I love reading aloud picture books with my kids for so many reasons. I know how important it is to promote literacy, especially while your kids are young. Students who learn to love reading early enjoy huge advantages over their peers in school. Aside from creating a loving and healthy home, fostering strong reading skills is one of the most valuable things you can do for your kids.
That’s why the teacher part of me cares. But there’s more than that. There’s also selfish reasons I enjoy read aloud time with my kids.
I have three active little boys. There is almost never a time when all three of them are seated simultaneously. Meanwhile, I’m basically always tired and I LOVE sitting down. I enjoy reading stories with my boys partly because it (usually) allows for sitting for more than ten seconds at a time.
Another reason I really enjoy read aloud is the cuddling. Of my three boys, two of them are not big fans of snuggling–this is probably related to the fact that, as I just mentioned, they hate to sit still. Only my middle child can be counted on for reliable snuggles throughout most of the day. This all changes when it’s time to read! At story time, everyone is happy to sit close and snuggle– I love that!
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What I don’t love are crappy books. This includes books with whiny characters (side-eye to you, Caillou), complicated story-lines, bad behavior, or books of the “See Spot run” variety. Nothing against Spot — he makes for a nice, easy read for emergent readers, but I will also die of boredom if I have to hear about one more of Spot’s five-word “adventures.”
Of course, if you’re trying to speed through stories at bedtime, Spot and his other Level-1 primers work like a charm (hint hint). But I digress. The topic of this post is read aloud books for kids that adults will enjoy too, not books that will get your kids in bed faster (although adults certainly enjoy that as well).
Awesome Read Aloud Picture Books for Kids Who Enjoy “Potty Humor”
Personally, I also don’t care for books of the poop and fart variety, because I hear about that stuff all.day.long in this fraternity house of ours. If you have a higher tolerance for that, or you’re not raising three boys who are already giving you a sufficient dose of potty humor at every turn, you and your kids may enjoy one of these books (which are very clever, I do admit):
Here are few of my most-recommended read aloud books for kids — books that both you AND your kids will enjoy.
Of course, if you’re not currently raising young kids yourself, these picture books also make great gifts for nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends’ children, etc. I know many parents (including me) would LOVE to have less toys in their house. Books allow you to still give a tangible gift without making the parents want to tear their hair out (as much).
The Best Read Aloud Picture Book for Kids… Without Pictures?!
This might seem like an odd first-choice for the category of “best read aloud picture books for kids,” but hear me out. As the title suggests, there are no pictures in this book, but they’re not needed. The text that you will read aloud provides all the hilarity and amusement your kids will need. The book itself lays this out in one of the first pages of the text, by saying, “Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say. No matter what.” Plus, while there are no actual pictures, it’s still basically a “picture book,” i.e. not a chapter book. This book is great fun and an awesome change-of-pace from traditional read aloud picture books.
The only exception: if you have an only-child, under two, you may want to skip this one. My youngest is only 22-months-old, but he still enjoys it thoroughly because he sees his older two brothers (ages four and six) cackling hysterically. If it were just him by himself, I’m not so sure he’d be amused yet. By age three? Definitely.
*Bonus — if you’re a fan of The Office (this is my all-time favorite show), the author of this book is BJ Novak, actor, writer, and executive producer of The Office. Double-win.
These aren’t particularly quick read-aloud books, so if that’s a problem for you, you may want to skip them, but they’re not terribly long either. I love these stories because they’re so relatable, the kids find them amusing, and there’s several different choices.
Also, you can incorporate a fun writing activity afterwards (if you’re so inclined), where kids write their own “How to” story. It’s not that much work for the parent, plus, they’re hilarious. Have you ever seen a kid write a “how to” recipe for baking a cake? Or how-to instructions for any basic household task? It’s a gold mine of parental amusement, in addition to being a great activity that promotes literacy.
This is another unconventional book. There isn’t much of a story line, but it’s very entertaining for kids, nonetheless. This read aloud picture book has the benefit of being interactive – the kids will touch the book, turn it on its side, clap and make noises to “move” things in the book etc., but without all those obnoxious “lift the flaps” for your younger children to destroy, ruining the book forever. We received this book from my aunt, who spent close to thirty years teaching Kindergarten, so she knows what’s up when it comes to selecting awesome, unique read aloud picture books for kids.
This is a cute, classic story that teaches an important lesson to kids. Literacy is great, but most parents I know care most about whether their kids are kind. This book gives kids an opportunity to examine how their actions affect others and to consider those actions in a variety of realistic ways. The story-line and simple concept (are you a bucket-filler or a bucket-dipper?) gives kids the opportunity to put themselves into someone else’s shoes and it helps them put words to emotions. As a bonus, it’s pretty hilarious when your kids get into fights with one another (which is all day, every day around here) and they hurl accusations at one another like, “You’re being a bucket dipper!”
The Best Read Aloud Picture Books for Kids Who Love Dinosaurs
My boys love this book series — and there are a ton of them! How do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? How do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? Basically, if you’ve ever wondered how a dinosaur did something, Jane Yolen and Mark Teague have likely made a book about it. These are great read aloud books for any age, but especially for ages 3-8ish, when that dinosaur infatuation seems to peak for kids.
Another awesome thing about this book series is that they also come in Spanish. We checked out a few in Spanish my library and it’s a great way to introduce your kids to a foreign language using a story with which they’re already familiar.
They say to write about what you know, and I know raising boys. There is no sign of my boys’ interest in dinosaurs waning anytime soon. I know there are many little girls who also enjoy dinosaurs, so I’m sure this would be a hit for them too, but I can’t speak to that from experience at all.
Read aloud can be a wonderful bonding experience if you select the right stories. I hope this list of the best read aloud picture books for kids AND parents helps you find some new, unique stories to add to your home library!