30 of the Best Read-Aloud Books for Elementary School

30 of the Best Read-Aloud Books for Elementary School

One of the great joys of school, for both teachers and students, are read-aloud books. Students love to be read to, and teachers love to share books with their students. The greatest read-aloud books engage their audience. Some books give students explicit instructions they love to disobey (the proof of this is in the fact that ALL of these books exist: Do Not Open this Book, Warning: Do Not Open This Book, Please Don’t Read This Book, and Don’t Open This Book). Others elicit audience participation, prompting readers to answer out loud or participate in call or response. Others contain lyrical writing that is like poetry, begging to be read aloud.

Here is a list of read-aloud books perfect for elementary-aged students. Some are picture books and others are chapters books, but all are crowd-pleasers.  

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1. Anything by Dr. Seuss

Get it HERE.

A master of meter and rhythm, Dr. Seuss’s books are designed to be read out loud. Some of the best to read to an audience of eager listeners include One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, There’s a Wocket in my Pocket, Yertle the Turtle, and The Lorax. (As a complete aside, if you’d like to share Dr. Seuss with an older audience, you might check out Wes Tank’s YouTube channel where he raps Dr. Seuss books on top of Dr. Dre beats. It’s impressive).

2. Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom

by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Get it HERE.

This quintessential alphabet book is written in careful meter that just begs to be read out loud. In it, the letter A challenges the other letters to a race up the coconut tree that ends in disaster. The entire alphabet is covered twice, so it’s a helpful teaching tool, too.

3. Pigeon series

by Mo Willems

Get it HERE.

Books in the Pigeon series include Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! In these books, the narrator has to leave but asks young readers to keep on eye on Pigeon. For the rest of the book, Pigeon begs and pleads with young readers to let him do the thing he’s not supposed to do. Listeners love shouting “No!” when the Pigeon begs, for the umpteenth time, to drive the bus.

4. Bad Kitty

by Nick Bruel

Get it HERE.

Bad Kitty is another alphabet book that goes through the whole alphabet no fewer than four times. In it, the main character is Kitty, who goes from nice to naughty when he discovers his humans are all out of food for him. In the end, Kitty makes amends for the trouble he caused.

5. Nanette’s Baguette

by Mo Willems

Get it HERE.

Fans of Willems’ Pigeon series will love Nanette, who sets out on her very first solo trip to the bakery to bring home a baguette. She triumphantly gets the baguette, only to devour it on the way home. Look for a hidden Pigeon Easter egg in the pictures. This one is hilarious, so prepare for laughs are you read through it.

6. There’s a Hole in the Log at the Bottom of the Lake

by Loren Long

Get it HERE.

This picture book is an adaptation of the song of the same name. Each page adds to the starter text, which is “There’s a log at the bottom of the lake.” Eventually, readers get to “there’s a fish near the gnat on the fly on the hair on the frog in the hole in the log on the bottom of the lake.” It features tongue twisters and lots of repetition to get readers anticipating and participating.

7. Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood

by Mike Artell and illustrated by Jim Harris

Get it HERE.

This one begs to be read aloud in a Cajun accent (don’t worry, the text is written in a way that helps you along), but you might want to give it a practice run before showing off your reading chops to your students. In this story, a gator named Claude replaces the Big Bad Wolf, and Petite Rouge is on her way to bring Grand-Mere some gumbo. 

8. Fortunately, the Milk

by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young

Fortunately the Milk

Get it HERE.

There is apparently no age group that Neil Gaiman can’t write for. In this silly story, a father goes out to buy milk and ends up encountering aliens, pirates, and a whole lot more on his way home.

9. Escargot

by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Sydney Hanson

Read aloud books: Escargot

Get it HERE.

You can try out your French accent while reading this delightful little book about a friendly snail who discovers carrots – the horror! – on his dinner salad. In the tradition of Green Eggs and Ham, when our snail friend finally tries the carrots he learns he likes them, after all.

10. This Book Will Not Be Fun

by Cirocco Dunlap and Olivier Tallec

Get it HERE.

A mouse is our narrator, and he promises us readers a quiet, orderly reading experience. The problem is that a word-eating whale shows up. And then the lights go out. And the poor little mouse is increasingly frantic as things in the book just get out of control.

11. Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom

by Jon Rocco

Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom

Get it HERE.

Rocco, the superhero of the book who shares the author’s surname, derives his superpowers from his red hair. The longer his hair gets, the more powerful he is – until one day, when a barber cuts it off and leaves Rocco powerless. The text is fun and the illustrations are sure to captivate a young audience.

12. My Name is Yoon

by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

My Name Is Yoon

Get it HERE.

Yoon, an immigrant girl from Korea, loves how her name looks in Korean characters, but it doesn’t look right in English. So she tries on different names in her new country to see if they fit any better. This is an important story about how it feels when you don’t feel like you fit in, and it’s great for teaching empathy.

13. Tuesdays at the Castle

by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at the Castle

Get it HERE.

There are five books in the Tuesdays at the Castle series, and this one kicks them off. In it, magical Castle Glower adds onto itself every Tuesday, adding new rooms or turrets or secret passageways. Princess Celie loves the castle and takes the time each Tuesday to map its new additions, which comes in handy when the king and queen mysteriously disappear. This is a childhood fantasy that is pure, fun, and heartfelt, great for a read-aloud.

14. Abiyoyo

by Pete Seeger and illustrated by Michael Hays


Get it HERE.

This picture book is an adaptation of a South African lullaby and folk tale. In it, a boy who plays ukulele and his magician father are outcasts in their town until the giant Abiyoyo shows up. The father and son use their talents to save the townspeople and win their admiration. Given that it was written by Pete Seeger, it’s no surprise that the text is lyrical and lends itself to being read aloud.

15. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

by Judith Viorst

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Get it HERE.

Alexander’s bad day is a classic among children’s literature. Poor Alexander has one of those days when nothing is going right, and he might as well move. The repetition of the “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” makes this book a beloved read aloud because young readers learn the phrase and repeat it right alongside the reader.

16. The Disgusting Sandwich

by Gareth Edwards and illustrated by Hannah Shaw

The Disgusting Sandwich

Get it HERE.

“I can’t eat it now, it’s disgusting!” is the refrain your audience will love to repeat as you read aloud this story about a bunch of animals who reject a boy’s dropped sandwich in the park. Eventually, a hungry badger ends up with the sandwich – careful readers will notice the badger in the background of each page.

17. Where the Sidewalk Ends

by Shel Silverstein

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Get it HERE.

Shel Silverstein’s poem collections are grade school classics for a reason. The poems in Where the Sidewalk Ends are irreverent and ridiculous but also masterful. Kid-friendly topics abound, including a kid who watches so much TV that he turns into a television set. They simply beg to be read out loud.

18. This Is Not My Hat

by Jon Klassen

This Is Not My Hat

Get it HERE.

In this short and funny picture book, a small fish has stolen the bowler hat of a much bigger fish, and he’s quite proud of his act of thievery. As the little fish swims on, bragging about his exploits, readers see the big fish swim into view, in pursuit of his hat. The little fish just never sees it coming, but the dramatic irony of this lends this book to a read aloud.

19. The Worst Princess

by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilive

The Worst Princess

Get it HERE.

Written in read-aloud friendly verse, Anna Kemp writes of a Princess Sue who must rescue herself after her prince proves himself to be…underwhelming. It’s an empowering story for young girls about taking charge of their own destiny, and it’s filled with a cast of fun characters that make this a delight to read out loud.

20. Rump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin

by Liesl Shurtliff

Rump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin

Get it HERE.

This fractured fairy tale is sure to be a hit with young audiences. In it, Rumpelstiltskin, or Rump, is a 12-year-old. He’s a bit of an outcast because his classmates make fun of his name. Rump finds out he has the ability to spin straw into gold, but it turns out his magic is dangerous.

21. The Chocolate Touch

by Patrick Skene Catling and illustrated b Margot Apple

The Chocolate Touch

Get it HERE.

The King Midas legend gets turned on its head in this story about a boy who has the chocolate touch – anything that he touches turns to chocolate. John Midas loves chocolate more than anything, but he learns that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

22. Tale of Despereaux

by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

Tale of Despereaux

Get it HERE.

Readers across the world love Kate DiCamillo’s quietly magical writing. Her books sweep children (and adults) into worlds where love, friendship, and bravery reign supreme. In this gorgeous story, three unlikely fellows – a mouse named Despereaux, a rat called Roscuro, and Princess Pea – embark on a quest that will change their lives. Young readers will be rapt and begging for “just another chapter.”

23. The Unteachables

by Gordon Korman

The Unteachables

Get it HERE.

The Unteachables are the worst kids in school, and Mr. Kermit is the worst teacher in school. When the worst students are thrown together with the worst teacher, chaos reigns supreme at first. In the end, a burnt-out teacher finds a renewed love of teaching, and students meet a teacher who actually cares. This funny story will definitely engross students as a read aloud.

24. Sweep: A Story of a Girl and Her Monster

by Jonathan Auxier

Sweep: A Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Get it HERE.

Sweep is a wholly unique story about a girl chimney sweep named Nan Sparrow. Nan is an orphan and forced to work for a cruel boss. One day, she is caught in a chimney fire, but she wakes up unharmed in an attic with a golem, a monster from ancient lore. This historical fantasy novel doesn’t shy away from issues of child labor. Intertwined are William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s altogether not to be missed.

25. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

by Judy Blume

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Get it HERE.

This is an oldie but goodie. The story is about Peter and his little brother Fudge. Peter is exasperated by everyone’s adoration for Fudge, when really all Fudge does is throw temper-tantrums and cause trouble. This is a funny story and part of a five-part series.

26. Front Desk

by Kelly Yang

Front Desk

Get it HERE.

Mia Tang’s family lives in and manages the Calivista Motel, where her parents hide immigrants. The trouble is, Mr. Yao, the motel owner, would be furious if he found out. It’s a big secret for Mia to keep while also working the front desk of the hotel and keeping up in school.

27. Roll With It

by Jamie Sumner

Roll with It

Get it HERE.

Ellie, who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound, dreams of being a professional baker. A new curveball is thrown Ellie’s way when she and her mom move in with her grandfather to care for him. Ellie hates navigating the social waters at her new school – until she starts to make real, true friends.

28. A Single Shard

by Linda Sue Park

A Single Shard

Get it HERE.

Set in 12th century Korea, an orphan stumbles across a group of master potters and is determined to learn the craft himself. This is a story about broken people becoming whole, about the bonds forged in friendship. It reads like a fable or folk tale and, while it’s a novel, it’s slim and makes for a quick read-aloud.

29. The Watsons go to Birmingham

by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Get it HERE.

The Watson family sets out to visit Grandma in Birmingham in the summer of 1963. Birmingham was, of course, the scene of major civil rights events, and this plot puts the main characters right in the thick of it. This novel is a Coretta Scott King Award honoree and was also recognized as a Newbery Honor Book.

30. A Wolf Called Wander

by Rosanne Parry and illustrated by Mónica Armiño

A Wolf Called Wander

Get it HERE.

This novel is inspired by a wolf named OR-7 (also called Journey) who made a 1,000 mile trek across the Pacific Northwest searching for a place to settle. In this novel, the wolf is named Swift. After Swift is separated from his pack, he sets out on his own hunting for a new place to call home. This book is a perfect read aloud, with a great combination of adventure and real-life information to be shared.

Other Book Lists From Amy’s Bookshelf You’ll Love:

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Veteran Legend

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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