Best Picture Books for Reading Aloud to Kids

Picture books are special for young kids and they love listening while parents are reading aloud. Young children love to observe little details in illustrations inside the picture books. They can perceive the emotions shown in the illustrations. The animated voice of the storyteller also enhances the engagement in the story.

Young kids begin reading by looking at pictures. They interpret the illustrations in their own individual way. As a parent or teacher reading aloud from picture books, you will witness the joy of young kids as they listen. The setting (where the story takes place) and the events unfold in the mind of the young listener.

Kids can feel the emotions of the characters in the story. Picture books are the first step towards literacy. The development of beginner level vocabulary and comprehension starts with picture books. In fact, people of all ages can enjoy reading a good picture book.

What exactly are picture books and tips on reading aloud?

Picture books use visual storytelling and have illustrations that cover the full page. The text printed on these illustrations is generally at the bottom or top of the page. The story text is in simple language. The focus is on the visual imagery and the text per page limited to a few sentences. Picture books generally have 32 pages. Illustrations are print copies of watercolour painting or sketches. The illustrations depict the story or topic (alphabet/number book) in the picture book.

Young toddlers have to grow up to become independent readers. These books act as an introduction to the world of books and literacy even before they learn to read sentences.During read-aloud sessions, kids observe good reading skills, listen and interpret new words. Storytime develops imagination and familiarity with words. Kids get introduced to various types of children’s literature. Eventually as kids learn to read, they can independently read the same stories they heard as a toddler.

Types of picture books 

  • Board books made of thick cardboard (alphabet/number books for toddlers), 
  • Picture reading books with no text 
  • Pop-up books (folded paper figures pop out when pages are turned) 
  • Nonfiction picture books (eg: picture book on Polar Bears)
  • Picture books for early readers (few sentences on every page)

These books are meant for toddlers and early readers/newly independent readers. 

Tips on reading stories aloud from picture books 

Picture books are read aloud in an animated voice. Storytelling using picture books takes place in library storytime, classroom circle time, bedtime and family reading time. Here are some tips on how to read aloud from picture books,

  • Choose a story that matches with children’s interests and experiences
  • Go through the book before reading it out to the audience
  • Be relaxed and use an emotive voice in storytelling
  • Let the children observe the illustrations
  • Gently ask questions to kids without expectation of any right answer (do not be judgmental)
  • Answer kids’ questions to satisfy the current query 
  • Let kids talk about their personal experiences
  • Ask the kids to predict the ending of the story
  • Discuss if there could be an alternative ending to the story
  • Ask kids to identify the characters, setting and sequence of events.

Characters refers to who the story is about. Setting is where the story events take place. Sequence is the order in which events take place. Images in the books help kids remember the characters, setting and sequence of events in the story. Pictures aid kids to retell the story with ease.

Benefits of reading aloud from picture books

Parents, grandparents, teachers or librarians sit with the kids in a comfortable environment. Stories are read out while kids can see the pictures. So there is a face to face communication between the storyteller and the listener. The stories are about other children, grownups, pets, animals and birds, and situations. Stories could be fantastical or realistic. Nonfiction picture books are about real information simplified in easy language for kids. Picture books are charming and magical. Though you will read picture books to your kids for their fun and learning, you will equally enjoy reading the stories.

Benefits of reading aloud from picture books

  • Models good reading skills
  • Builds communication through discussion/Q & A 
  • Helps develop vocabulary and comprehension
  • Initiates creative imagination 
  • Makes reading a fun activity

Natalie A. Heinsbergen, a Golden Apple award-winning kindergarten teacher from Greece explains in her thesis about the positive effects of reading picture books. Kids get possessive of their favourite picture books and read them repeatedly. Possessing personal copies of picture books gives them access to reading at any time. Young children find comfort in reading their favourite picture books.


1. Jolly Kids Picture Talk and Conversation Book for Kids Age 2-6 Years 

This book is published by Sheth Publishing house and is meant for kids aged 2 to 6 years. The book has colourful illustrations of everyday things and activities. The captions under the illustration are great for repeat reading and identifying the pictures. The book is great for introducing kids to things and places around them and developing their language and vocabulary. Picture talk helps build meaningful dialogue between children and adults. The trusted Jolly Kids picture talk and conversation book helps build confidence and vocabulary in little kids.

2. Pop-up Car ( Illustrated pop up book for kids) (Pop-up Books Transport) Paperback

This picture book for toddlers is a popup book on Car Transport. There are 10 good quality pages in the book and the text has rhyming words. The publisher is Om Books International. The colourful illustrations are attractive and captivating for young kids. The rhyming words bring joy to the young listeners during the reading aloud session.

You can explain the meaning of words like “sped” and “river bed”, so little kids understand better. The language is easy and kids will keep going back to the book. There are other pop-up book titles in this series by Om Books on train, aeroplane, truck, bus and ship as well.

3. Maoo and the Moustaches

The book is published by Tulika Publications and the author is Arunima Chatterjee. Illustrator is Prabha Mallya. There are 24 pages with great expressive illustrations. The pace of the story will make you read the entire story as you want to know the journey of adorable Maoo the kitten.

Maoo is little Urmi’s cute kitten. The little pet cat is terrified by Murali mama’s frizzy thick moustache. Maoo runs away in fear of the moustache only to encounter some more moustaches. Soon Maoo discovers her own soft, long and pointy whiskers. This delightful read will have kids giggle and jump in glee. Kids learn about others’ fears and develop empathy and sensitivity. Kids become aware of their own fears and the possibility of overcoming them.

4. The Insect Boy

This book is published by Karadi Tales and authored by Shobha Viswanath. Illustrator is Monami Roy. It is a 60-page hardcover picture book that can be read from the front cover and back cover as well. There are 2 sides to the story. The central character is a boy named Roy, who has been distressed by all kinds of insects ever since he was a little boy. However, it is the perception that changes how we react to situations. The picture book is a delightful read and great for reading aloud and discussion. The book has information about insects that can be interesting to kids.

5. Sometimes Mama, Sometimes Papa 

The publisher is Puffin Books and the author is Nandini Nayyar. Upamanyu Bhattacharyya has illustrated the 32-pages superbly. The story is realistic fiction about a girl named Keya. She is trying to adjust to her parent’s separation. Keya has two homes and her life is impacted in several ways.

She has to deal with unusual situations during parent-teacher meetings, school annual functions and so on. Her peers are curious about what’s happening in her life. Parents are always loving and fun together, Keya thinks. Maybe they will be the same separately too. Read how Keya feels and deals with the new changes in her life. Reading this story will build empathy and awareness to develop kindness.

6. Jamlo Walks: An Illustrated Book about Life During Lockdown 

The author is Samina Mishra and illustrator is Tarique Aziz. The publisher is Puffin Books. It is a story of struggle, endurance and dealing with situations on which we have no control. The story is about children’s experiences during the Covid-19 lockdown. One of those children is Jamlo. Several people and families from villages who migrate to cities for work had to return back to their villages because of the lockdown.

With no money as all work came to a halt, daily wage workers and their families were most troubled. Jamlo is one among them. Jamlo walks and walks, managing to deal with the heat, hunger and fatigue. Yet being a child, she looks with wonder at birds and food stalls and everything around her. Read this book to build awareness and humility.

7. The Good Indian Child’s Guide to Eating Mangoes 

The author is Natasha Sharma and illustrator is Shriya Sen. Publisher is UK Children’s Books. There are many mouth-watering illustrations of mangoes and the book is almost a humorous guide on eating mangoes. The book has 104 pages, more than regular for a picture book. However, the mango recipes, mango math, mango eating personality quiz, and other features make this book an interesting read. 

8. Up and Down

This paperback picture book has soft watercolour illustrations by author Oliver Jeffers. The book is a sequel to his earlier popular book Lost and Found. There are 40 colourful pages in this book. The story is about the friendship between a little boy and a penguin. They are always together and do everything together, until the penguin decides to fly high in the blue skies. They try various tricks, but will they succeed? Will the boy be able to help the penguin in his flying mission?

9. The Runaway Peacock 

The author is Niyatee Sharma and illustrator Shailja Jain Chougule. Book published by Tulika Publications and has 28 pages with colourful illustrations. This fantasy story is about a young girl Trisha’s adventure with a peacock flying through the market. Trisha starts counting peacocks printed on her mum’s sari when a peacock flies out of the saree with Trisha sitting on its tail. The peacock flies in its sprint through the crowded busy market area and other places. Read aloud this funny adventure of Trisha and the runaway peacock and let your kids giggle and jump with glee.

10. What Makes Me ME

The author is Poorva Aggarwal and illustrated by Maithili Joshi, published by Tulika Publications. This interesting book will make you and your kids find your uniqueness and diversity. Each one of us is a combination of our likes, dislikes, habits, our looks, our skills and other such uniqueness. Read this book with your kids. Appreciate the special uniqueness as you question and discuss as you read the story aloud.

11. The Unboy Boy

The author is Richa Jha, illustrator is Gautam Benegal and book published by Snuggle with Picture Books. The book has 40 pages with heartwarming sketches of the characters. Boys have to be like boys and girls have to behave like girls as traditionally acceptable. This picture book has an endearing moving story about a little boy named Gagan.

Gagan likes to follow ants and play with his stuffed toy dog Bingo. Gagan’s brother Pavan is the opposite, aggressive and insensitive. Gagan’s grandfather, brother and friends mock him and call him names. Gagan asks his mother every night if he is really a boy. Then one night, in a camp something happens and perceptions change. Read this moving story about being comfortable in your own skin.

12. I Hate my Curly Hair 

Published by Puffin Books and written by Divya Anand. Illustrated by Rujuta Thakurdesai. The text is in verses and conveys the intensity of the curly mane. The story is about a girl with curly hair. Much as she tries different ways to uncurl her hair she doesn’t succeed.

The illustrations depict the distress of the little curly-haired girl. Everything changes when one day her friend The Bully arrives. Read this humorous picture book aloud to the kids and find how the girl deals with her difficult curls to accept herself with her curls.

13. Pink and Blue

The publisher is Puffin books, author is Ritu Vaishnav and illustrator is Vishnu Nair. The picture book has 32 colourful illustrated pages. The story is about gender stereotypes. Society has certain set stereotypes for both the male and female gender. Stereotypes impact our choice in clothing, hairstyles, and behaviour. In this story, a mum talks to her kid about gender stereotypes.

Grown-ups like parents, grandparents, teachers and everybody else passes on these typical stereotypes to a little child. They tell what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. This book takes a fresh look at this culture playfully for the benefit of the kids. Certainly a great, light, must-read for the kids and their parents.

14. Perfectly Norman: A Big Bright Feelings Book

The author is Tom Percival and book published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books. There are endearing watercolour illustrations in the book. Norman is a perfectly normal boy until he has newly grown wings. He flies high and is happy with his new wings. Then he has to go for dinner. Norman feels worried about his parents opinion?

So he hides his wings behind a big coat. His wings are what makes him different from others, yet he hides them. This upsets him within his heart. When can Norman be himself? Can Norman accept himself with his wings? Read this emotional story of a little boy struggling to accept himself with his individuality.

More of famous picture books for elementary kids

15. Time to Read Series collection of 20 Books Set (Julia Donaldson, Chris Riddell, Tim Hopgood, Emma Carlisle, and others) for reading aloud

This set of 20 picture books offers value to its readers and buyers. The picture books are popular international best sellers and great for many reading aloud sessions at home. Independent readers can read these picture books by themselves. Includes some great books by Julia Donaldson, Chris Riddell, and Rebecca Cobb among other great children’s writers. This set of 20 books is a great gifting idea for birthdays, house warming, or just about anytime gift for little kids.

Titles in this collection of international famous picture books (20)

  1. What the Ladybird Heard – Julia Donaldson
  2. Winston was Worried – Pamela Duncan Edwards
  3. Wendel’s Workshop – Chris Riddell
  4. Tyrannosaurus Drop – Julia Donaldson
  5. The Gruffalo’s Child – Julia Donaldson
  6. The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
  7. A Squash and a Squeeze – Julia Donaldson
  8. Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson
  9. Polly Parrot Picks a Pirate – Peter Bentley
  10. Our Big Blue Sofa – Tim Hopgood
  11. Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou! – Julia Donaldson
  12. Lion Practice – Emma Carlisle
  13. The King Cat – Marta Altes
  14. Hamilton’s Hats – Martine Oborne
  15. Giraffe on a Bicycle – Julia Woolf
  16. The Giant of Jum – Elli Woollard
  17. Football Fever! – Alan Durant
  18. The Emperor of Absurdia – Chris Riddell
  19. Dinosaur Stars School – Pamela Duncan Edwards
  20. Aunt Amelia – Rebecca Cobb.


The culture of regular reading aloud sessions with kids using children’s picture books will sow seeds of good reading habits in kids from an early age. Reading aloud models good reading skills and repeated reading improves vocabulary. To read aloud and make the session fun, a parent or educator has to use an expressive emotive voice. Kids enjoy this storytelling and it builds their confidence. This sets a road map for literacy. In time, they start reading by themselves. Good reading skills and comprehension helps in being a lifelong learner.

Also read: Great Folktales for Kids: India and around the World.

If you find this article useful, kindly subscribe to the blog.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top