In honor of World Read Aloud Day, I’m sharing some of my favorite picture books!
Reading aloud is part of who I am. I babysat and nannied during high school and college and remember reading the same exact story dozens of times in the same day for the kids I watched. Though the repeated text sometimes got old for me, the kids continued to enjoy it. During my Teach for America interview, I taught a demo reading lesson, using Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. When I got hired to teach high school algebra & geometry, I still incorporated picture books into my lessons to go along with unit themes which included roller coasters, superheroes and finding Waldo.
Becoming a mom brought the read-aloud to a whole new level.
I remember feeling pretty silly the first time I read aloud to my own child. He was maybe a few days old, probably asleep. Well, to be fair, I’m pretty certain I actually read some stories to Connor when he was in utero, that’s normal, right?
We read some of my childhood favorites early on like Goodnight Moon and I learned to love some of the board books gifted to us at my baby shower such as I Love You Stinky Face and The Truck is Stuck. I was also the first time mom who while on maternity leave brought my not even 2 month old to the local children’s library story time, to soak it all in. It’s been an absolute joy watching my children read aloud to one another as they’ve gotten older.
Kids are amazing beings, and we must continue to read to them, both for their own learning but also so we can continue to learn, grow and connect with them.
When the pandemic hit and I transitioned all my classes to the virtual world, one of the pieces that brought me the most joy was reading a story or two aloud to the kiddos on the call following the workout I led their moms in. With the help of another mom in our group, our Friday story-times became “Diversity Story Times,” where the stories read would be be written by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) authors and/or address diversity and inclusion topics. The conversation that followed between the children (aged 2-10) on the call brought such a sense of hope during the early and challenging times of the pandemic.
Two years later, I am still offering story time after my 9AM Monday live Zoom classes. I love not only sharing some of my and my kids favorites picture books, but I also love the conversation that we have after.
Here are five of my favorite picture books that I believe all adults should read, and of course share with children too:
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein — Although I have recently learned how this book can be controversial, this still remains one of my favorites. I have the copy that belonged to my Dad, and have read it hundreds of times to my children. With many life lessons about aging, asking for what you need and friendship, the story about the relationship between a boy and a tree is one that will remain on my shelf until the end of time. For years, if you asked me what my favorite book was, this would be it. Something about the nostalgia of childhood.
- Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Loren Long — This is my current favorite picture books. The world got to see the amazingness that Gorman brings to our world after she shared her powerful and inspiring poem at the 2021 inaugural address. Directly following, I pre-ordered her book The Hill We Climb and her soon to be released children’s book, Change Sings. Written as a poem, this picture book shares the power that we have to come together to create change. The illustrations by Long make this book a must read, and one to reference back to when you need some hope. See my video linked above my the read aloud I shared on my Instagram today.
- The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy –- I’d need to look up if this was written as a children’s story, or as a picture book for adults. Each page, each lesson, speaks directly to me and allows an opportunity for discussion, when read aloud with others. The words shared speak for themselves, but the drawings Mackesy accompanies them with are so good! I’ve enjoyed following Mackesy on Instagram, you may tool.
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein — Another book from my childhood that resurfaced when a new copy was gifted to my younger son Cameron. More of a poetry book than true picture book, both Cameron and I love the silly language, play on words and simple drawings.
- Michelle’s Garden: How the First Lady Planted Seeds of Change by Sharee Miller — In honor of Black History Month I’m choosing this beautiful picture book as my 5th selection. The story shares Michelle Obama’s journey to starting the White House Kitchen Garden.
Although Amazon can be easier,
I've been making a conscious effort to shop local and support Black-owned bookstores when I can.
Here are a few places I’d recommend:
- Powells – The largest independent bookstore, right here in Portland OR
- Third Eye Books – Another local bookstore whose vision is to be the #1 supplier of African books and gifts in Portland.
- Bookshop.org – Think a larger selection like Amazon, BUT this site connects you to your local bookstores directly for purchase.
- What children’s stories are a must read in your house?
- What other picture books are a must read for ADULTS?
If you have any favorite picture books written by BIPOC authors or have great lessons in regard to diversity, equity and inclusion, I’d love more recommendations 😉👇