As a librarian, one of the best aspects of my job is reading aloud to children. I find books that make kids sing, laugh, and interact the most fun to read aloud. Below is my list of picture books that make wonderful read alouds for your readers.
1. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
This 2015 Caldecott Honor depicts Sam and Dave digging a hole in hopes to discover something spectacular. As they dig, they narrowly miss bigger and better treasures causing the audience to frequently scream, ”No! You’re going the wrong way!” Page by the page, the children remain emotionally involved with Sam and Dave as they search and search. This is the first picture book that I’ve read aloud and it made kids squirm with uncontrollable excitement, frustration, and humor; making it a notable read aloud for my list.
2. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
How can a book with no pictures make a great read aloud? No pictures are needed when the words are laugh out loud funny! This book makes fun of the reader, making the audience giggle. And with made up words like “bluurf,” children can’t control their laughter. As a librarian, I appreciate difficult read alouds; like ones with accents and tongue twisters. This book must be read like a comedian because timing and delivery is important. I always feel great when I read it and pull if off, leaving the children rolling with laughter!
This award winning book shows a young child getting carried away with creative painting. With repetitive rhyming text and colorful illustrations, it reads almost like a song. As the child paints one body part after another the audience joins the reader in singing and guessing what will be painted next. This silly read gets kids singing and laughing, making it a great addition to this list.
4. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
This Caldecott Honor book starts with the bus driver taking a break. He asks the readers for a favor – don’t let the pigeon drive the bus! As the pigeon begs and pleads to drive the bus, the audience must repeatedly answer back with a resounding “no!” I love how the pigeon’s fate is in the reader’s hands, and the interactive dialog that takes place while reading it aloud.
5. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat walks down the street wearing his white shoes and singing a catching song. Along the way, he steps in various things changing the color of shoes. The audience can’t help sing along with the reader and yell out each color change. Not only is this book a great interactive read aloud, it also teaches a valuable lesson – no matter what happens, stay chill . . . because it’s all good!
6. Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss
As the children return to school, the animals on the farm are bored. They head to town to find something to do and discover the library. As one animal after another enters the library, the audience joins the reader to mimic each animal’s attempt to talk to the librarian, filling the air with “baas,” moos,” and “neighs.” Finally the hen gets something to read by saying “book, book, book” (similar the “bock, bock, bock”). But the bull frog is a frequent visitor to the library and as the animals read their books back at the farm, he says “I already read it, read it, read it” (similar to “ribbit, ribbit, ribbit”). Love how this book gets children interacting and laughing.
7. Press Here by Herve Tullet
This picture book is the ultimate engaging read aloud. Each page instructs the audience to interact with the text; press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book. With each direction the dots multiply, change color, and grow in size. The illustrations are simply and the pages are flat, but the audience reacts like the book is a pop up and plays music; making it a notable book for my favorite read loud book list.
8. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle
This story follows one animal after another in a classic game of I Spy. As a read aloud, the audience interacts by shouting out each animal with the turn of each page. Coupled with Eric Carle’s classic, colorful illustrations, children enjoy the repetition of this story; making it a favorite first read for beginning readers.
9. Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
As Farmer Joe goes to bed, the barn animals begin to rock out! Each page depicts an animal playing a different musical instrument. When I read this book aloud, I ask the audience to mimic the playing of each instrument while singing. I love seeing each child play the guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards and singing “Old McDonald.” This is never a quite read aloud, but it’s always a fun read aloud!
10. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
This 2000 Caldecott Winner is an adaptation of a Yiddish folk song showing Joseph repurposing his worn overcoat into many useful things. Once its whittled down to a button and lost, Joseph writes a book about it, teaching readers that “something can always be made out of nothing.” As in his Caldecott Honor book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Taback's die-cut pages captivate readers. I love seeing the faces of children as I read aloud this book. They watch carefully to guess what the next item will be, and almost seem in awe of how it’s done. This award winning book is a fun read aloud with a heart-warming lesson.