Literacy Lines

The Keys to Literacy Blog

Great Read Aloud Books

by Becky DeSmith | 1 | 1 Comment

When my first grandchild was born nearly nine years ago, I received a message from my friend Jim Trelease.  I’m not normally a name-dropper, but yup, Jim Trelease contacted me to give me his list of top read-aloud books for grandparents.  Mr. Trelease is internationally known for his best selling book, The Read Aloud Handbook.  His career was spent in reading books, assessing them for their quality as read-alouds, and traveling the country educating parents and teachers on the value of reading aloud to students.  When I grow up I want to be Jim Trelease.

The books Jim suggested have been real winners; titles my grandchildren ask for time and again.  However I now look at these books through different lenses.  Yes, first and foremost I am Grandma Becky who tucks into the lounge chair, hammock, couch, bed or back seat of the car and reads great books aloud.  You can count on it.   But now as I read these treasures I see such potential for Close Reading experiences, and the reading anchor standards practically scream out at me for modeling with these wonderfully crafted books.

who is melvin bubbleYou want to deal with point of view and perspective (standard 6)?  Try Who is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel.  You will laugh out loud as you hear six-year-old Melvin described by his mom, his dad, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, his best friend, the meanest man in the world, a magic rock and finally Melvin himself.

The craft and structure standards come alive with Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes by Margie Palatini.  My little grands have picked up on what the dash does in the sentences spoken by the fox, and they mimic the pattern.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and The Whingdingdilly by Bill Peet are classics that continually delight with their rich language and story lines.  And rounding out the list is Olivia’s (the 8 year old) first favorite – Grandma’s Bears by Gina Wilson.  In this book, Nat comes to Grandma’s house to stay overnight and befriends her five bears – so precious.

So, there are the first five.  With seven grandchildren now over nine years, the list of favorite books is in the hundreds.  Primarily I just read them and we laugh; I want the time to be pure joy. But I often cannot stop the teacher in me as I see the powerful mentor text in these pages. And my grandchildren can cite evidence from the text, come up with the central idea, talk about how characters and ideas change, pick out the strong words, chat about why they think the author did this or that.  But then……….they ARE gifted after all.

Becky DeSmith

Becky DeSmith Becky joined Keys to Literacy in 2007 and has been a literacy educator for over 35 years. She has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and been involved in many school and district-wide initiatives that address core literacy issues. She has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year by the International Reading Association.

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1 Comment

  1. Brooke

    Another great and helpful post. I plan to check out some of these books to read with my own kids. I love getting your blog updates.



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