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Picture Book Read Alouds

By Tim Capehart

Can I Drive the Bus?Want to encourage your kids to become lifelong readers? Read aloud! It’s one of the most important things you can do. The experience of listening to a favorite story helps associate reading with pleasure, all the while building vocabulary and recognition skills. More importantly it fosters a special bond between you and your child and models a love of reading and books.

Although it’s best to get an early start, it’s never too late. There are great read aloud books for every age and interest. Make it a priority to set aside reading time each day. Your kids won’t be the only ones who will look forward to it. Have your children select books they would like to hear. When you’re the one making the selections, be sure to pick books you will enjoy reading.

While reading - ham it up! Change your voice to represent different characters; alter the pace of your reading to create humor and suspense. And when reading familiar books, let your youngsters read words or passages to you (you'll see how fun it is). Just find a comfortable place to snuggle in together and start reading. Milk and cookies not required.

Ages 3 - 6 yrs.

Goodnight Moon
Written by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd
HarperCollins: 0060275049: $19.95

Everyone for generations has grown up with this, the classic good night book. Fifty years and still going strong, this is a great read aloud for youngsters even if it isn’t bedtime.

Cat's Colors
Written and Illustrated by Jane Cabrera
Dial Books for Young Readers: 0803720904: $14.99

Cabrera’s cat asks if readers can guess his favorite color, and he takes them through each hue of the rainbow. But everyone knows a cat’s favorite color is his mother’s color. Warm and fuzzy with a little learning thrown in.

Bear Snores OnBear Snores On
Written by Karma Wilson, Illustrations by Jane Chapman
Margaret K. McElderry Books: 0689831870: $16.00

Bear’s cave is warm and dry, and one by one, the forest animals creep in. They have a quiet little party until the bear wakes up. He’s mad, MAD! But not for the reason you might guess. Chapman’s soft, warm illustrations help make this a great book to cuddle up with.

Frank was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance
Written and Illustrated by Keith Graves
Chronicle Books: 0811821692: $12.95

Frank (N Stein) just wants to dance, so he puts ants in his pants and jumps out on stage. The audience loves his gyrations until he starts to fall apart. This is silly (goopy) rhyming fun that you won’t be able to read just once.

Written and Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
Candlewick Press: 076360108X: $16.99

Cat lovers especially will appreciate Voake’s story of kitty sibling rivalry. Ginger, the older cat, will have nothing to do with the new little kitten. With some coaxing, though the two do get along. Voake’s illustrations perfectly capture cats in this charming story.

Noisy Nora
Written and with all new Illustrations by Rosemary Wells
Dial Books for Young Readers: 0670887226: $15.99

Nora just wants some attention, but her baby brother Jack occupies one parent and her sister Kate occupies the other. Nora knows what to do…make NOISE! Wells’s book was so good she illustrated it twice.

One Day in the JungleOne Day in the Jungle
Written and Illustrated by Colin West
Candlewick Press: 1564026469: $9.95

Jungle animals pass around a cold from smallest to largest in this silly, sniffley, funny read aloud. It offers the extra added bonuses of learning size words and the importance of covering your mouth.

Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems
Hyperion Books for Children: 078681988X: $12.99

This Caldecott Honor book (from this year) is simply hilarious. The bus driver asks the reader to please keep the pigeon from driving the bus. Once the driver’s gone, the pigeon tries every toddler tactic to get to fulfill his dream. When the driver comes back before he can get his way, the pigeon just dreams a new dream.

Trashy TownTrashy Town
Written by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha, Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
HarperCollins Publishers: 0060271396: $15.99

Mr. Gillie makes his way around Trashy Town with his truck emptying all the garbage bins. Your audience will chant along with you by page two. Yaccarino’s signature simple illustrations are a perfect complement to this good clean story.

Ages 6 - 9 yrs.

Written by Lindsay Camp, Illustrated by Tony Ross
G.P. Putnam's Sons: 0399233962: $15.99

Lily is ALWAYS asking “Why?” Nearly every word out of her mouth is “Why?” It’s driving her dad MAD. Who could guess one day that her inquisitiveness would save the world? Initially this might look difficult to read since it is laid out like a graphic novel. However, if you take a little time with it, you’ll have a story children will be begging for every storytime.

The Fungus That Ate My School
Written by Arthur Dorros, Illustrated by David Catrow
Scholastic Press: 0590477048: $15.95

Mr. Harrison’s class was growing fungus in a jar before Spring Break…but a wet Spring Vacation makes it grow out of control! It takes over the school! The Fungus unit must be called in. Catrow’s wild and wacky illustrations will have listeners itching to do their own science experiments.

The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down
Written and Illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson
Orchard Books: 0531086313: $14.99

Miss Rosemary’s cow Gertrude is flying around the house. What will the neighbors say? Crafty Miss Rosemary comes up with a perfect way to entice the jealous Gert down from the tree tops.

Something WonderfulSomething Wonderful
Written by Jenny Nimmo, Illustrated by Debbie Boon
Harcourt: 0152164863: $16.00

Little Hen has never won a prize like all of her coup-mates. But one stormy night, when she doesn’t return to the coup, she proves herself more than worthy when she leads the next chicken generation home. The best chicken story since Minerva Louise!

Piggie Pie!
Written by Margie Palatini, Illustrated by Howard Fine
Clarion Books: 0395716918: $14.00

Gritch the witch has a hankerin for piggie pie and she knows just where to find them piggies. Old MacDonald’s Farm usually has plenty of piggies, but she talks to the geese, the cows, the chickens, and the farmer himself (all really piggies in disguise) and there are no piggies. Where are the piggies?

We Were Tired of Living in a House
Written by Liesel Moak Skorpen, Illustrated by Joe Cepeda
G.P. Putnam's Sons: 0399230165: $15.99

Three siblings are tired of living in their house, so they pack up and try living in a tree. They love it until they fall out. On they trek to a pond. There is just something wrong with each place. It’s a good thing home is always there to return to!

Oh, Ducky!Oh, Ducky!: A Chocolate Calamity
Written and Illustrated by David Slonim
Chronicle Books: 0811835626: $15.95

Johnny loves his Ducky and he loves his job in the chocolate factory…but one day he doesn’t know what to do when Ducky gets caught up in the works. The factory owner comes to the rescue. This will make you hungry and make you laugh!

Possum Come A-knockin'
Written by Nancy Van Laan, Illustrated by George Booth
Alfred A. Knopf: 0394822064: $15.99

Possums are tricky critters, and this one likes to knock while the family isn’t looking and then run and hide. Rhythmic, rhyming fun that will have the audience chanting along.

The Dirty CowboyThe Dirty Cowboy
Written by Amy Timberlake, Illustrated by Adam Rex
Farrar Straus Giroux: 0374317917: $16.00

Cowboy needs a bath. He sets his mostly blind dawg to guard his clothes. Of course, when he comes back, he doesn’t smell like himself. Dawg won’t let him near the clothes and a tussle ensues. After a roll in the mud and a wrestle with Dawg, Dawg finally recognizes the cowboy…but it’s too late, the clothes are destroyed. One of 2003’s best books by two newcomers. We can only hope they work together again!

Ages 9 - 12 yrs.

Riding the TigerRiding the Tiger
Written by Eve Bunting, Illustrated by David Frampton
Clarion Books: 0395797314: $16.00

Danny is bored and lonely when he climbs on the back of the exciting and somewhat dangerous tiger who offers him a ride. But it's easier to get on the tiger than it is to get off. Frampton’s woodcuts are excellent for this allegory for dealing with one’s anger.

Miss Alaineus: a Vocabulary Disaster
Written and Illustrated by Debra Frasier
Harcourt: 0152021639: $16.00

Spelling and word definitions are a pain in the head for Sage. It’s embarrassing. Then she uses her mistake as an inspiration for a fun and exciting vocabulary parade.

And to Think That We Thought That We'd Never Be FriendsAnd to Think That We Thought That We'd Never be Friends
Written by Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Crown Publishers: 0517800683: $15.95

Siblings learn how easy it is to end a fight, and they take their message to their friends, their street, and the world. A wonderfully timely story in rhyme.

Pink and Say
Written and Illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Philomel Books: 0399226710: $16.95

Polacco’s now classic book, based on a true story about her great-great-grandfather is a Civil War story both exciting and poignant. Say, a Union soldier, is left for dead, but he is rescued by Pinkus a black Union soldier. The two become friends and struggle to rejoin their units.

Amelia and Eleanor go for a Ride: Based on a True Story
Written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrated by Brian Selznick
Scholastic Press: 059096075X: $16.95

Based on the true story of two amazing women, Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt sneak away from the White House and have an adventure in the skies. Magical illustrations!

Mailing MayMailing May
Written by Michael O. Tunnell, Illustrated by Ted Rand
Greenwillow Books: 0688128793: $15.89

In 1914, May’s family can’t afford to buy her a ticket to see her grandmother, but they can afford to mail her! A true story and Rand’s illustrations are, as usual, expressive, gorgeous watercolors.

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