Best Read-Aloud Books by Age

To foster a love of storytime and reading in your child, reading aloud is extremely helpful. Reading one-on-one, with multiple children, or with the entire family creates special memories and centers positive attitudes around books. 

Even if you already know reading aloud is important, it can be hard to know what to read with your child. Depending on their age, read-aloud books can include anything from short picture books to early chapter books. is here to help you choose some engaging options! Here’s a list of some of the best read-aloud books to try. 

Read Aloud Picture Books for Preschool and Pre-K

Preschoolers typically enjoy books that are engaging enough to get through in one sitting (about 10-20 minutes). Here are some pre-K picture books you can read aloud to your child or students.

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

The Circus Ship is a read-aloud picture book that’s compelling and delightful for all ages. After a boat full of circus animals becomes shipwrecked on a remote island, they experience distrust and rejection from locals. The animals gradually win the islanders’ trust out of kindness and courage, eventually forming a unique, vibrant community. 

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

This read-aloud is a funny, engaging story about Duncan’s crayons who go on strike after feeling overworked and underappreciated. After empathizing with each unique crayon and realizing the value of these precious tools, Duncan draws a beautiful illustration that respects every color. The moral lesson teaches readers about acceptance and appreciation.

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O’Malley

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude is a one-of-a-kind picture book that tells a kid-created fairy tail through two different lenses. A boy and a girl try to share their ideas in conflicting styles, as reflected by the pictures in the book. This is a fun, interesting storybook about creativity and coming together. 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

A well-known classic, this picture book follows Alexander through a series of uncomfortable events on his “worst day ever.” The book’s honest portrayal of his frustration and negative emotions comforts the reader (or listener) in recognizing they’re not the only one who has bad days. Plus, at the end of the day, there’s always a chance to start over tomorrow. 

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

The Paper Bag Princess follows Princess Winnifred who rescues a prince from a fiery dragon. It’s a charming, inspiring story about inner strength and the reality that girls are strong—boys don’t always have to be the ones defeating the dragon. 

Kindergarten Books to Read Aloud

In kindergarten, kids become more excited and familiar with books. Since they begin to read their first words and engage in more complex storylines, you can read at least 20-30 minutes per day with your child. 

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

Suitable for early kindergarten, this story about a pigeon on a mission teaches us about persistence and bravery. A pigeon tries to convince a bus driver to let him drive, which results in a humorous interaction between the two. Because there are parts of repetitive text, this real-aloud makes for a great participation book so kids can respond and repeat highlights of the story.

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is a silly, cute portrayal of a young dinosaur who has to learn the importance of kindness and self-control. Tempted to eat her human classmates, young Penelope soon learns the value of stopping to think before she acts while also considering the inherent value of others. The illustrations alone will warm hearts.

The Cool Bean by Jory John

An “uncool” bean wants to fit in but can’t quite live up to the cool beans’ style. Failing to replicate his peers, this bean stops trying and instead focuses on being himself. To his surprise, the cool beans respond by pointing out that real “coolness” comes from being one’s kind, genuine self. The story teaches kids about individuality and mutual acceptance through a comical message.

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman

Swirl by Swirl captivates young readers through a non-fictional exploration of spirals and swirls in nature. From galaxies to seashells to the human ear, kids learn to view the fascinating world around them thanks to this book’s beautiful photos and prose. Bonus points to this book for giving us all a memorable lesson in the observable patterns in nature. 

The Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborne

The Magic Treehouse book series follows Jack and Annie, two siblings who come across a magical treehouse in their yard. Thanks to its magic, they can adventure through time and space to various historical locations found in books! Read the series chapter by chapter to your child or classroom for an unforgettable literacy experience.

Best Read Aloud Chapter Books for Elementary Schoolers

When early readers enter chapter book territory, it’s still helpful to read aloud to them or take turns reading. Here are some early elementary books to consider. 

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

This chapter book series follows Ramona Quimby, a third grader, through all the challenges and joys of her life as an 8-year-old. It’s a relatable series that encourages kids through common childhood discomforts. 

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Louis is a mute swan who longs to befriend other swans. Thanks to his determination and thoughtful nature, he learns to communicate despite his limitations—ultimately finding acceptance, music, and true love. 

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

A professional house painter, Mr. Popper randomly receives a penguin in the mail. Unaware of what to do, he ends up enjoying an adventure of befriending penguins and transforming his life. 

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax is a fox who is rescued by Peter, a young boy. The two develop a close friendship but then become separated after Peter’s father releases Pax back into the wild. While his father is away at war, Peter seeks to reunite with his beloved friend while Pax learns to adapt to the challenges of his life in the wild. If your child loves this book, enjoy the sequel, Pax, Journey Home.

Help Your Child Develop a Love for Reading

Reading aloud to your child is one of the best things you can do to foster a love for reading. By modeling fluency, engaging in fun stories together, and spending quality time with them, you set a positive example of how reading brings joy to life.

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