Read Aloud Favorites

When I was growing up, my family had a “special book drawer,” and when we, the children, were particularly good (we were often particularly good), we were allowed to select a book from drawer and my mother would read the book aloud to us.

Among my favorites were the following:

Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

A friend of mine picked up a copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day while at my house and started to read aloud from it (really, it is a book that demands to be read aloud), and I was surprised to find the words being read differently.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Read aloud, books beget tradition. For me, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has always been voiced with a particular rhythm and cadence every member of my family is able to recite by heart. If I could post an audio clip I’d share it with you (although there’s a chance it would shock you as much as listening to my friend read the book shocked me).

Working in a bookstore, you can’t help but listen to stories and read passages aloud to others.

“Oh, listen to this!” is a common phrase here among the booksellers, and we all wait, in rapt attention, for the reading that follows.

I’ve never outgrown my need to listen to stories. I don’t think any of us have. Whether it’s listening to clips on This American Life, The Wire, audio books, or attending a reading, this need is pretty easy to see.

In my house we are currently reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit aloud. I think it’s a book that was meant to be read that way. Here are a few of my other read-aloud favorites and staff read-aloud recommendations for the older readers and listeners in your life:


DublinersDubliners by James Joyce
This novella has words and phrases you want to eat, and really, the closest you’re going to get to that experience is to read it aloud. A classic well worth sharing.

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brallier
This one is a choose-your-own-adventure story for adults. It’s scary (no, really), offers many opportunities for discussion, and features zombies. What more could you want (aside from a blanket to hide under)?

The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I just finished listening–yes, listening–to this book, and I am smitten. This story tells of Achilles through the eyes of his companion and lover Patroclus. Epic hardly begins to describe the wonder of this book.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
If you haven’t yet heard a Sedaris story read aloud, you haven’t yet experienced the stories fully. Seemingly made for audible enjoyment, these stories will have you chortling if not laughing aloud.

The Thing Around Your NeckThe Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Adichie
If you want to share a bit of brain food, this book is great! Expect to read fantastic stories you’ll need to discuss after you’ve finished.

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories Volume ISherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
With all the Sherlock-based movies and stories being produced, going back to the original stories is a wonderful way to delve further into the world of one of the best-loved detectives. The stories themselves sound great read aloud and promote great discussions!

My Family and Other AnimalsMy Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
This book is a nature essay meets family memoir and will have you and your audience laughing and shaking your head in turns. A great family great for those who understand that one’s kin are often a source many oddities.

The Feather RoomThe Feather Room by Anis Mojgani
This poetry book is written by a slam poet, which means the work is meant to be read aloud or performed. Both energetic and tender, this is a wonderful collection well worth sharing.

Letters to Kelly Clarkson by Julia Bloch
We first came upon this book when a customer ordered it as a special order. Since then, we’ve become fascinated with this collection of unrequited correspondence, these prose poems addressed to Kelly Clarkson. There’s a certain intimacy in these pages we can’t quite put our fingers on but adore.

Alright, so there are a few read aloud recommends from our staff. What are your favorite read-aloud books?



2 thoughts on “Read Aloud Favorites

  1. For the younger set, anything by Lynley Dodd. Especially if the story involves Salinky Malinky. As my kids got older, I read them essays by David Kline, the Amish author and naturalist. My son really enjoyed the first Aragon book and The Divide. And we all loved reading The Golden Compass.

  2. Hi! Loved this post but it obviously took me a while to comment. Lately, our favorite is Press Here by Hervé Tullet. I even caught the kids introducing it to two friends the other night! So, so awesome!

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