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Read Aloud of the Day!

April 2020

An essential element in reading aloud is what you choose to read. Not everyone is familiar with children's literature, either classic or contemporary. These are read aloud titles which eliminates some books that are difficult to read aloud or, because of the subject matter, are best read silently to oneself.

For more book recommendations, check out Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, 8th Edition, of which I revised and updated and including a Giant Treasury of Great Read-Aloud Books with a multitude of new selections. 

Additional Read Aloud of the Day Recommendations can be found at:

January Read Alouds of the Day

February Read Alouds of the Day

March Read Alouds of the Day

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom


Grades 4 and up                   April 30

Candlewick           2020             56 pages

Box Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Another author that I heard on Instagram Live #TrueStuffTuesdays was Carole Boston Weatherford sharing her newest book, Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. Henry Brown was born a slave. As an adult, he married Nancy and they had four children. Despite promises that his family would not be separated and sold, Henry watched them carted away in chains. Feeling there was nothing left to be taken from him, Henry hatched a plan with help from others, to send himself in a box to freedom. But Henry Brown’s story doesn’t end there but rather he becomes a showman to tell his story and more. Weatherford’s poems contain six lines each representing the six sides of a box. Mixed-media illustrations in rich hues and patterns by Michele Wood are equally powerful. Back matter includes a timeline of Henry Brown’s life as well as notes from Weatherford and Wood, and a bibliography. This stunning book would be excellent for reading aloud to fifth graders and up.

A Splash of Red: The LIfe and Art of Horace Pippin


Grades 1-5               April 29

Knopf Books           2013                     40 pages

Yesterday, I tuned in to watch #TrueStuffTuesdays on Instagram and listened to Jen Bryant talk about A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. I was reminded how much I love this book which received numerous awards including the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction. When Horace Pippin was a child in the late 1800s, he loved to draw. His drawings brought to life the people and settings around him, including his time spent in trenches during World War I. Unfortunately, as a soldier, Horace was shot which injured his right arm making it impossible to use. But Horace’s desire to make art prevailed and he slowly taught himself to paint. Soon, his paintings were garnering attention and being displayed in galleries and museums across the country. This inspiring story is coupled with equally evocative Illustrations by Melissa Sweet. If you haven’t read aloud this book, please seek it out or revisit it if you are already a fan of Bryant and Sweet’s work.

A Splash of Red The LIfe and Art of Hora


BY KAELA NOEL                      April 28

Grades 3-7 

Greenwillow        2020        408 pages

When a baby is abandoned in an alley, a flock of pigeons picks her up and carries her to the rooftop dovecote. For years, the child now named Coo, lives with the pigeons. That is, until a hawk attacks and nearly kills Burr, the pigeon she loves most. Needing to get help, Coo navigates her way down the stairs to seek out the woman, Tully, who frequently heals injured birds. Tully mends Burr’s broken wing and convinces Coo to live with her. Coo soon begins to experience a life previously unknown to her while realizing that the human world is not always one of safety and security. The unusual plot will prompt questions and discussion as it explores what it means to love others and what truly makes us family.


Alice Across America:

The Story of the First Women's Cross Country Road Trip


Grades 1-4                       April 27

Harry Holt and Co.       2020              48 pages

From the moment Alice Ramsey slid behind the wheel of a car, she loved driving. After earning a perfect score on a two-day endurance driving test, she was approached by a representative from the makers of the Maxwell-Briscoe car she drove. He proposed she drive from New York to California as part of a promotional gimmick to show that the car was so well built and easy to operate that even a lady could drive it safely. Alice was intrigued by the idea and recruited three other women to join her on the cross-country, unpaved road trip. First she needed to learn to change tires and clean spark plugs but soon was on her way. Despite a few mishaps here and there—flat tires, dented hubcap, overheated radiator, and a tow out of a muddy mess from a friendly farmer—after 59 days the women finally made it to San Francisco. Alice became the first woman to complete a cross-country American road trip and to earn a place in the Automotive Hall of Fame. Terrific back matter coupled with photographs of Alice and her “crew” conclude this interesting and informative book.

Alice Across America The Story of the Fi

Bad Brows


Grades K-3                     April 24

Abrams        2020          40 pages

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After six weeks in quarantine, here’s a book I can relate to—Bad Brows by Jason Carter Eaton. Bernard wakes up one morning and discovers that his eyebrows have gone rogue. He thought they were just a bit rumpled but no amount of smoothing them down makes a difference. His family thinks he is making goofy faces, picture day is a disaster, and the school principal doesn’t believe Bernard is taking the issue seriously—all because his eyebrows continually keep taking different shapes and therefore creating various facial expressions. This silly story with equally hilarious illustrations by Mike Petrik may be just what listeners need to make the best expression a face can make—a smile.

Kent State

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BY DEBORAH WILES                April 23

Grades 7 and up

Scholastic             2020        144 pages

On May 4, 1970 on the campus of Kent State University, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War. Four students were killed—two who were merely walking to class—and nine others were wounded. National Book Award finalist, Deborah Wiles, has written one of the most powerful and compelling books about this tragic time in U.S. history. Told in multiple voices that share various perspectives, it is understood why, what happened is still be debated today. This is a perfect read aloud because the voices of protestor, townspeople, students, and Guardsman are riveting. It would also work well with secondary students as a readers’ theater. This is one book not to be missed by adolescents and adults.



Grades K-4                                April 22

Beach Lane/S&S                      2020

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into the ocean. This was the largest oil spill until April 20, 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded, spilling 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Author Jonah Winter shares how the Exxon Valdez oil spill killed thousands of seabirds, sea otters, and other wildlife in the area and spread over miles of ocean and shoreline. Only around 14 percent of the oil was cleaned up leaving much of it still harming the environment. The illustrations by Jeanette Winter expand upon the narrative text by depicting the leak’s impact and the creatures who were affected. An author’s note offers additional information about the spill and expresses concern over humans’ dependence on oil. This book is a sober reminder on this Earth Day 2020 that the environment is fragile and how incidents such as oil spills forever alters our planet.


The Weather’s Bet



BY ED YOUNG                       April 20

Grades 1-4

Philomel Books      2020     32 pages

Caldecott Medalist, Ed Young, has created exquisite mixed-media collage illustrations to visually retell the Aesop’s fable, The Wind and the Sun. In this version, The Weather’s Bet, three powers—Wind, Rain, and Sun—each claim they are the mightiest. They put this claim to the test in betting who could make a shepherd girl lose her red cap. The Wind howled, but the girl just waited for it to end. Then Rain pounded water down and the shepherd danced in the mud. Once the sun began to shine, the girl removed her cap as she received the warmth. Each page of this stirring book will invite readers to pause and ponder both the story and the art.


BY SARAH PERRY                            April 17

Kindergarten and up

Abrams                 1995/2020        44 pages

If . . . by Sarah Perry is one of those books that prompts great discussions and lends itself to fostering creativity, inspiring writing, and generating artistic responses. In 2020, the 25th Anniversary Edition of this visual feast includes a few new illustrations and back matter that includes a reader’s guide to the secrets of If . . . Just think about “If worms had wheels” or “If toes were teeth” or even “If the moon were square.” This is a fun read aloud for kids of all ages and who knows what else they might wonder, “If . . .”


Oh, No!


Pre-school- Grade 2              April 16

Schwartz & Wade           2012             40 pages

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Today’s #ReadAloudoftheDay is one of my favorites by Candace Fleming, published a few years ago. Oh, No! is exclaimed after one after another animal falls into a deep, deep hole. What I love about this lively read aloud is that it is interactive and listeners, both young and older, cannot resist shouting the refrain of “Oh, No!” Language use is engaging with fun sound effects and onomatopoeic exclamations. Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator, Eric Rohmann, uses a palette with shades of brown, green, orange, and blue while the perspective gives readers a sense of that deep hole. Don’t miss the endpapers as the story begins with a Tiger lurking as the Frog flits across the page.

The List of Things That Will Not Change

BY REBECCA SNEAD                      April 15

Grades 4-8       
Random House                2020       220 pages

It’s a time of change for Bea and her family particularly after her parents’ divorce. To reassure her that many things will remain the same, Bea keeps a list in her green notebook about what will remain the same and that includes her parents’ love for her. When Bea’s father announces that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, the middle grader is thrilled. And Bea will finally get what she has always wanted—a sister. Rebecca Stead’s middle grade novels capture the essence and anxiety of kids while offering plausible problems and solutions. This is a terrific #ReadAloudoftheDay to discuss not only character’s insecurities and fears but also that of the children listening.

#ReadAloudDaily           #BooksforKids

The List of Things That Will Not change.

Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote


Grades 2-6                            April 14

Calkins Creek              2020                 40 pages

Fight of the Century Alice Paul Battles

Did you know that the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified 100 years ago in 1920? Barb Rosenstock features two of the key players—Alice Paul and Woodrow Wilson-- in the years leading up to this new amendment to the Constitution. Even World War I couldn’t stop the women’s suffrage movement which involved peaceful parades, picketing the White House (unheard of in those days), and even a stint for Alice Paul in a filthy, rat infested jail. But nothing would deter the suffragist's battle for women’s right to vote. Rosenstock cleverly frames the conflict between Paul and Wilson as a boxing match that offers an informative and compelling view of this memorable time in our nation’s history. Sarah Green’s eye-catching illustrating and extensive back matter make this nonfiction picture book a winning title and the #ReadAloudoftheDay.

Don't Feed the Coos!

Don't Feed the Coos!.jpg


Pre-School-Grade 2                    April 13

Henry Holt and Co.         2020           48 pages

Today’s #ReadAloudoftheDay by Jonathan Stutzman brings some much needed laughter and silliness. Who knew that feeding coos (pigeons) could create such havoc in a young girl’s life? This cautionary laugh-out-loud tale shares what happens when the girl shares some bread with a coo which results in the entire coo population wanting a morsel. Soon the coos are following the girl home, to orchestra practice, to the arcade and even to karate lessons. And, unfortunately wherever there are coos there is poo. What do you do with coos and poo? Even insurmountable problems can have a solution. Comical illustrations by Heather Fox add to the merriment and fun. Enjoy!

The Music of Life

BY LOUIS THOMAS                  April 12

Pre-shool to Grade 2

Farrar, Straus and Giroux      2020    40 pages

It’s late at night when everyone is asleep and the world around Lenny is quiet. Lenny is a music composer and vows to “write a symphony tonight!” But no notes or inspiration come to him until he hears his cat Pipo licking a bowl of milk—Lick, Lick, Lick--and the leaking sink offering Plic, Ploc, Pluc. Lenny soon realizes there are sounds and music everywhere both inside and outside. As he gathers all of the sounds and his ideas, a symphony is created that is full of LIFE. This melodious picture book reminds us that beauty and inspiration can be discovered in the smallest things if we just open our ears, and our hearts, to the rhythm of the world.

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

BY BRIAN SELZNICK              April 11

Grades 1-up

Scholastic            2015           533 pages

Today’s #ReadAloudoftheDay is the Caldecott Medal winning story, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This amazing book uses text and visual to tell the story of young Hugo who lives in the walls of a Paris train station where he must remain hidden and undetected. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, an automaton, and a message from Hugo’s late father weave together a spellbinding as well as tender story. My undergraduates recently read Brian Selznick’s piece of masterful storytelling and one college student’s response is shown below. This is a good book to read aloud to a just a few children in order to be able to see and read the images. Be sure to check out Selznick’s website for insight into the inspiration and process for the book. After finishing The Invention of Hugo Cabret, why not watch the movie that is just as captivating.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret.jpg

It's Poetry Month so here's a #ReadAloudoftheDay of fun poems to read to kids now and every month of the year. The late poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins, has provided readers with so many incredible books of poetry. Construction People contains 14 poems by Hopkins and other well-known poets including Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia Heard, Allan Wolf, and J. Patrick Lewis. The subject of these poems focuses on those who collaborate on the construction of a high-rise hotel building---backhoe operator, crane operator, carpenters, welders, plumbers, and elevator installers. Over the past few weeks, I have noticed families walking and driving around neighborhoods and observing the world around them. This would be a great book to share poems about the construction of buildings that might be seen and who was involved in creating and constructing them.

Construction People


Grades 1-4                          April 10

Boyds Mills/Wordsong       2020            32 pages

Construction People.jpg

Al Capone Does My Shirts


Grades 4-8

G. P. Putnam's Sons         2004         240 pages

Al Capone Does My Shirts.jpg

In considering what books to suggest for the Read Aloud of the Day, I thought I would try to include titles that may have sequels to keep the read aloud going, offer suggestions for potential discussion question and response activities, and has the potential to lead to further inquiry. Al Capone Does My Shirts fits that description perfectly. This Newbery Honor book by Gennifer Choldenko is set in 1935 on Alcatraz Island. When Moose’s family move to the 12-acre rock surrounded by water, he discovers there are 23 other kids who live on the island and have fathers who work as guards, cooks, doctors, and electricians for the prison. Locked up are the most notorious criminals, including Al Capone. The pacing of the book is just right for reading aloud and the plot will intrigue fourth graders on up. An excellent teacher’s guide with questions, activities, and suggested websites can be found at:

Trio of "Rollicking Read-Alouds"!


On Friday, Nov. 15, I am presenting a session on Rollicking Read Alouds at the American Association of School Librarians in Louisville, KY. I will be joined by Laura Murray, Tracey Hecht, and Brendan Wenzel. Laura has a picture book series of "Gingerbread Man" books that provide rhyming, rollicking fun. Tracey's "Nocturnals" books are good for middle-grade readers and reading aloud because of the interesting characters and lots of dialogue that engages listeners. And of course, Brendan Wenzel's picture books are artistically stunning. Not sure if A Stone Sat Still would be considered a "rollicking read aloud" but it is definitely a must for reading aloud and discussing with kids.

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Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson


Grades 1-4 

Abrams Books for Young Readers 2019    48 pages 


This week, my undergraduate children's literature class is exploring picture book biographies. I think some of the best biographies are published in this format. One author that does an amazing job in writing about the life of individuals is Jen Bryant. Whether the focus is on artists such as Georgia O'Keefe or Horace Pippin, word wizard Peter Mark Roget, or poet William Carlos Williams, each one is unique in how the information is presented. One week from today, Jen's newest book, Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson, will be available. I can't wait to read this newest gem by Jen.

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Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks


Grades 5 and up 

Atheneum, 2019    194 pages

Jason Reynolds is a masterful storyteller and Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks doesn’t disappoint. Ten short stories, featuring characters in middle school, are cleverly woven together in both humorous and poignant ways. But all of them are sure to engage kids. Each chapter averages around 15 pages (perfect for reading aloud) and tackles a topic not far removed from experiences kids encounter in middle grades. And these topics will definitely prompt discussion starting with the first chapter on boogers and others focusing on bullying, parental illness, and homophobia. I haven’t had an opportunity to share this with kids but would love to hear about their reactions if you have some to share.

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I Wonder

Grades Preschool-2
Random House Books for Young Readers    2019    40 pages                      

Questions such as, "I wonder if sandwiches get made when you bite them?" or "Do windmills ever get tired?" or "I wonder if books read us, too?" will certainly prompt other questions and motivate kids to conduct their own inquiry into the world around them. K.A. Holt's whimsical questions are accompanied by Kenard Pak's captivating illustrations in this engaging wonder-ful picture book.

Hands Up!

Grades Preschool-3
Dial Books    2019    32 pages

I'm always on the lookout for books that lend themselves to interactive read alouds. Hands Up by Breanna J. McDaniel is perfect for preschool and kindergarten storytimes. Kids will quickly pick up on the repetitive phrase, “Hands Up” and will join in the fun.  Vibrant and colorful illustrations by Shane W. Evans make excellent use of lines to prompt raising hands up high.

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Bear Came Along

Grades: Preschool-3
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers    2019    40 pages 

"Once there was a river that flowed night and day, but it didn't know it was a river until Bear Came Along". And soon more animals join bear and a grand adventure is had by all. Richard T. Morris's, Bear Came Along, contains a humorous storyline filled with expressive vocabulary such as curious, content, and excited. LeUyen Pham's illustrations are eye-catching and depict each character's emotions as they embark on an adventure that is literally filled with twists and turns. Be sure to remove the dust jacket, view the endpapers, and read the author and illustrator notes at the end.

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Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963


Grades 4-8 

Scholastic, 2019 234 pages

At the recent International Literacy Association Conference in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of hearing Sharon Robinson speak about her new book Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963. This is a compelling book in which she talks about her thirteen-year-old self and the impact of one of the most important years of the Civil Rights Movement. That year saw the Children’s March in 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which four young girls were killed. Photos of Sharon and her family (which of course includes baseball legend, Jackie Robinson) are included. Two picture books that could accompany the reading of this book include Let the Children March written by Monica Clark-Robinson and A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein with stunning illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.

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If I Built a School


Grades K-3

Dial, 2019  32 pages

If I Built A School by Chris Van Dusen is perfect for reading aloud. Van Dusen uses rhyming couplets that flow easily and aren’t forced by including words just to create a rhyme. The illustrations have a unique and eye-catching retro look that is Van Dusen’s trademark style. Imaginations will soar with the thought of hover desks with bumpers, a robo-chef named Pete who mixes up tasty, and unique lunches, and a playground with a zip line and water for tubing. Teachers would love this school as well where a stylus can be used to write in the air, hologram guests both past and present can visit the classroom, and specialty buses can dive underwater and blast off the ground. This is the third in Van Dusen’s series which includes If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012). Kids will be motivated and excited to think about all the other things or places that could be built.


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The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation


Grades K-3                                                  

Atheneum, 2017; e-book, audiobook  96 pages

This is book four in the popular Princess in Black series. Our heroine, Princess Magnolia, is exhausted. She has been battling monsters for the fourteenth time in one week. When the masked Goat Avenger suggests she take a vacation, the Princess decides to ride her bicycle to the seashore. When a sea monster begins terrorizing the beach, the Princess in Black knows she needs to spring into action. Dual storylines of Princess Magnolia and

the Goat Avenger keep the pace exciting. Illustrations by LeUyen Pham add to the fun. Other books in the series: The Princess in Black; The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party; The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde; The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate; The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare; and The Princess in Black Takes a Holiday.

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Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, Marie LeJeune, Cyndi Giorgis at the International Literacy Association Conference in New Orleans, October, 2019

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Marie LeJeune and Cyndi Giorgis preparing for their presentation with Dean and Shannon Hale at ILA by dressing as Princess in Black. 
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Smash!"

A Drop of Hope


Grades 3–8                                                                                                             

Scholastic, 2019; e-book  320 pages


A well. A wish. And a little drop of hope. These three things are expertly woven together in this engaging and thought-provoking read-aloud. The town of Cliffs Donnelly is facing tough times and a few miracles would help its residents. Sixth grader Ernest Wilmette is small in stature, but large with optimism. His classmates, Ryan Hardy and Lizzy MacComber, are not quite as positive in their outlook given their family and personal challenges.  And then there’s bully Tommy Bricks who is feared by all.

At the center of the story is Thompkins Well where, legend has it, a miracle took place generations ago when a significant wish was granted. When Ernest and Ryan discover a hidden tunnel that leads to the bottom of the well, they also unwittingly hear the wishes of people—some whose voices they recognize and others that are unfamiliar. Ernest decides they should find a way to make the wishes come true despite Ryan’s skepticism. Couple Ernest’s genuine wish-granting intent with his task of cleaning his late grandfather’s attic and somehow wishes do come true. Told through various characters’ perspectives, this novel is storytelling at its finest. 


Related books: Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly; The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan; Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo; and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

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Grades Preschool-2 Little Brown, 2019 40 pages

Daddy takes pride in his perfect lawn. But then he spies a dandelion. Before he is able to get his clippers to remove it, his daughter, Sweetie, has claimed it and named it Charlotte. Every attempt to remove the weed is unsuccessful because Sweetie doesn’t stray far away from it. Finally, daddy has his chance when Sweetie leaves for swim lessons. As he makes his approach toward the dandelion, he spies a picture Sweetie has drawn of Charlotte and daddy. Unfortunately, his clippers drop and damage Charlotte. The illustrations on the next few pages are hilarious as daddy and his neighbros try to revive the damaged dandelion. If you are looking for a charming book about fathers and daughers, this one will do the trick. Related books: Dad By My Side by Soosh; and My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein.

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