton and of course, the wonderful spider Charlotte.

Tip for family discussion:

• How do the characters change and grow throughout the book?

2. "Anne of Green Gables," by L.M. Montgomery

Fan of the irrepressible 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley have run from the famous — Mark Twain called her "the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice" — to the anonymous, but all who read about her seem to love her. The well-known story follows Anne's adoption by brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who live on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Although the pair had thought they requested a little boy to help on their farm, they ended up instead with the romantic, imaginative, hot-tempered little girl they come to love. "Anne of Green Gables" is the first in what became an eight-book series.

Tip for family discussion:

• What challenges does Anne have to overcome, and how does she manage to fit into her new surroundings?

3. "Adventures in Odyssey: Jones & Parker Case Files," by Christopher P.N. Maselli and Bog Hoose

This fun middle grade book is set in the town of Odyssey, where young Emily Jones and Matthew Parker work to solve mysteries. The books are interactive, so readers can play along, solving the mysteries along with the characters.

Tip for family discussion:

• Since the book allows a lot of interactivity, your family discussion likely can incorporate going over the clues and asking if anyone knows the solution to the mystery.

4. "The Hiding Place," by Corrie Ten Boom

This book was written by Corrie Ten Boom, who, along with her father and sister, risked her life to hide Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during WWII. Ten Boom maintained her faith in God even during her time in a concentration camp and through losing her sister and father. Not only is this an inspirational story of faith and hope, but it is also a look at an important time in history.

Tip for family discussion:

• Corrie's father says he feels sorry for the Nazis. Why do you think he said this? How is he able to feel sorry for people who are doing bad things?

5. "Number the Stars," by Lois Lowry

This Newbery Medal-winning book by the author of "The Giver" is also set during World War II. Told from the viewpoint of a 10-year-old girl living in Denmark, the story follows her family as they take in a Jewish child and pretend she is theirs in order to protect her.

Tip for family discussion:

• The 10-year-old girl Annemarie feels she isn’t brave because she felt afraid. Do you think this is true? What does it really take to be brave?

6. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

Twentieth-century Christian theologian C.S. Lewis's series The Chronicles of Narnia has been a classic since its first book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," was published in 1950. This collection of seven books is set in the fantasy world of Narnia and focuses on big battles of good versus evil and characters that would never be found in the real world, such as a talking family of beavers.

Tip for family discussion:

• What are some of the major themes in these books, and where do you think the children made wrong decisions and right decisions?

7. "Losers, Inc.," by Claudia Mills

This book touches on issues such as sibling rivalry and feelings of uncertainty many young teens have. The main character, Ethan Winfield, must decide whether he is going to fail or excel.

Tip for family discussion:

• Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in? Discuss how to get past those feelings and why everyone is an important part of the family.

8. "Little House in the Big Woods," by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is the first book in the beloved Little House series, set in 1871 in a log cabin in Wisconsin. The books, based on the life of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, details the life and closeness of her pioneer family.

Tip for family discussion:

• How was life different for Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family than it is for you and your family?

9. "Inside Out & Back Again," by Thanhha Lai

This New York Times No. 1 best-seller, Newbery Honor book and National Book Award winner tells the story of the author fleeing from Vietnam as a child. It is the tale of a family leaving a war-torn country and the trials of a child immigrating to Alabama from Vietnam.

Tip for family discussion:

• The book is written in an unusual verse. Why do you think the author chose to write the book as poetry instead of prose?

10. "Snap Decision (Game Face)," by Nathan Whitaker

This book is perfect for families who love sports. The main character, Chase Clark, is an eighth-grader, but is chosen to play on the high school varsity team. He is faced with some tough decisions, and the book focuses on the importance of doing the right thing, even when the consequences might not be pleasant.

Tip for family discussion:

• Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Have you ever been faced with a situation where you know you should do the right thing, but you’re scared of what will happen if you do?

11. "Little Women," by Louisa May Alcott

This year marks the 150 anniversary of Louis May Alcott's classic novel "Little Women." To honor the anniversary, PBS will release a new three-part mini series in May, so you've got a few months to read the book before the show comes out. This tale of the March women, set during the Civil War, depicts the sisters and their "Marmee" working together while their father and husband is at war. Together they must navigate illnesses and lack of money and find ways to support one another.

Tip for family discussion:

• How do the March sisters support and help each other during this difficult time in their lives? How can you support your siblings?

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