My criteria for a good "out loud" picture book is:
1) various character voices (yes, I love to read in different goofy voices)
3) engaging illustrations
4) clever use of language
5) and of course, a good story
Here is a quick list of a few of my favorite read aloud books.
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon
Practice your goofy reading voices with some pirate talk. "Argh!" This story is funny, clever and has great illustrations. I've also used it as a casual way to talk about stranger danger. "Would you go off with pirates without telling your parents?"
The Seven Silly Eaters
by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marla Frazee
This is one of the first children's books we bought and it remains one of my favorites. It is written in rhyme and there are not different voices, but it is clever and funny. The illustrations tell so much more of the story. Check out other books illustrated by Frazee. She is wonderful.
A note about reading rhyme out loud: Please, please, PLEASE pay attention to the punctuation and don't just read it sing-song style. You and your children will get so much more of the intended meaning in the story.
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
I enjoy David Shannon's books. His illustrations are bright and colorful. I especially love to read this book out loud because all the different farm animals speak--your opportunity to give the animals various accents. As a plus, this story is pretty short so it comes in handy when your kids want you to read them a story before bedtime and it's already late.
Jackalope by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
Warning: this story is long! But I love it. It makes me laugh. I like to use a southern drawl for the characters. I also like it because we have jack rabbits, prong horn antelope and coyotes living in our back yard.
Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
I don't love all of the Skippyjon sequels, but I really enjoy the first one. I get to use a Spanish accent for the voices in this story.
Head to the library or the book store (obviously, I prefer the book store) this summer and find some great read aloud books to read to the kids. And please post a comment and share your favorites.