Read-aloud books – there’s so many favourites out there we’ve made this great list of read-alouds through the ages – there’s bound to be one of your favourites on it.
But my favourite read-aloud, and probably my vote for the book of the year, is one that has no words. Not a single piece of description. No dialogue, no tired rhymes from the thesaurus, no names, no cutesy chit chat.
It’s no easy choice – at the end of the day when you’re tired and you’re trying to get a ratty three-year-old to bed, the challenge of making up the narration and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of The Chicken Thief is sometimes the last thing you want to take on. The plot? A fox steals a chicken – her chicken partner and assorted friends chase them high and low for several nights, crossing mountains and oceans – but then the chicken ditches the lot of them for the fox!
And yet it’s a story choice we never regret. We talk about the action, the scenery, the characters, the drama, what might happen next – and every time we get a different, fun, entertaining version.
It’s magic that the illustrations capture so much, but what I really like is that it puts the reader in charge of the story somehow – deciding what to highlight, exaggerate or omit; choosing sound effects, what names the characters might have and so on.