How to Pick a Book to Read to a Class

Planning a read-aloud for the classroom or a story time at the library requires us to consider some important features of books. There are so many amazing books for kids but not all of them fit the bill when it comes to a whole group read-aloud. I’m here to help you pick books that will make your next read-aloud session to a group of children a success.


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Picking a Fiction Book to Read Aloud

I have an acronym I like to think about when selecting a fiction whole group read-aloud.

acronym to remember the criteria for selecting books

B- Bold and Bright Pictures

I love a good detailed illustrated book with lots of little things to find in the pictures.  However, if you are doing a whole-group read-aloud you want to steer clear.  You can’t have 20 kids all standing up and coming up to the book trying to see the fine details.  That will spell disaster for your story time.  

Look for bold bright pictures that students in the back row will be able to see from their seats.

R- Rhythm and Rhyme

The goal of a read-aloud is to have students listen to it and not put them to sleep.  So books that have a good flow and roll of the tongue are key.  Look for books that use well-done rhyme (there are a lot of bad ones out there) and have a good rhythm to them.

E- Engaging

We’ve all read those didactic books that preach a message to us.  The message trumps the story and this is a surefire boredom read-aloud bomb.  

Look for books that are engaging and have an actual STORY with a plot.

A- Amount of Time to Read

Finding that sweet spot number of minutes children can sit still for listening to a story is key.  My quick reference is to add five minutes to the age of a child.  So, if you are reading to a group of 5-year-olds then a 10-minute story is the max I go for.

D- Dialogue

Books with dialogue between characters allow the reader to use different voices for different characters which is very engaging.

Selecting Non-Fiction Read-Alouds

Nonfiction is a big umbrella and can include recipes, biographies, photo essays, field guides, directions, menus, cookbooks, reviews, and more.

You know I also have a food acronym to remember when thinking about non-fiction or informational books.

tips for selecting a whole group nonfiction read

W- Wide Variety

We want to share a wide variety of non-fiction titles with students.  Many times our go-to are books about animals, but there are lots of different topics to explore from ecology to events in history.

A- Accuracy

I can’t stress how important this one is. 

Check those publishing dates.  Are you about to read a book about the planets that still lists Pluto as a planet?  Reading a book about presidents but the book you are reading just goes to Jimmy Carter?

Make sure that the book you are reading doesn’t contain stereotypes.  I see this problem often around Thanksgiving.  Look to see who wrote the book.  Is the person qualified to talk on this topic?

T- Time

Informational books tend to be a little heavier in content so you want to be ultra-aware of the time it will take to read.  The beauty of a nonfiction book is that we can often skip sections or even pages on a first read without interrupting comprehension.

E- Engaging

Just because it’s informational doesn’t mean it has to be boring.  But, make sure the books you select are age-appropriate. There are some amazing engaging nonfiction and informational books out there.  Check out the book lists below.

Preschool Nonfiction Book Picks

Fascinating Informational Books for Kindergarten and Above

R- Rev Up Curiosity

We want our read-alouds to not just engage students but to inspire their curiosity.  Does the book you select encourage students to ask questions and be curious to explore more?

My #1 Tip for Reading Aloud to a Group of Children

If there is just one thing you can do before reading aloud it’s to pre-read the book aloud first.

Practice reading the book before you read it aloud to children.  This is a must.  Prereading allows you to check that the book is appropriate and meets the criteria shared above.  It also allows you to practice your delivery for character voices, etc.

Do not skip this step!

Favorite Read-Aloud Book Lists

Here are some of my favorite whole group read-aloud book picks

Sing-A-Long Circle Time Reads

Circle Time Books

Funny Reads for Kindergarten

Story Time Books to Get Kids Moving and Grooving

Lots and lots of book lists of great books for kids.

Planning a read-aloud on a certain topic or theme?  I have over 200 book lists to fit your needs.—> Book Lists for Kids

Story Time Activities

A big collection of children's books and book activities to go with each title.

Follow up your whole group read-aloud with some amazing early literacy activities to partner with the story.  I have loads to choose from.—> Book Activities 

Happy reading!

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