Some of my earliest memories are of my dad reading to me. Though he worked two jobs, he never said no to me and my armful of books when he finally was able to sit down for the evening. Even though it was probably the same armful of books that he had read the last night and the night before that and the night before that (etc.), he patiently read them all over again. In fact, I still had The Poky Little Puppy memorized when I started to read it to my own two boys. I also remember loving Hide-Away Puppy and One Kitten Is Not Too Many—we had no pets and I desperately wanted one.
I started reading to my two boys when they were about nine months old (not counting the one-word-a-page board books that we had been sharing since they were able to focus their eyes). Whenever I made a lap, it was time to read old favorites (The Story of Ferdinand and Katy and the Big Snow) and new (King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub and To Market, To Market). When we went to the library, I let them pick out their own books—even when Alex at 4 realized that the library contained more than picture books; there were books on dinosaurs and snakes and poisonous spiders and sharks and bugs, and we read all of them! I know more about snakes than I had ever wanted to know. Nathan’s likes were a bit more in tune with mine, and for him we selected books on birds, turtles, and castles.
I had read to my kids just because I like to read and wanted them to enjoy books—and it was great to snuggle. But it wasn’t until I read Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook (probably the 4th edition) that I realized that reading aloud to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers significantly improved their vocabulary and other language skills and stimulated their imaginations. The 7th and newest edition of this interesting and illuminating book was published in 2013.
And very recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has made its very first recommendation for early literacy education. The organization advocates that, during every clinic visit, doctors should tell parents to read to their children from birth.
Now, most picture books are meant to be read aloud, but there are so many that it can be overwhelming. Here are some of my favorite recent books for preschool to primary grades, all of which have been published in 2014.
The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. 9780316199988.
Bad Dad by Derek Muson. 9780989848831.
Big Bad Baby by Bruce Hall (illus. by Steve Breen). 9780803735859.
Cuckoo! by Fiona Roberton. 9780399164972.
Five Trucks by Brian Floca. 9781481405935.
Found by Salina Yoon. 9780802735591.
Here Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds (illus. by Jeremy Tankard). 9781452124544.
Ninja! by Arree Chung. 9780805099119.
Pardon Me! by Daniel Miyares. 9781442489974.
The Tree House That Jack Built by Bonnie Verburg (illus. by Mark Teague). 9780439853385.
What are some of your favorite read-alouds?