Nothing much in parenting gets me more excited than being able to sink down into my favorite chair with a child (or two or three), and a book (or two or three or four) and read. I read loud, or quiet, or sing-songy, with actions thrown in, if necessary. Being able to share my joy and love of reading with my children is wonderful. Some of the hundreds of children’s books that we have are so loved we should have stock in scotch tape. One source of inspiration for reading to my children is “How to Get your Child to Love Reading” by Esme Raji Codell . Another great book, The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease served as her inspiration. I love both of these books because they give seemingly endless lists of books for my children to read with or without me. Children’s books, reading to my children, and parenting are intertwined at our house.
I’ve developed a list of my top 10 favorite children’s books to read aloud. Coming up with the titles was easy. Narrowing my list was excruciating. No matter whether you read from this list or someone else’s, the fact that you are interested in reading to your children makes you a great parent or aunt or uncle or grandparent or teacher.
1) ” The Gingerbread Man” written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock (1998) is a current favorite of ours. I love the warm-colored illustrations that bring the story and it’s repetition to life. It is so vivid you can smell the gingerbread baking and sense the craftiness of the fox. The words spoken by the gingerbread man are fun and young children love repeating them. Another beloved author who does this story well is Jan Brett . There are umpteen more versions of this tale. Read them all and have you and your children (of all ages) pick your favorites.
2)” Miss Twiggley’s Tree” by Dorothea Warren Fox (1966) was a favorite of mine as a child. I enjoy it now because she writes verse like few other new authors. Her rhyme is seamless and fun. The illustrations are also warm. Again, children of all ages will enjoy this tale of a woman that lives in a tree, is very shy, but helps her neighbors in need.
3) ” What Baby Wants” written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Jill Barton (1998) is a very fun read and a great one for older children to read to young children. Everyone in the book tries to help baby, but only the little brother knows what to do. Other fussy baby stories are fun to read aloud, such as “Granite Baby” written by Lynne Bertrand. It has a tall tale twist to it.
4) “Ludwig the Dog Who Snored Symphonies” by Robert Kraus and illustrated by Virgil Partch (1971) was also a childhood favorite of mine. It’s very fun to act out Ludwig’s snoring, barking, and tail tapping while reading the story. The illustrations are also very expressive with a lot of detail and color.
5) “Click, Clack, MOO Cows That Type” written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin (2000) is illustrated in bold watercolor and the story line is enjoyable for parents who get nostalgic for typewriters and political science. Their other books with duck in it (i.e., “Duck for President”) are also a hoot (they quack me up).
6) “Olivia Saves the Circus” written and illustrated by Ian Falconer (2001) is only one example of Mr. Falconer’s Olivia. She is a very funny pig that tells tall tales, accessorizes with red, and has a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt above her bed.
7) “When Cows Come Home” by David L. Harrison and illustrated by Chris L. Demarest (1994) has bright watercolor and fun verse highlighting the mischief that cows get into, before they come home at the end of the day.
8) ” Panda Bear, Panda Bear” written by Bill Martin, Jr (“Chicka Chicka BOOM BOOM” author) and illustrated by Eric Carle (2003) has great rhythm to it. The collage illustrations are a hit with young children, especially the macaroni penguin. There are many stories with a beat that are fun to read. “I Went Walking” written by Sue Williams and illustrated by Julie Vivas (1989) is another one. “Science Verse” written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith (2004) is very fun for older children, teens, and adults.
9) ” Miss Mary Mack” adapted by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott (1998) is very fun with a lot of repetition for emerging readers. It helps children develop a sense of rhyme and rhythm, and the buttons, buttons, buttons are cool, cool, cool!
10) ” Listen Buddy” written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger (1995) is a great tale to teach young children the importance of listening. “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food” written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague (2005) is another good one for teaching–table manners, in this case.
I’ve made several assumptions when assembling this list. One is that you will always read Dr. Seuss (and so will I) so I have not bothered including it on my list. I’ve also assumed that children of all ages can be read to. If you have an older child, have them read aloud to younger siblings. I’ve also assumed that you won’t stop at the end of this list. You will continue to read to your children, checking out endless books at your local library, and will continue to read to and with your children until they can’t stand it anymore. We have children in middle school that haven’t yet tired of books our younger ones glom onto. As a parent, reading your children books is yet another way to discover together the joys of art and literature and life in general.