Patty’s Picks: World Read Aloud Day

Patty’s Picks is a regular series in which our Vooks Education Director, Patty Duncan, selects five titles around a specific theme and shares why she chose them as well as associated vocabulary, discussion ideas, activities, and more. 

Founded in 2010 by LitWorld, World Read Aloud Day unites millions of readers, writers, and listeners from communities all across the world in reading and sharing stories to honor the power of the read aloud, ignite the joy of reading, and expand global literacy. Vooks supports this mission by offering teachers, parents, and children the opportunity to celebrate the power of the read aloud anytime, anyplace. Here are Patty’s Picks for this special day!


Max and Sarah Build a Snowman

Reading age‏ : ‎4-8 years
Grade level: Preschool-3

Max and his little sister Sarah are playing hide-and-seek. Sarah is good at the game. She’s so good that Max has to search the entire house—and he still can’t find her! Finally, Max gives up. The pair decide to head out into the snow to build snow siblings—one for Max, and one for Sarah.

What do Sarah and Max need to do to get ready for the snow? Ski pants, boots, and hats for starters. Come along as two siblings keep each other entertained during the winter months, both inside and out.

Why Patty chose this story: I chose this title because of the intonation of the characters’ voices. Children will easily be able to identify the feelings of the children as the narrator uses word inflections and voice fluctuations. Children will also identify with the theme because often the winter keeps children inside to play, and while hide and seek is fun, building a snowman is also a great playtime activity. Max and Sarah Build a Snowmanhelps children realize possibilities for winter fun.

Vocabulary word(s): hide-and-seek, snowman, gloves

Max and Sarah Build a Snowman uses simple vocabulary. With alternating text in English and Spanish, this title offers the opportunity to be used as a mentor text to introduce/reinforce simple vocabulary and counting numbers 1 to 10. Children will also be able to identify the English/Spanish subtitles with the illustrations remaining the same for both languages.

Discussion starter suggestions:
  • What activities can you and your family/friends do inside to have fun?
  • What activities can you and your family/friends can do outside to have fun? Can you do these activities in the winter? Why or why not?
  • Can you count 1 to 10 in English? In Spanish?
  • Write a list of things you need to do to prepare (a) to go outside when it is cold; (b) to go outside when it is snowing/raining; (c) to go to bed; and (d) to go to school.

Activity suggestions:
  • Build a snowman using cotton balls (or draw a picture).
  • Create a chart of the numbers 1-10, writing the English word for the number and the Spanish word for the number.

Can U Save the Day?

Reading age: 5-7 years
Grade level: K-2

When the consonants start teasing the vowels about their small numbers, the vowels decide to take off, one by one. Then things start to go bad on the farm. With some of the vowels gone, the farm animals can’t seem to talk right. The cow’s “moo” becomes “m–”; the horse’s “neigh” becomes “n–gh”; and the birds’ “tweet” becomes “tw–t.” Soon, bad turns to worse! When the consonants are in danger, can U save the day and set the alphabet right again?

Why Patty chose this story: I chose this title because it brings the alphabet to life in a fun and silly story. From consonants to vowels, grammar, and even creative problem solving, Can U Save the Day? pairs a read aloud with learning and engagement. There is also a lesson about feeling left out and unappreciated. Children may identify with those feelings and this story points out that everyone has an important purpose.

Although this title may be of more interest to children learning the alphabet and studying vowels and consonants, all children can access the message of the importance of feeling a part of a group.

Vocabulary word(s): chatted, wicked, twinkle, troop, bragged, offended, regret, woeful, bloke, awry, bleat, accord, lone, coo, distressed, absorbed, ignored, swerved, snoozed, snored, dismay, spout, vaulted, flunk, unease, alert, confidence, reunite

The independent reading level is first grade; however as a read along, Can U Save the Day? can be enjoyed and understood by children as young as Pre-K (especially for rhyming) and by older children for the message of bullying and belonging. The title can be used as a mentor text to discuss the importance of vowels and rhyming as well as the importance of belonging and the effects of bullying.

Discussion starter suggestions:
  • Name all of the vowels. Name all of the consonants. Name two of the animals you recognized in the story and make their sounds. 
  • What do you think it would be like if there were no vowels?
  • What do the consonants do to make the vowels leave? Have you ever experienced anything like this?

Activity suggestions:
  • Create a memory game with rhyming words: frog, dog; by, eye; group, troop; letter, better; hand, band; toes, nose; regret, bet; neigh, hay, say, stay, away, dismay; too, you; high, sky; roared, accord; dot, astronaut; goodbye, cry; utter, mutter; bunny, funny; fun, one; fear, hear; out, spout; feet, defeat; cared, prepared; flow, grow; hand, understand; small, stall; head, instead; sound, ground; alert, hurt; right, reunite; shrugged, hugged; wait, state. 
  • Write a story using the theme of Can U Save the Day? Who will be your hero?

Good Morning, Toucan (also available in Spanish)

Reading age: 2+
Grade levels: K+

It’s daybreak in the rainforest, and Toucan is out to say “good morning” to every creature she can find. First, Toucan meets Sloth, who can hang upside down from a tree. Toucan flies off as she hears someone else waking up: It’s Chameleon, who blends into his surroundings. Around the rainforest Toucan goes, greeting tree frogs, monkeys, and hard-shelled turtles. Everyone is happy to see Toucan. Enjoy the trip through the treetops of the rainforest as the animals are introduced and Toucan spreads happiness.

Why Patty chose this story: I chose this title because the doldrums of winter can sometimes find children a bit down in the dumps. Reminding children to greet each other with a friendly, “Good morning!” can surely make a difference. Good Morning, Toucan illustrates the impact one person can have with just a simple greeting.

Vocabulary word(s): toucan, rainforest

Pre-readers and early readers will benefit from Good Morning, Toucan as it employs the strategy of repetition to help children read. The varied voices of the animals of the rainforest help children understand that characters in a book have different personalities and characteristics. Good Morning, Toucan can be used as a mentor text to introduce children to the rainforest and the animals that live in it. Characteristics of the animals are illustrated using the animations in this story. The narrative at the end of the book restates the information presented in the story. Hopefully it will inspire children to learn more about rainforests and the animals that live there and make a difference by saying “good morning” regularly. Additionally, because the title is available in SpanishGood Morning, Toucan can be used as a mentor text for English/Spanish language study.

Discussion starter suggestions:
  • What are two facts about the rainforest that you learned from Good Morning, Toucan?
  • How do you feel in the morning? What kind words make your day brighter? How often do you say “good morning” to brighten someone else’s day?

Activity suggestions:
  • Draw a picture of the rainforest. Include at least two animals.
  • Make a list of three people you will try to say “good morning” to for one week. After the week is over, discuss how you think it made them feel.
  • Choose an animal from the story and act it out. Ask others to guess what animal you are.

The Best Seat

Reading age: 4–7

For Jack the cat there is nothing better than sitting in his favorite chair and listening to his favorite music. But, today something is different. Someone else is sitting in Jack’s favorite seat! Walrus has decided it is his favorite seat, too. Neither Jack nor Walrus want to share, so they race off to find a brand new best seat. The duo try every possible seat in the house, but will they ever be able to find the very best seat?

Why Patty chose this story: I chose this title because The Best Seat is a story of two very different characters learning to share by finding common ground and developing a new friendship through their shared experiences. Sharing is often difficult for young children and yet is an important skill to develop so learning can take place. The Best Seat illustrates that even very different people can learn to share and get along with each other.

Vocabulary word(s): peculiar, freaked, squishy, ottomans, tuffets, wicker, stumps

Early readers will be engaged by the bright and charming illustrations and the story teaches a gentle lesson about sharing and friendship. As an independent read, it is appropriate for second grade, but first grade, kindergarten, and preschool children can understand it as a read aloud with the animation helping in comprehension. For older readers, this story can also be used as a mentor text for quotation marks used to indicate when characters are speaking, capital letters used to emphasize words, and onomatopoeia.

Discussion starter suggestions:
  • Discuss examples of how you share at home, in the classroom, on the playground, and anywhere else you might go. From the discussion, an anchor chart can be created to encourage sharing. 
  • Do you have difficulty sharing? All the time? Are there things/people that you do share with?
  • Share two ways you showed you cared by sharing yesterday.

Activity suggestions:
  • Write and illustrate another adventure that Jack and Walrus might have together. Make sure to use dialogue.

The Hiccupotamus

Reading age: 2-6
Grade level: PreK-K

This is the story of the hiccupotamus: a hippo with a never-ending case of the hiccups. One day, the hippo sees an elephant. He tries to say hello, but his hiccups get in the way. Soon, instead of a new friend, he’s got an angry elephant chasing after him—right through a poor centipede’s newly poured cement. When a flossing rhinoceros gets involved, it is decided: The hiccups must come to an end.

Why Patty chose this story: I chose this title because many children feel like the hiccupotamus sometimes and they can identify with the feelings of trying to solve a problem that seems unsolvable. This story illustrates that by working together and using creativity and critical thinking, challenging problems can be solved.

Vocabulary word(s): hippopotamus, elephant, centipede, rhinoceros

The Hiccupotamus is an adorable story about making new friends, working together, and solving problems. As an independent read, The Hiccupotamus offers challenges because of the made up words to complete rhymes; however the story is accessible to younger children as a read aloud using rhyming as a reading strategy. The Hiccupotamus can be used as a mentor text to teach rhyme.

Discussion starter suggestions:
  • Have you ever had the hiccups? How did you cure them?
  • Discuss a problem that you solved by working with someone else. What would you have done if that person had not helped? Share a time you helped someone else solve a problem.

Activity suggestions:
  • Create a rhyme by choosing a word and then creating new words that rhyme. For example: licorice – quickerish