Favorite Children’s Books to Read Aloud
Does your 2 or 3 or 4 or whatever-year-old have a favorite book that they demand you read to over and over and over again? The one that almost makes you dread reading time? One that you really want to hide (and maybe have hidden…at least for a few days)? Well, today I’m going to help broaden your child’s literary horizons. 😉 In other words: here are 10 of my favorite books to read aloud to my kids because they either don’t bore me or they have a clever story line or have fabulous illustrations or … any combination of those.
There are affiliate links to Amazon to help you easily find all of the books listed.
So, in no particular order, here they are:
1. The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
This is one of my childhood favorites – loved the stories, loved the illustrations. As an adult, I love that it’s a Dr. Seuss book that you can send with your kids to Kindergarten during Dr. Seuss week and not every other kids in the class brought it too. 🙂 But mostly, I love lessons in it that I can teach to my kids through it (including others, sharing, making your own fun, not pouting, overcoming fear, the problem with being too stubborn, etc.) and I still love reading the stories. More often than not, I don’t love books written in meter, but this is one of the exceptions. Not only does it make it more fun for me to read over and over, but it helps them learn to “read” it sooner, since they can remember or guess at the more difficult words. And the kids love it too! This is our 2nd copy in 10 years and it looks like we’re due for a 3rd, since the hard cover is long gone.
2. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent
Another childhood favorite of mine – not written in rhyme, but with enough repeating parts that even the little ones will want to say some of it with you. I actually forgot about this for a while, until I was at a thrift store 10 years ago or so and saw one. I was thrilled to see it again! Since then, I’ve found a couple more, which is good since the first one (one the right) is looking a little ragged.
3. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
I remember my mom reading this to me. Although the illustrations aren’t in color, I remember liking the detail in them:
Also, it’s fun to read the book and then show them the short film Disney made of the book: here
4. The Diggingest Dog by Al Perkins, illustrated by Eric Gurney
I don’t know how I missed this one as a kid, but it’s been around a long while and, luckily, one of my kids picked it out at the library one day and we loved it so much that we ended up getting our very own. It’s another one that’s in rhyme (maybe I like rhyme more than I thought…?).
5. Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep by Teri Sloat, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
This was another that we randomly chose at the library that has turned into a family favorite. We finally got our own just this week – after first reading it 6-8 years ago. I’d looked on Amazon just about every Christmas, but it just always seemed so expensive – for the new and used ones (compared to to the books for $1.99, I guess…). It’s also in meter (I guess I lied about disliking rhyming books. 🙂 Maybe I just meant that I dislike poorly written rhyming books…?) and the story line is just clever. Not to mention, the kids are subtly learning how wool from a sheep turns into a sweater. Also, the illustrations are FAB…
…bright, colorful, and they go well with the feel of the book (if that makes any sense at all).
6. Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
This one’s another library find turned family favorite. This duo writes such clever stories and has super fun illustrations!
We’ve ended up getting a few of their books because we thought they were so great. This one we bought from Amazon – it’s a former library book – hard cover, dust jacket, plastic cover over that – love it when I can score an old hardcover library book.
7. Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
Another library find that also happens to be a Caldecott winner. It also teaches not only a lesson about work, but also about gardening, and the kids who get the reference to “The Tortoise and the Hare” story will think they’re pretty smart. 😉 The illustrations are great too – lots for little ones too take in while the story is read.
8. Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paulette Bogan
So, every summer, our library does a Summer Reading Program – where the kids read a certain amount of books or for a certain time and for each benchmark, they get a prize. At the end, they also get to pick out a free book. One year, my oldest couldn’t find a free book she knew she wanted (because they only let you choose from about 10), so she chose this one on a whim. We’re all so glad she did! Super fun story to read aloud and nice, bright illustrations – with clever little twists for those who look carefully.
9. The Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR by Don and Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood
I was introduced to this one in a “Mommy ‘n’ Me” group when my oldest was little. Still a favorite as the little ones get so nervous about what’s going to happen next. And the illustrations are pretty…
…so delicate. Colored pencil, I think….and maybe watercolor too… Anyway, I like them.
And last, but not least, a timeless treasure:
10. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss (this version, adapted by Felix Sutton)
This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Turns out the book is also great! (not that I thought it wasn’t – i just had never read it) I found this one at a thrift store. It’s an adaptation with illustrations, but it’s not too simple. It still has chapters:
And the illustrations help the kids feel like it’s not soooo long, even if some of them are in black and white:
We read this one first, which got my then 7-year-old interested in it, so he read it again on his own a couple times. He liked it so much that when we found the Great Illustrated Classics version of it, he was thrilled and read that a bit later. We’re actually starting the regular version really soon. We did get the movie after reading it the first time though. It was fun to compare the two.
So , there they are – 10 children’s read alouds that parents won’t mind reading and re-reading and re-reading….
See also: Sticker Activity Books and Co-Op Games