Reading books has long been known to be important in developing language, comprehension, and creativity, for anyone of any age.
The benefits of reading out loud to children are not as well-known, but are possibly even more crucial; children form many of their life-long habits towards literacy when they are young. Children can also learn more advanced vocabulary and nuances of communication by being read to from books, which tend to have a much more varied and rich language than everyday speech. Having well-developed vocabulary, comprehension and communication skills has been found to help children do much better when first starting school.
And it’s fun! There isn’t one negative effect of reading out loud to children, unless you count them wanting you to read another book, then another, and another, until they learn to read, and then they’ll want to read a book to you, then another one, and another, and then they’ll start reading books to themselves, then another one, and another…
Who really wants to be the reason their child is curious, expressive, imaginative and thoughtful? That’s a trick question, don’t answer that.
Start reading aloud with one or more picture books from this list of some of my favorite recently published titles.
Dojo Daycare, by Chris Tougas
Six little daycare ninjas kick and KAPOW! with impunity, despite the poor daycare dojo master’s dismayed attempts to instill in them the tenets of all good ninjas. Bright illustrations, great read-aloud effects, told in clever and fluid rhyme, with a warm message of respect, responsibility, and teamwork! And ninjas for the win! Ages 3 and up.
The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt
With warm, adorable illustrations by the amazing Oliver Jeffers, this title explores what happens when a boy’s box of crayons revolt, leaving him letters explaining their various grievances (Black wants to do more than outlines, and White wants to be used more, period!) with hilarious (and color coordinated) results. Ages 3 and up.
Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers
New York Times best-selling illustrator and author Oliver Jeffers explores how one boy tries to solve the problem of retrieving his kite, stuck in a tree. With each escalation, his situation gets more serious (and more hilarious), and the end will leave you laughing (but maybe a little concerned). Ages 3 and up.
The Numberlys, by William Joyce
Award-winning author of The Guardians of Childhood novel and picture book series (which inspired the film The Rise of the Guardians), Joyce presents an original, engaging tale of how the alphabet was first invented, back when everything had a number instead of a name. No letters meant no words, and no words meant no colors, or desserts, or fun! Ages 3 and up.
The Book With No Pictures, by B.J. Novak
A picture book with no pictures, say whaaaa-? A New York Times bestseller, this title encourages children’s interest in textual content with its humorous, clever approach to reading. The premise is that whoever is reading the book (usually a very serious adult) has to read WHATEVER the book says, no matter how silly. With illustrated words in different fonts and bright colors for added visual interest. Ages 5 and up.
Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Colors, by Keith Baker
New York Times’ bestselling peas star in this delightful introduction to some of the most common colors. Each page is illustrated with a BIG eye-catching word spelling out its color, surrounded by dozens of the cutest “little green peas” in various acts of color-coordinated activities and paraphernalia. Kids will love pointing out all the little details. For ages 4 and up.
Mix it Up, by Herve Tullet
Author of the marvelously inventive New York Times bestseller Press Here, an interactive picture book relevant to today’s iPad-savvy kidsters, this innovative title takes the same concept and adds more COLOR, with gorgeous photorealistic textures and illustrations. By the end of the book kids will either want to read it again, or reach for real paint to mix! Ages 3 and up.
Journey, by Aaron Becker
A 2014 Caldecott Honor book, Becker’s wordless yet engrossing story follows a lonely little girl who, with a red marker in hand, draws herself a red door into another world, and a series of magical adventures marked by her red-hued creations. Without words, but beautifully illustrated, it still manages to convey its messages of friendship, determination and imagination. Ages 4 and up.
Going Places, by Paul A. Reynolds
A fantastic story of teamwork, creativity, and the joys of not quite staying inside the lines, illustrated by New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (Judy Moody, The Dot). When a class of students receive identical kits for building a go-cart for racing, two children, one who excels at following instructions and another whose bright imagination is tempered by practicality, work together to build something that may not be exactly what everyone else has, in the best way possible. Ages 4 and up.
Uni the Unicorn, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
With Disney-worthy huggable illustrations, this title takes an old tale and spins it into an adorable new story about friendship and believing in the impossible (also, unicorns!). A young unicorn is told there are no such things as little girls, but he believes there are no matter what the adults say. Coincidentally, far, far (but not that far) away, a little girl believes that unicorns exist, no matter what they tell her. Ages 4 and up.
The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires
A brilliant, encouraging story of ingenuity, failure, perseverance, and creativity, from an award-winning author and illustrator. A little girl, with the help of her best friend (her dog) decides to make “The most MAGINIFICENT thing!” but even with the best-laid plans, failure happens. And happens again. And again. Then you get mad. And want to quit. Then actually quit. But sometimes all it takes is a little time (and a little help), and a lot of tinkering, before truly magnificent things can happen. Ages 3 and up.
My Teacher Is A Monster!, by Peter Brown
From the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of quirky giggle-inducing favorites like The Curious Garden and Creepy Carrots comes an endearing story that many children with intimidating teachers will relate to. A little boy claims that his stomping, roaring, anti-paper airplane teacher is a monster (with reptile-like snout, and huge clumping pumps), but a chance encounter outside of the classroom reveals that there's more to a person, once you get to know them, from both perspectives, high and low. Ages 4 and up.
Click on any of the titles to visit the OC Public Libraries website and reserve a copy today!
And to find more recommended titles, visit our Book Lists tab (above), or click here.