Once upon a time, many years ago, in a land far, far away, and they lived happily ever after. February 1st is World Read Aloud Day, while the UK (and now, other nations too) observes the week of World Read Aloud Day (in this case, January 30th – Feb 5th 2023) as National Storytelling Week.
Since this week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday over at ThatArtsyReaderGirl is a freebie, I went looking for books that can fit the read aloud and/or great storytelling theme (among the books I haven’t featured already on my blog). I also looked at other ‘days’ this week and tried to pick books for those events as well.
In today’s selection of tales, there is no visible or obvious connection, but I do believe that they are great options to read aloud and also work well for storytelling in their own way. Some are short picture books and even poems while others longer stories to be read over time. I have fiction and nonfiction, folktales and more, within the list here. So there is something for everyone to enjoy, for it is time for to
Read Aloud these Great Stories
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Disclaimer: I got a digital review copy of these book from Netgalley/Edelweiss and these are my honest opinions of the books.
Every So Often A Zebra Has Spots
Every So Often A Zebra Has Spots by Lauren Grabois Fischer and illustrated by Devin Hunt (4 – 7 years)
Description: This is a must have in your child’s book collection. Every child must be told that they are special and beautiful just as they are. This book illustrates a silly side to show that you can be different and fun and loved by all
This is a short quick read. While it is not rhyming or lyrical, it is definitely one that will spark discussions when read aloud. It is a celebration of our uniqueness and our differences. We are who we are, and that is wonderful and okay! Plus, it has so many bonuses in the backmatter.
On a sidenote, the 31st of January is International Zebra Day!
The Famously Funny Parrott
The Famously Funny Parrott: Four Tales from the Bird Himself by Eric Daniel Weiner and illustrated by Brian Biggs (7 – 10 years, and up.. well, all ages really!)
Description: From the co-creator of the hit children’s show, Dora the Explorer, comes a hilarious and timeless collection of stories about the friendship between Freddie Parrott and his loyal butler, Peccary.
Parrott totally deserves to be famously funny!! This is a hilarious read with whimsy and wisdom, humor and heart, and giggles galore. A great book to read aloud for sure!! And amazing illustrations as well. Be sure to note that you might end up taking longer than you expect to read this, because
- a) laughs and giggles are sure to interrupt,
- b) new and unfamiliar words might need some explaining (all good!),
- c) sweetness is sure to bring smiles and pauses,
- and d) you might want to re-read words and phrases and lines and paragraphs and pages as you read itself!
Reminded me of a childhood favorite – The Wind in the Willows, a recent favorite – Skunk and Badger, and of course, P. G. Wodehouse! I am hoping Parrott and Peccary return soon with more stories for us.
Gwen the Rescue Hen
Gwen the Rescue Hen by Leslie Crawford and illustrated by Sonja Stangl (4 – 7 years, and up)
Description: Winner of a prestigious Northern Lights Book Award, Gwen the Rescue Hen is the heart-warming story about a sharp-witted chicken that inspires compassion for animals.
Adorably cute and fun illustrations accompany a narrative that begs to be read aloud to this book a great choice for everyone. This book is delightful and readers will soon find themselves cheering both Gwen and Mateo on their adventures. Leslie Crawford tackles a tough subject with ease and Sonja Stangl’s sweet artwork renders the right touch and mood to the narrative (from dark colors when Gwen is caged to vibrant colors later). All the sounds and sights in this book make it a great one to read aloud!
Don’t miss the backmatter which includes fun chicken facts and more about the story itself. And yes, look for the other chickens hiding in pages across the book!
Mysteries of Trash and Treasure: The Secret Letters
Mysteries of Trash and Treasure: The Secret Letters by Margaret Peterson Haddix (9 – 12 years, and up)
Description: In this book (the first of a series), Colin and Nevaeh, whose parents own rival junk-removal businesses, uncover mysteries hidden in attics and basements and discover how trash can become treasure. These vintage letters lead to interlocking mysteries from the 1970s and ‘80s, and the two learn about “women’s lib,” the ERA, and other social issues from that time in history—and the way echoes from that era affect Colin and Nevaeh themselves.
My First Thoughts
I started reading it and have put it aside for now to finish up my Cybils reading. But I can’t wait to get back to this book and will write a more detailed review when I am done.
One reason why I included this book about letters (other than that I believe it is great storytelling that can also be read aloud) is that it is National Thank a Mail Carrier Day on the 4th of February.
Rebel Girls Champions
Rebel Girls Champions: 25 Tales of Unstoppable Athletes by Rebel Girls and foreword by Ibtihaj Muhammad (8 – 12 years, and up)
Description: Rebel Girls Champions: 25 Tales of Unstoppable Athletes celebrates the stories of 25 phenomenal women in sports all written in fairy tale form. It is part of the award-winning Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series.
As with the other books in this amazing series, Rebel Girls: Champions is sure to inspire and uplift. As always, I (re)discovered athletes who have paved their paths in various sports and it is truly amazing to read their stories. From familiar athletes like Serena Williams and Michelle Kwan to Tegan Vincent-Cooke (para dressage rider) and Charlotte Worthington (BMX cyclist), this book lets us meet athletes across the diaspora and be totally inspired.
One reason for inclusion: It is National Girls and Women in Sports Day on the 1st of February 2023.
A Rover’s Story
A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Varga (8 – 12 years, and up)
Description: The One and Only Ivan meets The Wild Robot in this unique and deeply moving middle grade novel about the journey of a fictional Mars rover, from the Newbery Honor–winning author of Other Words for Home
My Quick Thoughts
Who would have thought that an autobiography of a robot can leave you with so many feels? I did not think I would but OMG! Tugged heartstrings all through the book.
I read this book a few months ago, and now am listening to the excellent audio book narration (one of my very first attempts to “read” a fiction book this way). I had been meaning to read Warga’s Other Words For Home for a long while now, and having read this one, I know I need to get to her other books soon.
As for A Rover’s Story, Warga’s narrative is so beautiful and lyrical, and filled with messages of empathy, empowerment, friendship, feelings overall, science and space and Mars and rovers (of course), and so much more. A book that will leave you wanting to befriend Res, the rover, and to read it all over again.
The Unbelievably Scary Thing That Happened In Huggabie Falls
The Unbelievably Scary Thing That Happened In Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece (Author), Andrew Weldon (Illustrator)
Description: Kipp Kindle, Tobias Treachery and Cymphany Chan live in Huggabie Falls, the weirdest town on Earth, so weirdness is pretty normal for them. But then unbelievably scary things start to happen.
(Book two of a trilogy, can be read as a standalone but go ahead and read the others too, I am sure it will be worth it.)
My Quick Thoughts
Well, I am off.. to finish reading this book and then the other books in this sure to be a romp of a trilogy (based on what I have read of this book so far). So you just have to wait on this ‘quick thoughts’ thing. Just kidding!
Here are my quick thoughts on this book. I first started reading this book a couple of years ago when I first saw it on Netgalley. Unfortunately, I was too late in starting to read it and it expired before I could finish. I recently picked it up again for I needed a dose of hilarity, and I am so glad I did. As the title says, this read is (so far) unbelievably scary (not really!), totally hilarious, quirky, and filled with fun characters as well as so many asides from the author making an appearance in his book (that might be distracting to some readers but adds to the quirkiness). Great for fans of Lemony Snicket.
The Watkin’s Book of English Folktales
The Watkin’s Book of English Folktales by Neil Philip with a foreword from Neil Gaiman
Description: This is a golden treasury of over one hundred English folktales captured in the form they were first collected in past centuries. Read these classic tales as they would have been told when storytelling was a living art – when the audience believed in boggarts and hobgoblins, local witches and will-o’-the-wisps, ghosts and giants, cunning foxes and royal frogs.
My Quick Thoughts
As those of you who visit me often might already know, I have a thing for folktales and fairytales and myths and legends and such! So of course, this book called out to me and said “read me!” Then, there was that little detail of ‘foreword by Neil Gaiman.’ Another reason to get it. And I am so glad I am reading it (in the sense that I did read a part of it, but this is a book to be savored and read in bits and pieces.)
There is so much to love about this book. The research behind it, the annotations and anecdotes accompanying each story, the footnotes and history of folktales themselves, as well as the brilliant selection of tales within – all of these make it a great read. From the foreword and the author’s note as well as the introduction to the further reading section, and the familiar as well as the unknown tales within, this book is sure to have something for everyone. (Note for those handing it to younger kids: some of the tales might not work for young audiences for various reasons, so please read them first)
William Still and His Freedom Stories
William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad by Don Tate (6 – 9 years, and up)
Description: Award-winning author-illustrator Don Tate brings to life the incredible, true story of William Still, a man who dedicated his life to recording the stories of enslaved people fleeing to freedom. Tate’s powerful words and artwork are sure to inspire young readers in this first-ever picture book biography of the Father of the Underground Railroad.
This. Or rather books like this one. They make reading nonfiction a must for each one is a powerhouse of learning and inspiration. And I am so glad for picture book biographies for they make learning about people like Still accessible to all. While I had previously read many stories about the Underground Railroad and also read about many known and unknown heroes of the same, still Still was new to me.
Don Tate’s honest, powerful, and straightforward narrative accompanied by his stunning and beautiful artwork make this even more wonderful. A mix of short punchy sentences and longer ones lend this book to a read aloud experience that can be impactful when done right. I will be looking to read more about William Still as well as more from Tate now.
Sidenote: I picked this read since February is Black History Month which begins with National Freedom Day (Freedom From Slavery) on the 1st of February.
A World Full of Poems
A World Full of Poems by DK
Description: A gorgeously illustrated introduction to poetry for children, featuring poems about everything from science, sports, and space, to friendship, family, and feelings.
My Quick Thoughts
What would a list of books to read aloud on my blog be without a book of poems? I am not sure for this is the first such list but I had to include one such read, and A World Full of Poems is a great one for this purpose. With over 150 poems spread across eight different categories (like Family and Friends, Feelings, and Science and Art), there is something for everyone.
I love that Sylvia Vardell has thoughtfully selected poems from poets across time and geographies. Linda Sue Park and Vikram Madan share the pages with Emily Dickinson and Jack Prelutsky among other poets. Backmatter includes great poetry activities to inspire readers to write poems, and also more about basic poetry terms and such. With so many wonderful poems within (some I know and love and so many others new to me), I cannot pick a favorite here, so it is easier to say, I love the whole, including the delightful little illustrations from Sonny Ross accompanying the poems.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, which of these books would be your first pick to read aloud? Do you have any favorite stories to read aloud – by yourself or with/for others? I would love to hear your recommendations, and as always, your thoughts on the post.