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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

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  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Picture Books We Love

Four Read-Alouds to Share Together

I’m a big fan of reading out loud. A huge fan, actually.

This is where my family starts laughing.

It’s actually a running joke with my parents and big sisters because ever since I was old enough to read, I’ve read out loud to anyone who would listen. And when they wouldn’t listen (and believe me, it got old fast), I would read out loud to myself. They said that I must just like the sound of my own voice. They still sometimes roll their eyes and ask me how long it will take, when I start with “Hey, listen to this…”

Yes, it may take a lot longer to read something when you read it out loud, but there is something so special about hearing the sound of those written words. The opportunity for a variety of character voices, for playing with cadence or alliteration, suspenseful pauses or dramatic action sequences. So much can be missed when you breeze by too silently. Perhaps what I love the best, however, is the feeling of sharing a book you’re enjoying with someone else. Like watching a favorite movie with someone seeing it for the first time, you may find yourself enjoying their reactions better than what’s happening on-screen.

Reading with children is the perfect solution. Finally, someone who not only tolerates my reading out loud, but actually demands, “Again!” As children graduate from picture books into longer chapter books, reading time can span many days, with perhaps a chapter read each night. If this sounds like a familiar routine to you or something you’d like to try at home, here’s a few recommendations for four books just right for sharing together.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Scottie Young, 128 pages. (Harper, 2013)

A father returns from an errand to the corner store for milk with a wild story to tell his kids. A delightfully silly tale of time travel and wild adventures perfect for reading out loud together.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by David Roberts, 250 pages (Candlewick Press, 2013)

While I’m incredibly partial to Ernest Shepard’s iconic illustrations, this classic story of friendship and the English countryside is made wonderfully new with this beautiful edition illustrated by David Roberts. Full-color artwork on every page makes this large format book perfect for bedtime sharing. I recently took turns reading this one out loud over a series of nights and we had great fun recreating each character's voice and accent - especially Mr. Toad!

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, 240 pages (Greenwillow Books, 2013).

A sweet and funny story about the ups and downs of second grade. This 2014 Newbery Honor book is great for fans of Ramona and Clementine. While aimed at 2nd graders, the book’s longer format makes it a good pick to read out loud together.

Charlotte’s Web Read-Aloud Edition by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams, 184 pages (Harper Collins, 1952).

This new read-aloud edition of the beloved classic offers a giant lap-sized version with big, easy-to–read print, making it the perfect size for sharing together. True to the original, it features Garth Williams’ black-and-white illustrations. For more about Charlotte's Web and our past exhibition, click here.

Do you read out loud longer chapter books with your kids or with your class? What books are current favorites? Let us know in a comment below.

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