Read To Me, Mama: A Collection Of

The Best Family Books

Read to me riddles and read to me rhymes.

Read to me stories of magical times.

Read to me tales about castles and kings.

Read to me stories of fabulous things.

Read to me pirates and read to me knights.

Read to me dragons and dragon book fights.

Read to me spaceships and cowboys and then

When you are finished, please read them again!

                                                       – Jane Yolen, author of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Since before my daughter was born, I’ve read to her. As an educator, I knew the academic advantages of reading early and often to and with my child.

After all, reading aloud supports development of language, builds literacy skills, and fosters brain development.

In addition its academic benefits, the emotional and social benefits of reading aloud are just as important. For instance, it is through books that we learn how to interact with others, and it is through book we can change behaviors and attitudes about people.

Great books not only make us feel, whether it’s humor, sadness, or anger, they also allow us to work through how we feel. Books are also safe places to explore controversial topics, lessons with morals, or important themes.

Throughout the upcoming years, reading to and/or with your child for at least 15 minutes a day is one of greatest gifts you can give him or her. Here are some great books for the entire family to enjoy together:

Picture Book Recommendations

  • A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but denying her true self turns Camilla’s world upside down and inside out.
  • A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting. Tony hates having to visit Liberty Island every year for a birthday picnic until he realizes what it means to his grandmother.
  • Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Alexander has a terrible horrible no good very bad day and struggles with what to do when everything goes wrong.
  • Bloom by Doreen Cronin. Does an “ordinary” girl have what it takes to save and rebuild a crumbling kingdom? With the help of a mud fairy, she soon finds out the answer is yes!
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Young Chrysanthemum must deal with a mean girl named Victoria who makes fun of her name. With the help of Mrs. Twinkle, Chrysanthemum comes to love her name again.
  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.The citizens of Chewandswallow eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the sky until a terrible storm blows through, forcing them to relocate to a new land.
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. Gerald wants more than anything to be able to dance. After some encouraging words from a friend, he is finally able to do so.
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Throughout his young life, a mother cares for her son and sings him a sweet lullaby. As his mother ages, the boy (now a man) must take care of his mother.
  • Olivia by Ian Falconer. Olivia has a great deal of imagination and whole bunch of energy. She knows exactly how to wear her mother out from the time she wakes up until bedtime.
  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. The narrator chronicles what happened on the night the reader was born, explaining how each person that is born is unique, special, and wanted.
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. A young donkey named Sylvester enjoys collecting pebbles. One day, he finds a red pebble and makes a wish. The wish comes true, but it leaves Sylvester sad and alone.
  • The Empty Pot by Demi. The Emperor gives all the children in town a seed and asks them to grow it. Ping tries hard, but cannot grow it. He brings an empty pot, yet he is somehow chosen to be the next Emperor.
  • The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. No one ever seems to notice or include Brian in anything at school until Justin arrives one day. The two boys team up to work on a class project, and Brian finds a way to stand out.
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Cutting down Truffula trees to make Thneeds, the Once-ler takes and takes until there is nothing left. After a change of heart, he entrusts the last Truffula tree seed to a boy to return the valley to its former glory.
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Peter embarks on a journey to explore his neighborhood after the first snowfall of the season, finding more and more ways to enjoy the snow as it piles up over the city.
  • The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. Jack shares a collection of hilarious, fractured fairy tales, including The Princess and the Bowling Ball and the Stinky Cheese Man.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. After coming down with scarlet fever, a small boy’s beloved stuffed rabbit must be destroyed; however, a magic fairy turns the rabbit into a real one because of the boy’s love.
  • What If Everybody Did That? By Ellen Javernick. Throw just one piece of paper on the ground. Throw one piece of litter from a moving car. These behaviors sound small. But, if everyone did it, there would be major consequences.
  • When Marian Sings by Pam Munoz Ryan. A picture book biography of singer Marian Anderson. The book follows Marian’s journey from a church choir in South Philly to the Metropolitan Opera.
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. After getting in trouble by his parents, Max escapes to a land of Wild Things in his own mind. He becomes their fierce leader until he realizes that being so isn’t exactly easy.

Chapter Book Recommendations

  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Margaret wrestles with being in an interfaith family. Her exploration of religion leads to conflict, and she rejects both religions until she gets her first period.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Charlie and his Grandpa Joe win a contest to tour and visit the magical Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. After the bizarre adventure, Charlie is rewarded for his goodness by inheriting the factory.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Fern takes care of a pig she names Wilbur. Wilbur is sold to another farm and is befriended by a spider named Charlotte. She devises a plan to save him from slaughter.
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Esperanza lives a charmed life until she must flee her family’s ranch in Mexico to work in a camp for Mexican farm workers in California during the Great Depression.
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Harriet wants to be a writer, so she begins writing everything in her notebook. When she loses her notebook, her classmates treat her badly for what she has written.
  • Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Orphaned Harry Potter is invited to the attend Hogwarts, a magical school for wizards. While at school he meets friends who become his allies as he solves various mysteries.
  • I Survived… series by Lauren Tarshis. The series follows fictional characters who experience the trials and tribulations of real-life events like the sinking of the Titanic, Hurricane Katrina, and the Joplin Tornado.
  • Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary. Join Ramona as she navigates life as a mischievous kindergartener, brave first grader, resourceful second grader, responsible third grader, and as a blossoming fourth grader.
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. Wayside School is a strangely built school full of strange characters and stranger happenings. Get lost in the hysterical stories of Mrs. Gorf, Sammy, and the rest of the crew.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Lucy finds a wardrobe and, along with her siblings, is transported to the fantastical world called Narnia. Alongside a magical lion named Aslan, they fight the evil White Witch.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank. Anne is a young Jewish girl who must flee from her home in Amsterdam to escape the Nazis during the Holocaust. In her diary, Anne depicts her life in hiding.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry. At 12 years-old, Jonas becomes the new Receiver of Memory. While memories are transferring, Jonas sees something that shakes him to his core and sends him running.
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins is living life as a quiet hobbit when he is visited by the wizard, Gandalf, who wants young Bilbo to help some dwarves take back a mountain from an evil dragon.
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis. The Watsons leave their home in Michigan in 1963 to visit Birmingham, Alabama. While there, a bombing occurs, setting into motion increased activity in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio. August “Auggie” Pullman, a 10-year-old boy with a craniofacial condition, deals with social and emotional issues as he begins to navigate school and friendship.

Poetry Recommendations

  • Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. A second grade boy discovers a love of poetry with the help of his teacher, Mrs. Stretchberry, and his beloved dog.
  • Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs by Alan Katz. Borrowing the tunes from some well-known songs, these hilarious parodies are fun and engaging.
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The story of a tree that loves a boy. The boy visits the tree often. He plays on the tree. Gathers her leaves. Eats her apples. He continues to use the tree until there is nothing left for her to give.
  • The New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky. A favorite read-aloud book of poetry for kids in which the reader will learn why arguing with sharks, eating dinosaurs, or having an alligator for a pet aren’t good ideas.
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. A collection of humorous poems and drawings of Shel Silverstein.

What is your family’s favorite read?


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