To set up early readers for success in literacy, it’s helpful to have a variety of tools at our fingertips. One great way to enhance instruction is to include big books as part of a foundational reading curriculum. While providing important learning opportunities, these larger-than-life books are ideal for reading aloud. Through shared and guided reading experiences, big books help introduce concepts of print to emergent readers. In addition, they can teach students about rhyming, counting, the alphabet, and other rudimentary skills in an appealing way. Even if you already have some of these quality books in their regular format, be sure to check out the larger versions too. We think you’ll love incorporating these wonderful stories into your early reading instruction.
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1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
We love that this beloved story is available as a big book! In a larger format, the classic story about a boy playing in the snow is perfect for teaching early literacy elements in a guided reading setting. It also makes for a wonderful read-aloud to enjoy together, and the beautiful illustrations are as appealing as ever.
Buy it: The Snowy Day at Amazon
2. Miss Mary Mack by Mary Ann Hoberman
Expanding on the popular rhyme and clapping game, this big book for the classroom is so much fun. Early readers can practice identifying rhyming words, while the rhythm and cadence make it very catchy. Funny and playful, this appealing story also teaches important early phonological skills. Everyone will want to hear this one on repeat.
Buy it: Miss Mary Mack at Amazon
3. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Perfect for the first week of school, this endearing story makes for one of our favorite big books. The relatable tale of a young mouse who loves her name until her classmates tease her about it comes alive even more in this format. Younger students will appreciate the sweet illustrations and early school experience, while older elementary students will take away lessons about kindness and understanding.
Buy it: Chrysanthemum at Amazon
4. The Little Red Hen by Byron Barton
This retelling of the classic story makes for a wonderful shared reading experience. Vibrant and simplistic illustrations perfectly suit the traditional tale that teaches us a lesson about teamwork. The repetitive text is also great for a younger audience as they are learning about the flow of text and the way books can sound.
Buy it: The Little Red Hen at Amazon
5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
Playful rhymes and colorful illustrations make this classroom favorite shine in a larger format. Students will love to hear this story again and again, while they learn about rhythm and structure from the repetitive text.
Buy it: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon
6. Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
Be sure to add this one to your collection of big books. This story shares parts of the body and what they can do in appealing rhymes and enhanced illustrations. Eager listeners will enjoy reciting the accessible text along with you.
Buy it: Here Are My Hands at AbeBooks
7. Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
This lovely story about a girl planting a flower box for her mother’s birthday is very sweet and makes a great addition to your classroom library. Realistic illustrations accompany the rhyming words, while the simple yet meaningful text is engaging. The larger size only enhances the appeal of this gem.
Buy it: Flower Garden at Discount School Supply
8. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
This cherished story makes for one of our favorite big books. What happens when an excited little mouse shows up to ask for a cookie? The cause-and-effect story delights and entertains. The first in a series of “If You Give …” books, the original is a winner.
Buy it: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie at Amazon
9. The Empty Pot by Demi
No matter how hard he tries, a boy named Ping can’t grow a seed into a flower. Defeated and downtrodden, he reveals his failure to the king, who unexpectedly rewards his honesty. Through powerful text and appealing illustrations, this remarkable book demonstrates what it means to do the right thing.
Buy it: The Empty Pot at CM School Supply
10. I Went Walking by Sue Williams
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that capture our attention the most. In this sweet story, a little girl goes on a walk and discovers all sorts of different animals along the way. As they follow along with the engaging structure, young listeners will adore guessing which animal the girl sees next and can imagine the story as if they were experiencing it too.
Buy it: I Went Walking at Kaplan Early Learning Company
11. What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan
This fun book highlights the many differences among us and helps us celebrate what makes us unique. Students will enjoy the rhyming elements and very large illustrations, as well as seeing their own reflections in the mirror on the last page. This makes for a great conversation starter about our own special qualities.
Buy it: What I Like About Me! at Amazon
12. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Fans of Goodnight Moon will love this story by Margaret Wise Brown. The animals on the farm follow their daily routines until it is time for bed. The sing-song quality and gentle tone from the beloved author is a hit with younger students.
Buy it: Big Red Barn at Barnes & Noble
13. One Elephant Went Out to Play by Sanja Rescek
Counting books and nursery rhymes are perfect for your classroom library of big books, and this one has both. Playful and fun, the pattern and rhymes in this book will entertain and teach early literacy skills.
Buy it: One Elephant Went Out to Play at Barnes & Noble
14. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
This classic tale of perseverance is always a popular choice. Students will love to repeat the iconic phrase “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” while they hear the beloved story read aloud.
Buy it: The Little Engine That Could at Menucha Classrooms
15. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
A charming story about a sleeping bear who wakes up to find lots of animals enjoying a party in his den without him. Bummed he’s been missing out, he joins the fun. Lots of rhyming and repetition make this one a very satisfying read.
Buy it: Bear Snores On at Amazon
16. Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
This book is a great example of how repetition works so well in big books. Lloyd the llama asks other animals about their mothers and in turn learns about what types of animals they are. With amusing riddles and appealing illustrations, this story is a joy.
Buy it: Is Your Mama a Llama? at AbeBooks
17. Down by the Station by Annie Kubler
This enjoyable book version of the popular song about different modes of transportation will keep listeners engaged and excited. Rhyming words and colorful illustrations add to its appeal.
Buy it: Down by the Station at Books by the Bushel
18. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
A book of very few words, the illustrations drive this endearing story about a sneaky gorilla at a zoo, making it a great fit for a big book.
Buy it: Good Night, Gorilla at Menucha Classrooms
19. Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Three mice explore with red, yellow, and blue paint while they look out for the cat. This lighthearted, simple book is a wonderful introduction to mixing and playing with paints and colors.
Buy it: Mouse Paint at Book Source
20. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
This favorite read-aloud always delights. Showcasing the importance of friendship and lending a helping hand, the original in a multi-book series shines with rhyming and charming animal characters.
Buy it: Little Blue Truck at Amazon
21. The Napping House by Audrey Wood
This entertaining book has a lovely sing-song quality. With the repetition of each page adding onto the one before, the comforting story about taking a nap will leave its audience guessing what will happen next.
Buy it: The Napping House at Barnes & Noble
22. Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
This beautiful book with collage illustrations of different landscapes and animals imagined in leaf shapes is full of creativity and originality. A lovely choice for fall or any time of the year, this big book is a stand-out.
Buy it: Leaf Man at Becker’s School Supplies
23. One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root
Another great rhyming and counting book that hits the mark. Readers can count along with the story as they become familiar with the pattern of different animals helping a duck get unstuck from the muck.
Buy it: One Duck Stuck at Booksource
24. Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres
A bright garden tale sharing about the different ways vegetables grow. This short and sweet story is delightfully accessible and pleasing to all listeners.
Buy it: Up, Down, and Around at Barnes & Noble
25. In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming
Another nature-filled story about what lurks underneath in the grass. Concise text and rhyming words showcase how animals eat and move quietly all around us.
Buy it: In the Tall, Tall Grass at Amazon
26. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Lots of animals stretch and move in different ways and wonder if kids can do the same. Large, lively illustrations make this pick ideal for sharing in the classroom. A playful classic that invites listeners to interact and participate is one of our all-time favorites.
Buy it: From Head to Toe at Amazon
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Plus, check out this list of phonological awareness activities for more early literacy inspiration.