Books to Read Aloud – The Hobbit

The best children’s books both inspire character and fire the imagination. When I asked my boys (separately) what their favorite book is, they both had the same answer: The Hobbit. This is no surprise, since this book stimulated their imagination like no other book. 

The Hobbit, the introductory book to J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth and prologue to the legendary Lord of the Rings trilogy, is a wonderful stand-alone piece of fantasy. Here are my thoughts about this great book:

  • Nobody builds a fantasy world quite like John Ronald. The scenes and settings of Middle-earth, the mountains and forests and caves and maps and magic and secret lore, are the products of one of the finest imaginations. And, as I found when I first read it 30ish years ago, the imaginativeness is catching. My boys have been weaving themes from this book into their play ever since we read it, and I know that (like me) the world of hobbits and elves will never leave their psyche.
  • Nobody writes an epic adventure like Tolkien, either. Every new phase of Bilbo’s journey will keep your kids on the edge of their seats and begging for another chapter. 
  • Don’t expect character development from this book in the normal sense. Nevertheless, there are traits to be admired and lessons to be learned from the ingenuity and perseverance of Bilbo, the stubbornness of the dwarves, and the greed of Gollum. And of course, in keeping with the medieval feel of Middle-earth, the medieval virtues of valor, courage, and glory predominate… kept in balance by hobbit wit and common sense. 
  • We hit a minor snag when one of my sons, a life-long dragon aficionado, realized that Smaug was going to die. Nevertheless, we were able to make peace with this fact and continue the book without too much trauma.
  • Everyone really needs a Gandalf to show up in their life when things get difficult.  
  • If you decide to make reading aloud a family routine (which I recommend), it will be a bit challenging to decide what to read after The Hobbit. Middle-earth is an immersive experience and hard to step out of.

I enjoyed re-reading the book myself, both to relive the story and to watch my kids’ reactions at each new twist. Of course, I enjoyed it even more knowing the full story of the Lord of the Rings. Reading that series was a life-changing experience for me as a pre-teen boy. However, I don’t intend to embark on those books with my kids for a few more years: it is… shall we say… a long story. But as I see snippets of goblins, wizards, and invisible rings interspersed into my kids’ play, I’m excited to know that they have a lot more Middle-earth in their future.

More from Tim Carr

Tim Carr

Share This: