The dark days of January are perfect for snuggling up with a good book and reading aloud to your children. Of course, I could say something similar for any month of the year–and I probably have! In any case, I know you book-crazy families are looking for something new to start off the New Year! Well, you are in luck, none of these books have been featured (yet) on any other book list.
(Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Is there an overriding theme tying these January read aloud books together? Um, not really. Except perhaps that none of them have anything to do with January or winter! (Unless you count the snow that is on Mount Everest year-round.)
If you do want winter books you can find them here:
Whether you want something silly or calming for your January read aloud bookshelf, you will find a book on this list to suit you. Happy reading!
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld is a wonderful reminder to start the new year out right by listening to the needs of those around you. Taylor (depicted as gender neutral so any child can identify with Taylor) is building a block tower when a bird comes and knocks it over. Taylor is very upset and several animals come over to try and fix the situation. They go about it all wrong, however. They shout, vow revenge or try to dismiss Taylor’s grief. The rabbit, however, listens and allows Taylor to experience an entire range of emotions over the loss of his tower. I absolutely adored this book and parents will learn a good lesson for themselves when reading it, too!
The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker. Just outside of town sits a castle but no one knows what’s inside. Oh sure, the villagers speculate about monsters and giants. Ibb walks by everyday and although she musters up the courage to knock, she can’t quite go inside. Until one day an invitation arrives! A guard shows Ibb around the marvels of the castle and Ibb’s bravery and curiosity now serve her well as she leads the way for the village and castle to come together.
Our Celebración! by Susan Middleton Elya. Celebrate the New Year with this exuberant picture book. A diverse community of children and adults join in a neighborhood festival. The book is written in a rhyming mix of English and Spanish. Non-Spanish speakers will easily understand the text and be well on their way to learning a healthy dose of Spanish words. A marvelous and utterly happy book.
Life by Cynthia Rylant asks the reader to reflect on small moments of life. Brendan Wenzel’s illustrations of the animals that take us on the journey are magnificent and exquisite. “What do you love about life?” Rylant asks as she proceeds to demonstrate the beauty of seemingly ordinary moments like a bird soaring. She asks us to trust the animals, and reminds us that although life is not always easy, it is always worth waking up for.
Everest by Sangma Francis. When it comes to nonfiction books (as I’ve said before) I’m very picky, and especially when it comes to reading aloud nonfiction! Everest is not a typical read aloud, but I was drawn to the extra large size and the splendid graphic design and illustrations. The text contains facts, history and folklore surrounding the magnificent mountain. I recommend reading a little bit each read aloud session. You may be overwhelmed if you try and tackle it in one go, but it is a must read January book for any child who loves real life adventure.
Sing a Song of Seasons : A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year. ed. by Fiona Waters. Start the new year out right with poetry! You will love having this coffee table-sized poetry book sitting out all year! Gorgeous, colorful illustrations grace the pages which contain a nature poem to read aloud every day of the year.
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris (without William Shakespeare).What does this hilarious poetry book have to do with January? Nada. What does it have to do with life? Everything! Harris and Lane team up to bring you super wacky poems, deconstructed poetry and all around silly-ness. One of my favorite children’s poetry books, ever.
January Read Aloud Chapter Books
The Journey of Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher. I absolutely loved this book! Arthur, a boy living in Norway runs away from his abusive stepfather and stepbrothers. He has a letter from his Welsh cousins, which he assumes is asking him to return to Wales and claim his birthright. Unfortunately, he can’t actually read the letter. In the port town of Bergen he encounters a caged polar bear and two ruffians shove him in the cage. When Arthur soothes the bear he is enlisted to accompany the bear on a ship to England, for the bear is a gift from King Haakon to King Henry. Hair-raising, heart-searching and page-turning adventure follows. The story was inspired by a 13th century “pale bear” who lived in the Tower of London menagerie, a gift from Norway. Suitable for ages 8 and up.
Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan. We had great fun reading this book and it is a good choice if you have children in a range of ages. Phelan’s book is a bit of a hybrid between a graphic novel and a traditional text. We we read the adventure aloud, I had my son read aloud the graphic novel bits so it was a fun, interactive experience. Merlin sends a few knights out on a new adventure in which they encounter dinosaurs instead of dragons. And, of course, not all the knights are as they seem! Silly and fun. Read aloud ages 6 and up.
The Doorman’s Repose by Chris Raschka. I really enjoyed this book. You are probably familiar with Raschka’s award winning picture books like Hello, Goodbye Window and A Ball for Daisy. Now he has written a wonderful chapter book set in a New York City apartment building. The ten chapters tell amusing and discreet stories about the building’s quirky inhabitants, like a doorman who tries to learn baseball lingo, a girl who helps repair a depressed boiler, a pair of neighbors who discover a hidden room, and a matchmaking elevator. I don’t think most children would enjoy this as an independent read. The stories have a sort of delicate and sophisticated rhythm, even with all the fantastical elements. I recommend it for experienced listeners and families who like old-fashioned read aloud books. The Doorman’s Repose has the distinction of being highly appealing to adults and if you still read aloud to your teens, this is a great choice. Recommended for ages 10 and up. (But there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers.)
More from our monthly read aloud book list series: