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Read Aloud Choices for Reception

Chosen by our experts for 4 and 5 year olds.

Last updated January 11th, 2024

Recommended read-alouds for reception are mainly short picture books that can be read in one sitting. The aural qualities of the text are considered, so there are lots of rhyming stories with memorable to text to encourage children to join in, especially when rereading. Illustrations need to be clear when sharing with a group or class as they are vital for supporting children’s understanding. In our list, we have chosen books illustrated with bright, bold colours which can be seen easily. Images with plenty of white space which allow readers to focus on the important things in the story, also help young readers at this stage. You may also want to use a visualiser to make it easier for children to see the book as you are reading it, though even more important are your facial expressions and body language, so if the visualiser interferes with your ability to engage with the children, you are best to return to it after a first reading when you can walk through the images together. We have also chosen books that have the potential to develop empathy or encourage children to deeper thought when guided by an adult.

Roy Moss has written a useful blog about choosing read-alouds for your class.

We recorded a video with some of our reviewers talking about the books they have enjoyed reading with their classes.

Nikki Gamble talks with Sonia Thompson and Ben Harris about the importance of reading aloud.

There are more suggestions on our poetry recommendations for EYFS

Our top picks from recent titles

The Goat, the Boat and the Stoat

By Em Lynas. Illustrated by Matt Hunt. Published by Nosy Crow.

Following the success of The Cat, the Rat and the Hat, Em Lynas and Matt Hunt bring us another story that is destined to become a favourite. Our reviewer, Sam Keeley, writes, ‘A joyous and fun-filled book that has a place in any Early Years and KS1 book corner.’ We’ve selected it for this list for its read-aloud, memorable qualities, which will encourage joining in.

Read the full review

Who Are You?

By Smirti Halls. Illustrated by Ali Pye. Published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

This inclusive picture book about families, heritage and identity is a good choice to read aloud as adults can encourage children to share their thoughts and guide them to develop empathy and an understanding of others.

Read the full review

Everybody Has Feelings

By Jon Burgerman. Illustrated by Jon Burgerman. Published by Oxford University Press.

Jon Burgerman’s books are excellent read-alouds. The bold, bright images are particularly good for sharing with a class or group as they are easy to see. They are also very child-friendly and don’t feel exclusive so a good choice when you are still getting to know a class and their preferences. Our reviewer, Helen Morgan, writes, ‘This would be a great book to share with children when helping them to learn about and develop empathy. It is one that I would read aloud as I think it will open opportunities for discussion in a safe space and further encourages children to think about how they feel.’  Try other books by Jon Birgerman too.

Read the full review

Where is the Dragon?

By Leo Timmers. Illustrated by Leo Timmers. Published by Gecko Press.

Leo Timmers is spot on in producing books for children in Reception. three knights go looking in the dark for a dragon. The king won’t sleep until they find it. The knights know everything about dragons. With only one candle between them, they go out into the night. The knights mistakenly see dragons everywhere. The delightful irony is that they miss the real dragon, which will delight the children. The story has a joyful rhyming text too.

Little Mouse and the Red Wall

By Britta Teckentrup. Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup. Published by Hachette.

A simple, beautiful and timely picture book about facing our fears, discovering hope and welcoming change within ourselves and the world. What lies beyond the Red Wall? Mouse’s friends don’t know – but that doesn’t stop them feeling scared. Can Mouse find the courage to travel into the unknown – where a world of hope and possibility awaits? A lovely book to broach the topic of facing change with young children.

Teachers' Treasures

Classic and established favourites

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

By Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. Published by Walker Books.

An all-time favourite, this version of a traditional rhyme is a delightful mix of join-in text and beautifully observed illustration. Just Imagine Director Nikki Gamble hosted the Guinness Book of Records event for the world’s largest reading lesson with Michael Rosen with over 2,000 children enjoying the read-aloud of this story.

Who's in the Loo?

By Jeanne Willis. Illustrated by Adrian Reynolds. Published by Andersen Press.

Young and old alike can sympathise with the narrator of this story, who is waiting in a long queue to use the loo. ‘Who’s in the loo? There’s a very long queue. Is it an elephant having a poo?’ Guaranteed laughter which will life the mood even on the dreariest of days.

Party Pants

By Giles Andraeae. Illustrated by Nick Sharratt.

Pants must be the funniest item of clothing ever, and there are certainly lots of laughs to be had from reading this rhyming story aloud to your class. It’s bound to be a requested favourite.  Featuring amongst others, a hippo, a limousine and a dinosaur in pants, plus a rather embarrassed farty pants

Ten Fat Sausages

By Micehlle Robinson. Illustrated by Tor Freeman. Published by Andersen Press.

Look at those cute sausages sizzling away in the pan. But what happens when they … decide to escape, if they can! Follow them around the kitchen as they make a bid for freedom. Michelle’s rhyming text is a romp, and Tor Freeman’s bright cheerful illustrations make this a great book for sharing.

There is a Bird on Your Head

By Mo Willems. Illustrated by Mo Willems. Published by Walker Books.

The Elephant and Piggie stories are super books for children learning to read independently but they can also be read aloud. The story is told entirely through dialogue, so practise your character voices and make them distinct from each other. Repetitive phrases will encourage the children to join in with confidence. The illustrations are very clear, so they support reading aloud to the class.