15 Books to Read as a Family to Captivate & Inspire

Published February 5, 2021
Family reading a book

There is no shortage of good books to read as a family. Reading is a fantastic way to spend some time together, growing minds and encouraging bonding as a family unit. Next time your schedule allows for a few hours of downtime, grab one of these good family books, curl up with your loved ones, and dive in.

Books to Read as a Family That Will Tug at Your Heart Strings

Sometimes a story is so powerful, you can't help but feel intense emotion from it. Books that evoke such feelings can be great for families to explore together. Take the time to talk about those feelings with kids and help them learn about the wide array of emotions that human beings experience.

So B. It

This book by Sarah Weeks is one that kids will probably remember all through their lives. It's a story of unconditional love and self-discovery and growth, as the main character journeys to seek her own truths.

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree is a classic! Readers and listeners should have a box of tissues nearby because it can be a tearjerker. Parents really will go to epic lengths to see their kids achieve their happiness. A mom and dad's love simply never wavers, no matter how old their children get.

The Giving Tree

Fever 1793

This book has never been more relevant as it is today. It chronicles one young girl's pause on life as she knows it, while sickness ravages her world and strikes close to home. A book like this can help kids make connections to the current pandemic and their internal feelings.

Raju: The Elephant Who Cried

Raju the elephant finally gets freed from captivity, and his joy is so immeasurable, that he cries tears of relief and happiness. It is heartbreaking to hear about how some people treat winged and four-legged friends. The tale emphasizes compassion for the animal kingdom

Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows is such a beautifully written story about a boy with very little, who puts everything he has into two hunting hounds. His loss and heartache that eventually comes is gutting. Life is about love and loss and the continuing circle or such, and while the book is sad at times, it's worth reading with kids who can comprehend the story's message, meaning, and emotions.

Mother reading to kids

Good Family Books for Animal Lovers

If your family adores its furry friends, then these books will be right up your alley. Grab the family pup and get reading!

The One and Only Ivan

In The One and Only Ivan, Ivan the gorilla is content to live his life out in the town mall with his exotic friends, but then his life gets flipped upside down in a good way when a young elephant named Ruby joins the ranks. Families can follow up this read with a family popcorn and movie night, as the story has recently been adapted into a film.

My Side of the Mountain

My Side of the Mountain is the story of a young man who leaves city life behind to make it on his own in the wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains. Plenty of rugged adventures take place and the main character Sam survives with the help of his feathered friend, Frightful.

How's Inky?

Naturalist and philosopher Sam Campbell has created a captivating series called Living Forest, and How's Inky is the first installment in the series. Kids and their parents will love reading about the escapades and adventures of orphaned animals in Sam's care at his wildlife sanctuary.

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mr. Popper's Penguins is a classic and a fun and easy read for people of all ages. Mr. Popper receives an unexpected package from the North and just like that, his world becomes everything penguin! Penguins are such fun and enjoyable creatures to imagine and learn about.

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Riding Freedom

If you have a houseful of horse lovers, then Riding Freedom is a perfect book to pick up and read through as a family. The main character is a prime example of females breaking down barriers and paving their own paths. Author Muñoz Ryan has a way with writing about horses. She also wrote Paint the Wind, another equine-centered story.

Funny Family Finds

They say that laughter is the best medicine, so why not medicate your entire brood with these funny literary finds?

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Everything by the great Judy Blume is worth reading, and her books cater to kids of all ages as well as the parents reading along. Families with a "Fudge-like" toddler running around the house will certainly relate to many of the main character Peter's feelings about life in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.


This fractured fairytale, Rump, is part of a fun series by Liesl Shurtliff, and it will have the whole family giggling and turning pages all night long. Don't be sad when the story ends because the author has three other fractured fairy tales similar to this one to jump right into.


The 13-Storey Treehouse

Let imaginations run wild with this silly story about two boys who live life to the fullest in a treehouse full of wonderful and whacky rooms. Imagine having an in-house shark tank, self-making beds, a secret laboratory, and a see-through pool all to yourself. The book, based on a play, will entertain everyone and get creative juices flowing.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Fact: Kids think undergarments are hilarious, in any capacity. This graphic novel, which centers around two boys who hypnotize their school principal into thinking that he is a whitey-tightey wearing superhero, is a hit among young male readers. While parents might not get as into it, sometimes it is important for mom and dad to come into the kid-world for a spell.

The Perilous Princess Plot

Read about one sister who pines for princes and another sister who is left to save her boy-crazy kin from a suspicious plot. Kids will enjoy the twists, turns and adventure in The Perilous Princess Plot, and parents won't be able to contain their smiles at the sarcastic humor that is cleverly woven into the story. It's entertaining for sure!

girls and grandfather reading book

Calling Adventure Loving Families

If your family loves adventure, they can experience the wild experiences of the characters in these books right from the comfort of their own home.

We're Going On A Bear Hunt

Reading with kids, while they are young, is fundamental in their growth and development. It is never too early to start instilling a love for reading and adventure in children. We're Going on a Bear Hunt is a fun tale where young kids can imagine traveling through the elements with their loved ones. Parents can add fun arm actions into the read to make it physically interactive for little squirmers.

Nim's Island

Settle in and imagine what it would be like to live on an island. This classic read is packed with plenty of adventure and excellent opportunities for visualization and creativity.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Another book that takes place on an island, Island of the Blue Dolphins, is inspired by the real-life of a Native American girl who lived eighteen years on a deserted island. The main character Karena endures plenty of adventure and must beat the odds to survive, reminding us that human beings are truly incredible.

Island of Blue Dolphins


Younger kids won't be able to hang with this tale, but older kids and parents can bond over the adventures that the main character faces while trying to survive in the Canadian Wilderness in Hatchet.

Can't Go Wrong With a Classic

Sometimes nothing beats a classic tale. Introduce your family to some stories that you grew up reading.

Charlotte's Web

Who doesn't remember this tale of life on the farm for one very special pig and one, even more, special spider? Charlotte's Web is a book that most parents grew up reading and will have no qualms about sharing with their families. It is easily digestible for younger children and makes a great first chapter book. Older kids will enjoy sitting back and listening as well.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Remember hearing this story and wishing with every part of your being that you found your way to a world made up entirely of chocolate and candy? Share the dream with your family! This classic isn't all about sweet treats, there are some great morals and lessons to be drawn from the book as well.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels is a great way to introduce a love of adventure and travel to your spirited children. Use it to discuss all of the interesting places that your family might go to someday. For older kids, try to hit on the concept of perspective and how it greatly differs with time and experience.

The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbitis short enough to read aloud to the young and the old, so if you love classics and are short on time at night, it's a perfect choice. It's a story about deep and beautiful love, something parents can easily identify with.

Rainbow Fish

This is another great classic to read before bed. The pictures are bright and catching, and the meanings in the story are ones that all kids can take with them and use in their lifetime. The differences among everyone are what makes them beautiful.

Activities Are Worthwhile so Long as You're Together

Reading is certainly a wonderful way to spend time with the ones you love, but it isn't the only way. So long as your family is spending quality time doing something that everyone enjoys, the time should be considered well spent. If reading does not make the cut, explore other family activities to keep your gang engaged and bonded.

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15 Books to Read as a Family to Captivate & Inspire