Great books to read aloud

It’s National Storytelling Week (Jan 31st to Feb 7th 2015) so why not mark this event with your class by settling down with a book and reading them a story that will really capture their interest? As I’m sure you all know, not all books work for reading aloud (the majority of graphic novels for instance and picture books which rely heavily on visual cues) but there are so many that just seem to come into their own when read aloud by an enthusiastic storyteller.

Alison Davies in her book Storytelling in the Classroom outlines 3 simple tools that a teacher can use to make a story interesting and exciting:

1. Voice

Look for points in the story where you can change the tone of your voice such as dropping your tone in scary parts and raising it during happy moments. Use you voice to differentiate between characters – a screechy witch or a booming giant for example. Consider the pace of the story – speed up your reading for exciting action partsĀ  and then slow it down and use pauses for sad or poignant moments, or to indictate a section or message that you particularly want the children to heed.

2. Expression

Children don’t pick up the nuances in stories as well as adults so use facial expression to help them follow the story or to indicate humorous sections. Smiling in happy parts, for example, will act as a visual clue for children. Using funny or scary faces for certain characters will help them follow the switches between characters in the story. Really exaggerate your expressions and don’t be afraid to be silly.

3. Posture and Movement

Your posture should be confident. Sit (or stand) up straight and maintain eye contact with your listeners throughout the story. Don’t be afraid to move about or use your arms to emphasise the story. You could march up and down to indicate soldiers, prowl around like a tiger, or cower during scary bits. Being entertaining will not only ensure you hold the children’s attention, but will also really bring the story alive for them.

OK, lesson over and on to the books:

Great books to read aloud

Picture Books

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Burglar Bill by Allan and Janet Ahlberg

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd

Look Back! by Trish Cooke

Oliver Who Travelled Far and Wide by Mara Bergman

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper


Traditional Tales

Aesop’s Fables by Beverley Naidoo

Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham

The Thousand Nights and One Night retold by David Walser

The Adventures of Odysseus retold by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden

Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl


Shorter Reads

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell

Horrid Henry’s Big Bad Book by Francesca Simon

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

Little Old Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Proysen


Longer Reads

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Ransom of Dond by Siobhan Dowd

You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum by Andy Stanton

Clockwork and I Was a Rat by Philip Pullman

Varjak Paw by S.F. Said

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve


The Booktrust also has a list of recommended read-aloud stories and poems which you can access here.

I’m sure you have all had experience with a story that has worked well for you. Share it with your fellow students by adding a comment below.

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