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Saturday, May 31, 2014

10 Books to Read to a Kindergarten Class

Hi, friends. Is school out where you are? School is out for us and we are a week into summer. As I looked back on this school year, I realized it was something special. After all, your oldest child's first year of school only happens once. So much about this year was new and thrilling for Benjamin, and for me as his mom. Jacob agrees that it was an exciting year -- especially watching Benjamin learn to read.

Two or three Fridays each month I went and read to Benjamin's class. I meant to get a babysitter for my other two kids when I first started volunteering, but I never did and that worked out alright. Levi (age 3) loved hearing the stories just as much as the Kindergarteners and learned, over time, to sit quietly with them on the rug.  Jubilee grew from 5 months old to 12 months old over the course of our time in the classroom. The Kindergarteners just adored her and, prompted by whatever new skill she was showing off, they often told me about their own siblings or baby cousins.

But let's get down to business here! What did I read to them? What do I recommend if you ever find yourself reading to a class?

We mostly read picture books. I typically read 5-7 of them in the ~40 min that I read to the group. Part-way through the year I began a longer chapter book, My Dad's a Birdman by David Almond, illustrated by Polly Dunbar, but reactions were mixed. I kept reading a chapter or two each time I went, to appease those who loved it, but most of the class wanted to read picture books and I was ok with that.

Books to read to a kindergarten class

10 books to read to a Kindergarten class:

(Titles are affiliate links.)

  1. Petite Rouge by Mike Artell and Jim Harris (My personal favorite read-aloud for any audience. I've developed voices and honed my delivery. And this book is worth it.
  2. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (A classic!)
  3. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (and sequels) by Mo Willems (Just SO fun. Benjamin's review here)
  4. Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems (I gush about these here and here)
  5. The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent by Laura Ripes and Aaron Zenz (Well-loved in our house, but not very well known. Check out my full review here!)
  6. Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat (Guaranteed to get some toothy grins.)
  7. Curious George  books by Margaret & H.A. Rey (I recommend the originals over the more recently released titles. I find them infinitely more engaging.)
  8. Fly Guy  books by Ted Arnold (Benjamin's class loved to chorus, "Eeww!" at all the right places.)
  9. Click, Clack, Moo books by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (This series even has a Halloween volume: Click, Clack, Boo!)
  10. I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Gorgeous art and simple text make these ones a treat to read aloud. Ashley's review here!)

Basic principles of reading to a Kindergarten class:


1. Take time for introductions. Introduce yourself and to ask the kids their names. It's nice, and it if you do it a few times you'll get to know the kids, which is fun (and handy! See #3).

2. Don't be afraid to read them a book they already know. They love books they've read before and re-reading is a joy to them. I think they love knowing what's going to happen next.

3. If you sense you're losing them, pause. Call out a disruptive kid if needed (much easier to do if you know the kids' names!). Or, point out an interesting illustration. Ask students to "Do [this] if [that]." For instance, "Put your hand on your head if you like spaghetti."  -- avoid open questions like "Does anyone like spaghetti?" Once you say something like that, every individual Kindergartener will need to tell you that they like spaghetti (or that they hate it and prefer hot dogs) and they'll need to tell you with a deep, internal fire that is as urgent as a potty emergency.

Add your own read-aloud recommendations and tips in the comments, friends! I would love to hear them.


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