Stuck at home? Reading aloud is a no-prep activity that kids love! My curated booklist of read aloud books for babies, kids, and even teens will get you started.
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If you’ve been looking for kids activities to do during quarantine or just because you’re stuck at home…well, I’ve got the read aloud booklist for you! My list includes read aloud recommendations for babies, toddlers, middle grade readers, even teens (where audio books are also a great option). This is a curated list of wonderful read aloud material from board books to chapter books–all perfect for those times when you might be stuck at home with bored babies or kids.
WHAT’S IN THE POST
- 8 Tips for Reading with Kids When You Are Stuck at Home
- Board Books (0-4 years)
- Picture Books (4-8 years)
- Middle Grade Chapter Books (8+ years)
- Chapter Books for Teens (13+)
8 TIPS FOR READING WITH KIDS WHEN YOU ARE STUCK AT HOME
- Borrow audio books from the library. If your library happens to be closed, look into online options. For instance, there are often apps that allow readers to check out audio books (and ebooks) online. Audio books are the perfect solution for when you’d like to read aloud, but can’t for some reason.
- Sign up for Amazon Prime. Use my link for a 30-day free trial and order a few of the books below. You’ll get them in two days right to your door. Praise for new reading material! (note: at the time of writing, general Amazon shipments have been delayed in favor of essentials)
- Sign up for a KindleUnlimited Membership. A great option for older kids, you will get unlimited reading from over 1 million ebooks, unlimited listening to thousands of audiobooks, and the ability to read on any device.
- Try Audible. Listening to stories on audio books is a great option to pair with cleaning, coloring, or even just folding laundry…because there is always laundry, right?!
- Organize a themed read. Tell your younger kids to gather up all their stuffed animals into a (clean) laundry basket, and then grab any animal-themed picture books (such as The Mitten, Bear Snores On, It’s My Birthday) you have handy. Now read the books together and have the kids search through the basket for the appropriate animals as you see them in the pictures of your books.
- Add a snack. Snacks make everything better. Make hot chocolate or popcorn (or o-shaped cereals for littles), pick a good book (or a few) and make family memories together!
- Get siblings involved. Ask older siblings to read board books or picture books with the littler ones. Older kids will love being helpful and you will love the break!
- Add an activity. Set up the kids with age-appropriate activities to do while you listen to an audio book or read aloud. For example: coloring, crafts, clay, legos, megablocks, etc.
Alright, now let’s dive into my book suggestions! First up, read aloud board books for babies!
BOARD BOOKS TO READ WITH YOUR BABIES WHILE AT HOME
About age ranges: These are suggestions based the publisher’s notes, but you know your child best! Age range is just a suggestion.
If you are stuck at home with babies (whether this is your usual gig or perhaps your daycare is closed) you need activities to keep the day moving (and make it to naptime successfully). Reading board books aloud is a peaceful, quiet, no-prep activity. Oh, and you get to sit on the couch the whole time!
I placed an emphasis on interactive and upbeat board books in this list, because when we’re stuck home, it’s time to pull out all the stops on entertainment.
In a world dominated by screens, preschoolers kindergartners will love how this book transforms before their eyes as they follow instructions to clap, shake, and of course, press here. With only the short instructions and spare illustrations you’ll be amazed at all this book can do. Highly recommend! I like this one for 1-5 years, but know that younger babies obviously won’t be ready to follow all the instructions themselves.
A popular choice (with a host of sequels) that I was reluctant to pick up, BECAUSE of its immense popularity. However, after we received a copy, I was hooked. The book has a compelling story-line (all in rhyme), onomatopoeia, and plenty of animal sounds. However, just get ready to read it 345 times. Ages 0+. Also try Little Blue Truck’s Springtime.
Flaps to lift, wheels to spin, tabs to pull out, the book has it all. From Mr. Collins’ proposal to Lydia’s elopement (expressed in a child-friendly way) the book gives the general gist (with a few things out of order) of the story. You’ll enjoy the occasional quote from the original scattered throughout. Age range: Publisher suggests 3-6yrs, I say 0+ with the caution that some of the elements are delicate. Full review here.
Another literary adaption for little ones like Pride and Prejudice above, my favorite page in this book is where you shift a page to reveal a tree in bloom. So fun! I’ll note that a few of the elements seem a bit less well-designed than the P&P book (like the illustrations occasionally seem incomplete). Again, suggested age is 3-6, but I do love these for babies too. Watching a parent or older sibling move the flaps/wheels/etc is such fun for them!
Psalms of Praise: A Movement Primer (Baby Believer®) by Danielle Hitchen, illustrated by Jessica Blanchard
If you really need to engage your toddlers (and tire them out) take a few turns with this lovely book from Harvest House Kids. Each page features a different action (such as running, jumping, clapping, dancing), a beautiful diversity of children, and a Scripture verse to match each movement. Ages 0-4.
Interactive flaps, a host of animals, repetition, and a short & sweet text make this a winner for kids and babies alike. Find out what the zoo will send next! Note: this book is only $4 on Amazon at the time of this post! Ages 1-4.
A wild rhyming read aloud in “Berryland”, your little one will love this upbeat imaginative tale of a berry picking adventure! 1-4 years.
PICTURE BOOKS TO READ TO SURVIVE A QUARANTINE
About age ranges: These are suggestions based the publisher’s notes. You know your child best! Age range is just a suggestion.
Kids (preschoolers to early elementary) have likely picked up on the anxiety, fear, and confusion present right now. As a result, kids might also have started asking questions about death or illness. Because of this, I included my very favorite, Goodbye to Goodbyes, a picture book that addresses death head on.
Also, in this list of read aloud books for kids I emphasized themes like love, family, and togetherness–all great things to focus on during challenging times.
Goodbyes don’t have to be forever! This is a book that re-tells the true story of “Jesus, Lazarus, and an empty tomb.” Kids will be encouraged and find hope as this book explains how Jesus came to end goodbyes. After the story, there is a family depicted alongside a gentle explanation of death and goodbyes that will really help answer those tough questions from our kids. Ages 4-8. P.S. This whole series does a wonderful job of representing diversity throughout the illustrations, which I love!
A world filled with rebellion quickly grows dim. Learn the story of Creation, Rebellion, Redemption, and Restoration in this compelling picture book. Kids need truth and this book tells the story of God so well. From the visuals to the simple and memorable text, I highly recommend this one! Ages 4-8, although I think 2+ will enjoy hearing it read aloud as well. Full review here.
Grannie’s house is full! Full of hugs and kisses. Colorful dishes. A brimming candy tin. But most of all, her home is full of love! Jay Jay arrives for Sunday dinner at his Grannie’s house and this delightful read-aloud captures the joys and love of family–not to mention the glorious table of food Grannie prepares! Ages 2-5.
The charming and heart-warming story of Toot and Puddle’s friendship. Holly Hobbie’s artwork both showcased in Woodcock Pocket (where Toot and Puddle live) and in Toot’s travels around the world is a treasure! Ages 4-8.
A tender ode to motherhood from a unique perspective–that of a young girl caring for a duckling. The book gently explains love in a way that SO captures the sacrifice (and beauty) of motherhood. From “noisy midnight feedings” (finally solved by cuddles of course), to the day-to-day chores that define motherhood, this book gets it. Favorite! Ages 3-6. Full review here.
With beautiful illustrations from Jane Chapman (the Bear Books) you’ll love this rhyming picture book all about the joy of being together. I appreciate this book for the emphasis it places on enjoying ordinary days and the simple things that make them wonderful. This book, in a way that a child will understand, portrays the truth that the ordinary is special. Age range: 4+.
Glide across the water via canoe and discover creatures found both over and under the pond. From whirligig beetles to beavers, otters to woodpeckers, you’ll love diving beneath the surface or surveying the pond from high above. A calming book you’ll be happy to read aloud on repeat. Age range 5-8 (kids a bit younger and older will enjoy it too!). Full review here.
The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
“Bzzz…What’s that? Do you hear it? You’re near it. It’s closer, it’s coming, it’s buzzing, it’s humming…” from The Honeybee.⠀
The rhyme, vocabulary, and eye-catching illustrations of this picture book combine to tell (in an extremely captivating way!) the tale of the honeybee and the process of making honey. This book will entrance your kiddos to the very last page. Not to mention, the little honeybees are so cute swirling about the pages! The book concludes with an addendum of more information about the honeybee and conservation efforts. Ages 4-8.
PICTURE BOOKS TO MAKE KIDS GIGGLE
I love each one of these read aloud picture books for kids that I’ve shared, but the next two in particular are excellent choices to brighten the mood in your home!
In a cave in the woods,The Bear Snores On, Karma Wilson
in his deep, dark lair,
through the long, cold winter
sleeps a great brown bear.
I love this story series! The books are rhyming magic accompanied by delightful animals illustrated by Jane Chapman. Also available as a board book. Try some of the others too, such as Bear Can’t Sleep and Bear Wants More. Ages 2-5.
Mr. Magee and his little dog Dee are off for adventure! It becomes more exciting than expected when they encounter a whale eager to play. Van Dusen is both a talented artist and wordsmith and your home will be filled with laughter as you read this story together.
CHAPTER BOOKS FOR OLDER KIDS TO READ WHILE STUCK AT HOME
About age ranges: These are suggestions based the publisher’s notes, but you know your child best! Age range is just a suggestion. Also note that while these are all great books to listen to, you may prefer choosing a audio book edition instead of reading aloud, especially for books that have a lot of long descriptive passages (i.e. The Little House Books, Lord of the Rings). Again, check out the online resources your library offers!
The famous stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, an American pioneer. Farmer Boy is my favorite of the series (I also love These Happy Golden Years) and the Long Winter gives such great perspective of hard times! Ages 8+. Note that the last book in the series contains some more difficult themes that you might wish to save for your older kids. The audiobook editions are a great choice for this series. Ages 8+
From the back cover: “Just as Henry Huggins is complaining that nothing exciting ever happens, a friendly dog sits down beside him and looks pleadingly at his ice-cream cone.” And there begins the adventures of Henry and Ribsy. Beverly Cleary is a popular choice for young readers and you’ll enjoy reading aloud or listening to an audio book as well. Also try The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Socks. Ages 8+
Yes, Mandy is written by that Julie Andrews (a woman of many talents!). I love the delightful story of Mandy–a ten year old orphan–who just wants a place to call her own and the adventures she has while making it happen. Ages 8+
Another favorite from Julie Andrews is the highly imaginative The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.
If you’ve only seen the movies, you are missing out! Anne is a treasure. The characters, dialogue, Anne’s creative misadventures, and of course Montgomery’s flawless prose have made this whole series a timeless classic. 8+ (note that the series takes on some more difficult themes especially in books 5-8).
We love the audio book editions of these classic stories and have listened for many a road trip. Lewis’s tales of talking animals, daring adventures, and the battles between good and evil are thought-provoking and attention-holding. The book cover shown is this edition. 8+, though younger kids will enjoy hearing these read aloud too!
CHAPTER BOOKS FOR TEENS 13+
Oh, I LOVED these books when I was a teen! Arthurian legends are just.so.good and Morris brings them to life in a new (and humorous) way. The male protagonist in this first book is 14 and based on the themes in this and the successive books I’d suggest them for around 13+. Read them all! Sidenote that I think this new cover looks a bit creepy…and the books really are not!
All her life, Valancy Stirling lived on a quiet little street in an ugly little house and never dared to contradict her domineering mother and her unforgiving aunt. Then she gets a letter―and decides that very day things need to change.From the back cover of The Blue Castle
I love reading about the life Valancy discovers! I won’t give anything away, but it you’ve already read the Anne books, give this one a try. Valancy is 29 and the story is more suited to older readers (maybe 13+, especially compared to Anne of Green Gables).
With the popularity of the recent film, the book is a definite must read (or listen!). The length of the novel (make sure you read both Little Women and Good Wives) gives ample time to develop plot lines that may have been cut short in the various film adaptations. 12/13+ (younger kids will enjoy it more if it’s read aloud or an audio book version). Continue the story with the sequels or else try Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, An Old Fashioned Girl and The Inheritance.
I’m feeling my age when I realize that the first movie came out nearly 20 years ago now. If your teen has never gotten a chance to read the books, give it a go! The audio books make an excellent choice for car rides or course, when you are stuck at home. If your teen is reading on their own, because the books are so hefty, a reader around 13+ will likely enjoy them most. Note: the set I linked to includes The Hobbit.
EVEN MORE CHAPTER BOOKS
- Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (8+)
- A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (8+)
- Stuart Little by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams (8+)
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams (8+)
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Tasha Tudor (8+)
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (8+)
- Anything else written by Beverly Cleary (particularly the Ramona series!) (8+)
- The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit (8+)
- The Betsy-Tacy Treasury Series (books 1-4 for ages 8+)
- Betsy Tacy Series Continued (Heaven to Betsy/Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy Was a Junior/Betsy and Joe; Betsy and the Great World/Betsy’s Wedding)
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (13+)
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (13+, though reading aloud to younger kids works too!)
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (13+)
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (nonfiction, but so good! 13+)
What are your favorite books to read aloud? Or, are you embracing audio books during this time of quarantine and being stuck at home? I’d love to hear about what you’re reading, so share with me in the comments!