One of my favorite activities, throughout my life and as an educator, is reading to children. I wrote briefly, last year, about an annual tradition in River Forest, where, as a special occasion, teachers would bring their classrooms to the district and I would read The West Texas Chili Monster by Judy Cox and illustrated by John O’Brian. “The children loved the bright green monster on the front cover. The story’s setting on a ranch in West Texas gave me the opportunity to talk about my childhood and where I came from. The children were always eager to jump in and share a bit of their families’ histories.”
Through the years I have developed a running list of some of my favorite books to read aloud to children. The first, most treasured of these, is I Had Trouble In Getting To Solla Sollew, by Dr. Suess. After Larry left for Vietnam, this quickly became a favorite book of Laura’s and mine. I feared my greatest nightmare, losing Larry, was coming true. I began to find it difficult to cope. When I left for treatment at Menninger, I took a copy of the book with me. In the clinic, when my anxiety rose to its highest levels, I would open the book and read it aloud to myself. Dr Suess eased my fears and made me feel closer to Laura. The book ends with, “My troubles are going to have troubles with me.” It’s my favorite line.
Here is my list of 10 great read out loud books:
There are more books than this list, but these are the first that come to mind after my 40 years in education and over my lifetime.
Each of these books has a special memory, some are classics. The book titles are linked to their Goodreads pages which will allow you to read a short summary of the book, view a biography for the author/illustrator and often includes questions and answers about the book. I’ve added some general age guidelines as well.
Not all of these books can be read in just one sitting. A longer book though, is a good excuse to begin a new routine of reading together.
- I Had Trouble In Getting To Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss (Age four plus)
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, Ray Cruz Illustrator (Age nine plus)
- Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (Age nine plus)
- The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, Robert Lawson Illustrator (Age three plus)
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Age three plus)
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd Illustrator(Age one plus)
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (Age six plus)
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Garth Williams Illustrator, Rosemary Wells Illustrator (Age seven plus)
- The Little House Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams Illustrator (Age seven plus)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Age nine plus)
For more information about Read Across America Day visit NEA.org.
Next week I am going to write about writing just in time for National Be Heard Day on March 7th.