Discussion-Worthy Read Alouds: 10 Books to Start a Great Discussion with Your Child

Reading books with your children is a good and easy opportunity to discuss difficult topics like justice, friendship and duty. Below are several books that provide both lighthearted and serious conversation starters with your kids. Enjoy!

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Lois Lowry The Giver

1 - The Giver

Set in a utopian society, The Giver is a story by Lois Lowry about a young boy who lives in a society that has lost its memory of the past. After receiving knowledge about the past, the boy faces a tough choice - should he stay in his home or leave to pursue a more full life. Parents reading this book with their children can explore a number of topics, like familial and communal duties.

Joanna Cole The Magic Schoolbus

2 - The Magic School Bus

Parents looking to make science fun can read The Magic School Bus with their kids. The Magic School Bus is a series of books by Joanna Cole that feature a school teacher, Mrs. Frizzle, and her class. They take a magical school bus to unusual places like the ocean floor and the inside of the human body, as well as past eras like the age of the dinosaurs. The book uses a funny and light touch to explain science and history.

Mildred Taylor Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

3 - Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor depicts life for an African-American family during the Great Depression. The book focuses on ideas of racism and freedom in tough economic times. Parents reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry can explore these topics and others like equality under the law and dealing with economic hardships.

Stan and Jan Berenstain Bears

4 - The Berenstain Bears

The Berenstain Bears is a series of short stories by Stan and Jan Berenstain that conveys the lives of a family of five bears. In each story, Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister and Honey bear go through a string of events and learn lessons like the importance of avoiding junk food and being polite. Most of the stories revolve around Brother and Sister bear and their interactions, making the narratives lighthearted, funny and easy to read.

Judy Blume Iggie

5 - Iggie's House

Iggie's House by acclaimed YA author Judy Blume tells the story of Winnie, a young white girl, who befriends the first African-American family to move into an all-white community. While Winnie quickly makes friends with the new neighbors, her parents are more cautious and restrained. Although less dramatic than Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Iggie's House can help parents start conversations about racism, justice and equality with their children.

Gary Schmidt The Wednesday Wars

6 - The Wednesday Wars

Set in New York during the Vietnam War, Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars shows the rebellious side of teenage life. The story depicts a young boy struggling with school, family and a city divided by religious tension. Parents reading The Wednesday Wars with their kids can focus on issues such as how to deal with anger and prejudice.

Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book

7 - The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a collection of classic tales by Rudyard Kipling that explore adventure, growing up and facing adversity. The book tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned baby raised by animals in the forest like Baloo the bear. Parents can use the lighthearted writing style to talk to their kids about family and dealing with adversity.

Kate DiCamillo The Magician

8 - The Magician's Elephant

Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant reveals the story of Peter, a young boy looking for his sister. After learning that an elephant that dropped from the sky will somehow lead him to his sister, Peter embarks on a journey filled with overcoming doubt and uncertainty. The book can spark conversations like how to go on when you can't see what's in front of you.

Susan Korman The Lion King

9 - The Lion King

Susan Korman's The Lion King is a picture book based on the original Disney film by the same name. Both stories follow the path of a young lion cub named Simba as he tries to reclaim his throne. Using colorful imagery and fun songs, The Lion King helps children to understand both growing up and justice. Parents reading The Lion King with their children can also cover topics like betrayal, death and forgiveness.

Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas

10 - How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a classic Christmas story by Dr. Seuss. Parents reading the tale with their children can talk about things like jealousy, gift-giving and happiness. How the Grinch Stole Christmas tells the story of a mean outcast, the Grinch, and his desperate attempts to spread his misery on the whos in Whoville. But in a twist at the end, parents and children can find the true meaning of Christmas.

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