Blogger Jennifer Schultz

Picture Book Read Alouds….Beyond Preschoolers

A local preschool teacher calls.  She/He would like to bring the class to the library for a visit. No problem! You gather your favorite titles from story time, decide on music and fingerplays to use between stories, and away you go. No big deal.

It gets a little trickier when you have an elementary class visit or when you’re asked to be a guest reader for a school’s literacy night. Not to mention the times when a parent is looking for read alouds because she/he is scheduled to be a surprise guest reader at his/her child’s school. You can always decide to read a chapter from a terrific children’s novel, but why not use this time to highlight the great picture books available for older children? I’ll tell you a bit about my tried and trues, and you can tell us about your favorites in the comments section.

I must confess that I include this for nostalgic reasons. This is one of the few picture books I remember reading by myself. I’ve been delighted to find that the lower elementary school students that I’ve read this to are enchanted by Ira’s teddy bear dilemma.

As this is a popular read aloud in many elementary school classrooms, the children in your group may shout out with recognition when they see the title. It’s such a clever story, however, that most don’t mind hearing it again.

Margaret Read MacDonald has yet to create a picture book that I dislike. Mabela the Clever is probably my favorite story; this folktale from Sierra Leone features a little mouse who learns the importance of using her senses in order to escape the pouncing cats.

What are your favorite read alouds for elementary school classes?


  1. Monica

    I love First Day Jitters and Last Day Blues, by Julie Dannenberg! I had 2nd graders visit a few years back for the first time and since it was the end of the school year, I read them Last Day Blues–and it turned out that one class had already read First Day Jitters!

  2. Serena

    THE BEST story to read aloud to lower elementary and kindergarten children is “Shhh!” by Sally Grindley. I have never read this book to a class that wasn’t totally absorbed throughout the reading. And they usually shout “Read it again!” when I’m done.

    Jon Scieszka’s “Squids Will be Squids” also has some great sections for reading aloud to older kids. We put post-it notes over the “morals” and uncover them at the end to make the kids laugh.

  3. Abby

    The biggest hit with our school-age kids has been “Miss Nelson is Missing” by Harry Allard. We visited afterschool groups this year and the kids that had already heard that book LOVED it and wanted it again. Also, I love “Ugly Fish” by Karen LaReau, Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems, Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems (can be tricky with a large group because the pictures aren’t very big), and Epossumondas by Coleen Salley.

  4. Jennifer

    Elephant and Piggie are always hits with my 1st and 2nd graders, as are Mac Barnett’s picture books and Jan Thomas’s simple stories. The art is big enough to be seen from the back and the kids “get” the humor in a way younger kids don’t.

  5. Linda M.

    I am currently reading “Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog” by Jon Agee to groups of second graders coming in for class visits. I love it when they “get” the wordplay and start guessing the animals.

  6. Jennifer Schultz Post author

    These are great suggestions! Thanks so much for responding.

  7. Beth G.

    Scieszka is my go-to guy for elementary school read-alouds. _The Book that Jack Wrote_ is always a big hit. I also like to use Taback’s _There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly_.

  8. Bethany Bruns

    Zen Shorts – Jon Muth

  9. ann

    Shannon’s Duck on a Bike – be sure to let yourself go and make the animals really speak like they might sound. Also, Rathman’s Officer Buckle and Gloria is great for a group. The kids eat up the pictures of Gloria’s background antics.

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