Read Alouds: 5 Powerful Books to Spark a Love of Reading

Inside: Five awesome read alouds to inspire a love of reading

What types of books do you like to read?” I asked each student during a reading interview. I felt the butterflies in my stomach as I anticipated gathering great books to fill my students’ book bins.

Instead, the majority of my students’ responses went like this.

“I don’t really like to read.”

“I only like math.”

“Nothing. When’s lunch?”

My heart sank, but I was up for the challenge. I turned to one of my favorite solutions: read alouds.

This students needs some great read alouds to change her attitude.
I knew I had my work cut out for me with these attitudes!
Photo by Julia.

Year after year these books are a hit in my classroom. I can tell students are engaged by the smiles on their faces, giggles at appropriate parts, and there’s no asking to go to the bathroom during read aloud.

Bonus: Make sure to check out the free reading engagement assessments and strategies at the end of this post to further transform your readers.

(This post includes affiliate links.)

Read Alouds That Rock!

An amazing book that demonstrates the power of learning to read at any age

This book demonstrates the power of learning to read in a way that will make your heart melt. This is one of my first book purchases, and I have used it as a read-aloud in my class every year since (fifth grade, fourth grade, and second grade).

Anna takes on the task of teaching her grandmother how to read. They meet every Wednesday, and Anna gives her grandmother a reading lesson. These girls have big plans for Anna’s dad on his birthday. When Anna’s dad’s birthday finally arrives, he’s in for the surprise of a lifetime as his mother reads to him for the first time.

Discussion Ideas

  • How do you think Anna’s dad felt at the end of the book?
  • What type of things do you think Anna was saying to her grandmother as she was teaching her how to read?
  • How do you think Anna’s grandmother’s life will be different now that she is a reader?
A great book that reinforces the importance of listening to a great reader

In this story, a young girl fires her father from their nightly read aloud time. The father got a new job, and he was too busy and too tired to read with her each night. Shailey was not about to give up this sacred time, so she set out on a mission to find a new reader. Many characters applied to her help wanted ad, but there was always a problem. (e.g. The Gingerbread Man ran off with one of her books!) After each failed interview, Shailey revised her ad. Finally, she found the perfect applicant.

Discussion Ideas

  • What makes a good reader?
  • What would you include in an ad to get someone to read to you?
  • Why do you think the final applicant was the best for the job?

Try it – Have your students predict each fairy tale character that applies for the job.

You'll find treasured books and how to take care of them.

If you have books you treasure, you’ll definitely relate well to this book. Spencer has some favorite books that he loves for his parents to read to him each night. The problem occurs when night after night, his books go missing. After setting a rather clever trap, Spencer discovers that the thieves are actually squirrels. Who knew squirrels loved to read too? Spencer ends up setting up his own lending library so the squirrels can continue to read while Spencer will always know where his precious books are located.

Discussion Ideas

  • Why do you think it was so important for Spencer to find his books?
  • What are some of your most treasured books?
  • Do you agree with Spencer’s rules for the squirrels borrowing books? Are there any rules that you would add?
Wolf is determined to learn how to read fluently and impress his friends.

Most stories have the wolf going after other animals. This one starts that way, but it ends with Wolf trying to impress the animals with his fluent reading skills. Initially, Wolf sees the pig, duck, and cow as dinner. However, when he goes in for the “attack”, he is scolded for interrupting their reading! Animals reading?! Wolf becomes determined to become a reader himself. After several failed attempts at impressing his new audience, Wolf eventually dazzles them with his clear, fluent reading.

Discussion Ideas

  • What advice would you have for Wolf on this page? (Show a page where Wolf is not a fluent reader.)
  • How and why did Wolf change in this book?
  • What lesson could you learn from Wolf’s efforts at learning to read?

Try it – Make an anchor chart full of advice to help Wolf read more fluently.

Ben and Bella go through a variety of books with different genres trying to make their way back to the right book.

Ben and Bella give a whole different meaning to the phrase “lost in a book”. They are characters who find themselves pushed out of their book and into a series of wrong books. This book is a great way to introduce your students to different genres, including comics, historical, and how-to books. Eventually, the two kids find their way back to the right book in a way that circles back to how they got lost in the first place. Your students are bound to love this one!

Discussion Ideas

  • What is your favorite reading genre?
  • What book would you like to be “stuck” in?
  • Ben and Bella tried many times to get back to the right book. What is something you had to try many times before you succeeded?

Make a Great Book Even Better

One thing that makes these great books even better is hearing the students’ reactions. Year after year, my second graders share fairy tale character predictions, fluency advice for Wolf, and solutions for those pesky squirrels.

You’ll always have students who prefer math, but these read alouds are great resources for improving reading attitudes. At the end of reading time, you may even hear, “Lunch already? But I was just at the good part!”

Read aloud books to your students that will help foster a love of reading
Grab your favorite book and let the magic begin! Photo by Nina

Endless Engagement

Your next step is to take a closer look at which students need additional strategies to engage more deeply in their reading.

My free “Reading Engagement Bundle” includes everything you need to find and motivate those students who may need a little extra push. Here’s what’s included:

  • A reading interest inventory – No more guessing which books your students will love
  • An engagement inventory – Find the sneaky fake readers
  • Five small group lessons – Dive deep and give your students a purpose for reading
  • 12 prompts to get your students back on track in a snap

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Teaching blogger for elementary teachers

Mary Wingert, licensed educator (K-12 Special Ed. & 1-8 General Ed)

I started teaching in 1993.   I have taught special education, fifth grade, and fourth grade.  I moved to second grade in 2015, and I am still there today.  

I believe in teaching strategies that are effective, differentiated, and engaging. I am looking forward to building a community of teachers who feels the same!  Read more here.