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20 Great Read Aloud Titles

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Celebrate the 20th anniversary of NEA’s Read Across America with this annotated list of 20 great read-aloud titles that include suggestions for use in a read-aloud setting.

Great Read Aloud Titles for ages 3 and up

Bee -bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park; illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
A little girl is eager to help her mother make her favorite mixed-up rice dish, bee-bim bop. Have kids join in on the repeating phrase, “Hungry, hungry, hungry for some BEE-BIM BOP.”

Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez
Bongo, a young boy’s beloved toy, is missing. When Bongo is found, the boy comes up with a clever plan to keep him close by. The Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout the text add to the warmth of this family story.

Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss
Mr. Brown is expert at making all kinds of sounds, from a cow’s moo to a goldfish’s kiss. Follow Dr. Seuss’s clues in the bold illustrations and colorful text to make these spectacular sound effects.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw; illustrated by Margot Apple
Join the misadventures of a group of sheep that go riding in a jeep. The expressive and hilarious illustrations accompany funny, rhyming text that you and your kids will soon know by heart.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
The underwater action in this comical tale gets underway when a small fish takes the hat of a much, much larger sleeping fish. Limited text in the book gives you the opportunity to talk about what the characters might be feeling. With no words on the last few pages, give kids the chance to figure out and tell the ending themselves.

Great Read Aloud Titles for ages 5 and up

Interrupting Chicken written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
A lively little red chicken is so excited about bedtime story time she continuously interrupts her father’s reading by inserting herself into every fairy tale. Play with the familiar stories within the story as kids laugh over each interruption and enjoy predicting the next one.

That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
When a hungry fox meets a plump goose, an invitation to dinner is made but will dinner go as planned? Kids won’t need much encouragement to call out the warnings of the baby geese, but also have them offer ideas about what the characters are thinking and what they think is going to happen next.

Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
These clever, humorous, yet gentle stories about the adventures of a group of toys will capture the imagination of every child who has ever wondered about the secret lives of their playthings. Encourage kids, who will relate to the toys’ experiences, anxieties and joys, to come up with stories about the exploits of their favorite toys.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson
A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty and wonder of everyday life. Radiate the warmth of this story with a gentle cadence and a discussion of simple joys.

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! edited by J. Patrick Lewis
The editor of this collection wisely advises, “This book is not for reading straight through.” But the fabulous photographs and awesome animal poems by classic and modern poets will have you reaching for it regularly.

Great Nonfiction Read Alouds for ages 5 and up

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
The stunning textured collage illustrations of this interactive title filled with quick, fun facts invite you to observe and compare and contrast the actual size of 18 different land and ocean animals. Kids (and adults) will be compelled to press hands, face, and limbs into this book to compare their own actual size to each creature featured.

All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon; illustrated by Katherine Tillotson
Colorful illustrations and bold design elements help words flow off the page in this poetic presentation of the water cycle. Use these visual cues to add energy to your read aloud and plunge into the rhythm and sounds of water as it makes its way from hose to sky.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
William, a teenager in Malawi figures out how to build a windmill and bring electricity to his drought-struck African village. This inspiring title is a great launching point for discussions about learning and innovating.

Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying
by Lita Judge

This gorgeously illustrated title on the language of birds focuses on the many different sounds and actions they use to communicate. Cover the words as kids look closely at the illustrations to determine what bird is trying to “say.” Discuss their guesses, and then read the text to see who already speaks the language of birds.

The Grapes of Math: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles by Greg Tang; illustrated by Harry Briggs
Illustrated riddles in verse offer visual clues and strategies for solving a variety of math problems, Read a riddle once, with proper speed and expression. On the second reading, see what ideas listeners have for solving the problem.

Great Middle Grade Read Alouds for ages 7 and up

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White; illustrated by Garth Williams
Wilbur, a runt pig saved from death by 8-year-old Fern, is later rescued from slaughter by clever Charlotte, a spider who spins the words “terrific" and "radiant" into her web over Wilbur's pen. Kids will be happy Wilbur is saved, but you may want to prepare them for Charlotte’s sad ending.

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech
In his writing journal, funny, likeable Jack responds honestly to his teacher’s attempts to inspire a love of poetry, offers glimpses of the close relationship he had with his dog, Sky, and ultimately finds the courage to develop his own poetic voice. Take this quick read slowly to fully appreciate the imagery, descriptions and turns of phrase that make up good prose and good poetry.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket; illustrated by Brett Helquist
Kids will be alternately alarmed and delighted by the macabre and sophisticated humor of this book series, which starts with The Bad Beginning and chronicles the misery, melancholy and misfortune of the three Baudelaire orphans in 13 novels. Take a dramatic tone when you read these theatrical tomes aloud to further motivate kids to question, predict, and look for answers.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Meggie’s father Mo never reads aloud to her—with good reason. When Mo reads aloud, he literally brings the characters to life. If you dare to read aloud this first book in the Inkworld trilogy, be on the lookout for villains, cliffhangers, and lots of literary references.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Soak up the wonderful language and imagery of the summer of 1968 when sisters Fern, Delphine, and Vonetta fly to California to visit their estranged mother. Cecile wants little to do with her daughters and sends them off to the community center where they learn about the Black Panther movement and, eventually, learn something about their mother.


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