Being read to was a daily event in my life from in utero until well after I achieved independent literacy. As I got older, roles switched and I would practice reading aloud. I suspect my dyslexic tendencies and spelling would be much worse had I not been immersed in a reading culture so thoroughly. Shared reading is also a subtle way in which written and visual culture is taught – without exposure to reading, it’s entirely possible for children to enter kindergarten lacking knowledge in how to hold a book, which direction words are read from and the difference between upper and lower case letters. Aside from the educational benefits, reading aloud is a lovely ritual and a nice way to wind down.
I’m a proud PANK (Professional Aunt, No Kids) and one of my favorite gifts for the dear nephews are books. Here’s a list of some favourites for the under threes.
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins. The hen Rosie goes for a walk. Especially fun to read aloud without commenting on the hilarious fox being foiled in the background of all the illustrations. Expect disbelieving looks if using this approach.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. A tiger with an insatiable appetite comes to tea, leaving nothing for dinner – so a trip to a restaurant is required.
The Mog series by Judith Kerr (including Mog the Forgetful Cat, Mog and the V.E.T, Mog in the Dark, Mog’s Christmas). Mog is a slightly dimwitted cat who is well-loved by her people all the same.
Hairy Maclairy series by Lynley Dodd. A series of stories a range of dogs (and one cat, Slinky Malinki) told in rhyme. Funny and fun to read aloud.
Burgler Bill by Allan Ahlberg. Burgler Bill gets more than he bargains for when he accidentally burgles a baby, and he decides to reform, returning the helmets and cakes he has stolen. It’s a bit longer than others in the list, but there’s lots to talk about in the illustrations.
Dogger by Shirley Hughes: A much beloved toy dog goes missing, and an older sister saves the day. A nice one if there’s a favourite soft toy in the family.
The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson. A rat with a sweet tooth is foiled by a clever scheme and his own greed. Great rhythm and rhymes for reading aloud.