Looking for picture books to read aloud at circle time? These children’s story time books to read aloud are sure to entertain kids!
“I want you to be the Home Reading Parent,” my first grader told me. I figured his teacher had told the class about the vacant spot and asked their parents if they were interested.
But when he asked me a second time, I wondered if I should give it a shot.
“Okay, I’ll email your teacher,” I said, “but there’s a chance another parent has already asked.” Except later that night, I received a response from the teacher, delighted I had volunteered.
The job seemed pretty simple. The program encourages students to read books at home for fun, so every month, the Home Reading Parent (that’s me) tallies how many pages they’ve read. Those who turned in their logs automatically receive a pencil and a pizza coupon, while those who read 500 pages or more get a free book as well.
Easy enough—my job would be to tally the numbers, hand out prizes… and apparently read to the class every month.
“The kids love it when a parent comes in to read,” his teacher told me. “It’s totally optional, but it might be something you’ll enjoy.”
I knew a roomful of first graders can get squirmy. They interrupt. And deep inside, I wondered whether they’d enjoy the story times or if it’d be a boring addition to their day.
Turns out, the kids loved it (phew!). I tried to make story times memorable, starting with the books I’d bring to read.
Children’s story time books
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I loved reading to my son’s classroom so much, that I volunteered once more when his little brother entered kindergarten. Being able to read to a roomful of eager students became a highlight of the month.
Not all books lend themselves well to be read aloud to a roomful of kids. I wanted stories to inspire, to make them laugh and think. I wanted them to look forward to story times, to rush home and be inspired to keep reading.
Below are links to the books so you can learn more about them, and you can always search your local library for a copy. I also suggest a few ways to make each book engaging to hook the kids—whether your own or in a classroom—to your every word.
1. Robo Sauce by Adam Rubin
This book was certain to surprise the kids. Robo Sauce shares the story of a boy who wants to turn himself—among many other things—into a robot. Thanks to a few flaps and clever cover design, the book itself turns into a “robot” book. Sure enough, the kids were amazed at the transformation.
2. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
While this book has no pictures, it has plenty of laughs, especially as I was “forced” to read silly words and songs.
I began this session by bringing one of my own books I pulled from my shelf. I asked the kids, “Have you seen books like these that adults read? The ones with no pictures? Well, I brought one, too. Let’s find out if all books with no pictures are boring, or if they could be fun.”
3. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
I truly believe we need more kindness above other traits in this world, and The Invisible Boy shows kids one of the easiest ways to do that. The story centers on Brian, a quiet child in a rambunctious classroom who is often overlooked.
For this story time, I asked the kids many questions, and they responded with their own. One of them asked why Brian has color at the end of the book whereas he was drawn in black and white in the beginning. I asked what they think Brian is feeling and why, as well as what could make him feel better.
The book itself even comes with its own questions you can ask, depending on which page you’re on. An inspiring book that encourages children to lead with empathy.
4. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
I love Beaty’s books for the way her rhymes sound. My son suggested this book, and the kids had a hoot at some of the funny instances, like when Iggy Peck built a tower of dirty diapers. Rhyming books make for awesome read aloud stories, especially if you read it smooth and slow.
I began story time by asking if anyone knew what an architect was. I also changed facial expressions and used hand gestures to show things like smelly, anger, and getting a bright idea.
And finally, I finished the story by asking questions like what had changed in Miss Lila Greer and what the kids had done to solve the problem. We also talked about other solutions they could’ve done, and why they may or may not have worked.
5. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
I was excited to read The Day the Crayons Quit, not only for its humor, but because the book lends itself well to props. You can bring crayons of the colors mentioned in the book, and hold one up for each page you read.
Ask the kids how many of them have crayons, and whether they’ve ever thought about what crayons must think about how they’re used.
6. Amelia Bedelia picture books by Herman Parish
My kids love reading Amelia Bedelia picture books, and they lend themselves well to story time.
The books are filled with jokes, especially using homophones. For instance, Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie tells of how her grandmother said, “Shoo! Shoo!” to try to shoo the birds away. In response, Amelia removes her shoe instead and tries to bat the birds away with it.
7. Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.
I remember reading Miss Nelson Is Missing and feeling a little spooked by the story, in a good way. The classic book lends itself well to different voice changes, from sweet Miss Nelson to cackling Miss Viola Swamp.
Highlight clues in the book to show how Miss Viola Swamp is actually Miss Nelson, and why she had dressed in costume to get her class to behave.
8. Hey, Mama Goose by Jane Breskin Zalben
Kids love guessing, and this book gives just enough hints to see which nursery rhyme character is coming up next! Characters in fairy tales swap homes, from the gingerbread house of Hansel and Gretel to the Three Little Pigs’ brick house.
As you read the story, see if the children can guess which character the book is talking about.
9. This Is Me by Jamie Lee Curtis
Children love to talk about themselves, and this book lends itself to discussing where we come from. At the beginning of the reading session, I asked the kids if they, their parents, or grandparents came here from another city or country.
We talked about the diversity of where people come from and the stories they take with them.
After reading the story, we discussed what they would pack in their suitcases if they were to go to another place. Talk about the things that remind them most of their home, or favorite items they can’t part with.
10. Stars by Mary Lyn Ray
Stars is a beautiful, inspiring read about holding on to the good things in life, especially when the days aren’t so bright. It also shows how we can find stars everywhere, and not just in the sky.
One part of the story includes cutting out a star and keeping it in your pocket for when you need one. You can cut out your own stars and give it to the kids to keep in their pockets as well.
11. The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach
“We read such a funny story today,” my son reported in kindergarten. After much describing and searching, it turned out his teacher had read The Very Impatient Caterpillar. The book features a caterpillar who literally can’t wait to turn into a butterfly.
You’ll hear from the impatient caterpillar and his more patient, though slightly annoyed, friend. This is a fantastic read for switching “voices” and expressions.
12. Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt
Our new school doesn’t have the same story time program, so I wasn’t able to come in every month to read their classrooms. But one of the twins’ classes had a “student of the week” activity where, during your week, you can bring in a “royal reader” to read to the class.
This was our book selection for that day, a hilarious conversation about a boy and his new stuffed animal that’s supposed to help put him to sleep. As the kids discover, the way Sleepy does that is quite unconventional.
The book lends itself well to a read aloud, and in fact, my son and I each read one of the characters. He read the parts of Roderick, the boy, while I read Sleepy’s parts.
Story time tips
Reading to kids besides your own can get tricky. Part of your success is in learning how to manage a roomful of fidgety children. The teacher is instrumental in keeping the class in order, but I also found a few tips to keep the kids engaged:
- If the kids are rowdy, acknowledge the intention. When I was handing out their prizes, I announced how they had read so much more than the previous month. The chatter began, as one kid began talking after another. I acknowledged how proud they must feel, then steered the conversation back to handing out the prizes.
- If a child interrupts while you’re reading, hold your hand up to quiet him. Kids will interrupt, but out of respect for the others, they need to wait for a more appropriate opportunity. Keep reading, then after you’re done, invite questions and comments.
- Ask engaging questions. Kids love giving their opinions, so you might ask, “What do you think is going to happen next?”
I never would’ve thought I’d be creating a list of books of children’s books for story time. As much as I love reading to my kids, reading to a roomful of children is entirely different.
But I had a blast, and those monthly story times became a highlight for me. I loved sharing books my kids and I loved, encouraging his classmates to read at home, and even putting on a few theatrics here and there as I read.
Read these next:
- Top Children’s Books to Get Ready for First Grade
- 20 Easy Activities for 3 Year Olds You Can Do Any Day
- 14 Children’s Books about Peace
- Top Educational Activities for 3 Year Olds
- Why Technology Is Unnecessary for Your Kids (Even In These Modern Times)
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