Five Kinds of Books I Love to Read Aloud

Happy World Read-Aloud Day! Isn't it funny the celebrations you become aware of when you become a mom? This is one day I'm glad to celebrate because reading aloud to kids is one of my favorite things to do. I wish I'd learned about it sooner because this wonderful initiative has a lot of empowering and engaging suggestions for activities for young readers (do check out the official website and learn more about the advocacy).

Here are some of the books I especially love to read aloud:

(This post contains affiliate links for Amazon and The Learning Basket, however, all book recommendations are my own and are for books we personally own and love. Thanks for your support!)

1) Books with repeating, sing-song verses
The rhythmic quality of these books engage kids who love anything associated with movement. Bob and shake your head or clap along while reading to further highlight the rhythm and beat. Silverstein and Seuss are masters of this art, and the silliness of their verses make their books especially entertaining for toddlers and preschoolers. Don't be surprised if you find these rhymes stuck in your head for a few days.
by Shel Silverstein

by Dr. Seuss

2) Books with many characters to voice
Of course you need to change your voice to fit each character! That's part of the fun! Let your inner Johnny Depp out to play and be the princess and the dragon, the frog, the badger, the knight, and more. Bonus fun for preschoolers: make finger puppets of the characters to help you act out the story!
by Helen Oxenbury

by Zhaohua Ji and Cui Xu

3) Books with a punchline
These kinds of books may be my favorite because it is both adorable and hilarious when your child pipes in to say the punchline: a repeating phrase within the story, better when said as loudly as possible. E was obsessed with More Bears for awhile so we had to designate it NOT a bedtime book 'cause she'd wake up her brother (sample it here via Issuu).

by Kevin Nesbitt
By Bob Shea

4) Books with poetry
Even young children can appreciate beautiful verse. Some books may not have a particularly exciting plot, but they more than make up for it with rich, descriptive language, usually accompanied by gorgeous illustrations (Kevin Henkes does this particularly well. We also recommend his book Waiting). And remember, poetry doesn't always rhyme.

by Shel Silverstein

The Perfect Hug [Hardcover]
by Joanna Walsh and Judi Abbot

5) Books that say I love you
We can't all be poets with the eloquence to say exactly how we feel about our darling children (though, really, we don't need to be). Luckily, there are so many books that put the words together for us. I used to think I was too jaded and too cool for these books, with their mushy titles and pastel pictures, until I read through them and found myself ugly crying in the bookstore. If I Could Keep You Little is why I had to explain to my then-toddler that there is such a thing as a happy cry, because I could never get through a reading without shedding tears. Gross, right? You try reading them.

If I Could Keep You Little
by Marianne Richmond

I Love You Through and Through
by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

Of course, any book you read aloud to a child is a gift: books for bedtime, books to prepare them for an experience, books on adventure, even books with lots of pictures and no words. When your child is younger, you can even just open a book and talk to your child, not even reading the words on the page. What's important is the bonding, the communication, and the time spent together. What's important is the experience.

In this TEDtalk, literacy instructor Rebecca Bellingham says it well:

Reading aloud gives us a chance to look up—from our screens, our phones, our computers—to connect to each other through the simple act of reading and talking's a chance to carve out a time when we're...entirely focused on our kids.

I am a big believer in the benefits of reading to kids of all ages (not just those who can't read yet), not just for brain development but for bonding and character development. I love how a book being read aloud has an almost magical power that draws kids to the storyteller and soon even a classroom full of kids quiets down to listen—and then springs to life again as lively conversations and interesting questions break out. I often joke that I've found an alternate career in case I ever give up writing. E's classmates can vouch for me.

Read to your child; it's a free gift of immeasurable worth.

It really is free! Download this free book from LitWorld, New Day, New Friends by C. Alexander London, which includes a teaching and discussion guide as well as activities you can do with your kids! Happy reading!

Looking for affordable books for your library? Check out the well-curated selections at our affiliate The Learning Basket:

The Learning Basket