Are you searching for read aloud books for kids? I’ve done daily read alouds as a classroom teacher to my students and to my own children — from birth up until they were in 8th grade!
Here, you’ll discover the best books for kids of all ages, whether they’re babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary ages, or middle schoolers reading picture books, chapter books, middle grade books, or nonfiction books.
The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children
Did you know that reading aloud builds many literacy skills and gives children a solid literacy foundation for future reading success?
Not only is reading aloud the foundation for literacy development, but it’s SO good for developing relationship bonds with adults and children and growing readers
Reading out loud helps children learn new words. As a child builds their vocabulary by listening to stories, they also start to understand vocabulary and language patterns.
Think about all the benefits of reading books aloud. You’re sharing special time, building a love of reading, improving vocabulary, introducing story structure and literary elements, making complex ideas more accessible, improving reading comprehension, modeling fluency, and setting the foundation for literacy development. What’s not to love?
Even better, it’s not complicated. And anyone can do it.
You don’t need a fancy degree or specialized skills. Just the ability to read a book.
Don’t forget, rereading a book can be goldmine for young readers. It builds familiarity with important literacy concepts such as understanding story structure, making predictions, noticing the illustrations, making meaning of the text, and more.
How can I find time to read aloud to my kids?
You want to read aloud to your children, but you’re busy. So how can you find time for your children to hear stories?
- When you’re busy, you can help children hear stories orally with audiobooks or Vooks.
- You can attend a library storytime.
- Read to your kids while they’re eating meals.
- Read at bath time. (Be careful of water & books!)
- Ask a grandma or sibling to help out. Even a video call read aloud can work.
- Try to find 10 minutes a day minimum. Even if you have to cut something out.
What are the best read aloud books?
Guess what!? Another thing that makes reading out loud to children so accessible is that ANY book is a good book to read aloud!
Clearly, there are some books that kids like better or that have richer imagery and language, but there is not one magic book that all kids love equally because all kids are different with different interests. Plus, developmentally, you’ll want to carefully choose a book that your young reader can comprehend — only a few grade levels above their independent reading, if they are readers.
You might be surprised to learn that some children’s books are more popular read aloud choices than others. Books that most kids love and so do their adults. Because teachers who read aloud to students are just as important as parents and caregivers who read aloud to children.
I’ll share the most popular read aloud books for each grade and age with you on the read-aloud book lists below. These book lists lists share the best books for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kids in elementary and middle school.
Finally, whenever possible, let your child choose the book to read or the order in which you read the books. You might give them some options but let the child have the final say-so or at least trade off with book selection. This builds ownership and buy-in.
Remember, picture books make great read aloud choices for almost any age. I like to keep picture books in the read-aloud mix until the end of Elementary school in grade five or six. The vocabulary in most picture books is more complex than you might think, too.
Only introduce chapter books and then, middle grade books, when you feel your children are ready for longer books whose story spans several days or weeks. Can your child remember the storyline from one day to the next? Try a short chapter book and see how it goes to tell if they are ready.
Personally, I prefer to wait to read chapter books to kids until at least kindergarten, around age 5 or 6, because I don’t want kids to skip ahead and miss the richness of picture books.
For children who are ages 7 and older who are ready for longer novels, help them pick the best middle grade book choices that appeal to their interests.
How to Pick Your Next Read Aloud Book
You’ll see many amazing books on my book lists. Let me share with you some ways to decide what to read based more specifically on age.
Read Aloud Books For Pre-Readers Ages 0 – 5 (Toddlers, Preschoolers)
For young kids, you want to expose them to the world of books — all the books you possibly can! From counting to humor to nonfiction, there is no picture book that isn’t valuable to read aloud in some way. Look for interactive books with pictures that appeal to your children.
See what your children like, keep introducing kids to new authors, genres, and illustrators, and… just keep reading!
Read Aloud Books For Readers Ages 6 to 13 (1st – 8th Grade)
My husband and I read to both our kids until they were in 8th grade! And those times were special. It was kind of like a book club! We bonded over a shared novel and our reactions to it. I kind of miss it now that they’re teenagers.
When I taught in elementary school grades, I read aloud to students multiple times a day. Sometimes for enjoyment, other times for a mentor text to teach a concept, skill, or strategy, or other times to learn about a topic or historical period. My students always loved our read-aloud time! (And they hated it if I had a sub who didn’t do the voices right!)
So how do you pick a book for your elementary school and middle school children or students in grades K – 8?
I recommend that you read the book description and review first so you know the gist of the story as well as the topics and themes.
Then consider these three important tips:
1. Pick a Book with a Slightly Harder Reading Level Than Your Reader Can Read Independently
A child’s listening comprehension is generally higher than their own reading comprehension abilities. Listening to you read them a challenging text introduces new vocabulary words that build background knowledge for their growing success as a reader and writer.
2. Introduce a New Book Series They Can Read Independently
If you parent or teach kids who aren’t finding a good book to read, use the read-aloud book to hook them on a new series. You can just read the first chapter of a book OR read the entire first book in a series
First Chapter Friday is one way to do this. Read one chapter. Then stop. Honestly, I like this so much! Only reading one chapter gives kids a taste of the book as well as the opportunity for a child to read a book on their own.
The Global Read Aloud can be a fun option for students worldwide.
3. Choose a Book That Covers a Topic, Theme, or Genre That Aligns with Your Learning Goals
Are you learning about friendship or a historical period, or maybe your child want a new pet or to learn a new skill? Tie in your learning goal with a good read aloud book.
I think you’re ready to dive into the lists. Let’s go!
Best Read Aloud Books
Click on the age group link and you’ll go to the list for that age. Every list includes a free pdf download for your convenience.
Remember that in a pinch, you can look online (YouTube) to find free read aloud videos from teachers and bloggers. I still question how they’re getting away with the copyright protection but, until they’re taken down, it’s an option.
Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers Books
Get in the habit of reading children’s books every day to little kids as soon as you can. It’s so beneficial long term to share stories with our kids, and makes a wonderful time of bonding. Interactive books are good choices.
Elementary Books, Grades 1 – 6
Find a good read aloud book to read to your elementary grade readers in Kindergarten through 5th or 6th grade, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, or librarian.
Middle School Books, Grades 7 – 8
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