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46 Best Read Aloud Picture Books That Keep Children's Interest

Carolyn writes about children's literature for library, preschool, or homeschool settings. She has a BA in English Literature.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is just one of 46 book mentioned in this article that children will actually sit still for! (Or at least try to!)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is just one of 46 book mentioned in this article that children will actually sit still for! (Or at least try to!)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert. Rhythmic alphabet fun as the alphabet letters climb up the coconut tree. An all-time children's favorite because it reads as a percussive, sing-song chant.

Selecting the Right Books for Story Time

Some children's books are designed to be read aloud in a group setting, but others may be too long, too complicated, or just not engaging enough. And keeping the momentum during circle time or story hour can be more an art than a skill.

Tips for Toddler Story Hours

This age group is curious, mobile, and not at all used to sitting still. Toddlers love bright colors, repetition, and chances to participate with the story.

Tips for Preschool Story Hours

Preschoolers love rhyming musical lyrics, characters doing zany and unexpected things, and characters that get in trouble! As a general rule, a great book for preschoolers has a strong plot that builds anticipation toward a big finale.

Tips for Mixed Age-Group Story Hours

Try to keep a mix of short and longer books and incorporate music and motion. Read your books for younger children first, and draw your inspiration from the needs of your group. Humorous stories with vivid illustrations and lots of group participation can help children focus and stay on track. But expect interruptions!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle is meant to be chanted more than read. This book about colors is simple and repetitive and lends itself to easy memorization.

Grumpy Monkey

Grumpy Monkey

In Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, Jim the monkey woke up on the wrong side of the bed. All of his friends keep telling him that he's grumpy, and they try to fix him in all kinds of ways. But finally, he yells at them and storms off into the jungle. A little while later, he runs into his friend Norman, who is feeling a little grumpy too. This book is all about owning your feelings. That face, though!

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by James Dean

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by James Dean

Kids can't seem to get enough of Pete the Cat. In Pete the Cat: I Love My White shoes by James Dean,Pete just can't seem to stop stepping in things. But no matter, he just keeps walking along and singing his song. This book was read by Whiteboard Entertainment Studios on Youtube, with Pete's song set to music and has 81 million views!

Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks

Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks

Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli is the perfect read-aloud length for preschoolers, and it has a repeated phrase throughout the book, "Fo fi fum fe! Monster's Don't Eat Broccoli!" Kids can participate in the reading of the story by saying this popular refrain.

Don't Push the Button by Bill Cotter.

Don't Push the Button by Bill Cotter.

Don't Push This Button by Bill Cotter is narrated by a cute purple monster named Larry, and he really doesn't want anyone to push that red button. But what could go wrong? Poor Larry, he will be transformed and maybe even duplicated! You'll have to set everything back in order by physically shaking the book not once, but twice.

The Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton

The Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton

Almost ANYTHING written by Sandra Boynton will hold a toddler or preschooler's attention. Boynton is known for her silly books featuring animals doing very zany things. Three of my favorite titles are The Belly Button Book, Moo, Baa, La, La, La, But Not the Hippopotamus, and Barnyard Dance.

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Corduroy by Don Freeman

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Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman is the classic, irresistible story about a cute little teddy bear and his adventures that take him into a department store and through the wash.

Does A Kangaroo Have A Mother Too? by Eric Carle

Does A Kangaroo Have A Mother Too? by Eric Carle

Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too by Eric Carle is a simple and repetitive board book designed for very young toddlers. Does a (fill in the name of an animal here) have a mother too? Yes, yes they do! I recommend this for story time reading but it does quickly become tiresome to parents, so don't buy a copy for home, or you may end up dropping it in a toilet accidentally on purpose.

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon. The bike-riding duck and his jealous barnyard friends are just one example of David Shannon's quirky, clever, and mischievous sense of humor.

Duck becomes pretty skilled at riding his shiny red bike, and all the other animals decide to do follow suit. Bright illustrations, animal sounds that invite participation, and a truly weird plot make this a very engaging read-aloud.

Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

In Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin, the animals on the farm have a hilarious double life! Typing farm animals are almost as silly as a bike-riding duck.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Mo Willems' Pigeon books are all pretty hilarious. These are wildly popular with older preschoolers and up. Again with the animals doing things they are not supposed to!

Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed

Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed

Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed by Eileen Christelow is a short book that follows the well-known action rhyme with cute pictures and makes for fast-paced reading to very young preschoolers and toddlers. Books about action rhymes present familiar subject matter.

Froggy Bakes a Cake is one of 10 or more books in Jonathan London's series about Froggy.

Froggy Bakes a Cake is one of 10 or more books in Jonathan London's series about Froggy.

Any books in the Froggry series by Jonathan London will be entertaining reading in a preschool and early elementary-aged story hour. While too advanced for toddlers, I particularly like Froggy's First Kiss (a book about Valentine's Day) and Froggy Bakes a Cake.

In Froggy Bakes a Cake, the title character attempts to bake something special for his mother's birthday and makes a GIANT mess.

The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone

The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone

The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone is a traditional retelling of the famous folk tale. Folktales generally are suberbly paced, follow a quick-paced story with rising action, have a clever villain, and key phrases that can be repeated over and over. Another title I like is The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury

Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury

Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury is one of THE GREAT children's picture books for presenting during a children's story hour. After you have finished reading this fun book with children, follow a set of paper bear prints through the library for additional fun.

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is a clever concept book with repeated phrases and progressively larger animals also tells a story. A grouchy ladybug tries to bully his way up the food chain, first picking on tiny insects and moving gradually to a giant whale that is so large, the ladybug talks to whale's flipper!

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins and Eric Gurney is a finger-tapping, foot-stomping good time. It is widely appealing to toddlers because, like Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom, you can almost sing the words as you read them.

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson. Wilson's books have rhyming text and repeat phrases that lend to an easy read aloud with preschoolers. Hilda the hippo needs a new hobby, so why not dancing? All of the other animals try to discourage her because hippos don't dance!

Wilson is best-known for her Bear books. Make sure to read A Frog in a Bog, and all of the books in her Bear series, including Bear Snores On, Bear Wants More, Bear Stays Up, and others.

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll is a long but entertaining story by an author with an ear for storytelling. This book is meant to be read aloud. This book could be read during Halloween or for any bedtime-themed story hour, but is for older preschoolers and elementary ages.

The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza by Philemon Sturges

The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza by Philemon Sturges

The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges is a modern retelling of the classic fable. Little Red Hen invites the friends in her city neighborhood to help her make a pizza. Ages 5 and up.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by  Ana Dewdney

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Ana Dewdney

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney. Little Llama gets frustrated when his mama takes him for a long, boring, shopping trip at the Shop-O-Rama. Rhyming text in a situation every toddler and young preschooler can relate to. Check out Llama Llama Red Pajama and Llama Llama Misses Mama too.

No, David! By David Shannon

No, David! By David Shannon

No David! by David Shannon. Little David is ALWAYS getting in trouble. How many ways can his exasperated mom say no? Lots of laughs for this contemporary fave that is full of mischief, short on words, and short enough that even a toddler-aged boy will enjoy it.

Olivia by Ian Falconer

Olivia by Ian Falconer

Olivia by Ian Falconer. Olivia has a fun-filled day any preschooler would envy, from moving the cat, to viewing world-famous pop art. All of the books in the Olivia series are particularly good, but I really enjoy a follow up story in this series by Emily Sollinger called Dinner With Olivia. Olivia may be a bit precocious for some children, but she had me at moving the cat.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond is part of a series of cause and effect stories that have circular plots, ending where they begin. Oher popular titles in this series are If You Give a Cat A Cupcake, and If You Give a Moose a Muffin.

If You're Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera

If You're Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera

If You're Happy and You Know It is one of several brightly colored books based on traditional nursery rhymes by by Jane Cabrera. Nursery rhyme books are great resources for librarians and teachers who want to incorporate music and motion with reading.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Marcus Pfister's The Rainbow Fish is a book about sharing and making friends. Children are developmentally ready to share at between ages three and four. This book was very popular during my story hours.

There's An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer

There's An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer

There's an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer. This children's classic takes a humorous peek under the bed at a little boy's bedtime fears. The rhyming text is reassuring and funny. An enjoyable companion tale by the same author is There's a Nightmare in My Closet.

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda White is a blend of realistic fiction with a touch of fantasy. When the pumpkin truck drops a pumpkin onto Rebecca Estelle's lawn and seeds itself into the garden, she has too many pumpkins. But being practical and kind, Rebecca Estelle turns a problem into a blessing when she shares the bounty from her nuisance pumpkin patch with her neighbors. Appropriate for older preschoolers.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Young Peter in his red snowsuit enjoys playing in a snowy winter wonderland. Keats view of childhood is innocent and yet realistic. The Snowy Day makes reading about playing in the snow an experience of sensory catharsis, all the way to the hot bath and warm snack at the end of the story. Read Keats' other books too!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar gets a tummy ache when he eats all the wrong things in this classic story by Eric Carle. Appropriate for toddlers and up.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

In Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Max is sent to his room and there begins his journey to the land of the Wild Things, where he conquers and becomes king. This iconic children's tale is a childhood favorite of multiple generations of readers.

© 2008 Carolyn Augustine

Comments

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on October 05, 2016:

When my daughter was little she loved my reading books to her before going to sleep. Most of the books we read are not on this list, except Dr. Seuss and the Gingerbread boy. Considering that she's now 25, that should be understandable. This is a lovely list of children's story books.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on October 09, 2011:

Thanks Plainjane, I appreciate your feedback. I am working on breaking up some of my other hubs into shorter articles, perhaps I will do the same with this one. Regards and good luck with your children's book authoring.

plainjane44 from Saint Petersburg, Florida on October 09, 2011:

Good list of books. Your article was a bit too long, but great. I write children books. And I hope one day, my book or books will appear on your list. Hugs and kisses or as the teens say now, XOXO.

Lindsey Whitney on May 05, 2011:

Again, thanks for this great information. I'm going to follow your future hubpages!

rocksandal from victoria bc on April 09, 2011:

Story is the way of any children's heart . You can enter by any children 's heart and you can also motivate any children with good story . Because story always attract children attention and he learn so many things by this. This is duty of every parents and you have done a very perfect act .........................

http://best-self-help-book.biz/

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on May 27, 2010:

Thanks for that Brenda. I honor your many years of service!

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on May 26, 2010:

I read for years in my children's classrooms and the school library. You have some of my favorite books on your list.

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