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Best Read-Aloud Books: Age 4-7

Inspired by World Read Aloud Day (February 1), we’ve come up with this selection of great books to read aloud to kids who love a good story — or who are fans of poetic language or lively  sound effects — or both!

Only you know how long your child will sit still for a story.  Some of these are great for 4-5 years old, some for 7 or 8.  We like these first nine books, below, for their drollness, their breeziness, their focus on kid protagonists, and / or the way they lend themselves to a dramatic telling.



Meanwhile, The Pot That Juan Built, winner of several awards, takes its inspiration from the nursery rhyme house that Jack built — but the richness of language, with one fabulous adjective piling on top of another, goes far beyond.

“This is the tool that’s made out of bone / That rubbed the pot until it shone

And glittered and glowed and glistened and glimmered / And gleamed and beamed and sparkled and shimmered

To show off the paints all black and red / Spread with the brush of hair from his head

The colored the pot for all to admire / Before it was baked in the cow manure fire

The crackling flames so sizzling hot / That flickered and flared and fired the pot,

The beautiful pot that Jack built.”

And for great sound effects, try either of these two books, both set in the Caribbean:


All the Way to Havana  (“Some of this island’s old cars purr like kittens, but ours is so tired that she just chatters like a busy chicken – cara cara, cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck…  Today Cara Cara sounds like a tiny baby chick. Pio pio, pio pio, pfffft.”)


The Drummer of John John  (“On street corners, musicians practiced for the parade of bands. Chac-chac players shook gourds full of seeds – shoush-shap, shukka-shac, shoush-shap shukka-shac.”)

Last but definitely not least, Drum Dream Girl – our our all-time bestseller – is just lovely and poetic.  Let yourself luxuriate in the sound of author Margarita Engle’s language…

“On an island of music/ in a city of drumbeats / the drum dream girl / dreamed

Of pounding tall conga drums /  tapping small bongo drums / and boom boom booming / with long, loud sticks / on big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales