Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to welcome children’s librarian Katie Fitzgerald, the blogger behind Story Time Secrets, with us today. Ms. Fitzgerald is here to share some of her favorite children’s read-aloud picture books.
A Children’s Librarian’s Top 10 Read-Aloud Picture Books
by Katie Fitzgerald
Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom in 2013, I worked for three years as a children’s librarian for the public library system in Washington, D.C. During that time, I read countless books to many groups of children from birth to age 12. Regardless of content, without fail, the best read-aloud picture books were the ones which made the best use of rhythm and rhyme, tone, and dialogue. Today, I’m happy to share my top ten favorites.
Rhythm and Rhyme
- May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers and Beni Montresor
- More More More said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
- Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
In May I Bring a Friend?, the king and queen send daily invitations for a young boy to visit their castle, each of which results in the following exchange:
I told the QueenAnd the Queen told the KingI had a friendI wanted to bring.The King told the Queen,“My dear, my dear,Any friend of our friendIs welcome here.”
As the young boy’s guests are all zoo animals, this very calm reaction on the part of the monarchs adds to the whimsical humor of the story.
In More More More said the Baby, each of three wriggly toddlers enjoys the affections of a beloved relative, who must “run like anything just to catch that baby up.” The repeated refrain of “More!” said the baby. “More! More! More!” perfectly captures the joy and exuberance of life with a toddler.
Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett celebrates the adventures of a little girl and her stuffed monkey who go to see all different animals and mimic their movements. The lilting rhythm of the repeated lines: Monkey and me, monkey and me, monkey and me we went to see, we went to see some…” almost forces the reader to sing, and kids love the big pause in the text before each new animal is revealed.
- King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
- The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
- Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated by Florence Parry Heide and Lane Smith
- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub stars a child-like king who, like a stubborn toddler, refuses to leave the bathtub. Each time a member of the royal court tries to convince him to come out, he calls out, “Come in!” in a playful voice and invites the queen, knight, duke, etc. to partake of the day’s activities in the bathtub.
In The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear, the narrator (who is also the reader) tries to trick a little mouse into giving up his strawberry by convincing him that a big hungry bear will be along any second to gobble it up. The sly tone of the text makes it very easy to get into character, and it is fun to really ham up your performance.
Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated is a modern-day fairy tale about a young princess who defies gravity and must be weighted down at all times to keep herself from floating away. The tongue-in-cheek text pokes a bit of fun at “damsel in distress” type fairy tales while also giving the story a decidedly contemporary feel.
Unlike the other books, Owl Moon has a more serious and mysterious tone, as a young girl joins her father for a late-night walk in the woods to search for owls. In her narration of the experience, the girl captures the silence and cold of the woods, as well as her efforts to keep warm, and the excitement and joy of the wonderful moment when an owl lands just feet from her.
- Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
- Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
- Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban and Garth Williams
Though only one character – the peddler – speaks in Caps for Sale his “conversation” with the band of monkeys who steal his caps is one of the most fun to read aloud. There is nothing more satisfying than shaking a fist and calling out, “You monkeys you!”
When Ira is invited to sleep at Reggie’s House in Ira Sleeps Over, he is undecided about whether to bring his teddy bear. Conversations with his parents and sister reveal his fears over being laughed at, as well as his concerns about not being able to sleep without his beloved stuffed animal. All the dialogue is wonderful, but it is especially fun to read Ira’s sister’s lines, as she is such a troublemaker.
Frances the badger is supposed to be going to sleep in Bedtime for Frances, but she has a lot of reasons why she can’t quite settle down. As she gets out of bed repeatedly, her parents become less and less patient, as reflected in their gentle back-and-forth arguments with their daughter.
About the Guest Contributor: Katie Fitzgerald
Katie Fitzgerald is a trained children’s librarian who has worked in small and large public libraries in upstate New York and Washington, DC. In addition to her blog, Story Time Secrets, which focuses on books, literacy activities, and library service for children and their families, she is also currently writing a book on story time for Rowman and Littlefield’s Practical Guides for Librarians series. Katie is also the organizer for the Easy Readers and early Chapter Books category of the Cybils Awards. She lives in Maryland with her academic librarian husband and their two daughters: “Little Miss Muffet” (age 2) and “Little Bo Peep” (age 2 months.)