Great Read Aloud Picture Books

Today I sat and was read to by my youngest child. At seven she has learnt how reading aloud is a different skill than reading to herself but it did make me stop and think about the difference the right book can make to this, how not all picture books are perfect for reading aloud. As a classroom teacher I know how important, yet sometimes difficult, it is to choose a good read aloud book. To make this job easy, I've put together a list of the best read aloud picture books for home or the early years classroom.

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A collection of 30+ great read aloud picture books for early childhood. Perfect for the classroom or reading at home to your preschooler | you clever monkey

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson uses the same familiar structure as the classic fairytale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, to tell the story of Little Bear all grown up but lost in the big city. It has such rich language throughout and font to match - making it a must have for any book shelf! Children familiar with the traditional fairy tale delight in this follow-on tale.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. No decent list of read aloud books without this classic tale of a mouse who took a stroll in the deep dark wood. Beautifully paced, funny and full of rhyme, make this book such a joy to read aloud. Room on a Broom is another collaboration by the same author and illustrator and again makes for a great and sometimes suspenseful, read aloud book.

Oh No George is about a likable dog named George who tries very hard to be good but like many well intentioned young children, sometimes gets distracted from this. This one is a great read for preschoolers in particular and has an ending that invites children to decide on how it finishes. Chris Haughton is one of my favourite authors. His books, Little Owl Lost, and Shhh, We Have a Plan are just as good.

This one is both a great read aloud book whilst also being perfect just shared with a friend. The classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar is beautifully constructed inviting little fingers to explore it's pages but is easily enjoyed by a whole group as well.

Dear Zoo is a perfect read aloud for younger classrooms. With a repetition text, children love to 'read' the book after a few readings. It's a fantastic text for teaching size and comparative language and has some interesting vocabulary to extend your audience. It has many applications for the classroom and my own children love it still.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See has a very predictive text making it a great read aloud for young children. Beautiful, big bright illustrations make it very appealing to read too. One of our favourites in early childhood. WOW said the Owl is another great read aloud for focusing on colours.

The Witch's Children is another great read aloud book that weaves traditional fairy tales through it's story. The three witch's children try to help out their friend Gemma but end up causing more hilarious trouble before having to be rescued by their mum's magic. There are two other books (The Witch's Children Go To School and The Witch's Children and The Queen) that follow the witch's children and follow the same format which are also worth a look although the first one is our favourite.

Mr McGee and the Big Bag of Bread is one of our favourite Pamela Allen books and she's written many. It has relate-able material that is perfect for teaching reading comprehension strategies to young readers being set in a zoo. It's full of rhyme and has a sprinkling of interesting words like hoisted to stretch children's vocabulary.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. The pigeon is oh so convincing and provides a great example to young readers of how to use expression when reading aloud. Mo Willems is a favourite author of ours for this reason. We love his Knuffle Bunny series too.

There are some fabulous beginners readers that make for great reading aloud. I know lots of you might choose The Cat in a Hat or Green Eggs and Ham but A Fish Out of Water and Put Me in the Zoo were my favourites as a child and now I love reading them to my own children.

A few years ago the interwebs were alive with reviews praising The Book With No Pictures. And deservedly so, the author's own read aloud is hilarious

Whilst I love I Want My Hat Back, I'll never forget the look on the face of a colleague when I read it in class one day. The humor is a little dark for some but if you don't mind being in on the joke, the repetitious storytelling will hook even the most reluctant reader as you try to find out the answer to who took the bear's hat.

Amy and Louis is one of those books that you will hear children retell to each other in their play. 'Ammmmmmyyyyy!' calls Louis from across the yard and Amy calls back with that same special yell. It's a beautifully illustrated story of friendship between two children.

The Runaway Hug is another gorgeously illustrated story of one family's night. Lucy
asks for a hug before bed but her mum only has one so she'll need it back when Lucy is finished with it. There's the busy mum, the sports mad dad, the squabbling older siblings, the dribbling baby and the mischievous pet dog who steals the hug from Lucy.

Pete the Cat is one cooooool character! Kids love him as do parents and teachers alike as he shows great persistence as he literally gets stuck in the mud. Does Pete cry? Goodness no!

We recently rediscovered Miss Nelson is Missing! A book from my school days, it's a great one for relief and substitute teachers especially.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is another fantastic read aloud book from Mac Barnett. Children delight in spotting what Sam and Dave keep missing while the ending will puzzle them. Very deadpan humor from the author which is perfectly matched by Jon Klassen's illustrations.

The wolf is so often the bad guy in stories and again this tale The Lamb Who Came to Dinner paints him the same way but it turns out even the big bad wolf has a softer side. You have to check out this reading from Meatloaf on the kids TV show BookaBoo.

And The Train Goes woooohoooo! This is a book that must be read aloud! It's a train teaming with different carriages to explore and read as a partner read, children will also love trying to find the teapot and snail hiding on every page. William Bee has a knack for making great read aloud's. Not to everyone's taste, we love his cheeky book Whatever too.

Too Many Pears tells the tale of Pamela the cow who loves to eat pears more than anything else that is until Amy has a plan to save some pears for everyone else.

Eric's house is home to Too Many Elephants in This House and his mother wants them gone! Children can easily relate to the pretend nature of Eric's elephants and they have plenty of personality to keep everyone entertained until Eric finds a solution.

Scary Night is a suspenseful read from Lesley Gibbes and Stephen Michael King. Tiptoeing through the scary night go Hare with a Hat, Cat with a Cake and Pig with a Parcel. Great one to read in the lead up to Halloween for young children and full of rhyme.

Madeline is the classic tale of the school girls who walk in two straight lines written in the 1950s but it's age hasn't made it a clunky read like some over time as our language has changed. 

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book? and it's prequel, Beware of the Storybook Wolves are perfect read alouds for older children. Written and illustrated by Lauren Child, these books join the unfortunate Herb as he ends up in the book of fairy tales he was reading before bed.

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  1. Love this list! We know (and love) many of these, but personally I'm more excited to hear about the ones we haven't discovered yet. Yay for good books!

    1. Thanks Danya 🙂 Always great to find new books! We miss not being close to a good book shop now.

  2. You could try "little old huhu".. it's a good book to teach on how to handle emotions regarding loss of loved ones.

    1. I haven't seen that one so will have to have a look for it. We love The Color Monster for talking about our different emotions.

  3. What a fantastic list! So many books now added to our wish list ;-)

  4. So many great books. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I've been meaning to write this post for a while - every time a book goes over really well in class! Glad you found it useful Kate 🙂


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