Here are seven of our favorite read-aloud bedtime (and naptime) stories in this house. These are all books we own and have read and enjoyed many, many times.
These are listed in no particular order of preference. They are all wonderful.
1. Barn Dance! by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom fame. I love this story. The rhythm of the verse is infectious, the illustrations are beautiful, and the story speaks to curiosity and adventure. Anyone with a bit of bluegrass or country in their background will particularly enjoy the animal square dance at the heart of the story.
2. The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. I love reading this as a sequel to The Gingerbread Man (Read the Gingerbread Man first!). This story picks up some time after the poor end of the Gingerbread Man with the old couple's second attempt at making a gingerbread cookie. This time things turn out differently. The story is such fun to read. My children are delighted every time I pull it out. One small warning - it has an unfortunate use of words ("dumb", "airhead") when the fox first meets the gingerbread girl and I choose to switch those words for "silly" when I read it to my children. I would definitely NOT let that stop you from picking up this book.
3. The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock. This, by far, is my favorite telling of the gingerbread man tale. The rhythm and rhyme are perfectly written so that this is incredibly fun to read and to listen to. The verse repeats many times during the telling of the story and my children love to chime in and tell the story along with me.
4. The Clock Struck One: A Time-Telling Tale by Trudy Harris. This is a creative extension of the nursery rhyme/song Hickory Dickory Dock. The book is fun to read (sing) and enjoyed by both parent and child. As a bonus, if you take only a few seconds to show the kids, they will learn how to tell time to the hour.
5. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. This book is a tale of a clever mouse taking a walk through the woods avoiding predators using his wits and telling a tall tale about an imaginary creature called a gruffalo. Imagine his surprise when he runs into the gruffalo and needs to quickly use his wits again to avoid becoming the gruffalo's meal. The rhythm and rhyme make this book fun to read and the story is interesting enough to hold up to repeated readings. There is just enough scary to make the children enjoy pretending to be afraid without actually scaring them. I also enjoy watching the children come to understand just why the mouse's tricks worked.
6. Stuck in the Mud by Jane Clarke. This book tells, in rhyme, the story of a mother hen trying to get her chick out of the mud. She becomes stuck and then her would be rescuer becomes stuck. And then the next and the next until the entire barnyard is stuck in the mud. The book is fun to read and the twist at the end always gets a giggle. It also happens to be a great book for working on final consonant deletion.
7. Egg-napped! by Marisa Montes. This is a tale of what happens when Gabbler the goose and his wife find their beloved egg missing and all the forest animals try to help them get it back. Again, it is the rhyme that makes this book so much fun to read. The story is full of fun, adventure, a bit of suspense and danger, and a satisfying ending.
Does anyone have some favorites of their own to share? I'm always looking for great new books to read with the kids.