These May read aloud books aren’t about May flowers, spring, Memorial Day, the end of school or anything else you might associate with the merry month of May. May does always seem to be the most cheerful of months, doesn’t it?
I liked making these monthly read aloud lists because I can share stellar books without having to stick to a themed list. I simply picked books I’ve recently read and that we loved. I think you’ll love them, too. (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
May Picture Books
Music for Mister Moon by Phillip C. Stead. This is another lovely picture book from the husband and wife team that brought us A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Harriet plays the cello and while her parents claim she will one day play for a grand audience all she wants to do is play by herself in her room. While in her room an owl starts to hoot so Harriet tosses a teacup at him and accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky. A sweet adventure follows. This would make a dreamy bedtime book.
Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer. My son loved this book and could not stop talking about it after I read it aloud to him. Elephant loves noodles and likes having his animal friends over for pasta parties! But the kangaroos, who make all the rules and thus hold all the power declare that pasta is only to be eaten by kangaroos. They declare that the other animals should eat sticks and branches instead. This simply won’t do and Elephant and his friends invent a machine that turns ordinary objects into pasta! I love the clever wordplay and the sneaky subversiveness of the non-kangaroo animals to protest the unjust law. Of course, the marvelous conclusion reaffirms that injustice and inequality must always be challenged. Highly recommended.
The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates. This book sparkles with its celebration of the joy that comes when we include others. It is written by a mother and her 11 year old daughter while walking to school in the rain. The story begins with a narrator introducing a big umbrella by the door, it’s a really big umbrella, big enough for everyone. I love the inclusion of a diverse cast of characters, making this a wonderful book with a very positive, uplifting message.
The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome. In his author’s note, Ransome mentions that while there are picture books about runaway slaves, most leave out the experience of the enslaved family and friends who are left behind. I’ll be honest, this is not an easy book to read but it is an extremely important one. Straightforward text tells the story of repetitive, grueling days which all begin with the ring of a bell. The families in the book resist the attempts to dehumanize them, and the young female narrator relates their story. When her brother Ben runs away life changes for the families, emotionally. The story ends without a resolution, and we wonder if Ben’s sister will also run away. We wonder if Ben was able to escape to freedom. We can get no satisfaction from this book, but that is not its purpose. An important story. Ages 5 and up.
Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour. Lubna and her father are refugees. They arrive at the “World of Tents” to live temporarily. Lubna has no toys so she picks up a pebble, gives it a face and turns it into her friend. This book is surprisingly emotional, highlighting Lubna’s creativity and resiliency. In the midst of her unstable situation, Pebble provides comfort. When Lubna meets Amir, a boy refugee on his own, the two become friends and play with Pebble. When Lubna and her father then get word they will travel to a new country, Lubna finds the courage to give Pebble to Amir.
Underwear! by Jenn Harney. Honestly, what kid doesn’t like a hilarious, rhyming book about underwear? Even though this read aloud is aimed at preschoolers to 6 year olds, my 10 year old could not resist. When I said, “Come over here I want to read this book,” he answered, “No! I’m not listening to a book about underwear!” I responded that I was going to read it aloud “to my mom” instead, who happened to be the room. Of course I put my all into it and he was over quick as a flash and had to examine all the pictures! Read this one aloud, you won’t be sorry!
May Poetry Books
Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters. Poems in two voices tell the story of a white girl and a black boy becoming friends at school while working on a class poetry project. The poems (written by a white woman and a black man) dive into topics of race, family life, friendship and school experiences in a very accessible way. The illustrations are a great accompaniment. I really loved this collection and highly recommend it for ages 8 and up. (The content is still appropriate for younger kids, but will best be appreciated by 4th graders on up.)
May Chapter Book Read Alouds
Squirrel in the Museum by Vivian Vande Velde. This is the third book in an early chapter book series about Twitch the Squirell which started with, 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos, one of my most recommended read aloud books on this blog! If you haven’t read that book, start with it and you will keep on with the series until this one. I read this one to my son during our recent vacation and he laughed and laughed. Twitch the Squirrel hitches a ride on the school bus to join the class field trip to the natural history museum. The hilarious chaos that ensues will keep your kids begging for one more chapter! Read aloud for ages 6 and up.
Pay Attention Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt. I adore Schmidt’s writing! Carter Jones is heading off to middle school. He has a lot on his plate, but then a British, cricket-loving butler shows up on the doorstep declaring that he will be looking after Carter, his mom and his sister. Carter is unsure about the situation. After all, this nosy butler is requiring him to have perfect manners and play cricket. But somehow the butler also brings out the best in Carter and his classmates. A wonderful, funny book great to read aloud to ages 10 and up.
One-Third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko. I read this aloud to my youngest son and he loved it! 5th grader Liam and his two sisters are trying to find a way to raise enough money to take their dog, Cupcake, to the vet. Cupcake has been peeing all over the apartment and the landlord is threatening to evict them. He works toward this goal with Dakota, his over the top, science loving sister and his youngest sister, Izzy, who has Down Syndrome. The siblings live with their single mom but I appreciated how they still has a relationship with their divorced dad who came to pick them up for outings. The siblings’ antics and schemes are engaging and funny, making this a great read aloud for kids who like family stories. Ages 9 and up.
Not May? Find more monthly read aloud selections here: