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Looking for a new read aloud book for your classroom or homeschool? Don’t miss this list of 100 amazing read alouds for kids of all ages!
When I taught in public school and again when I homeschooled my kids, I savored our read-aloud time. This was a time I could introduce my students to great books that they might not pick up on their own.
I read favorites from my own childhood. I helped them discover some of the classics. I also enticed them by reading the first book in a series. Oftentimes, they’d seek out the rest of the series on their own.
100 Amazing Read Alouds for Kids
Fill your book basket with a great collection of read alouds for kids. Most of these books can be found at your local library or used bookstore. If you have a hard time finding them, you can order them on Amazon by clicking the images below.
Harry Potter | I have to admit that I am just now reading this series for the very first time. I’m on book four, and I’m thoroughly enjoying them. My boys devoured the series (numerous times) years ago, and I’m just now giving them a try.
The Hobbit | My daughter didn’t want to read this one at first, but she ended up enjoying the adventures of Bilbo Baggins!
Island of the Blue Dolphins | I first read this book in my college Children’s Lit class. Later, I read it to my public school kiddos and later still to my own kids. It’s full of adventure, love, and courage. Kids will love it!
James and the Giant Peach | James goes on a great adventure with a group of oversized friends. Follow their journey to NY atop a giant floating peach.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH | Mrs. Frisby must move her large family, but her son, Timothy, is sick and can’t be moved. Will she find a way to save her family? Follow the adventures of Mrs. Frisby and a group of rats from NIMH.
Poppy | This story is full of courage and determination. Poppy goes toe to toe with Mr. Ocax, the owl who rules the forest, to try to make life better for her family.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe | Two years ago, my daughter and I listened to this series on audiobook. Out of all of the books in the series, this one is our favorite! We loved traveling to Narnia with Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund.
The Family Under the Bridge | This is another book I read to my public school kids before bringing it home to read to my kids. It became an annual tradition as each of my kids got old enough to listen along.
Number the Stars | Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden.
Little House in the Big Woods | I remember reading this series myself as a child, and I couldn’t wait until my daughter was old enough to listen to it.
Little House on the Prairie | The whole Little House series is wonderful, and this one is not to be missed!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | This book is a classic! Follow Charlie and the other Golden Ticket holders as they journey through the chocolate factory with Mr. Wonka. Kids will laugh all the way through.
Homer Price | I love the classic feel of this book. It takes readers back to a time reminiscent of Mayberry – a time when people sat on the porch and greeted others as they strolled by.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins | What would your students do if a penguin showed up on their doorstep? They’ll laugh as they listen to you read about Mr. Popper, his penguins, and all of the mischief they get in to.
Charlotte’s Web | This was a favorite of mine when I was growing up. Since then, my daughter has developed a great love for this one, too. Join Fern and Wilbur and all their farmyard friends on a great adventure to save Wilbur’s life!
Trumpet of the Swans | Louis, a trumpeter swan, is born with no voice. How will he attract the attention of Serena, the beautiful swan who pays him no attention? Discover what Louis does when his father steals a real brass trumpet for him.
Heidi | I remember first learning about Heidi from an old Shirley Temple movie. After that, I discovered the movie was based on a book. Kids will enjoy this story following the adventures of Heidi and her grandfather who live in the Swiss Alps.
Pollyanna | Pollyanna is another movie I watched before I knew it was based on a book. The town falls in love with Pollyanna, an orphan who shines brightly! Aunt Polly, however, is more concerned with appearance to put up with Pollyanna’s antics. When disaster strikes, will Aunt Polly soften her heart?
Little Women | I have to admit that I never had a desire to read this book when I was growing up. However, I was determined to introduce my daughter to the classics, and I started with Little Women. She often begged for “just one more chapter.”
The Secret Garden | When my daughter struggled to read this book on her own, we turned it into a read-aloud. I’m so glad we did. We would snuggle in her bed and read chapter after chapter of Mary Lennox, her cousin Colin, and her gloomy uncle.
The Whipping Boy | I first read this book in my college children’s lit class, and it quickly became a favorite with my 3rd and 4th grade students. When a prince and a pauper are taken hostage, can they work together to save each other?
The Door in the Wall | This book is a great addition to your upper elementary or middle school medieval history studies.
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle | I read this series when I was a kid. I don’t recall using them as a read-aloud with my students, but they’d be perfect! Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle always has the perfect cure for common childhood diseases including the Answer-Backer cure, The Never-Want-to-Go-to-Bedders cure, and many more.
The Hundred Dresses | Wanda is bullied by her classmates. Her classmates feel terrible after she is pulled out of school, and one young girl vows to start standing up for what is right.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle | Ralph is determined to ride his friend Keith’s toy motorcycle. When he gets the chance, Ralph hops on and is faced with many obstacles. But, with a friend like Keith, there’s nothing a mouse can’t do!
The Boxcar Children | Four children, orphaned and alone, set out on an adventure to find their grandfather. Along the way, they figure out how to stay together and support themselves with courage and ingenuity.
Lassie Come-Home | When Lassie’s family can’t afford to keep her anymore, she is sold. Three times, she escapes her new owner and returns home. Finally, in an attempt to take her far enough away that she can’t come home, her new owner takes her to Scotland. Can Lassie find her way home now?
Pippi Longstocking | I love Pippi! She’s spunky, full of adventure, and who doesn’t love her crazy red pigtails. With no parents to tell her what to do and a couple of animals for best friends, Pippi and neighbors Tommy and Annika have plenty of crazy adventures that kids are gonna love hearing about.
The Bridge to Terabithia | This book is one of my daughter’s favorites. Jess and new girl Leslie, become fast friends and spend their days inventing an imaginary land called Terabithia. When real tragedy strikes in Terabithia, one of them must learn to rely on family and deal with unimaginable grief. Be sure to have your tissues on hand as you read this one. It’s a tear-jerker!
Ballet Shoes | I read this one aloud to my ballerina a few years ago. It’s a lovely tale of three orphaned girls who are determined to make a name for themselves as they discover their own special talents.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland | I have read this aloud, and my daughter has read it independently. She claims it’s much better as a read-aloud.
Wonder | I haven’t actually read this one aloud. My teen read it and loved it. Then, she encouraged me to read it. I put her off for a long time before giving in, and I believe it is a must-read for upper elementary and middle school students.
Stuart Little | Born to a human family, Stuart (a mouse) is a lover of adventure. When his bird friend goes missing, he is determined to track her down.
Because of Winn-Dixie | When Opal heads to the grocery store for groceries and comes home with a dog, adventure awaits. Winn-Dixie helps Opal make new friends, and gives her the courage to ask her dad some tough questions.
Frindle | When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle?
The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler | When When Claudia and her brother run away, the find themselves in the middle of a mystery that makes headlines!
The Tale of Desperaux | This is the story of a brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea. It’s full of action and adventure that are sure to engage young readers from the start.
The Cricket in Times Square | When a streetwise mouse and his friend, Harry the cat, meet a country cricket named Chester, adventure ensues. The trio have many adventures―from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire.
My Side of the Mountain | Terribly unhappy in his family’s crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude-and danger-of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew.
Bud, Not Buddy | Its 1936, in Flint, Michigan, and when 10-year-old Bud decides to hit the road to find his father, nothing can stop him.
A Bear Called Paddington | Paddington Bear had traveled all the way from Peru when the Browns first met him in Paddington Station. Since then, their lives have never been quite the same . . . for ordinary things become extraordinary when a bear called Paddington is involved.
Cappyboppy | The true story and adventures of Capyboppy, the Peet family’s pet capybara. The story is based on the author’s experience with owning a capybara.
Ginger Pye | The most famous pup in all of Cranbury, Ginger knows tons of tricks, is as loyal as he is smart, and steals the hearts of everyone he meets . . . until someone steals him!
Peter and the Starcatchers | This book is a prequel to Peter Pan. Can a young orphan named Peter, his group of orphaned boys, and a shipmate named Molly keep a mysterious trunk full of the stuff out of the clutches of the pirate Black Stache, a host of other interested parties, and ultimately King Zarboff the Third?
The Hunger Games | Save this one for your middle schoolers. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV.
Tuck Everlasting | Doomed to―or blessed with―eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster discovers their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.
The Black Stallion | From Alec Ramsay and the Black’s first meeting on an ill-fated ship to their adventures on a desert island and their eventual rescue, this beloved story will hold the rapt attention of readers new and old.
Clementine | This early chapter book is perfect for fans of Alexander and his terrible, no-good day – except Clementine is in the midst of a disastrous week!
The Courage of Sarah Noble | In 1707, young Sarah Noble and her father traveled through the wilderness to build a new home for their family. “Keep up your courage, Sarah Noble,” her mother had said. As she cares for her father and befriends her Indian neighbors, she learns that to be afraid and to be brave is the greatest courage of all.
Anne of Green Gables | My sister recommended this book for ages before I finally picked it up to read to my daughter. In no time, it became a favorite, and we laughed all the way through at the antics of Anne Shirley and the people of her small town.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | From finding a treasure of gold coins, to whitewashing a fence, to escaping the evil Injun Joe, Tom is always off on a thrilling escapade. Prepare for laughter and action with high-spirited Tom Sawyer!
The Swiss Family Robinson | Following a wild and raging storm, the Swiss family Robinson are stranded at sea. But the thundering waves have swept them off to a tropical island, where a new life awaits them. Their ship is laden with supplies and the island is packed with treasures, so they soon adapt and discover new dangers and delights every day . . .
Hank the Cowdog | Hank and his little buddy, Drover, set out to solve a series of baffling murders on the ranch. Is Hank a suspect? An Outlaw? Can he clear his good name?
The Borrowers | This is the classic story–read and loved by children all over the world–of Pod, Homily, and their daughter, Arrietty, who live under the kitchen floor in a quiet, half-empty house and get their livelihood by borrowing from the “human beans.”
How to Train Your Dragon | Can Hiccup pass the initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventures and misadventures as he finds a new way to train dragons…and becomes a hero.
Holes | Stanley has been sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake?
The Indian in the Cupboard | It’s Omri’s birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Omri doesn’t know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place!
Freckle Juice | More than anything in the world, Andrew Marcus wants freckles. When Andrew asks Nicky where he got his freckles, Nicky just says he was born with them. Some help he is! That’s when Sharon offers Andrew her secret freckle juice recipe—for fifty cents, she promises, Andrew can look just like Nicky. His freckleless days are over! He rushes home to whip up the concoction. Grape juice, vinegar, mustard…
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever | The Herdman’s take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids. This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.
Miss Hickory | Most dolls lead a comfortable but unadventurous life. This was true of Miss Hickory until the fateful day that her owner, Ann, moves from her New Hampshire home to attend school in Boston—leaving Miss Hickory behind. For a small doll whose body is an apple-wood twig and whose head is a hickory nut, the prospect of spending a New Hampshire winter alone is frightening indeed. In this classic modern day fairy tale, what’s a doll to do?
Strawberry Girl | Through all the hazards of the uncertain crop — battling against dry weather and grass fires, the roving hogs and cattle of their neighbors — Birdie dreamed of an education that would include playing the organ. In the end she won not only the title of “strawberry girl,” but book learning as well.
Henry Huggins | Just as Henry Huggins is complaining that nothing exciting ever happens, a friendly dog sits down beside him and looks pleadingly at his ice-cream cone. From that moment on, the two are inseparable. But when Ribsy’s original owner appears, trying to reclaim his dog, Henry’s faced with the possibility of losing his new best friend. Has Klickitat Street seen the last of rambunctious Ribsy?
Stone Fox | This is one of my all-time favorites! Little Willy must find a way to keep the farm when his grandfather falls ill. He is determined to with the National Dogsled Race. Willy and his brave dog Searchlight must face off against experienced racers, including a Native American man named Stone Fox, who has never lost a race.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond | Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.
The Giver | The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
Sarah, Plain and Tall | This is the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay?
Misty of Chincoteague | Nobody could capture the Phantom. She was the wildest mare on Assateague Island. Paul and Maureen Beebe had their hearts set on owning her. Pony Penning Day holds a surprise for everyone, for Paul not only brings in the Phantom, but her newborn colt as well. Can Paul and Maureen possibly earn enough to buy them both?
Ella Enchanted | At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it’s to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate…
Milly-Molly Mandy Storybook | Children will enjoy this collection of twenty-one classic tales about a resourceful and thoughtful little girl which reflect the dilemmas and challenges of a child’s world. Young children today will love to hear how Milly-Molly-Mandy decides to spend her first penny, looks after a hedgehog, and spends her first night away from home.
The Golden Goblet | Ranofer wants only one thing in the world: to be a master goldsmith like his beloved father was. But how can he when he is all but imprisoned by his evil half brother, Gebu? Ranofer knows the only way he can escape Gebu’s abuse is by changing his destiny. But can a poor boy with no skills survive on the cutthroat streets of ancient Thebes? Then Ranofer finds a priceless golden goblet in Gebu’s room and he knows his luck−and his destiny−are about to change.
Twenty and Ten | During the German occupation of France, twenty French children were brought to a refuge in the mountains. One day a young man came to their school with a request: Could they take in, and hide, ten Jewish refugee children?
Nim’s Island | Meet Nim–a modern-day Robinson Crusoe! She can chop down bananas with a machete, climb tall palm trees, and start a fire with a piece of glass. So she’s not afraid when her scientist dad sails off to study plankton for three days, leaving her alone on their island. But when her father’s cell-phone calls stop coming and disaster seems near, Nim has to be stronger and braver than she’s ever been before.
Coraline | When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there’s another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.
The Lightning Thief | Percy discovers he’s a demigod, and it’s up to him to prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Freak the Mighty | A powerful story of a unique friendship between a troubled, oversized boy and the tiny, physically challenged genius who proves that courage comes in all sizes.
My Father’s Dragon | This is an adventure story about a young boy, Elmer Elevator, who runs away to Wild Island to rescue a baby Dragon.
How to Eat Fried Worms | Because of a bet, Billy has to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. The worms are supplied by his opponent, whose motto is “The bigger and juicier, the better!” Billy’s family, after checking with the doctor, takes everything in stride. They even help Billy through his gastronomic ordeal, which twists and turns with each new day, leaving the outcome of the bet continually in doubt.
The Witches | Grandmamma loves to tell about witches. Real witches are the most dangerous of all living creatures on earth. There’s nothing they hate so much as children, and they work all kinds of terrifying spells to get rid of them. Her grandson listens closely to Grandmamma’s stories—but nothing can prepare him for the day he comes face-to-face with The Grand High Witch herself!
Matilda | Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
The One and Only Ivan | Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
Bunnicula | Before it’s too late, Harold the dog and Chester the cat must find out the truth about the newest pet in the Monroe household — a suspicious-looking bunny with unusual habits…and fangs!
The Watsons Go to Birmingham | Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There’s Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who’s thirteen and an “official juvenile delinquent.” When Byron gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma’s church is blown up.
The Cay | War has always been a game to Timothy, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand–until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed. When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. His only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother’s warning about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.” But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip’s head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy.
Hoot | Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?
Maniac Magee | Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn’t made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run–and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.
Hatchet | Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present—and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self pity, or despair—it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.
The View from Saturday | It was a surprise to a lot of people when Mrs. Olinski’s team won the sixth-grade Academic Bowl contest at Epiphany Middle School. It was an even bigger surprise when they beat the seventh grade and the eighth grade, too. And when they went on to even greater victories, everyone began to ask: How did it happen?
Pax | Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox. Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .
Stella by Starlight | Stella lives in the segregated South—in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. As Stella’s community—her world—is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.
The Summer of the Swans | Sara is having a rough summer .When her brother, Charlie, goes missing, can she put aside her woes and find him?
Shiloh | Marty will do anything to save his new friend Shiloh. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his?
Miracles on Maple Hill | Marly and her family share many adventures when they move from the city to a farmhouse on Maple Hill.
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson | The hilarious and timeless story about an immigrant girl inspired by the sport she loves to find her own team—and to break down any barriers that stand in her way.
Harriet the Spy | Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?
Winnie-the-Pooh | he main character, Winnie-the-Pooh (sometimes called simply Pooh or Edward Bear), is a good-natured, honey-loving bear who lives in the Forest surrounding the Hundred Acre Wood. His companions are Eeyore, a gloomy gray donkey; Tigger, a frisky tiger; Piglet, a timid pig; Owl, a pontificating bird; the meddlesome Rabbit; and Kanga, an energetic kangaroo whose inquisitive baby, Roo, lives in her pouch.
Follow My Leader | After Jimmy is blinded in an accident with a firecracker, he has to relearn all the things he used to know – how to get dressed, how to find his way around the house, even how to eat. With the help of a determined therapist, he learns to read Braille and use a cane. Then he’s given the chance to have a guide dog. Learning to work with Leader is not easy, but Jimmy tries harder than he ever has before. Can Leader really give him the ability and the confidence he needs?
Johnny Tremain | Fourteen-year-old Johnny Tremain, an apprentice silversmith with a bright future ahead of him, injures his hand in a tragic accident, forcing him to look for other work. In his new job as a horse-boy, riding for the patriotic newspaper, The Boston Observer, and as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty, he encounters John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren. Soon Johnny is involved in the pivotal events shaping the American Revolution from the Boston Tea Party to the first shots fired at Lexington.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon | Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. The youngest baby is taken by the Elders and left in the forest to die, thus appeasing the witch who threatens to destroy the village if not obeyed. Unbeknownst to the people, Xan, the witch of the forest, is kind and compassionate. When she discovers the first baby left as a sacrifice, she has no idea why it has been abandoned. She rescues the infants, feeds each one starlight, and delivers the shining infants to parents in the Outside Cities who love and care for them. On one occasion, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight along with starlight, filling her with glowing magic. Xan is smitten with the beautiful baby girl, who has a crescent moon birthmark on her forehead, and chooses to raise her as her own child. Twists and turns emerge as the identity of the true evil witch becomes apparent.
The Midwife’s Apprentice | The girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the sharp-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat–who renames herself Alyce–gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want something from life: “A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.”