To be fair, every single picture book, with the exception of the wordless ones, is a readaloud. You’re not supposed to just silent there silent and stony when a child’s on your lap. Picture books are meant to engage through the voice of the reader. That said, not all of them do well when it comes to reading them to groups. When I first because a children’s librarian I learned the hard way that some classic titles (Horton Hatches the Egg, Blueberries for Sal, etc.) die ignoble deaths at your hands when read to groups of preschoolers. I began to rely on a core group of picture books with every storytime. The danger with that, though, is that you never try anything new.
With all this in mind, these are some of the picture books of 2016 that I felt do particularly well when read to groups. Obviously there are other great ones out there. These are just the ones that come immediately to mind.
2016 Picture Book Readalouds: For Preschoolers
Box by Min Flyte, ill. Rosalind Beardshaw
About this time you’ll start noticing some duplication between my lists. The fact of the matter is that if a book is truly good, it isn’t just one thing. Box appeared already on the Board Book list, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t do well as a readaloud too. So prepare for some familiar covers!
Everyone Is Yawning by Anita Bijsterbosch
Bijsterbosch (now THAT is a name!) helps you out with this book. She’s basically telling the adult reader how to read each animal as you go. One is soft and quiet. Another yawns three times in a row. And even though it’s not the largest book out there (clocking in at a mere 9″ X 8.5″), thanks to the lift-the-flap mouth element you can see it across a crowded room without difficulty.
I Dare You! by Nicole Maubert
Try running around the room with this one, getting the kids to touch the witch’s warts, pet the monsters’ fur, and stick their hands in the slathering jaws of hungry beasts. As long as it keeps in one piece, it will be beloved.
Monsters Go Night-Night by Aaron Zenz
I adore this. I mean talk about a book that upsets expectations. I’m putting it on the younger list here because I can, but much like Mac Barnett and Adam Rex’s Guess Again (a highly underrated readaloud) this book upsets the expectations of its potentially jaded readership.
Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer
I had to be told by a children’s librarian in my branch that this book is a wonderful readaloud for groups. I knew it was lovely to look at but until she spoke up I never would have thought to consider it for large groups.
2016 Picture Book Readalouds: That You Can Sing
5 Little Ducks by Denise Fleming
It still works if you don’t know the tune, but I think singing it is best. Plus look at that duck that’s front and center on the cover. How can you say no to that little guy?
Groovy Joe: Ice Cream & Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin, ill. Tom Lichtenheld
While the title does sound like free word associations for kids (“Name me two things your little brother would want at his birthday party”) this is the Pete the Cat author at work. The book’s pretty catchy. For the music, download the free song.
Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz, ill. Eda Kaban
For years Jessica Souhami’s version of Old MacDonald was my favorite, and it may still be at the top of the ranking (WHEN is someone going to republish it?!???), but this book is gunning to be a close second. You’ve got Mrs. MacDonald welding, plenty of construction equipment, and just gorgeous art. Keep an eye on that Eda Kaban. That name may become better known in the future.
2016 Picture Book Readalouds: That Rhyme
A Dark, Dark Cave by Eric Hoffman, ill. Corey R. Tabor
Aww. This was one of my favorites early in the year. It sort of reminds me of the Berenstain Bears classic Spooky Old Tree in a way. Fear, it seems, is a great motivator when coming up with picture book themes.
Dinosaur Rap by John Foster, ill. Debbie Harter, sung by Mikey Henry Jr.
I usually avoid any book that includes the word “rap” anywhere near its title with a ten-foot-pole. But the bright art and fun rhymes convinced me otherwise. Technically I think it’s a song but I preferred reading it by itself. The rhymes hold up.
The Forgetful Knight by Michelle Robinson, ill. Fred Blunt
So much fun with a nice little twist at the end. And who doesn’t love a twist ending?
Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Rebecca J. Gomez, ill. Dan Santat
Funny goes a long way with me, as you can probably tell.
A Toucan Can, Can You? by Danny Adlerman, ill. Various
I think this is the first book on any of my lists to be reviewed on the site as well. Funny it took so long. Adlerman and company have created a truly funny book that also works as a writing assignment. Just smart stuff.
Swallow the Leader: A Counting Book by Danna Smith, ill. Kevin Sherry
More Kevin Sherry, please!
*holds out hand and makes a grabby motion*
2016 Picture Book Readalouds: For School Aged Kids
Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis
It is a truth universally acknowledged that books containing crocodiles and alligators are more fun to read aloud than other books (see: It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle). Alan is no exception to this rule. The words of this book are delicious, as is Alan’s destructive tendencies. And finally, naming him Alan is just hilarious. It is not a name to strike fear in the heart.
Chimpanzees for Tea! by Jo Empson
Remembering items from the story take a distinct turn for the silly in this book. I’m a sucker for readalouds where the kids get to yell at the characters for doing something wrong. In this case, the misremembered list builds to a nice chaotic frenzy over time. My favorite trope.
The Happiest Book Ever! by Bob Shea
If ever a humor award for picture book is created, Shea’s gonna sweep it every single year.
Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall! By Anne Sibley O’Brien
I know it’s seasonal, and usually I’d limit seasonal books to a different list, but I just loved this one. It has this little element where you open up a page to reveal something that works from a distance. Always important when reading to groups.
I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, ill. Scott Magoon
You’ll pretty much have the kids hooked when you read and show them the title.
Is That Wise Pig? by Jan Thomas, Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith
Jan Thomas could pretty much just repeat the same image over and over in a picture book and I’d find her work splendid. This is so funny and her art just pops. A kid in the next county could see it if you held it up. She’s also one of my storytime staples.
Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol
It’s perfect. No. Really. It is.
Max Speed by Stephen Shaskan
This was a huge hit at my kid’s daycare. I gave them a copy and they went gaga over it. And don’t worry. It has a happy ending.
One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, ill. by Brendan Wenzel
To a certain extent this has been overshadowed by Wenzel’s other picture book this year They All Saw a Cat. That book has big readaloud potential in its own way, but if I were to have to pick between that and this one to read to a group, this would win every dang time. Hands down.
Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies, ill. Sydney Hanson
I was trying to explain to my daughter today why pants are funny. What I should have done was just read her this book!
President Squid by Aaron Reynolds, ill. Sara Varon
Read it. It’s cathartic. And don’t just do it once every four years either.
Quit Calling Me a Monster! by Jory John, ill. Bob Shea
I MUCH prefer this over John & Shea’s previous outing I Will Chomp You. That book was fine. This one is sublime. I adore the hairy monster and his overly professional name.
That’s Not a Hippopotamus! by Juliette Maclver, ill. Sarah Davis
It’s frentic energy reminded me, just a little, of Hallie George’s Catch That Cookie! Had a GREAT ending too!
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Adaptations
December 3 – Nursery Rhymes
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – Calde-Nots
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – International Imports
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Older Picture Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Graphic Novels
December 21 – Poetry
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Novel Reprints
December 30 – Novels
December 31 – Picture Books