As you know, reading together as a family is so important. But what are the best family favorite kids’ books to read aloud when you have children of different ages under five, from toddlers to preschoolers?
Reading aloud children’s books builds literacy skills and a love of reading; plus, it nurtures the family bond. Bonding over books is my love language, for sure!
If you have multiple kids, here are some quick tips for picking out family favorite kids books to read aloud. Because you want to keep all the children listening engaged when you’re reading aloud to them! So which read aloud books are best? Look for books with these qualities.
Picture books with elaborate art or bright colors are usually a hit. The illustrations give children of all ages something to delve into.
“Just Right” Length
Books that are very “wordy” or long will lose younger listeners. (Especially if the art isn’t engaging.) Kids’ books to read that are too short might not be enough for older readers. Go for a mid-length book with a few sentences on each page.
A Child-Led Choice
Having each child pick out a book for storytime is a great way to boost interest. Put out a stack and let each child choose one. (Or two, or a handful, which is what happens in my house!)
Reading Together Option
For older children who are already reading or learning how to read, give them a chance to read out loud. You can have one book on their reading level that they read to everyone. This is a great way to boost reading skills and family engagement!
Make storytime active! Play movement games. If the story is about an animal, become that animal. Every time a story repeats a certain word, have a mini 10-second dance party. Or bring things to storytime like art supplies, stuffed animals, or blocks. It’s ok for children to play and listen at the same time!
Family Favorite Kids’ Books to Read: Picture Books
Here are some family favorite kids’ books to read aloud to growing readers.
Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima
Fun for anyone who loves narwhals and unicorns, the ocean and the land! This is such a cute book and is engaging enough for younger listeners while also being a wonderful story for older children too.
Duck Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
Spark a friendly family debate with this one! Is the picture a duck, or is it a rabbit? Everyone can decide for themselves. One of our favorite kids’ books to read, with clever artwork that will get everyone talking. (Use to talk about perspective!)
Miss. Turie’s Magic Creatures by Joy Keller and Richard Watson
What family doesn’t want a magical creature for a pet?! Take a very magical trip through Miss. Turie’s pet shop and find the creature just right for your family. This one is fun and not too long, with a fantastic glossary at the end for a deeper dive into mythological creatures.
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
I have to admit this is one of my family’s favorite picture books of all time! Mr. Tiger is tired of being proper. He wants to go wild! This book gives everyone a chance to let loose and be themselves. Fun for all ages, even adults!
Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor
When Snail spies a cabbage across the road, he is determined to get to it. Even if crossing the road is a big–and dangerous–job for a snail! This one is longer for a toddler, but the silly antics and adorable art will keep everyone wanting more. If you like this one, Corey R. Tabor has many great books for the whole family (and new readers)!
If I Had A…(series) by Alex Barrow and Gabby Dawnay
There is sure to be an animal that appeals to everyone in this sweet series! These kids’ books to read are all equally enjoyable, with great rhymes and cute art. Simple enough for a toddler but entertaining enough for older children. Also, pick a book to read from this series if you’re looking for active storytime read aloud books!
Abuela by Arthur Dorros and Elisa Kleven
A girl daydreams of adventures with her grandmother. Simple yet engaging story that appeals to all ages. Who doesn’t daydream of soaring through the clouds? The art in this book is so vibrant it brings the story to life.
Just In Case You Want To Fly by Julia Fogliano and Christian Robinson
Kooky and cute, this kids’ book to read is a hoot for all ages with no linear story to follow and adorable art. Beginning readers might have fun reading this one out loud to the whole family. This family read aloud book would make a great bedtime story, too.
Family Favorite Kids’ Books to Read: Chapter Books
What are great books to read aloud if you want a longer chapter book but not the length or difficulty of a middle grade book to read? These are two good books that my early elementary-age kids and students loved.
Mr. Poppers Penguins by Florence Atwater and Richard Atwater
Is this chapter book on the older side? Yes. Is some of it outdated? Sure. But is it a crowd-pleaser? Definitely! I’ve read this to my own kids as well as many different classrooms, from preschool to first grade, with just a little editing here and there. It’s always a hit!
Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro and Marian Lindsay
This chapter book series is one of my family’s favorites, and Melissa’s girls loved this series, too! Science concepts mixed with magical creatures? Yes, please! Follow budding scientist Zoey and her spunky cat Sassafras as they help all kinds of creatures using scientific methods. Most of which are learned from Zoey’s scientist parents. These kids’ books to read are easy to understand and great for all ages, from preschool and up.
However you do storytime, it’s great when it can be as a whole family. The love of reading starts well before the skill of reading, so make sure to nurture it with some family favorite read alouds!