When you're an avid reader and bookworm, the thought of reading out loud to your children comes before the pee has even dried on your pregnancy test. You are overcome with the possibilities, determined to find the best books to read aloud to your child so that you can introduce them to the magic of literature and words. I mean, picture books are beautiful and bright and fun, but when those books also include a stunning vocabulary and words that seem to spin out of the pages like freshly made cotton candy... well. It's just the best.
Reading to your children should happen anytime, but if you're looking for an extra reason to celebrate books, Feb. 1 is this year's World Read Aloud Day. According to the website, the day is meant to encourage everyone to share stories as a means of advocating for literacy for everyone. It should be a right, noted the website, and I couldn't agree more.
So if you're hoping to find some perfect books to celebrate World Read Aloud Day, or you just want to expand your library to include books meant to be read out loud, here's your chance. These 23 are carefully chosen for specific reasons, and make up a diverse list. There's literally something for everyone — including you, the one your children are begging to read "just one more."
1. 'The Twits' by Roald Dahl
When I was a kid, I read The Twits by myself and fell madly in love with Roald Dahl (and the absolute grossness of the Twits). This one in particular is great to read aloud though for all of the details in the characters and the fun voices you can do as the Twits. (Please make sure to read out the illustrated diagram of what lives in Mr. Twit's beard.)
2. The 'Harry Potter' Series by J.K. Rowling
I mean, how much convincing do you need to read The Harry Potter series out loud to your kids? With so many characters and fun latin-based words to read (EXPELLIARMUS! can only be said in a shout), your kids are going to fall in love with Rowling's world.
3. 'The Book with No Pictures' by B.J. Novak
My daughter just received The Book with No Pictures for Christmas, and even if I wasn't in love with B.J. Novak because of The Office, I would be now. This book is just hilarious. It literally has no pictures, so it teaches kids how certain words combined together (BOOBOOBUTT) can be hilarious.
4. 'The Monster at the End of This Book' by Jon Stone
OK, this might be my favorite book to read to my daughter. She's 4, and this one has been a favorite for nearly three years. She still laughs out loud at The Monster at the End of This Book, and I get to perfect my Grover voice. (It sounds a lot like Julia Child, TBH.)
5. 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl
Because what better book to read out loud than a book about a girl who loves books? Matilda is all about magic, which is a fun enough subject to read out loud, but it also has some pretty great characters to give voice to, like Ms. Trunchbull.
6. 'I Want My Hat Back' by Jon Klassen
When I asked my husband which book was his favorite to read to our daughter, he said it was the Jon Klassen favorite, I Want My Hat Back. Seriously, the voices are too fun to do, but you have to read this out loud to appreciate the hilarious illustrations.
7. 'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak
And Where the Wild Things Are was my husband's other favorite. It's a classic.
8. 'The Day the Crayons Quit' by Drew Daywalt
Confession: this one is long, so sometimes when my daughter requests it, I'm kind of meh — Mama just wants to go watch The Office. But The Day the Crayons Quit is just so good. A different voice for each character? Yes please.
9. 'Dragons Love Tacos' by Adam Rubin
It's not often I find a children's book hilarious, but Dragons Love Tacos definitely makes me belly laugh out loud. The illustrations are great, but the story itself is what makes everyone love it. Plus saying "buckets of tacos, pantloads of tacos" is really fun.
10. 'The Day the Babies Crawled Away' by Peggy Rathmann
The Day the Babies Crawled Away is the sweetest story about a day at the fair and all the hijinks that ensue when the babies start chasing after things. It is cute and silly, and your kids will love hearing all about it.
11. 'Extra Yarn' by Mac Barnett
"On a cold afternoon in a cold little town" is how Extra Yarn starts, and it instantly pushes you into a magical world. The illustrations are especially beautiful, but oh the story — it's lovely.
12. 'Rosie Revere, Engineer' by Andrea Beaty
Oh, hello Rosie Revere, Engineer. You need the story of a feminist, and this one is just super sweet to read. Plus with words like "eaves," "engineer," and "treasure," your kid's vocab is exploding.
13. 'The Gruffalo' by Julia Donaldson
Ugh, The Gruffalo is another favorite. The descriptions of the Gruffalo alone are worth reading out loud — "terrible tusks and terrible claws" — but the perfect rhyming is great, too. (Add all Julia Donaldson to this list actually.)
14. 'Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale' by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale is a story every parent knows and/or fears, and the read aloud aspect really nails the emotions of it. Just read it. Trust me.
15. 'Go, Dog. Go!' by P.D. Eastman
If you know, you know. With repeated questioning in Go, Dog. Go!, bright illustrations, and all of those different dogs, your kids are going to fall in love.
16. 'Green Eggs and Ham' by Dr. Seuss
A classic in every sense of the word, Green Eggs and Ham is the ultimate Dr. Seuss book. Rhymes galore and the hilarious antics of Sam-I-Am will have you wanting to re-read this book for all the bedtimes forever and ever.
17. 'What The Ladybird Heard' by Julia Donaldson
You had to know another Julia Donaldson book was going to be on this list, right? What the Ladybird Heard? will introduce your children to all those animal sounds they'll never get enough of, and the sounds you'll actually enjoy making.
18. 'How Do You Wokka-Wokka?' by Elizabeth Bluemle
The name alone for How Do You Wokka-Wokka? should make you want to read it out loud, but the jazz rhymes and the fun rhythm of the book will definitely make you want to.
19. 'Horton Hatches the Egg' by Dr. Seuss
OK, so maybe Horton Hatches the Egg is the ultimate Dr. Seuss, too. Everyone loves the story of Horton, but reading it out loud with those fun rhymes and the chant of "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant" is just top notch.
20. 'Huggy Kissy/Abrazos y besitos' by Leslie Patricelli
Huggy Kissy/Abrazos y besitos is the perfect addition to your library if you want to introduce your children to another language. Sweet, simple, and bilingual.
21. 'Olivia' by Ian Falconer
My daughter is 100 percent obsessed with Olivia, and the series has taught her words like "exhausting," "eavesdropping," and "partial truths and misinformation." I mean, it's hilarious — and so are Olivia's antics.
22. 'Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes' by Eric Litwin
If your kids haven't been introduced to Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, it's time. Pete is a favorite among the pre-schooler set, but you'll love his story, too. This character just needs to be brought to life with a read aloud session.
23. 'Chicken Sunday' by Patricia Polacco
Anything by Patricia Polacco deserves to be read aloud, but especially Chicken Sunday. If you want a book that transports you to another world while making you feel as homey and secure as possible, it's this one. "How we loved to hear Miss Eula sing. She had a voice like slow thunder and sweet rain." Swoon.