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Dive into Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook

It’s customary for Read to Them to recommend books aimed at children. You can, in fact, find numerous book lists on our blog, along with a sprawling catalog on our Browse Titles page. This week, we thought we’d share a book aimed at families– and that’s had a presence in our office since our organization was established, Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook.

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In the 1960s, Trelease spent every evening reading to his two children. He also volunteered at a school where he quickly noticed that students in some classes were reading a lot, yet students in other classrooms weren’t. Trelease soon realized that the students who read more frequently had a teacher who read aloud on a regular basis. 

This sparked a fire in Trelease. He began seeking research to prove his hypothesis true: reading aloud to children “improves their reading, writing, speaking, listening – and, best of all, their attitudes about reading.” 

The first edition of the Read-Aloud Handbook was published in 1982, and it’s no surprise that it has remained such a staple. Trelease combines lighthearted anecdotes with valuable insights and no small amount of research about the benefits of reading aloud. It is quite the comprehensive guide, moving from the big “why” and the “dos and don’ts” to delving into the nitty-gritty of why it’s essential to keep reading aloud to your children even after they can read to themselves and how reading aloud is proven to increase empathy. You’ll also find advice for dealing with reluctant readers, selecting age-appropriate books, and choosing the right time and place to read aloud– among many other pieces of practical advice. However, it should be noted that, “This is not a book about teaching a child how to read; it’s about teaching a child to want to read.” 

Perhaps the most vital element in the Read-Aloud Handbook is the sprawling Treasury of Recommended Read-Alouds. This curated collection spans almost as long as the handbook, itself, and has been carefully updated with diversity in mind. 

You’ll find this treasury includes books for all ages, starting with wordless books for our earliest scholars and spanning through chapter books and novels for children with more reading experience. Also included are: predictable books, stories with rhyming verse, picture books, early chapter books, nonfiction, and poetry. Each recommendation also lists a page count, grade level, and a summary – these elements come together to make selecting your next (or first!) read aloud title all the easier. 

We’re quite proud to share that 31 books that are part of Read to Them’s catalog can be found within this lush treasury! Check out those titles below:  

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Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamilloBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul CurtisCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Crossover by Kwame AlexanderEl Deafo by Cece Bell
Escape from Mr. Limoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline RansomeThe First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez 
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo Frindle by Andrew Clements 
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry 
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson Holes by Louis Sachar
James and the Giant Peach by Roald DahlThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Malcolm at Midnight by W. H. BeckThe Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
Mr. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O’BrienMy Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateSaving Winslow by Sharon Creech
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis SacharStella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Domineguz 
Stuart Little by E. B. WhiteTales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
The Wild Robot by Peter BrownWish by Barbara O’Connor
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

So much more is ready and waiting to be discovered in the Read-Aloud Handbook. Remember, this isn’t meant to be a chore or another piece of assigned summer reading. In fact, Trelease said it best: “Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”

Fan those flames, and start creating lasting memories with your children through the magic of reading aloud.

Why is reading aloud important to you? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time – happy reading! 

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