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Read-Aloud Books Your Kids Will LOVE

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Did you know that today is World Read Aloud Day? I thought it would be fun to celebrate with some of our favorite read-aloud books – particularly some you may not have heard of – as well as some tips for reading longer chapter books together.

Great Picture Books to Read Aloud

  • Press Here is a wonderful first read-aloud picture book. The (no electronics – just paper and ink) book is interactive, asking the reader to press here, turn the book a certain way, and shake the pages. My kids love reading it one-on-one with me, as well as in a group, taking turns following the book’s instructions. This is also a favorite book for older siblings to read with younger siblings.
  • We love all of Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books, but We Are in a Book was one of the first ones we read, and it remains a favorite. Five-year-old Lily really enjoys reading her beloved Elephant and Piggie books out loud to two-year-old Anna.
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is the picture book I remember my dad reading out loud – again, and again. He read a lot of picture books, but the repetition and sing-song nature of this one makes it particularly memorable. Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations are also wonderful.
  • Wynken, Blynken, & Nod is the picture book I remember my mom reading out loud – even though we only had it out as a library loan for a few weeks when I was seven years old. I love the poetry of this book, as well as Johanna Westerman’s illustrations.
  • Books your kids write. Lily is actually reading a book put together by her kindergarten classmates when she was Star of the Week in the photo above, but my kids make lots of little miniature books for one another that they enjoy reading. Remember that your kids do not need to actually know how to read or write to write a story!

Great Chapter Books to Read Aloud

  • Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. These are wonderful first chapter books to read out loud, because, while characters make good and bad choices, the plot is never truly frightening and there are no evil characters.
  • Socks by Beverly Cleary features an adorable and mischievous cat that my kids love.
  • Author Gordon Korman wrote This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall as a school assignment in 7th grade, and it really makes my kids laugh! It has been re-written to switch out old technology with new technology, which I have mixed feelings about since I read it as a kid, but which makes the book feel more present for my own kids, I imagine. These days people recognize his name for the 39 Clues series (which my nine-year-old loves), but I adore the innocence and fun of his earlier books.
  • Beyond Sing the Woods by Trygve Gulbranssen is a book I loved listening to my dad read aloud when I was in high school. It is out of print, but you can find used copies for reasonable prices. There is a sequel, but it is quite a bit darker than the first book and might not be appropriate as a read-aloud for kids.
  • Family history. Thanks to our Christmas Book tradition, we have a lot of family-written stories to read aloud. My dad has been writing up a memoir since retiring in September, and we have been reading it out loud to our kids. They love this!
  • Books your kids write. Emma is writing longer stories, and these are very fun to read out loud!

Tips for Reading Chapter Books Out Loud

Even toddlers can enjoy listening to chapter books read out loud by following these tips!

  • Allow kids to do something while they listen. They can color, draw, build with blocks, or sew. My parents spent hours reading to my siblings and I out loud while we enjoyed quiet activities.
  • Read at bedtime. My kids love it when we sit in the hallway outside their room and read to them for a few minutes at bedtime. They often fall asleep by the end of a chapter (especially the younger ones).
  • It’s okay to quit reading a book that isn’t working. There are LOTS of books to choose from! You can always come back to a book in a year or two, when the kids might appreciate it more.
  • Stop reading in an interesting spot. This will get the kids wanting to find out what happens next. This technique can also be a great way to get reluctant readers started reading chapter books on their own – they will read ahead because they want to find out what happens.
  • Change the names of the lead characters. One of the first chapter books I read out loud to my kids was Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. I only had three kids at the time, so I changed the three children in the book’s names to match my three kids’ names. They loved it!
  • Read funny books. Laughing

What are your top tips for reading out loud? Do you have a favorite read-aloud book to recommend for us to read?

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

9 thoughts on “Read-Aloud Books Your Kids Will LOVE”

  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    Time spent reading aloud to kids pays enormous dividends! Thank you so much for sharing some of your favourites with us.

  2. I can just imagine how often I would forget to continue to change the names in the book if I did that. I love your suggestions though, they’re so much fun.

  3. One of my favorite activities is sitting down with the family to read a story before bed. It is a good way to encourage my younger ones to read and it promotes discussion and oftentimes laughter! We are currently hooked to author A.J. Cosmo (http://www.ajcosmo.com/) and his two monster books about losing your keys and losing your socks. “The Monster that Ate my Socks” is a hilarious look at what happens when your socks go missing (monsters eat them of course!). A little boy and his best friend have to solve the mystery otherwise he’s grounded! The book teaches some valuable lessons such as compassion, empathy, and problem solving. The illustrations are also fantastic. More importantly though, the book is laugh out loud funny and my whole family loved it. I highly recommend!

    1. I love reading together as a family – great suggestion! I haven’t read any of A.J. Cosmo’s books, but we will be checking them out after your recommendation. Thanks!

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