Recommended read-aloud for year 1 list includes texts with rhyme, rhythm and predictable structures to help familiarise children with standard narrative form and attune the ear to the sounds of words and within words. Sharing traditional stories is particularly important. If the children are not already familiar with traditional tales, these should be straight tellings (they should still have diverse representation). Stories where humour is contingent on children recognising the standard form of the story, are more usefully read once children have this grounding.
Picturebooks will become increasingly complex. Illustrations may be more detailed. Where there are small details, a walkthrough of the illustrations, either before or after reading, depending on the story (you don’t want to spoil surprises), will help them appreciate the way pictures and words tell different stories, or recognise subplots that may not be mentioned in the text.
Stories with themes that require thoughtful responses can be enhanced by group sharing, and those that tackle difficult topics are often best read by a teacher who can invite questions and guide discussion.
Read-aloud time is an opportunity to share books that are visually interesting and not necessarily the books that are picked up most readily. It’s an opportunity to expand children’s visual language.
As well as picture books, short story collections and short chapter fiction are included. Reading aloud to a class gives an opportunity to read books that are beyond the level children might be able to read for themselves so that children can get an image of their future reading selves.
You know the children in your class and their interests. Over the year, you will want to include children’s choices but also introduce them to new books they may not have considered themselves.
Roy Moss has written a useful blog about choosing read-alouds. for your class.
You can find out which books our reviewers enjoy reading with their classes in this video we recorded.
Sonia Thompson and Ben Harris join Nikki Gamble to talk about why reading aloud to your class is so important and to give advice on choosing books to read aloud.
Our top picks from recent titles
Granny and Bean
By Karen hesse. Illustrated by Charlotte Voake. Published by Walker Books.
Our reviewer, Imogen Maund writes, ‘Granny and Bean battle the elements to enjoy a day together – finding shells; dipping their toes in the sea; petting dogs and skirting fences. It is a story of togetherness and finding joy in the simple things.’ ‘ It would make a great read-aloud in a class or assembly!’
Maybe You Might
By Imogen Foxall. Illustrated by Anna Cunha. Published by Lantana Books.
Our reviewer, Barabra Valentini writes, ‘This book is an exceptionally relevant and visually stunning ode to the power of nature and regeneration and to the part people can play to exist in mutual harmony with their ecosystem.’ There are lots of opportunities for thoughtful reflection with the class after reading this together.
Whisper on the Wind
By Claire Saxby. Illustrated by Jess Racklyeft. Published by Murdoch Books.
This is the wind that carries the whisper from Ren’s dream. This is the sailor, long at sea, who catches it Our reviewer, Vikki Varley writes, ‘The text is cumulative, reminiscent of The House that Jack Built. The rhythm and repetition give a sense of being gentle rocked by the waves. Reading it aloud feels like singing a lullaby. There is a playful use of verbs (‘dolphins that chase’, ‘fish that glint’ and ‘waves that dance’) and a pleasing array of adjectives (‘starlit dolphins and flit-tailed fish’)..
Bunnies in a Boat
By Philip Ardagh. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. Published by Walker Books.
This second book from Philip Ardagh and Ben Mantle featuring the over-excited bunnies in fast-moving vehicles, is as chaotic and joyful as the first, Bunnies on the Bus. The text scans perfectly, so it’s easy to read aloud, and the pace carries the story along. Read without stopping the first time so you don’t break the rhythm. On a second reading, you can spot more of details in the illustration. Have at least one copy in the reading corner for children to read in pairs and small groups after you have read it aloud.
The Proudest Blue
By Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali (. Illustrated by Hatem Aly. Published by Andersen Press.
It’s Faizah’s first day of school and her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab – made of a beautiful blue fabric. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful. In the face of hurtful, confusing words, will Faizah find new ways to be strong? A beautiful story that encourages empathy. A good story to share with a class and to encourage them to treat each other with kindness, understanding and respect.
Stella and the Seagull
By Georgina Stevens. Illustrated by Izzy Burton. Published by Oxford University Press.
This gentle story about a young girl who finds an injured seagull on the beach and takes action to clean up the plastic with her local community is a favourite for our reviewer, Vikki Varley. Talk with children after reading about the things that are important to them. Are there things the class can do to make their school or local environment a better place?
Leila the Perfect Witch
By Flavia Z Drago. Illustrated by Flavia Z Drago. Published by Walker Books.
Wayward is an extraordinary little witch who excels at everything she does. She’s the fastest flier, the most cunning conjurer and the sneakiest shape-shifter. She is also the youngest in a long line of master bakers, so Leila’s big dream is to win the most infamous culinary competition around: The Magnificent Witchy Cake-Off! But even with the most bewitching of recipes, Leila realizes a terrible truth: she’s a disaster in the kitchen! Another triumph for Flavia Z Drago. A lovely story to read aloud.
My Dog Hen
By David Mackintosh. Illustrated by David Mackintosh. Published by Prestel.
“Why should we get a brand-new dog when Hen is as good as new to us?” asks the young boy at the centre of this story. The adorable mixed-breed pup is brought home in a cardboard box, given toys and some food, and then eats up his loving home enthusiastically. When nothing can be done (and all the pocket money has been spent on new toys), the boy’s wise and thrifty grandmother finds a helpful solution. David Mackintosh has a unique visual language, blending surface pattern and texture with flat colour. After reading the book, walk through the images together talking about the things that interest the children and giving opportunities for them to expand their visual literacy.
The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish
By Chloe Savage. Illustrated by Chloe Savage. Published by Walker Books.
Dr Morley is about to embark on a quest to the northernmost tip of the world, to discover a creature that everyone talks about but nobody has ever seen: The Giant Arctic Jellyfish. After years of research and hard graft, she gathers together a highly trained crew and a boat full of specialist equipment and sets sail for the vast icy scapes of the Arctic. But it appears their expedition is going to be unsuccessful, or is it? Children will be willing Dr Savage to look closer and see what they can see.
The Lost Little Kitten
By Holly Webb. Illustrated by Abigail Hookham. Published by Barrington Stoke.
Lucy and her dad are still feeling sad about the loss of their lovely cat Patch, who had been part of their family for such a long time. So when a little lost kitten turns up in their garden, Lucy doesn’t want to tell her dad in case it upsets him. A tender, first-chapter book which celebrates kindness and deals with coming to terms with loss.. Featuring a single parent family.
Princess Minna:The Enchanted Forest
By Kirsty Applebaum. Illustrated by Sahar Haghgoo. Published by Nosy Crow.
Princess Minna loves to sort out mix-ups and mishaps in the kingdom! In this full-colour, illustrated chapter book, join her on a funny, exciting adventure to wake a sleeping prince and much more – all in time for tea. This is a delightful first-chapter series from Kirsty Applebaum. Reading the first book in a series aloud can provide a bridge for children to reading these books independently. For popular series. have copies of the other books available in the reading corner so children can continue reading them. Reading in series is extremely important to most fledgeling readers as familiarity helps them develop confidence.
The Tindims of Rubbish Island
By Sally Gardner. Illustrated by Lydia Corry. Published by Zephyr Children;s Books.
The tiny Tindims are like the Borrowers-on-Sea, who turn our everyday rubbish into treasure. The gentle stories in this series read aloud well and are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations. There are lots of opportunities for creative follow-up, from making up songs to create art from junk. And there are three further books for Tindim fans to read.
Classic and established favourites
I Want My Hat Back
By Jon Klassen. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Published by Walker Books.
Jon Klassen’s classic story of the story of a bear who’s hat has gone. And he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no (some more elaborately than others). It’s all in the eyes!
The Book with No Pictures!
By B.J. Novak . Illustrated by B.J. Novak . Published by Puffin.
Some books work best with a larger audience to share the joke, and The Book With No Pictures is one of those. Pure pantomime in 48 pages, You might think a book with no pictures would be boring and serious. Except… here’s how this book works: Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say BLORK. Can you read it and keep a straight face?
Grimm's Fairy Tales
By Elli Woolard. Illustrated by Marta Altes. Published by Macmillan.
five classic stories, charmingly retold in rhyming verse and beautifully illustrated by Marta Altes. As well as being enjoyable stories, these traditional tales provide young children with a template for the way narratives work. Traditional stories are embedded in culture, art and literature, and readers will recognise many connections with texts they encounter through life from film and advertising to literature and painting.