Read-Aloud List for Children


By Sofia Cuddeback

Reading out loud to our children has been one of the singular delights of parenting for John and myself. It has been one of the most rewarding ways for us to create a shared, loving, intimate experience with them and among them. This was very much the case when everyone was little, but it stayed the case through the teen years and our experience corroborates recent studies showing that children benefit dramatically from being read to even into their teen years. As a matter of fact, we are discovering that our adult children love read aloud times! Even reading simply hilarious books out loud, that don’t have much deeper meaning, makes a shared experience of laughter and fun. Part of the magic of reading aloud is that you (the parent) have to stop what you are doing and collect your children in a common space (on the couch with as many children tucked under your wings as possible is usually what everyone loves best!) and everyone gets to experience the same thing all together, across all age groups.

I have always been a voracious reader and some of my children are too.  But other of my children, some due to physical challenges, have not been inclined to read books.  Reading out loud has given those children the opportunity to be formed and enriched by beautiful language, compelling stories and the rich, imaginative life that wonderful books spark even though they might not have read the books themselves.

Additionally, you may suppose that voracious readers, aka bookworms, don’t need to be read aloud to. Not so. My experience is that when I hear a book out loud, it’s almost like I am reading it for the first time. So many different textures and details stand out to me that I never notice when the words are bounced around in my head. Maybe that’s actually because for us voracious readers, we actually bypass the words and just translate the text immediately to concepts.  The words are an important part of reading, AS words!  The importance of words cannot escape us when we consider that the Second Person of the Trinity chooses to identify himself as “the Word,” not “the concept.”

Many people have done outstanding work on the topic of reading aloud to children.  The podcast Read Aloud Revival is an excellent resource. I would particularly recommend the first episode, “Reading Aloud to Older Kids, a Conversation with Andrew Pudewa.” The Enchanted Hour by Megan Cox Gurdon makes a compelling argument for why reading out loud is good for everyone.

There are so many books in print now with excellent book lists. This is a list of my favorite books to read aloud with our children. Of course, this list is not exhaustive; there are many other wonderful books out there. These are the ones we have loved. I will list the books according to age appropriateness. Some books farther down the list will be good to read aloud to mixed age groups.  You probably will need to experiment with your family to see what works. But always remember, beautifully illustrated children’s books with a good story are always appealing to read aloud to children of any age. You will be surprised how eagerly your 12-year-old will sit down when you are reading to one of the younger children. Our 10-year-old son is the youngest in the family and I am not reading to someone younger than he. I make a special effort to periodically take one of these more “juvenile” books off the shelf and invite him to read it together. He never refuses. 🙂 

My criteria for any picture books are that the text be beautiful, the story intellectually and emotionally stimulating and the illustrations be beautiful. I’ll be adding more of our favorites over time, so come back to check for new additions!

For a how-to on reading aloud, see John’s three-part video series, Becoming a Read-Aloud Leader. To make a keepsake journal tracking your child’s reading, see How to Make a Reading Journal for Kids.


Picture Books

Elsa Beskow
  • Pelle’s New Suit
  • Children of the Forest
  • Peter in Blueberry Land
  • Woody, Hazel and Little Pip
  • Peter’s Old House
  • The Sun Egg
  • The Flowers’ Festival
  • Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, Aunt Lavender
  • Aunt Brown’s Birthday
  • Peter and Lotta’s Christmas
  • Peter and Lotta’s Adventure
  • Uncle Blue’s New Boat
Tasha Tudor
  • A Time to Keep (probably one of John’s favorite picture books to read to our young children. I love it too. And all of the children have the most nostalgic memories of reading that book)
Jan Brett
  • The Mitten
  • The Gingerbread Baby
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Belioz, the Bear
  • The Trouble with Trolls
  • Armadillo Rodeo
  • Honey, Honey, Lion!
Donald Hall
  • The Ox Cart Man, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Barbara Cooney
  • Chanticleer and the Fox adapted from Chaucer and ill. By Barbara Cooney
Astrid Lindgren
  • Springtime in Noisy Village ill. By Ilon Wikland
Peggy Rathman
  • 10 Minutes til Bedtime
  • Goodnight Zoo
Richard Scary
  • Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
  • Busy Busy World
  • What Do People Do All Day?
  • Funniest Storybook Ever
Mary Ann Hoberman
  • The Seven Silly Eaters (my personal favorite, picture book)
Beatrix Potter (of course!)
  • All of them, except Pigling Bland, which is a little lengthy and a little more sinister
Karl Larsson (with text by Lennart Rudstrom)

(my absolute favorite, but they are not really children’s books, nor are they fictional, and are more of chapter books, but not really… these are the books that the Art Nouveau era, Swedish artist, Karl Larsson, put together when he first started painting his home and his family.  They are some of the most beautiful watercolor paintings of home, farm and family!  These books are delightful to flip through with very young children because the paintings are very soothing but at the same time contain much to examine and much scope for the imagination. The text is wonderful too for the slightly older child as well as for the adults as it tells what is happening in the paintings and the background.  A Farm is particularly this way.  There are many different versions of these books, but I would recommend this particular printing.  It is out of print but fairly available and worth the hunt!)

  • A Family: with paintings by Karl Larsson and a text by Lennart Rudstrom
  • A Home: with paintings by Karl Larsson and a text by Lennart Rudstrom
  • A Farm: with paintings by Karl Larsson and a text by Lennart Rudstrom

Picture Books Transitioning to Chapter Books

Tasha Tudor
  • Corigiville Fair
Walter D. Edmonds
  • The Matchlock Gun
Anton Chekov
  • Kashtanka, ill. Genady Spirin
Marguerite de Angeli
  • Yonnie Wondernose
Margaret Hodges
  • St. George and the Dragon, ill. Trina Schart Hyman

Chapter Books with Illustrations

Kate Seredy
  • Philomena, ill. Kate Seredy
Ruth Sawyer
  • Christmas Anna Angel ill. Kate Seredy

  • The Year of the Christmas Dragon (I know, the title sounds odd, but this is a wonderful book that in the end describes the beautiful Mexican Christmas tradition of las posadas. Great illustrations)

Lucy Fitch Perkins

Lucy Perkins has a large series of books about twins from different cultures which describe the customs and geographies of that culture.  These were written for schools in the early 1900’s and have graded levels of reading.  These are my particular favorites.

  • The Dutch Twins (1st/2nd grade listening level; enjoyable for older children as well)
  • The Scotch Twins (4th/5th grade listening level;enjoyable to older children as well. Fewer illustrations)

Chapter Books

Ruth Sawyer
  • The Way of the Story-teller (not itself a children’s book, but a fascinating book about the craft of story-telling which includes many stories from various cultures, esp. Irish, as examples of good story-telling

Marguerite de Angeli
  • Thee Hannah
  • Lion in the Box
  • Copper-toed Boots
  • The Black Fox of Lorne
Rummer Godden
  • The Kitchen Madonna

  • The Story of Holly and Ivy

  • The Doll’s House

Elizabeth Borton de Treviño
  • I, Juan de Pareja
Elizabeth Coatsworth
  • Away Goes Sally

  • Five Bushel Farm

  • The Fair American

Kate Seredy
  • The Good Master

  • The Singing Tree (sequel to The Good Master)

  • The White Stag

Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Caddie Woodlawn

  • Baby Island

  • Winter Cottage

Valenti Angelo
  • Nino

  • The Honey Boat

  • Angelino and the Barefoot Saint

Astrid Lingren
  • The Children of Noisy Village
  • Lotta of Troublemaker Street
  • Emile and the Soup Tureen
  • Bill Bergson Master Detective
  • Bill Bergson Live Dangerously
  • Bill Bergson and the White Rose Rescue
  • (these are the titles of the English printings of these books, which are sadly hard to find now. Oxford University Press now prints them under the original Swedish title Kalle Blomqvist.  Please see further description to asses appropriateness as two of these books involve murder mysteries)
  • Seacrow Island
Erich Kastner
  • Emil and the Detectives
Meindert de Jong
  • Wheel on the School
  • Far Out the Long Canal
Marie Swigan
  • The Snow Treasure
Hilda van Stockum
  • The Winged Watchman
E. Nesbitt
  • The Railway Children
  • The Treasure Seekers
Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Treasure Island
  • The Black Arrow
  • Kidnapped
Patrick McManus

Not high literature, but pure humor!

  • Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink
  • They Don’t Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?
  • (and all the other story collections)
L. M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Green Gables

  • Anne of Avonlea

  • Jane of Lantern Hill

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