Our family finished our first chapter book last evening. Dale read aloud to us for the last month or so out of "The Sign of the Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare, and by the end I caught him reading ahead on his own, it was that good. Powerful and subtle, the story is based in fact and shows the complexities of cultures adapting to change.
It's survival story but gentle enough for our small children. I got the recommendation from a friend who was reading with her 13 year old son, so it's one of the books that all ages can find something to enjoy.
I will always remember how the suspense builds around how Matt (the hero) will choose when faced with the biggest decision of his life. And I will always remember how Dale and I would catch eyes when something especially poignant was read. Lots to savor.
Realistically, if you're wondering how this works with a young family, we finally figured out that for us, it worked best to have the children bathed and in pajamas before dinner. We ate, and before cleaning up and while still sitting around the table, Dale grabbed our book - which I kept on the counter in a cookbook holder so we'd remember it - and began reading.
It usually took just a chapter before sleepiness set in and often, Rex (just three) would fall asleep in Dale's lap. So technically he didn't find out what happened to Matt but the peaceful ending to the day was worth it.
Our next family read-aloud begins soon: "Charlotte's Web".