Benefits in Reading Aloud

Many studies have shown that reading aloud to a child promotes his interest in reading and hastens intellectual growth. But the benefits are not limited to nourishing his mind. The sharing of a good book in an atmosphere of warmth demonstrates the adult's love for the child. To help him feel love, the adult should encourage the child to cuddle up.

It is best to make the reading as dramatic as possible. Don't be afraid to ham it up to the hilt. Shout, whisper, laugh, cry, and above all put each character in a different voice. Also, feel free to ad lib whenever you can make the story funnier or scarier (within limits, of course). You may think that you are making an idiot of yourself, but the child will love it. With some books I have read many times to my grandchildren, I can hardly get through the first sentence before they start rolling on the floor. Yet I must add that a child will love it when you read to him even if you are not dramatically inclined. The important thing is to show that you enjoy the book and enjoy being with the child.

I have a special fondness for books with world-class examples of the illustrator's art. I will devote a whole section to pointing out the books with the best pictures. Illustrations not only hold a child's eye (for, after all, he can't read the words), but they also make a child's-level book more interesting to an adult. For both adult and child, pictures are a gateway to a world that exists only in imagination, but is no less real, for it certifies its existence in the same way that most real things do—by presenting itself to our vision. Once an adult has entered the world of the pictures, he then, in his own mind, can embellish it with the dimensions of a more complex reality and enjoy it as an adult experience.

Our favorite read-aloud books are listed below. Many of the best have gone out-of-print, yet if you are willing to pay the going price, all are still available from used book dealers. Look first at,, and eBay. Don't be discouraged if the lowest price is $50, $100, or even $200. Any of these titles might still be gleaned at much lower prices from library sales. Garage sales in affluent neighborhoods are another possible source. Recently I visited our local Goodwill store and found four of the titles on my list. Another place to search is antique stores. But the sad truth is that many of the best children's books are becoming rarities. There is need for a new venture dedicated to reprinting and marketing children's classics.

Books for which we have written extended reviews are marked with an asterisk. Click on the title. The lists are arranged in the following categories: