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by Jim Trelease
• excerpts from The Treasury of Read-Alouds •
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The Treasury of Read-Alouds

PICTURE BOOKS page 3 of 3

These books represent a brief portion of the hundreds
cited in the print edition of The-Read-Aloud Handbook.


The Napping House

by Audrey Wood; Don Wood, illus.      Tod–PreS.      28 pages      Harcourt, 1984

One of the cleverest bedtime books for children, this simple tale depicts a cozy bed on which are laid in cumulative rhymes a snoring granny, dreaming child, dozing dog, and a host of other sleeping characters until a sudden awakening at daybreak. The subtle lighting changes on the double-page illustrations show the gradual passage of time during the night and the clearing of a storm outside. Also by the author: Heckedy Peg. For other bedtime books, see Goodnight Moon.

The Neighborhood Mother Goose

      Photographed by Nina Crews      Inf—PreS.      64 pages      Dutton, 1989

Nina Crews took her camera into urban America and coupled Mother Goose with children of every hue, making it a rainbow's worth of traditional nursery rhymes peopled by children who have been traditionally excluded from such volumes. Other Mother Goose collections: The Everything Book by Denise Fleming; Lucy Cousins' Book of Nursery Rhymes by Lucy Cousins; Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes selected by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy.

An Orange for Frankie

By Patricia Polacco      K and up      40 pages      Philomel, 2004

It is books like this that make Polacco one of the great picture book storytellers of our time, whose body of work should outlast most of her contemporaries. Based on the author/artist's family history, we start with a family of nine, Christmas eve, a father missing in a snowstorm, a boxcar of hungry and freezing hobos, one missing sweater, and a lost Christmas orange—all of it neatly tied into a happy holiday ending. This is as good as holiday stories get! Related books: Mim’s Christmas Jam by Andrea Davis Pinkney; and A Cowboy Christmas by Audrey Wood.


Jim's Favorite Friendship Books
  • Chester's Way by Kevin Henkes
  • A Cowboy Christmas by Audrey Wood
  • Danitra Brown, Class Clown by Nikki
  • Grimes
  • A Day's Work by Eve Bunting
  • Eddie, Harold's Little Brother by Ed Koch and Pat Koch Thaler
  • Erandi's Braids by Antonio H. Madriga
  • Evie & Margie by Bernard Waber
  • The Friend by Sarah Stewart
  • Me, All Alone, at the End of the World by M. T. Anderson
  • Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco
  • Mutt Dog by Stephen M. King
  • Nora’s Ark by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
  • The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
  • The Reluctant Dragon abridged by Inga Moore
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
  • The Sugar Child by Monique de Varennes
  • Teammates by Peter Golenbock


by Loren Long     Gr. PreK—1     36 pages     Philomel 2009

Otis is a “throwback.” A small but diligent tractor, Otis is the life of the barnyard and the best friend of a lonely calf residing in the barn’s adjoining stall. When his day’s labors are done, they sat in the shade of the apple tree to contemplate their happy lives. But their happiness is suddenly interrupted when the farmer purchases a brand-new yellow tractor that quickly relegates Otis to the scrap-heap weed patch outside the barn. He is now outdated, unemployed, and too sad to play with his friend.

   The calf, in turn, wanders down to the pond, only to get stuck in the mud. Either unable or unwilling to work herself out of the mire, she becomes the focus of a community-wide rescue effort. But neither the farmhands, the new tractor, nor the fire department can extricate her from the mud. Suddenly Otis is seen making his way down the hillside and soon a “happy ending” is in sight. Sequel: Otis and the Tornado. Related books: Ferdinand by Munro Leaf; The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, both by Virginia Lee Burton; and Smokey by Bill Peet.

POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum (nonfiction)

by Meghan McCarthy    Gr. K—2    32 pages     Simon & Schuster, 2010 e-book

Nonfiction is always a challenge for read-aloud, either because the material is often dry or is interesting to only a small selection of the audience. This is especially true of younger children with shallower backgrounds. So with a sigh of relief we welcome this book. First, the subject matter is near and dear to the heart of everyone who can chew—bubble gum. Secondly, and just as important, McCarthy offers a tasty tale that is little known and easily digested.

     Back in the 1920s, a young accountant, Walter Diemer, went to work in a Philadelphia gum and candy factory. Shortly thereafter he found an experimental laboratory set up in the adjoining office, a lab where they were trying to produce a new kind of gum. When Walter was asked to keep an eye on one of the lab kettles, he found the temptation to experiment on his own is too much to resist. What follows is the evolution to bubble gum, complete with a history of gum that goes all the way back to the Greeks. Also by the author: City Hawk: The Story of the Pale Male; The Incredible Life of Balto; Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse; and Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas. Related book: The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle.

Six Men

by David McKee    Gr. K and up     36 pages     North-South, 2011

It is the rare artist who can take 36 small pages, fill them with simple words, simple black and white line drawings, and end up with a classic myth explaining the cravings of our species for peace and war. From its first page and its single sentence, we know this is something special: “Once upon a time there were six men who traveled the world searching for a place where they could live and work in peace.” How that quest grows into a war with their neighbors is the story of civilization, a tale powerful enough make any age audience stop and wonder. This a book for not only our time, but all times. More on this book. Related book: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.

The Super Hungry Dinosaur

by Martin Waddell; Leonie Lord, Illus.    Gr. Tod—PreK     32 pages     Dial, 2009

A small boy and his dog are playing in the backyard when a super hungry giant dinosaur arrives and announces he’s going to eat up the boy. The ensuing simple tale details how the lad and his dog outwit and tame the dinosaur. And any damage done by the dinosaur’s rampage is fixed by the exasperated creature before he can have lunch (cooked by Mom). Martin Waddell uses the same simple storytelling here that made his earlier book Owl Babies so successful and illustrator Leonie Lord turns what could have been a threatening story into an exciting but nonthreatening adventure. Together they have created the perfect toddler-preschool book. Related book: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Where’s My Teddy? (series)

by Jez Alborough      PreS.–K      24 pages      Candlewick, 1997

Alborough has created three popular books in this series about little Eddie and the giant bear who lives in the park. In their first encounter (Where’s My Teddy?), Eddie mistakenly ends up with the bear’s teddy and the bear has his. Though each is equally afraid of the other, they both finally end up with the right teddy. In the second book (It’s the Bear!), Eddie’s mother is a non-believer until she and the bear come face-to-face (reminiscent of Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal). In the third book (My Friend Bear), their fear of each other is happily resolved when each realizes how much they have in common—including a needless fear of each other and a love of their teddies. Related books: Good Job, Little Bear by Martin Waddell; and Grandma's Bears (p).

Where’s My Truck?

by Karen Beaumont; David Catrow, Illus. Gr. Tod-PreK 30 pages Dial 2011

In rhyming verse, we follow the travails of little Tommy who has lost his favorite red truck. He looks everywhere, inside, outside, high and low, begs his father, mother, sister, brother—all to no avail. And then Tommy notices, over by the fence where his dog is digging . . . Also by the author-illustrator team: Doggone Dogs!; I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More; and I Like Myself. Related titles: Have You Seen Duck? by Janet Holmes; for PreK-K ages: Bun Bun Button by Patricia Polacco; Dogger by Shirley Hughes; Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle; and Shoe Baby by Joyce Dunbar.

The Whingdingdilly

by Bill Peet      PreS.–5th      60 pages      Houghton, 1970

Bill Peet should be declared either a national treasure (along with Dr. Seuss) or a modern Aesop. Using animals to make his points, he explored the human condition in a way that helped us all to better understand each other. Typical is this book: Discontented with his life as a dog, Scamp envies all the attention given to his beribboned neighbor—Palomar the wonder horse. But when a backwoods witch changes Scamp into an animal with the feet of an elephant, the neck of a giraffe, the tail of a zebra, and the nose of a rhinoceros, he gets more attention than he bargained for: He ends up a most unhappy circus freak. But all ends well, and tied into the ending is a subtle lesson for both Scamp and his readers: Be yourself!

Among Peet’s most popular titles are: Big Bad Bruce; The Caboose Who Got Loose; Eli; Encore for Eleanor; Farewell to Shady Glade; Fly, Homer, Fly; How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head; Kermit the Hermit; Randy’s Dandy Lions; and Wump World. Also, Bill Peet: An Autobiography is a 180-page autobiography (Caldecott Honor-winner) with an illustration on every page.

Picture Books:  p.1   p.2   p.3
Short Novels :  p.1   p.2   p.3
  Novels:  p.1   p.2   p.3   p.4 Anthologies:  p.1 Fairy & Folk Tales :  p.1  Poetry:  p.1


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