14 Read-Aloud Books That Educators Love

Dec 14, 2023
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Put simply, reading makes your world big. There’s a reason quotable lines like this one are found posted on the walls of schools far and wide. Truly, something magical happens when books are read aloud. For listeners, it’s as if the whole world melts away, and suddenly the imaginary world inside the words of a book spring to life—but in a way that is all their own. For readers, it’s as if the story in their hands begins to grow and the world outside is pushed beyond reach, and they have suddenly taken a dive into the very pages themselves. While every reading experience may not feel quite like that, chances are a few really special ones came to mind for you just now.

At Edmentum, we know a lot about the magic of reading aloud to a classroom full of students, and we have years of experience inspiring imaginations and adventures through books. After all, we’re fortunate enough to say that many members of the Edmentum organization have spent years of their careers serving as educators. In celebration of National Reading Month this March, we’ve asked them to recount some of their most memorable reading experiences from their days in the classroom. Below, read 14 tales of teachers reading powerful books aloud:

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, is amazing! The sailor characters are developed in a way that makes them so real. The protagonist, Charlotte, develops from a private school student to a girl fighting to survive on a ship led by a devious, mutinous crew. When Charlotte is accused of murder, she learns to stand up for others and comes to know that justice is not a privilege, but a right for all people. This was always a favorite read-aloud. Students never wanted the story to end!”

—Susie Brice, former 4th–8th grade teacher in Michigan

Frindle by Andrew Clements was a big hit with my 4th and 5th graders. It is about a boy who decides to challenge his teacher and invents a new word. The story follows him into adulthood and shows how this new word changed his life in many ways. However, the story also goes into character traits, relationships, creativity, and respectfulness. Our classes would track how the relationship between the teacher and student changed and examine the motives behind their actions. Once I started reading it aloud, even my reluctant readers would pick up the book to read independently.”

—Roberta Offsie, former 1st–5th grade special education teacher in New Jersey

“I loved The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka and would read it when we covered fairy tales in our ELA curriculum. We would read the story as a group, and afterwards, the students would choose another fairy tale and write a story from another character's point of view. It worked with point of view and the fairy tales/fables genre of literacy, and of course, with any writing activity, it worked on their writing skills.”

—Kelli Baker, former 3rd grade teacher in Texas

“I think my most favorite book to read was Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell. I always read it at the beginning of the school year to develop a team sense and responsibility to each other in the classroom. Each student would get a red paper heart, and each time Molly had something mean said about her, the students would crumple the heart and then open it up again. The exercise was to teach that even though mean words didn't destroy her heart, they can still leave a wrinkle. Afterwards, we would open up a discussion and create a classroom norm about how we are to treat each other. After the students signed the hearts, I would create a class mural in the shape of a large heart with the norm next to it. It would stay up all year, and the students would even remind each other when someone wasn't being nice.”

—Katie Sotomayor, former K–5th grade computer and 1st grade teacher in Texas

“I loved reading to the kiddos. Dr. Seuss was a favorite because the kids made Green Eggs and Ham part of their own mission. I read it to them at the beginning of the year, and then they read it to me at the end of the year.”

—Winnie O'Leary, former kindergarten teacher in Louisiana and New Jersey

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is a favorite. I just loved the name of the teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci, and all the wonderful math references delivered through the course of the story. As a math teacher, I would have students always ask me when or where they were ever going to use what I was teaching them in the real world. Well, this story illustrates that math is everywhere whether or not you notice it and that if you notice it, it can be fun.”

—Stephen Kimner, former 6th–7th grade math teacher in New Hampshire

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague is memorable. It’s a great way to introduce opinion or persuasive writing to students of all ages. Even my high school students loved it. The illustrations are the BEST! A picture is worth one thousand words.”

—Carmella DiMatteo, former 2nd–12th grade teacher in Florida and California

“My favorite parts of Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls are the story itself and the period it is set in. I loved how much the main character loves his two dogs and how much the dogs love him. This story is about compassion and love, hard work and determination, and the sacrifices you make when you truly love someone or something. It is such a powerful story to read to the kids, and I loved experiencing how much the story impacted them as well.”

—Amy Harris, former 4th–5th grade teacher and technology TOSA in California

“I always loved reading Elmer by David McKee to my class. Elmer the Patchwork Elephant taught students to embrace and celebrate what makes them unique as individuals and to accept the differences in others.”

—Christy Walker, former kindergarten teacher in Texas

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss still gets me: ‘And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be like that! Because Horton was faithful! He sat and he sat!’ Also, anything by Patricia Polacco is great--can you read Thank you, Mr. Falker without tearing up? Reading aloud to my students was my favorite part of each day.”

—Kristen Thompson, former 2nd grade teacher in Georgia

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan was favored by my 3rd graders. I loved it because it represents a setting so different from what most of my students were used to, yet they were able to connect with the main character. I think it helped them see that people share similar feelings and struggles, no matter our backgrounds.”

—Regina Waddell, former 3rd–5th grade ELA and SLA teacher in Texas

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt was a tearjerker for me. An impressionable young lady is faced with some hard choices after meeting the Tuck family. The word was always passed around the school that when I read the last chapter and epilogue, someone would walk up and put a box of tissues by my side, as I was fighting back tears.”

—Jack Morey, former 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade teacher in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

“In The Castle Corona and Replay, author Sharon Creech does such an amazing job of developing strong, young characters. In Perloo the Bold by Avi, his words paint the most vivid pictures. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg inspired students to write, The Curious Garden by Peter Brown taught them that small changes add up, and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo made my students and me all laugh and cry together.”

—Jacelyn Spicer, former 2nd–5th grade math and science teacher in Washington

“My favorite book to read to elementary students is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. I remember reading that book to students by the fireplace before the holidays each of my six years as an elementary school principal. It’s an excellent book about the relationship between a child and parent as they share the experience of searching for an owl on a cold winter night—plus, you get to do your best "owl impression" as you read the book aloud to children!”

—Jason Eggert, former 5th grade teacher, K–8th grade school counselor, middle school assistant principal, and elementary school principal in Michigan and Illinois

Join us as we celebrate National Reading Month each week during March by checking out some of our blog posts focused on reading and literacy like 5 Book Report Ideas That Skip the Craft Store and [The Five Pillars of Reading] Breaking Down the Elements of Successful Literacy Instruction!

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