Read-aloud videos have been around for a long time, as any Reading Rainbow fan can attest. These days, you’ll find the biggest selection of read-alouds on YouTube. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which are worth your time?
Read-alouds aren’t just a way to entertain little ones. They also demonstrate reading fluency and concepts. In the classroom, read-aloud videos give teachers a chance to rest their voices and catch up on some paperwork. Parents who are tired of reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for the umpteenth time can introduce some new stories without the need for a trip to the library or bookstore. (Get tips for using read-aloud videos at home here.)
How we chose the best read-alouds on YouTube
YouTube has an enormous selection of read-aloud videos. Some are amazing—and some are not. Though any time kids spend with books has merit, we feel that quality videos should provide the same educational experience that in-person reading does. A good read-aloud:
- Has clear sound with an emphasis on the reading (we don’t need music or any extra sounds).
- Shows the cover of each book.
- Mentions the title, author, and illustrator of the book (with correct pronunciation).
- Demonstrates proper concepts of print (the pages turn right to left).
- Shows the text of the book while the person is reading.
- Demonstrates fluent reading.
With that in mind, here are the read-aloud channels we love. We hope you do too! (As always, please preview any video to ensure the content is appropriate for your audience.)
Stories for kids—read by a kid! This channel features tons of favorite books, read beautifully by a child who knows how to make the story engaging and fun. Kids will find it easy to connect with a voice that sounds more like their own, encouraging them to try reading aloud on their own more often.
Ready for some titles you haven’t seen before? The StoryTime Family has a big virtual bookshelf with playlists for animals, social-emotional learning, and more. No commercial characters here, just good quality selections kids haven’t already heard dozens of times.
Ms. Becky has such a comfortable presence on screen, and she asks viewers questions before and after reading in an incredibly natural way. She has several hundred videos to choose from, with favorite standbys and newer titles too.
Looking for read-alouds with some personality? Check out Ryan and Craig! They’re comedians who read children’s books and comment (in kid-appropriate ways) as they go. They’re fun and entertaining, but the reading is quality and so are the book choices.
The puppet voices might seem a bit much for parents, but kids love the high energy of these read-alouds on YouTube. The variety here is exceptional, with whole sections of Hispanic Heritage books, seasonal books, and STEM books.
If your kids are always begging, “Do the voices!” when they listen to read-alouds, they’ll like Awnie. Although these videos don’t show the pages of the book being flipped, they do ensure the text is featured as Awnie reads. We especially like the playlists for School Days and Kindness and Acceptance.
If you’re looking for well-read classics, check out this channel. There are two dozen books to watch, all read in a way that’s perfect for little ones to follow along.
From Dr. Seuss classics to biographies and everything in between, these are some of our favorite read-alouds on YouTube. The video library is enormous, with titles to interest any young learner.
The basic read-alouds here check all the boxes: clear reading, engaging voices, and a wide selection, including many that older readers will like. This is a super channel for struggling readers to plug into during center time, as there are many high-interest Pete the Cat books and other popular characters from mainstream movies and programs.
There are lots of commercial-character books here, but The Reading Unicorn does them well. Parents might appreciate these read-alouds on YouTube most; let the playlist run while you catch up on some laundry or check your email.
Bonus Recommendation: Goodnight With Dolly
Dolly Parton is a huge champion of children’s literacy. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she put out a series of ten “bedtime story” videos. Her charm and sweetness shine through on every page of these gems, and though there are only a handful of read-alouds, you’ll want to watch them again and again.
What are your favorite read-alouds on YouTube? Join the conversation and exchange recommendations on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.