The Treasury of Read-Alouds
PICTURE BOOKS page 1 of 3
books represent a brief portion of the hundreds
cited in the print edition of The-Read-Aloud Handbook.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very
Everyone has a bad
day once in a while but little Alexander has the worst
of all. Follow him from a cereal box without a prize
to a burned-out nightlight. Sequels: Alexander Who Used to Be Rich
Last Sunday, and Alexander,
(Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move. Also by the
author: If I Were in Charge of the World and Other
Worries. Related books: Are You Going To
Be Good? by Cari
Best; and Once Upon an Ordinary Day by Colin McNaughton.
Everyone in the small Kansas farm town thought Aunt Minnie
had lost her mind when she took in nine orphaned nieces
and nephews in 1920. Based on the true story of one of
the author’s relatives,
the tale describes Minnie’s sometimes whimsical adventures with
the children as they adjust to farm life and she adjusts
to all of them. Related book: Saving Sweetness.
This is a wonderful send-up of the super-baby
syndrome that afflicts too many parents, but, on another level,
funny story for children. Mr. and Mrs. Brains do “everything right”—before
he’s born: they read to him, play music and foreign language tapes,
even watch the news with the sound turned up. Thus days
after Baby Brains is born, he’s sitting up reading the newspaper
when his parents come down for breakfast. After breakfast he announces
to go to school tomorrow, which he does, and heads the
not long before he’s included with the astronauts for a trip into
space and that’s where it all comes apart—but in a good
way. In the sequel, Baby Brains Superstar, the wee wizard
is back as a musical prodigy and rock ‘n’ roll star. Related
book: A Fine School by Sharon Creech.
Baby in a Basket
With the winter
of 1917 approaching Fairbanks, Alaska, Marie Boyer bids
good-bye to her postmaster husband, bundles her three-year-old
and four-month-old daughters in fur skins, and boards a
large sleigh for the ten-day trip
to warmer and safer Seattle. But a ferocious winter storm
strikes the travelers, spooking the horses and dumping
contents into the snow and river. How they survived and
the miraculous river rescue of the baby in the basket
make this true story a great read-aloud. Related books: The Bear
That Heard Crying by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock; and Mailing May by
Michael Tunnell; and The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick
Some saw him as a Moses figure, others
as John Henry, but everyone agreed that Big Jabe did
wondrous things on the plantation—things
no other slave ever dreamed of doing, including saving
many of his people. The illustrator, Kadir Nelson, is the single best
seen in children’s books in the last ten years and this book radiates
with his talent. Also by the author: Harvey Potter's
Balloon Farm; Hewitt Anderson's Great Big
Life; and Plantzilla.
The Book of Beasts
E. Nesbit was one of the great storytellers
for children a century ago, and Moore has slightly
abridged one of her most charming short stories for this
volume and illustrated it magnificently. It’s the story
of young Lionel who is suddenly summoned to the palace
where, to his amazement, he’s crowned king to replace his late
great, great, great, great, great grandfather. Although
warned by court counselors not to open The Book of Beasts
in the library, he does so, thus freeing a fierce dragon
from its pages that sets about devouring the countryside.
Is there something in the book that might save the kingdom
from the dragon? Dare he open it again?
Related books: Do Not Open by Brinton
Turkle; Matthew’s Dragon by
Susan Cooper; The Minpins by Roald Dahl; My Father’s Dragon,
short novel by Rutg Stiles Gannett; Saint George
and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges; The
Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Graham, abridged and illustrated
by Inga Moore; and a chapter book The Dragonling by Jackie
Chato and the Party Animals
When Chato, the
original party animal (cat), discovers that his friend
Novio Boy came from the pound and thus doesn’t
even know his own birthday, he decides to schedule one
for him and invites everyone in the barrio. The problem:
He forgets to invite Novio Boy. When he doesn’t show up and can’t
be found, everyone assumes he’s died or been kidnapped. When he
finally shows up, there is a great pachanga. An excellent
celebration of Latino culture. Other books in the series: Chato’s
Kitchen and Chato
Also by the author: Baseball in April, a collection of
teenage short stories.
In this beloved story, a teddy bear
searches through a department store for a friend. His quest ends
when a little girl buys him with her piggy-bank savings.
Also by the author: A Pocket for Corduroy; and Beady
Bear; For related books see Ira Sleeps Over.
A Day’s Work
young Mexican-American boy seeks work for his newly arrived
grandfather who speaks no English. In persuading a man that his grandfather
knows how to garden, the boy tells a small lie that ends up causing
them twice as much work. The lesson in truthfulness is apparent, but
just as important is the tender relationship of the child with an old
man who needs help in a frightening new land. Related title: The
Paperboy by Dav Pilkey.
The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (nonfiction)
In 1856, artist and naturalist Waterhouse Hawkins,
collaborating with a leading scientist, earned an extraordinary
commission: To build a dinosaur park. Think "Jurassic Park" in Queen Victoria's
time. On an island outside London, Hawkins began building
his giant models. And giants they were. Just one of the creatures required
30 tons of clay, 600 bricks, 1500 tiles, and 38 casks of cement. The
finished product would astonish Victorian England and lead him to the
U.S. where he was invited to build more models, this time in Central
Park. Unfortunately, in the middle of his work, the henchmen of the
infamous (and jealous) Boss Tweed vandalized the project beyond recovery.
To this day, shattered pieces from the original models are still buried
beneath the soil in Central Park. One could easily say that everything
that has been done with dinosaurs since then — from plastic models
and cereal prizes to movies and fantasy books like "Jurassic Park"—began
with this one man's vivid imagination. It is a tale as
fantastic as the creatures themselves. Related book: Mammoth by Patrick
Eddie, Harold’s Little Brother
idolized his older brother, not just because he was
older but because he was the best athlete in the
neighborhood. Everyone wanted Harold on their team.
The one they didn’t want was Eddie.
Harold insisted Eddie be chosen for one side or the
other but eventually even he tired of Eddie’s clumsiness.
There was one skill that Eddie did have—he could talk about
almost anything. When he talked about his brother’s games,
the boys were spellbound. So when a notice appeared
about a public speaking contest, Harold was certain
this was meant for Eddie and convinced him to give it a try. So
Eddie wrote his speech, rehearsed it in front of the team, and entered
the contest. What followed eventually led the never-lost-for-words
Ed Koch to the mayor’s
office of New York City. For other picture book biographies,
see My Brother Martin.
It was once the custom for women in
poor Mexican villages to sell their hair, which was then
used for wigs and fancy embroidery. In this tale, Erandi’s mother
has decided to sell her hair in order to pay for a much-needed
fishing net. The barber refuses, saying hers is too short,
but that he would gladly take the child’s braids.
It is now the child’s difficult decision to make. Related books:
The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola; and The
Babe and I by David A. Adler.
| Novels: p.1 p.2 p.3 p.4
& Folk Tales : p.1