Favorite Read Alouds for the Primary Classroom
Reading to my students is one of my favorite things to do! And, I love it when my favorite read aloud books quickly become student favorites. So, today I plan to share my favorite read aloud books, as well as some reminders about reading aloud. Ready to get started?
There are about a thousand and one research backed reasons why we should read aloud to our students (of any age). I won't list them all, but here are some of my favorite reasons to read aloud to students:
- It models good reading (fluency, pronunciation, expression).
- It promotes listening comprehension.
- It helps fuel meaningful discussion.
- It makes reading pleasurable.
- It helps struggling readers feel successful.
- It helps foster a love of reading.
- It exposes students to rich vocabulary and descriptive language.
- It encourages students to think and use their imagination.
When reading aloud, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
1. Read the book first. To yourself, that is. Make sure that the content is appropriate. Make sure it serves a purpose. Make sure you like it. There are lots of reasons to read the text before sharing it with your students, so make sure you do.
2. Don't rush when you read. It isn't a race, so read in such a manner that you are modeling good fluency and pronunciation. When you "rush read" (as I like to call it), you trip over the words, you overemphasize words in the wrong place, and you are not modeling good reading.
3. Just do it. Make it happen. Find the time to read to your students. Even if it's only two or three days a week because that's all you can squeeze in (I know, classroom and school demands can be tricky to work around). Just make sure it happens regularly so that you are able to model good reading, facilitate class discussions, develop vocabulary, etc.
Ready for some great book recommendations? Here we go!
Picture books are my all time favorite books to read aloud. When I read a picture book, I delight in the pictures, just like the kids do. I find it very easy for me to "get into character" and use a level of expression that resonates with the kids.
Please, Mr. Panda-This book is great! The text is short, sweet, and to the point, and it is a fast read. Mr. Panda is looking to share his donuts, but every animal he encounters has bad manners. Ultimately, he finds a well mannered animal to share all of his donuts with. It's a great way to remind students that good things can come from using good manners.
I Don't Want to be a Frog- Little frog doesn't want to be a frog. He wants to be a cat, a pig, etc. With the help of a few other characters, he realizes that being a frog really isn't so bad. My favorite kind of books remind students to be happy with who they are, and this book is perfect for sharing that message.
Rude Cakes- Cake has no manners. In fact, he's just plain rude. While the story is funny and entertaining, it can be used to discuss the importance of having good manners and treating others with respect.
Frog on a Log?- This is another easy read aloud. It's filled with great illustrations, lots of rhyming, and it's a bit silly at times. Ultimately, it does show young readers that each animal has its own special place to sit and it's a great tool for working with rhyming, but for my second graders, it was just a fun book to read aloud. They laughed and enjoyed the illustrations. **Yep, sometimes, I pick a book to read aloud simply because it's a fun story. Just don't tell anyone, OK? Hehe.
Last Stop on Market Street- There are so many wonderful things about this story about a boy and his grandmother heading back to the neighborhood after church. Not only does it have vibrant and interesting illustrations on each page, but it sends a message that we should all appreciate where we come from. The boy wonders why he doesn't have the same things as his friends, or why he has to go to the dirty part of town, as he calls it. His grandmother has an answer for every one of his questions and helps him to appreciate and recognize how wonderful his world really is.
The Book with No Pictures- So, technically, this isn't really a picture book. Hehe. But do not let that fool you. The book is full of silly words and lends itself to expressive reading. The kids love hearing this book read aloud. I think they enjoy watching an adult make strange faces as they are forced to read really strange words. Last year, I had one kiddo that could barely contain himself as I read it aloud.
I also have a few favorite chapter books that I share with my students. These reads take a bit longer to get through (obviously), but the students always love them just as much as they love the picture books. Chapter books provide a deeper experience with the characters in a book. They invite the reader to enter another world and see and experience things in a new way.
Mercy Watson - This series is so much fun. Technically, they are beginner chapter books, but I don't care, they are so fun to read. Mercy Watson is pet pig who gets herself into all sorts of silly situations. The plots are easy to follow, there are lots of opportunities for making inferences, and she's just so darn lovable. Once I start reading these books to my class, it doesn't take long before they find their own copies to check out from the school library.
Gooney Bird Greene- Gooney Bird Greene is a girl who knows what she wants. She has an odd sense of fashion and a knack for telling stories. Her stories are over the top, but Gooney only tells stories that are "absolutely true." This book is great for encouraging students to describe a character and it provides an opportunity to help students make connections to their own storytelling (writing).
Lulu and the Brontosaurus- Lulu is a spoiled brat who wants a brontosaurus for her birthday. Her parents tell her no and she sets off to find herself a brontosaurus. When she finally finds one, he wants to make Lulu his pet! In the end, Lulu learns some manners. There are alternate endings to the story, making it a bit interactive and exciting for the students. This story may be outlandish, but it's great for helping students to examine their own feelings and reactions to situations. It's also a great reminder that we don't always get what we want.
Lulu Walks the Dogs- This book is a follow up to the one mentioned above. Lulu finds herself needing to earn some money and decides she'll do so by walking the dogs in her neighborhood. Well, things don't go as smoothly as she'd hoped and she has to put up with her annoying neighbor. Lulu is just as sassy in this books as she is in the first story, but she is tad bit less spoiled.
NOTE: There is a third book in the Lulu series, but after reading it myself, I decided it just wasn't nearly as good as the two mentioned above, so I never read it to my students. I remember there was an illustration/description of a character's appearance that didn't sit well with me, and it just wasn't a memorable, engaging story to follow. So, remember it's always a good idea to read the book to yourself first.
Do you have any favorite read alouds? If so, share them in the comments. I'd love to check them out!
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