Books to read out loud to 2-5 year olds
June 10, 2019 12:30 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite books to read out loud to 2-5 year old kids?

I'm doing an outdoor storytime in the gardens where I work. I've gotten good advice on the technical side of things as well as some great garden and outdoor centered books but now I'm just looking for books that are really fun to read out loud with kids.

Again, I'd love to include books that include people of all genders, races, sexuality etc that don't have a non-cis/non-het/non-white person as a token addition.
posted by sciencegeek to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

Sandra Boynton books are always wonderful for this. I love Barnyard Dance and Your Personal Penguin. The latter is also a song, and you can watch former Monkee Davy Jones sing it on youtube.

Boynton's books use animals, not people.
posted by FencingGal at 12:53 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]

Definitely agree on The Book With No Pictures.

Also the Skippyjon Jones books are fun and have a great rhythm.

Dragons Love Tacos. And Dragons Love Tacos 2.
posted by neilbert at 12:55 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Where the Wild Things Are has giant illustrations and not many words, and it's great, truly a classic, but because it was written 55 years ago, maybe not so well-known to your audience. It only has one human character, though.
posted by ubiquity at 1:10 PM on June 10

"Room on the Broom", by Julia Donaldson.
"I Like Myself!" or "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!" by Karen Beaumont. Both are great, though the former might appeal more as it specifically deals with acceptance of diversity.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:12 PM on June 10

The Giant Jam Sandwich has near perfect meter and rhyme, and is a delight to read aloud.
posted by q*ben at 1:14 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]

I always loved "We're going on a bear hunt," it's just one white family, but does have a lot of fun sounds and actions.
posted by stillnocturnal at 1:18 PM on June 10

Listen, Listen
posted by saladin at 1:30 PM on June 10

The wonderfully silly and sing-songy Down the Back of the Chair; full text here, so you can get a sense of the story and rhythm (though of course it doesn't really work without the pictures, but you can see some of them on Amazon).

And I just learned that it seems to be somewhat a classic in New Zealand, since the NZ Ministry of Education named one of its websites after it.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:30 PM on June 10

Quiet, Loud.
posted by Melismata at 1:34 PM on June 10

4 year old boy loves Roadwork so much that he asked the library to order the series (Demolition and Construction). Has mixed race and sex construction crew.

and 2 year old girl is jamming on Goodnight Moon right now.

Both Dragons Love Tacos books are fun.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 1:39 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Ladybug Girl Series
Rosie Revere, Engineer et al by Andrea Beaty
The Madeline series
posted by sacrifix at 1:43 PM on June 10

The Funnybones series is fun to read.
The copy of Duck on a Bike we had fell apart from repeated readings.
posted by Francolin at 1:45 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

I think Dragons Love Tacos is a good one that doesn't rely on being able to see the pictures necessarily.

I also really like Grizzly Boy. (The mother appears to be Asian.)

Thunder Boy, Jr. has Native American main characters and a father-son theme (though be aware of Sherman Alexie's MeToo stuff).

Owl Moon is a good book to read aloud, as fall / winter approaches.

I also love Julian is a Mermaid, but that relies on being able to see the pictures.
posted by slidell at 2:05 PM on June 10

The Mo Willems books are hits in our house too, especially the Pigeon books.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:11 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer.

Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli

Shh! We Have a Plan! by Chris Haughton

Almost all of Jan Thomas' oeuvre

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Noisy Night by Mac Barnett
posted by Knicke at 2:16 PM on June 10

Hazel's Amazing Mother and other Rosemary Wells books.

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton.

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 2:17 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]

Mickey in the Night Kitchen is great fun to read aloud, as is the previously mentioned Where the Wild Things Are. (Note that Mickey is stark naked when he falls out of bed and into batter, and this outrages some people to the point where this is the 25th most banned book in America.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:21 PM on June 10

My nephews loved No no, Joe!, at that age--I think because they were getting told, "No, no!" a lot...
posted by agatha_magatha at 2:57 PM on June 10

The Detective Dog !! Such a great rhythm to the story, brilliant illustrations and the ending has a book thief discovering the wonders of the public library. It's a joy when I get to read this out loud of an evening instead of some turgid PJ Masks comic.
posted by Lluvia at 3:06 PM on June 10

Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies. Meter is everything when reading out loud and a great story.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:11 PM on June 10


Last Stop on Market Street

I also recommend finding an illustrator you like and then reading all of their work.
posted by CMcG at 3:52 PM on June 10

Moon Man. Gorgeous giant pictures, and a simple story that I never forgot.
posted by Calibandage at 4:04 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]

Seconding Mo Willems, but I like Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator and the Elephant and Piggie series the best. (There is a Bird on Your Head is my fave). What Animals Really Like is good. Squid and Octopus Friends for Always. And Bee-Bim Bop
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:58 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

The Rain Came Down
posted by slidell at 5:33 PM on June 10

Oh! For sheer verbal pleasure, check out Peck, Peck, Peck

Today my daddy said to me,
“It’s time you learned to peck a tree.”
"Now hold on tight -- that's very good --
Then peck, peck, peck, peck, PECK the wood."

And so forth, getting into long silly lists of all the things the woodpecker pecked.
posted by slidell at 5:45 PM on June 10

I love to read Me, Jane for the moment when you turn to the last page and it's an actual photo of Jane Goodall holding her hand out to a baby chimp. Little kids usually think it's fiction and they freak out when they see it's a real person.

But if the kids are as young as 2, it's Mo Willems for me, usually Elephant and Piggie. My favorite is Happy Pig Day; I get the kids to jump up and down singing "oinky oink oink!"
posted by BibiRose at 5:56 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

The Pout-Pout Fish

Great rhymes. So much fun to read.
posted by lukez at 9:35 PM on June 10

My all-time favourite for reading aloud with that age-group was Horton Hears a Who.
posted by rd45 at 3:14 AM on June 11

My absolute favorite to read to the kiddo is The Gruffalo. Lots of opportunities for silly voices, a bit of repetition (good for the kiddos), and a great twist. No human characters.

Noodlephant is pretty good and has a social justice perspective.

Super Princess Saves the Night is a good book, fun to read aloud, and features a trans/nonconforming mixed-race superhero as its protagonist (I did a FPP on it!)
posted by duffell at 3:27 AM on June 11

Fox in Socks is basically a book length tongue twister. It's been in my rotation for years, and I still get mixed up sometimes. My daughter and I both enjoy it.
posted by sincarne at 6:07 AM on June 11

Books that are constantly requested by my class (3-4 year olds) and frequently borrowed by the Toddlers (2-3) and the upper classes (4-6):

Anything by Jon Klassen (with or without Mac Barnett) - I Want My Hat Back, Triangle, and Sam & Dave Dig a Hole in particular.

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear and King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin
posted by emmling at 7:49 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for this amazing list.

It is a double thank you because my kid is three and instead of letting my workplace buy the books, I'm buying them myself and bringing them home.
(And I'll get some from the library when he's old enough to not destroy books as much)
posted by sciencegeek at 8:17 AM on June 11

Everyone Poops, Taro Gomi
Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney
Any Dr. Seuss
Have fun!!
posted by GardenDiva at 11:42 AM on June 11

Oops, I forgot one: Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake
posted by emmling at 2:49 PM on June 11

Chicka chicka boom boom

Love you forever (especially if you come up with a tune for the song)
posted by lemniskate at 6:13 PM on June 11

Looking for a Moose is one of our go-to favorites. It’s quite fun, repetitive phrasing, four kids out looking for a moose. There is of course a moose hiding on nearly every page, but the kids don’t see it. Each kid ends up being followed by a different animal, and my son loved finding each animal as well as the moose.

Fox in Socks and the Elephant and Piggie books are really fun to read (especially if you do good voices for the characters!). Anything by Mo Willems, really.

Where the Wild Things Are is a classic (especially fun, when reading the line about “terrible claws”, turning your fingers into terrible claws and delivering a good solid tickle!)

The Frog and Toad series. Highly recommended.

Shel Silverstein’s poetry. We read Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic repeatedly to our little tadpole. He’s 10 and still loves the books. Also great because you can read one or two poems when they are sleepy, or multiple pages of the poems when they are less so.

And while it might be unusual, one of my son’s favorite books when he was pre-verbal was Kipling’s Just So Stories. He would point at it and grunt until I read it. I think he liked the sound of it, even though the words were above his head, and at least one of the stories is PROBLEMATIC so I had to change the words. Not specifically recommending this book per se, but simply noting that it is not at all a bad thing to read them something that is above their level so long as the words have a rhythmicity that the kids find pleasing.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:42 AM on June 12

How Many Trucks Can A Tow Truck Tow by Charlotte Pomerantz.

I read this so many times to my kids when they were little that I've still got it (mostly) memorized! It's really fun to read out loud (the first link goes to a video of someone doing just that).
posted by h00py at 10:54 PM on June 13

« Older Style inspiration for fat queers   |   Looking for sci-fi novel about a second American... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments