Because I Just Can’t Read That Book One More Time

There are many benefits to reading picture books and chapter books multiple (even hundreds) of times, but if you are the parent doing the reading, this can be a labor of love. A dear friend told me that if she reads Pinkalicious one more time, she may have to “set the book on fire” (original comment has been censored).

As repetitive as it can be for parents, it is a good thing to read a picture book so many times your kid can recite the words from memory. Children are absorbing the words into their “sight” word bank without realizing it. They are picking up word and sentence structure patterns like capitalization at the beginning of a sentence and punctuation at the end of a sentence. They are learning to follow the story from left to right and top to bottom. I am not recommending you force yourself to suffer through the same book beyond your breaking point, but I am recommending you read aloud often with your children (and that may include a re-run or two… or ten).

Reading aloud to your child models good reading techniques and helps with fluency. It gives you time to stop and talk about what is happening, so you can informally check listening skills and improve your child’s comprehension. Picture books are short, so it is easy to complete a whole story in one sitting. Picture books for older readers have a lot of depth and require some critical thought, so you can keep reading these books all the way through elementary school; there are many I use for lessons with my 4th grade students. Lastly, it is enjoyable and relaxing and how often do you get that kind of time with your child?

The picture books on the list below pass my can-be-read-10-days-in-a-row test. Help me out with additional read aloud suggestions that won’t get stale too quickly. The books below may be new to you, but they have been in high rotation at my house for awhile now.

Amazing Illustrations

  • King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood (or others by this author)
  • The Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem
  • Flotsam by David Wiesner (or others by this author)
  • The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett (or others by this author)


  • Who’s Hiding? by Satoru Onishi
  • Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
  • What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
  • Who is Driving? by Leo Timmers
  • I Spy: An Alphabet in Art by Lucy Micklethwait
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet

Non-Fiction/Based on a True Story

  • Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
  • My Apron by Eric Carle (be sure to read the author note at the end)
  • One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh
  • Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
  • Emily by Michael Bedard

For a Laugh

  • Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones by Gene Barretta
  • Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin (or others by this author)
  • A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Other Picture Book Authors I Like

  • Mem Fox
  • Patricia Polacco
  • David Shannon
  • Mo Willems
  • Chris Van Allsburg

Road Trip Audio Books


My children and I will be starting our annual road trip to see family in a few weeks. We spend a little over two weeks in the car and cover many miles. My car does not have a DVD player, and I am doing my best to keep it that way. We started using audio books two summers ago, and it is holding the backseat passengers’ attention for now.  We have learned that a great read aloud at home may not be a good audio book.  It all depends on the narrator.  Here is a list of a few we loved… and some we did not.

Everybody Liked:

  • Magic Treehouse (any in the series) read by the author, Mary Pope Osborne.
  • The Boxcar Children read by Phyllis Newman.
  • Little House in the Big Woods (or any Little House book) read by Cherry Jones.
  • Frindle read by John Fleming.
  • Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing read by the author, Judy Blume.
  • The BFG read by Natasha Richardson.
  • The Cricket in Times Square read by Tony Shalhoub.
  • Lunch Money read by John H. Mayer. added 7/2012
  • Hotel for Dogs read by Katherine Kellgren. added 7/2012
  • Abby Cornelia’s One & Only Magical Power read by the author, David Pogue. added 7/2012

My Children Liked; I Did Not:

  • Junie B. Jones read by Lana Quintal. (My children thought these were hysterical.  But, what comes across as silly when read at bedtime in our house seemed so obnoxious through the voice of Lana Quintal.  I wanted to spank Junie B!)
  • The Secret of the Old Mill read by Bill Irwin. (This is a Hardy Boys mystery. The reader was too slow for me, but my children loved the sound effects.) added 7/2012

Nobody Liked:

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events read by the author, Lemony Snicket.  (This was probably a bad choice on my part.  Not only was the author’s voice very nasal, the book is much darker read aloud, and the content was too old for my children’s ages.)

I need new selections for our upcoming trip.  Any thoughts?  I am looking for titles that will be appropriate and enjoyable for a 7-year old, a 5-year old, and a 40-year old.