Great Read-Aloud Children's Books with Reviews and Sample Lesson Plans
Here's a quick overview of this article.
- Cover images of read aloud picture books.
- A list of over 30 children's picture books that are especially appropriate for read-aloud. Links to reviews on the book titles. Each title includes a short synopsis.
- Links to over 40 children's books I've reviewed on HubPages.
Selecting the Right Books for Story Time
If you are a storytime presenter, you know that some children's books are designed to be read aloud in a group setting, while others may not work for storytime groups because they are either too long, too complicated, or just not engaging enough. And you also know that there's much more to putting on a great storytime program than selecting and reading books. But selecting the right books really helps!
Below is a list of books that I read in a preschool story time setting. I recommend most of these children's picture books because they have textual and visual elements that can keep a group of young children engaged in the story. These books were a story time success for me!
Recommended Children's Picture Books
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett ISBN 0689708076. This book takes a hilarious look at why animals shouldn't wear clothes. Laugh out loud.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams is the first story in Williams' "Chair books" as she calls them. The story about a young girl, her hard-working mother, and the beautiful, flower-covered chair they save their money to buy after a devastating fire destroys all their possessions.This book is more appropriate for elementary-aged children.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle is meant to be chanted more than read, I think. This book is simple and repetitive and lends itself to easy memorization. My children love this book so much that it has become completely shredded through multiple re-readings. I recommend you get a board-book version of this story because it will be well-loved in a preschool, library, or home setting.
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina, ISBN 0061474533. Some mischievous monkeys take a napping hat peddler's wares.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. (Author), John Archambault (Author), Lois Ehlert (Illustrator), ISBN 0439806968. Rhythmic alphabet fun as the alphabet letters climb up the coconut tree. An all-time children's favorite. The new sequel to this story has been made into an entertaining short film that I strongly recommend if you have multimedia access.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, ISBN 0061119741. A tiny mouse loves her very long name until she is teased at school. Her loving parents are unable to help, but the fun and fascinating new music teacher saves the day.
Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman is the classic, irresistible story about a cute little teddy bear and his adventures that take him into a department store and through the wash.
Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too by Eric Carle is a simple and repetitive story that affirms the bond children have with their mothers, so it is an appropriate selection for Mother's Day or any day during a toddler story hour.
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon, ISBN 0439622778. Ducks don't ride bikes! Or do they?
Excuse Me! by Lisa Kopelke ISBN 0743490053. A little frog who burps too much is banished to live with the frogs who burp all the time. Will he learn a lesson in frog etiquette, or is he doomed to live with the uncouth frogs?
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelo, ISBN 0618836829. An adaptation of the classic finger rhyme, this is a great way to involve toddlers in story hour.
Any books in the Froggy series by Jonathan London will be entertaining reading in a preschool and up story hour. I particularly like Froggy's First Kiss and Froggy Bakes a Cake.
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone ISBN 0899191630 This popular folktale is told to perfection in this story by the master folk tale author, Paul Galdone.
The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires and Holly Berry puts a Southwest twist on the traditional tale, with a spunky baker and wiley coyote, and local color, such as cactus eating javelinas.
Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury is one of THE GREAT children's picture books for presenting during a children's story hour. It is a lot of fun and you won't regret reading this book aloud to the children you teach.
Gregory the Terrible Eaterby Mitchell Sharmat (Author), Jose Aruego (Illustrator), ISBN 059043350. Gregory the goat craves delicious, nutritious people food, and his parents are worried that he is behaving like a picky eater!
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle, ISBN 0064434508. A grouchy ladybug tries to bully his way up the food chain. This book is about animals, telling time, bullies.
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins (Author), Eric Gurney (Illustrator), ISBN 0394810767. This fun book is a finger-tapping, foot-stomping good time.
Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gachenbach, ISBN 0899192238. Harry is sure that a double-headed, three-clawed, six-toed, long-horned Whatzit has taken his mother down in the basement. He must face his fears to rescue his beloved mom.
Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson, ISBN 1416950834. Hilda the Hippo needs a new hobby, and how! But what could be better than dancing? The brightly-colored images of Wilson's artwork make her an artist and author to read again and again. Make sure to read A Frog in a Bog, and all of the books in her Bear series, including Bear Snores On, Bear Wants More, and Bear Stays Up.
I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll is a long but entertaining story by an author with an ear for storytelling. This book is meant to be read aloud. This book could be read during Halloween or for any bedtime-themed story hour, and is a must-read.
I'd Choose You by John Trent ISBN 0849914523 When Norbert the Elephant has a really bad day, his parents reassure him about just how important he is to them. This book is a Christian children's book that illustrates how parents can give their children "the blessing", a topic discussed in Trent's books for adults.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff (Author) and Felicia Bond (Illustrator), ISBN 0061128562. Laura Numeroff's book If You Take a Mouse To School is another good read for the beginning of the school year. Laura Numeroff's series of cause and effect stories includes other popular titles like If You Give a Cat A Cupcake, and If You Give a Moose a Muffin.
If You're Happy and You Know It is one of those storytime selections you need to have on hand because it is such a great way to incorporate music and motion into your story hour.
It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall and Shari Halpern is a preschool-friendly story for Halloween about growing pumpkins to turn into Jack O' lanterns. This book has a gardening angle and brightly-colored, simple collage art pictures reminiscent of Eric Carle. Please click the title to read my full review and see some companion titles.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback, ISBN 0670878553. Thrifty Joseph the tailor finds new and nifty ways to use his worn overcoat.
The King With Six FriendsJay Williams (Author), Imero Gobbato (Illustrator), ISBN 081930342. King Zar is out of a job, and with only the clothes on his back, he sets out on a quest to find a new kingdom to rule. His six new friends help.
Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis is a new hit series about a young girl who wants to play baseball with her brother and his friends, but after being repeatedly rejected, she finds her own entertainment exploring her outside surroundings with a sense of magic and imagination. This book is a part of a series. I also like Ladybug Girl At the Beach, another title by this author.
Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, ISBN 0688128971 Lily LOVES, even idolizes, her teacher, until he takes away her shiny new purple plastic purse.
The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges, ISBN 014230189. In this modern retelling of the classic fable, Little Red Hen invites the friends in her city neighborhood to help her make a pizza. You may also be interested in the Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman is one of several alternate retellings of this story. This book about the Passover holiday is educational and entertaining at the same time, where the Little Red Hen is a mensch, but she also stands up to and scolds her lazy friends.
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney ISBN 9780670062409 Little Llama gets frustrated when his mama takes him for a long, boring, shopping trip at the Shop-O-Rama. Fun rhyming text in a situation every toddler and young preschooler can relate to. Llama Llama Red Pajama and Llama Llama Misses Mama are strong recommends by this author.
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle is a recently published book by the talented and prolific author of the Very Hungry Caterpillar. This book has some interesting facts to share about dads in the ocean, but the best reason to share this book in story hour is for the camoflauge collage art.
"More More More," Said the Baby by Vera B. Wlliams, ISBN 0688091733
No David! by David Shannon, ISBN 059093002. Little David is ALWAYS getting in trouble. How many ways can his exasperated mom say no? Lots of laughs for this contemporary fave. You may want to check into other books from the David series, or look into some of Shannon's other entertaining but less well-known titles, like A Bad Case of Stripes.
Olivia by Ian Falconer, ISBN 0689860889 Olivia has a fun-filled day any preschooler would envy, from moving the cat, to viewing world-famous pop art. All of the books in the Olivia series are particularly good, but I really enjoy a follow up story in this series by Emily Sollinger called Dinner With Olivia.
One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder by Nicola Davies (Author), Jane Chapman (Illustrator), ISBN 0763623113. A beautifully illustrated non-fiction book tells the story of a sea turtle. Appropriate for preschoolers.
The Rainbow Fish by by Marcus Pfister and J. Alison James, ISBN 1558580093. This modern children's book classic tells how Rainbow Fish learns to share and make friends instead of being the most beautiful fish in the ocean.
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert, ISBN 015202095. This fanciful book about building a snowman uses colorful objects from all over the world in new and unique ways. You'll love Lois Ehlert's snow people collages. Others I like by Ehlert include Eating the Alphabet, Pie in the Sky, Planting a Rainbow, Leaf Man, and Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf. Ehlert is the illustrator of over 60 children's book: you really can't go wrong with Lois Ehlert books.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, ISBN 0670654000. Young Peter in his red snowsuit enjoys playing in a snowy winter wonderland. Keats is one of my favorite children's book writers. His view of childhood is innocent and yet realistic. You may also like A Letter to Amy, Goggles (about bullying), and Peter's Chair.
So Much! by Trish Cooke (Author), Helen Oxenbury (Illustrator), ISBN 0763602965. This book of familial love has a rhythmic cadence that requires some practice reading, but is a beautiful story that illustrates the many ways family members show their love for a baby on the day of his dad's surprise birthday party.
Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch, ISBN 0823418294 . This silly adventure story about a hen who reads her way out of the soup factory is a fast-paced story that will have children at the edge of their seats until the story ends at the vegetarian's organic farm.
There's an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer, ISBN 0803703740. This children's classic takes a humorous peek under the bed at a little boy's bedtime fears. The rhyming text is reassuring and funny. A great read for October. An enjoyable companion tale by the same author is There's a Nightmare in My Closet.
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel ISBN 0030127114 This children's book about two Chinese brothers, one with a very long name, and one with a short one, is a humorous and suspensful aid to teach reading. Read my review of this book that lives in the folktale genre, but does not actually represent Chinese culture.
To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss, ISBN 0007169922 This children's classic was written when my 82-year old grandmother was a young girl. But the story about a little fib that turns into a gigantic whale of a tale is as pleasing today as it was in an era when horses still pulled carts down main street.
Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda White (Author), ISBN 1591128315. Too many pumpkins changes from being a problem to a blessing when a woman shares the bounty from her nuisance pumpkin patch with her neighbors. This charming and hopeful message of this timeless tale is especially appealing during hard economic times.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, ISBN 0399247459. A very hungry caterpillar gets a tummy ache when he eats all the wrong things in this classic story by beloved children's author Eric Carle. Of course, any book by Carle is a winner. From Head to Toe by the same author will get kids up and moving.
Where Once There Was a Wood by Denise Fleming (Illustrator), ISBN 0805064826 The beautiful illustrations of a wood and animals remind everyone who read this story to tread lightly on the earth.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, ISBN 0060254920. Max in his wolf suit is sent to his room and there begins his journey to the land of the Wild Things, where he conquers and becomes king. This iconic children's tale is a childhood fave of multiple generations of readers.
More About Library/Preschool Storytime Programs
- How to Start a Highly Effective Storytime Program at Your Local Library
This group of topics provides in-depth information for starting a library or preschool story time, including planning, advertising, crafts, and leveraging volunteer help--if that isn't already you!
- Preschool Library Storytime Ideas for Presenters
Here is the basic formula I use for our library's story hour. I use books, music, movement, and transitions to create the sense of routine that young children crave.
Recommended Children's Books
Following is a complete list of the children's picture books I have reviewed here on HubPages.
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett · A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams · Babies by Gyo Fujikawa · Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin and Eric Carle · Charley Harper's ABCs by Charlie Harper · Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons · Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes · Daughter of a King by Rachel Ann Nunes · Excuse Me! By Lisa Kopelke · Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat · Harry and The Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach · Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson · I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll · I'd Choose You by John Trent · Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback · King of Kings by Susan Hill · Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman · Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes ·Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney · Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney · Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle · No David! by David Shannon · Olivia by Ian Falconer · Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier · Snowballs by Lois Ehlert · So Much by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury · Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch · The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone · The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle · The King With Six Friends by Jay Williams · The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman · The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges · The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell · The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy · The Red Shoes a Fairy Tale by Gloria Fowler and Sun Young Yoo · The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats · Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel · Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White · Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak · Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits