book list, humor, read-aloud

Book List: Read Alouds

Don’t Blink (Random House for Young Readers)
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by David Roberts

For ages: 3-7
One of the most fun things about books made for reading aloud is that they engage early readers in a manner that helps reinforce the joy of reading. Don’t Blink is a perfect starter and a great bedtime read. The narrator, a big-headed owl, asks the reader not to blink. However, if they do, they must turn the page. The little owl keeps trying to help the reader with suggestions and aids to stop blinking on the page. As you know, this will, of course, fail and so by the end, children will be laughed out and relaxed, ready for sleep. One of the standard tropes with these read-aloud books is simple pictures and sentences. This is no exception making it a book that won’t intimidate reluctant readers.

Stuck (Philomel Books)
Written & Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

For ages: 3-7
Irish writer-illustrator Oliver Jeffers has such a clever sense of humor, and it’s on full display here in the silly, bite-size Stuck. A boy named Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree and wants to get it down. Simple enough. His decision to keep throwing increasingly ridiculous things up into the tree to get the kite down is where the laughs begin. At first, they are small and inanimate. By the end, he’s chucking a bucket of paint, the milkman, a lighthouse, and even a whale into the tree. Jeffers’s writing plays as a highly deadpan narration. It should be read as such to elicit laughs from your audience. This is one of those books that will become a treasured favorite re-read.

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet (Dial Books)
Written by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by Bob Shea

For ages: 3-7
Gilbert is a goldfish who wants a pet of his own. He doesn’t limit himself based on living in a fishbowl and imagines himself able to handle any pet a human could. A dog comes to the house, and Gilbert loves him, but the loud barking brings our fish friend back to reality. A curious mouse approaches the bowl but runs away when he realizes Gilbert isn’t a piece of cheese. A fly is quickly taken out of the picture, thanks to a swatter. Throughout these encounters, Gilbert questions if he can handle a pet. This makes for a great read-aloud due to all the predictions opportunities. With each pet comes a moment where you can ask your little readers what they think will happen and why.

There’s a Monster in Your Book (Random House Books for Young Readers)
Written by Tom Fletcher
Illustrated by Greg Abbott

For ages: 3-7
There’s a Monster in Your Book begins with a cute little creature munching away on the corner of a page. The unseen narrator implores the reader to help him get rid of this uninvited guest. Readers are asked to shake, spin, and tilt the book to knock him out. It gets amusing when readers will need to blow, shout, and tickle the monster as he clings tighter. Eventually, the narrator realizes it’s much better to keep the monster in the book than have him running around their room. This is a fun, innocent tale that will command young readers’ attention. The book provides many opportunities for movement and laughter but eventually transitions readers back into a calm state.

The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z With Bonus Letter Z! (Flying Dolphin Press)
Written & Illustrated by Steve Martin and Roz Chast

For ages: 3-7
Comedian Steve Martin brings his sense of humor to this children’s alphabet book. Each two-page spread includes an alliterative couplet featuring the spotlighted letter and a very busy image bringing that couplet to life. There are many details, all tied to the featured letter, in the picture that make revisits to stare at the pictures very likely. This won’t click with every person, but for those who share Martin’s sensibilities, they’ll have a lot of fun. There are references to poop and other things that could be considered tasteless. Still, I think they’re funny, and I believe this book is a clever, creative little read.

The Book With No Pictures (Dial Books)
Written by B.J. Novak

For ages: 5-8
It doesn’t sound too interesting, a children’s picture book with no pictures; however, comedian/actor B.J. Novak provides a script for a lively narrator to bring to life. The book even lacks an author portrait, describing what Mr. Novak looks like instead. There’s no narrative either; the book is just words sometimes with colorful typography. So what exactly is this book then? It’s a way for an adult to allow themselves to look silly and help self-conscious young readers see how much fun it can be to read with emotion. The reader, via the text, will beg the children in the audience to let them off the hook avoid being too silly. But of course, that’s not what the kids want, so things get wilder.

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Written by Julie Falatko
Illustrated by Tim Miller

For ages: 5-8
Writer Julie Falatko plays with readers’ pre-conceived notions as she introduces us to Snappsy. The narrator tells us what a vicious predator he is, while the pictures by Tim Miller directly contrast this. Even Snappsy speaks up, telling the narrator he gets his food from the grocery store, not hunting down weak animals. Eventually, the narrator forces Snappsy into having a party, and the alligator goes along. The narrator is brought into the story at the end and gives up trying to frame Snappsy as a threat. This is an excellent introduction to unreliable narration for our young readers. Snappsy breaks the fourth wall, addressing the person holding the book and asking them to see if what they are being told is the truth or not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s