Best read aloud picture books for kids and parents - two boys reading

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.

The sloth is my spirit-animal these days (via GIPHY)

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).

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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 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):

You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Poo

I Want to Eat Your Poo

Almost Everybody Farts

The Dinosaur that Pooped the Past

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?!

The Book With No 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. 

Best Read Aloud Books for Kids - The book with no pictures

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.


The “How to….” Books

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.

Best Read Aloud Books for Kids - How to Catch a SantaBest Read Aloud Books for Kids - How to Babysit a

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.

Aside from good read aloud picture books for kids at home, How to Babysit a Grandma and How to Babysit a Grandpa also make cute gifts for grandparents.

Press here

Read Aloud Book Title: Press here

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.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Bucket Filler preschool read aloud cover

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

How Do 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!


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  1. I am watching The Office whilst reading this 😂. I too love cuddle time with my kids whilst reading books. It’s my favourite time of the day

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Such a great show — you can really never go wrong, no matter how many times you watch it. I actually saw a video clip of BJ Novak doing a read aloud of his book with a classroom full of kids — it was great!


  2. I needed this! I am seriously behind when it comes to introducing my son to books. Feeling a bit of shame there, to be honest, so I’m glad to have some great suggestions.

    1. Hi Shauna,

      Oh no, this mom gig is hard enough without any extra guilt — don’t feel bad! It’s hard to fit in reading with everything else, but it’s never too late to start. Like I said, my favorite thing about read aloud books with young kids is the excuse to sit down. Parenting is tiring!


    1. Hi Wendy,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the read aloud list and found it helpful. And NO, you are definitely NOT the only one. I’m pretty sure there are entire facebook pages/groups dedicated to parents who hate Caillou (and rightfully so) haha.


  3. Thanks for this list of great ideas! I always like to give books as birthday presents so this is definitely going to help me come up with some good ideas for the next time.

    1. Hi Sabrina,

      I think books make such a great gift because, aside from the obvious benefits of reading or reading aloud to kids, they don’t come with a lot of pieces for the kids to lose or make a huge mess! I hope you enjoy some of these read aloud choices –they have been fan favorites in our house. Also, a new one we recently came across that is a read aloud must is “The Wonky Donkey” — I would definitely check that one out if you haven’t already.


  4. I love your book recommendations. My daughter loves How do Dinosaurs Play with their Friends. I will have to try Press Here and Bucket Filler. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m always interested in more reading material. At our house we are reading all the time so I really enjoyed your ideas.

    1. Hi Jena,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my list of great read aloud books for kids. We are trying hard to raise kids who love to read in this house. We’ve got two on board, but one who is currently too wild to sit. He will at least tolerate a good read aloud book while he plays.

      Thanks for reading!

    1. Hi Shannah,

      My aunt (the former Kindergarten teacher) is our primary source for great read aloud books for kids. That woman knows what’s up (and we can usually count on her to turn us onto something original). I’m glad this list had some good read aloud books for kids that you hadn’t already suffered through 1,000 times 🙂

      Yes, my boys are ALLLLLL about the pooping and farting. I’m told they may outgrow it in the next 40-50 years, but not to hold my breath haha.

      Thank you for reading!

  6. Excellent recommendations here! I agree wholeheartedly that read aloud time is so important for children and should continue even after they are independent readers! We love The Book with No Pictures; it had my children howling with laughter. My kids love the How Do Dinosaurs series as well and I love that they teach simple manner lessons in each book!

  7. I love to cuddle with my little one when I am reading to her too. I love the different type of books. We don’t have these so I will definitely be checking them out, especially the no picture boo.

  8. I LOVE this! What a great collection of books. I (and my children) have always loved the dinosaur books. I’m pretty sure we’ve read one of the how-to books at some point, but I did not know there was such a collection. I’ve got to get the Grandma and Grandpa ones for my parents.
    Thank you for sharing!

  9. These books are amazing. You picked some of the best books for sure! My favorites are the How-tos such clever books for kids. I use to use them on grandparents day as the read-aloud when I taught. Also, the book with no pictures is amazing and I certainly agree with your assessment of it! Thank you!

  10. We love how do dinosaurs say goodnight! Also how do dinosaurs eat their food I think? That’s also a great one! I’m always on the hunt for great books so thank you for sharing :). I’ll have to check out your other recommendations at the library!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      The dinosaurs-series are really all great picture books for kids! I don’t think we’ve seen “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?” so we may need to be on the lookout for those (“How do Dinosaurs Go To School?” has been a favorite with my preschooler for years though).

      The library is a perfect way to check out new picture books because if they fall flat with the kids (or you just don’t care for it), you can always say, “Sorry, we have to return it now. Those are the rules.” haha! 🙂


  11. This is great! I love hearing book recommendations, because I think we’ve read every single book in our collection approximately 5,000 times. I don’t know any of these, but I’ve been curious about The Book with No Pictures (yeah BJ!) and will definitely check it out now. My 2 year old is currently into Elmo books right now in a big way (AKA I’m going crazy please send help) so it will be nice to give “Shake a Leg, Elmo!” a rest (please help).

    1. Hi Samantha!

      So sorry for the delayed response — something must’ve been up with my comment notifications. Yes, definitely check out these picture books. My toddler went through an Elmo phase and it was a living nightmare! These picture books are strictly Elmo-less, so you should be good!

      Another great picture book for kids (that wasn’t on the list ) is Pete the Cat (the buttons book or the white shoes book). They are so catchy with the little ones.

      Good luck!

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