World Read Aloud Day

Top picks to share with your class or library

Areli Is a Dreamer

Areli Is a Dreamer By Areli Morales; illustrated by Luisa Uribe

In the first picture book written by a DACA Dreamer, Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story.

When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family--and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too.
 
Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela’s house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli’s limited English came out wrong, and schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But with time, America became her home. And she saw it as a land of opportunity, where millions of immigrants who came before her paved their own paths. She knew she would, too.
 
This is a moving story--one that resonates with millions of immigrants who make up the fabric of our country--about one girl living in two worlds, a girl whose DACA application was eventually approved and who is now living her American dream.
 
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy that has provided relief to thousands of undocumented children, referred to as “Dreamers,” who came to the United States as children and call this country home.
 

Becoming Vanessa

Becoming Vanessa By Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Get ready to go back to school with this inclusive, empathetic story that will help kids new to the classroom transform from timid caterpillars into beautiful butterflies who love exactly who they are!

On Vanessa's first day of school, her parents tell her it will be easy to make friends. Vanessa isn't so sure. She wears her fanciest outfit so her new classmates will notice her right away. They notice, but the attention isn't what she'd hoped for. As the day goes on, she feels more self-conscious. Her clothes are too bright, her feather boa has way too many feathers, and even her name is too hard to write.

The next day, she picks out a plain outfit, and tells her mom that her name is too long. She just wants to blend in, with a simple name like the other girls--why couldn't her parents have named her Megan or Bella? But when her mother tells her the meaning behind her name, it gives her the confidence she needs to introduce her classmates to the real Vanessa. Perfect for readers of Alma and How She Got Her Name and The King of Kindergarten.

The Blue House

The Blue House By Phoebe Wahl

In the tradition of Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House comes a heartfelt story about a father and son learning to accept the new while honoring and celebrating the old.

For as long as he can remember, Leo has lived in the blue house with his dad, but lately the neighborhood is changing. People are leaving, houses are being knocked down, and shiny new buildings are going up in their place. When Leo and his dad are forced to leave, they aren't happy about it. They howl and rage and dance out their feelings. When the time comes, they leave the blue house behind--there was never any choice, not really--but little by little, they find a way to keep its memory alive in their new home.

Digging for Words

Digging for Words By Angela Burke Kunkel; illustrated by Paola Escobar

A gorgeous and inspiring picture book based on the life of José Alberto Gutiérrez, a garbage collector in Bogotá, Colombia who started a library with a single discarded book found on his route.

In the city of Bogata, in the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, there live two Joses. One is a boy who dreams of Saturdays-- that's the day he gets to visit Paradise, the library. The second Jose is a garbage collector. From dusk until dawn, he scans the sidewalks as he drives, squinting in the dim light, searching household trash for hidden treasure . . . books! Some are stacked in neat piles, as if waiting for José́. Others take a bit more digging. Ever since he found his first book, Anna Karenina, years earlier, he's been collecting books--thick ones and thin ones, worn ones and almost new ones-- to add to the collection in his home. And on Saturdays, kids like little Jose run to the steps of Paradise to discover a world filled with books and wonder.

With an evocative text by a debut author, and rich, stunning illustrations from an up-and-coming Colombian illustrator, here is a celebration of perseverance, community, and the power of books.

The Creature of Habit

The Creature of Habit By Jennifer E. Smith; illustrated by Leo Espinosa

A delightful picture book about a creature of habit whose routine suddenly gets disrupted by the unexpected arrival of a new friend. A perfect story for little readers learning social emotional skills that explores the joy of trying something new!

A very big creature with big teeth, big eyes, and very big feet lives on the island of Habit. Every day the creature happily does the exact same things in the exact same order. 

That is, until a small boat carrying a very small creature with small teeth, small eyes, and very, very small feet arrives on the island. The big creature is excited to share his routine, but the small creature has ideas of his own. The little creature does something different every day--it's madness to the big creature!
 
Can these two creatures learn to understand each other? Is the island big enough for both of them? Colorful and captivating, this is a story about learning with and from your friends.

Dream Street

Dream Street By Tricia Elam Walker; illustrated by Ekua Holmes

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMESFIVE STARRED REVIEWS
 
Visit a truly special street bursting with joy, hope, and dreams. Inspired by the neighborhood where they grew up as cousins, this gorgeous picture book from an award-winning illustrator and critically acclaimed author is the perfect gift or keepsake for every generation.
 
Welcome to Dream Street--the best street in the world!  Jump rope with Azaria--can you Double Dutch one leg at a time?  Dream big with Ede and Tari, who wish to create a picture book together one day. Say hello with Mr. Sidney, a retired mail carrier who greets everyone with the words, "Don't wait to have a great day. Create one!" On Dream Street, love between generations rules, everyone is special, and the warmth of the neighborhood shines.
 
A magical story from the critically acclaimed author of Nana Akua Goes to School and a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning illustrator. Illuminating this vivid cast of characters are vibrant, joyful illustrations that make this neighborhood--based on the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston where the author and illustrator grew up together as cousins--truly sing. This book is a perfect way for parents to share with their children the importance of community.

Fern and Otto

Fern and Otto By Stephanie Graegin

Perfect for fans of Erin Stead and Emily Winfield Martin, here is a charming paperback picture book about two friends who enter a fairy-tale world hoping to find an exciting story to tell.

When best friends Fern, a bear, and Otto, a cat, go searching for an exciting story in the forest, they have different ideas about what that means. Fern thinks they should stop and watch a race between a tortoise and a hare, but Otto worries that a tortoise is too slow to be exciting. Fern thinks listening to the three brothers talking about how to build a house is incredibly interesting, but Otto isn't convinced. Along the way, the two friends meet a little girl in red who is off to visit her grandmother (and a wolf headed the same way!), a cranky girl complaining that her porridge isn't the right temperature, and many others. But it's not until they run into a big scary witch that they can both agree: this is not the kind of excitement they had in mind. With irresistible illustrations and tons of charming details, this is a delightful fantasy that proves the best adventures are the ones you share.

I'm Growing Great

I'm Growing Great By Written and illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe

Confident, empowered girls are celebrated in this follow-up to Happy Hair, a flower-filled, nature-loving, read-together picture book that encourages growth and positivity,

Lovely and wise, shine at sunrise! I am growing each day!

Beautiful Black and Brown girls with gorgeous natural hairstyles full of flowers, butterflies, and other garden treasures are the stars of this vibrant, rhythmic picture book from the author/illustrator of Happy Hair and Cool Cuts. Set in a backdrop of nature's glorious color and bounty, it's the perfect springtime read-aloud to promote confidence and self-esteem for girls of all ages.
 
Look for all the books in the Happy Hair series:

• Happy Hair
• Cool Cuts
• I Love Being Me! (Step Into Reading)
• I'm Growing Great

Just Like Me

Just Like Me By Vanessa Brantley-Newton

An ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between, this exquisite treasury will appeal to readers of Dear Girl and I Am Enough and have kids poring over it to find a poem that's just for them.

I am a canvas
Being painted on
By the words of my family
Friends
And community

From Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the author of Grandma's Purse, comes a collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don't; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. With bright portraits in Vanessa's signature style of vibrant colors and unique patterns and fabrics, this book invites readers to find themselves and each other within its pages.

"A dynamic, uplifting, and welcoming world of girls."--Kirkus 

"Thoughtful, inclusive, and celebratory"--Publishers Weekly

"Bursting with positivity, this would be a great book to use in primary school classrooms when discussing issues of friendship, diversity, and self-esteem."--Booklist

Little Smokey

Little Smokey By Robert Neubecker

For a brave firefighting airplane, the sky's the limit! This timeless story of teamwork and determination is perfect for kids who loved The Little Engine That Could and shows how even unlikely heroes can help their community in times of need.

When forest fires blaze, the airplanes at Nif-C spring into action! Some swoop low to spray water on the flames. Others drop bright red fire retardant. Little Smokey hasn't quite figured out her job yet, but she wants to help. . . . And when a fire like no other flares up--a fire that none of the other planes can control--it's Smokey's turn to show what she's made of.

Featuring useful information about wildfires and fire prevention in the back of the book, Little Smokey is a must-have for children growing up in a world where climate change makes natural disasters a common occurrence. Parents looking to teach their kids about how fires spread and what they can do about it will surely want to take flight with Little Smokey.

"Positively cinematic. . . . this book may look like a classic, but with forest fires ever more frequent and intense, it's truly timely." --Kirkus

Little Taco Truck

Little Taco Truck By Tanya Valentine; illustrated by Jorge Martin

Dragons Love Tacos meets Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site in this irresistibly kid-friendly read-aloud about a little taco truck that is having trouble finding a place to park.

Little Taco Truck serves up tasty treats to the hungry workers on Union Street . . . until one day, Miss Falafel shows up with her baked pita bread and crunchy chickpea fritters--and parks in his space. The next day, Miss Falafel is there again, and this time she's brought Gumbo Jumbo and Annie Arepas with her. Little Taco Truck's headlights dim. What if people like Gumbo Jumbo's spicy stew and Annie Arepas's warm cornbread cakes more than they like his tacos? When more trucks arrive the following day and there's no space left for Little Taco Truck, he swishes his wipers to hide his tears and heads home. At last, with some ingenuity and help from new friends, Little Taco Truck wins back his coveted parking spot. And guess what? There is room enough for everyone!

Packed with flavor and savory smells, this irresistible read-aloud about friendship and determination is perfect for even the youngest truck and taco fans.

Mouse Seasons

Mouse Seasons By Leo Lionni

The first new original Leo Lionni picture book in nearly 30 years, featuring the beloved mouse Frederick as he guides his fellow mice--and young listeners--through a joyous celebration of the seasons.

There is more than one way to prepare for a long winter, as Frederick tells his friends in the classic story. Gathering food and other supplies is important, but gathering the smells, sounds, and sights of a beautiful day to recall later are just as vital. How one little mouse cheers his entire community and prepares them for a full year ahead is a story that young children will love.

Nana Akua Goes to School

Nana Akua Goes to School By Tricia Elam Walker; illustrated by April Harrison

Winner of the 2021 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award!
 
In this moving story that celebrates cultural diversity, a shy girl brings her West African grandmother--whose face bears traditional tribal markings--to meet her classmates. This is a perfect read for back to school!

It is Grandparents Day at Zura's elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja's grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou's grandmother is a dentist. But Zura's Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana--or worse, make fun of her--Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura's classmates feel special, too.

Nosotros Means Us

Nosotros Means Us By Paloma Valdivia

A moving bilingual ode to the unshakeable bond between a parent and child in the tradition of Runaway Bunny and The Wonderful Things You Will Be, from a New York Times bestselling creator.

If I were a sheep, you would be a lamb.
If I were a bear, you would be a cub.
As a mother holds her toddler, they muse over the way their love would translate if they were different animals. But no matter how they change, they will always be “us.” This bilingual story is a timeless ode to the unshakable bond between parent and child.

Si yo fuera una oveja, tú serías un cordero.
Si yo fuera una osa, tú serías un osenzo.
Con su niño en brazos, una madre contempla cómo sería elamorentre ellos si fueran diferentes animales. Pero por mucho que cambien,no importa. Siempre serán“nosotros”. Este cuento bilingüe es una oda eterna al lazo irrompibleentre madre e hijo.

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read By Rita Lorraine Hubbard; illustrated by Oge Mora

Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation's oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author.

In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who--with perseverance and dedication--proved that you're never too old to learn.

Once Upon a Goat

Once Upon a Goat By Dan Richards; illustrated by Eric Barclay

A twisted fairy tale about a king and queen who wish for a child of their own . . . and end up with a baby goat. Perfect for readers of Children Make Terrible Pets and Wolfie the Bunny.

"A funny and redemptive fairy tale."--The Wall Street Journal


Once upon a time, a very prim and proper king and queen begged their fairy godmother for a child. They'd prefer a boy, with glowing skin, bright eyes, and two roses for lips . . . but any kid will do. When they find themselves gifted with a baby goat (also known as a kid) instead, they can't imagine how he'll fit into their lives. But of course, it isn't long before he's part of the royal family.

Readers will delight in this story's hilarity, confusion, and celebration of families that come in every shape and size.

"A fresh, amusing, kindhearted picture book."--Booklist, Starred review
"With its gentle morals of acceptance, not judging by appearances, and being open to outcomes different than expectations, this is a lovely family read-aloud."--Kirkus
"The contrast between the royal couple's once-ordered existence and the cheerful mess at book's end is very funny, and the message about acceptance and the expanded definition of family is a bonus."--Horn Book

The Paper Kingdom

The Paper Kingdom By Helena Ku Rhee; illustrated by Pascal Campion

An office at night is reimagined as a fantastical kingdom of paper complete with friendly dragons in this own voices picture book.

When the babysitter is unable to come, Daniel is woken out of bed and joins his parents as they head downtown for their jobs as nighttime office cleaners. But the story is about more than brooms, mops, and vacuums. Mama and Papa turn the deserted office building into a magnificent kingdom filled with paper. Then they weave a fantasy of dragons and kings to further engage their reluctant companion--and even encourage him to one day be the king of a paper kingdom.

The Paper Kingdom expresses the joy and spirit of a loving family who turn a routine and ordinary experience into something much grander. Magical art by Pascal Campion shows both the real world and the fantasy through the eyes of the young narrator.

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars By Rachel Montez Minor; illustrated by Annie Won

Celebrate the connections between parents, children, and the universe in this lyrical debut picture book from actress, dancer, and singer Rachel Montez Minor, with enchanting illustrations by Annie Won.

In simple rhyme with a universal message, this book celebrates diverse children, their power to inspire those around them, and the invisible bonds of family and humanity that can never be broken.
 
Readers are encouraged to shine their light and positivity on those around them and to always lift each other up. We are all one, living together on our planet, connected under the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Sweety

Sweety By Andrea Zuill

An Indie Next List Top 10 Pick!

From the author of WOLF CAMP comes the story of a charming, mushroom-loving, headgear-wearing, totally awkward naked mole rat who is looking for like-minded peeps.

Sweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat. She has protruding front teeth, thick glasses, and some very unusual hobbies, including interpretive dance and fungus identification. She's intense and passionate--and her peers don't always get her. But surely there are other mushroom lovers out there? As Sweety sets out to find them, she comes to realize--with a little help from her cool Aunt Ruth-- that being Sweety is actually pretty awesome. With heart and humor and a whole lot of charm, Andrea Zuill delivers a story about learning to embrace everything that makes you you--and that's something many kids are going to relate to.

T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes

T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes By Anna Lazowski; illustrated by Steph Laberis

A funny and encouraging alphabetic book about all the things animals CAN'T do but kids CAN! Every parent teaching their children new skills will be happy to have this super-positive picture book on hand.

Bees can't ride bicycles, penguins can't play ping-pong, and zebras can't go zip-lining. No one is good at everything, but that shouldn't stop you from trying! Here is a funny and encouraging picture book for any child learning how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, spell their name, or do a variety of new things.

Follow a hilarious alphabet of animals, and see all the things they can't do but kids can—from doing gymnastics to flipping pancakes to playing a xylophone. Along the way, young readers will learn that it's okay if they can't do everything; they can still have a LOT of fun trying.

There's a Unicorn in Your Book

There's a Unicorn in Your Book By Tom Fletcher; illustrated by Greg Abbott

Galloping glitter!  A unicorn has landed in YOUR book! An engaging new adventure from the team that brought you There's a Monster in Your Book and its companions.

Unicorns love to sing, but this unicorn isn't singing because a worry gremlin has crept in! Help unicorn up by using your finger wand and listening to its worries in this interactive book with an important social-emotional message about expressing your emotions. For more read-aloud fun in the Who's In Your Book series, look for these: There's a Dragon in Your Book, There's an Elf in Your Book, There's an Alien in Your Book, There's a Superhero in Your Book, and There's a Witch in Your Book

Tom Fletcher is one of Britain's bestselling children's authors (in addition to being a rock star!), and his YouTube videos have been viewed tens of millions of times.

What Is Given from the Heart

What Is Given from the Heart By Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by April Harrison

CORETTA SCOTT KING – JOHN STEPTOE ILLUSTRATOR AWARD FOR NEW TALENT WINNER

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving. 

"Misery loves company,"" Mama says to James Otis. It's been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they're blessed. One Sunday before Valentine's Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service-- the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple's ""love box,"" but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack--with stunning illustrations by Harrison--delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken

The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken By Jennifer Frank; illustrated by David Ezra Stein

Worms don't take good family photos, do they? Find out in this hilarious picture book from a Caldecott Honor illustrator and debut author about a young worm who comes to appreciate her very unusual family for who they are.

Emma is excited for her worm family to have their portrait taken. But when she sees her other friends' portraits, she gets discouraged. "We had the most beautiful smiles," Ellie the Chipmunk squeals. Abigail the Cat meows, "I looked gorgeous with my big poufy hair." The worm family doesn't have teeth...how will they show their beautiful smiles? They don't have hair either...how can it look big and poufy?! So Emma gathers wigs, giant fake teeth, and colorful clothing for her parents and sisters.

But it's only after taking off their costumes that the worm family is able to wriggle and squiggle and squeeze into a delightful pose that only a worm family can make. And Emma? She thinks it's perfectly perfect.

Random House Teachers and Librarians