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Great Books to Read Aloud


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Strong Australian Theme

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Great Books to Read Aloud

AUSTRAL ED Contact Details:
a division of gleebooks
PO Box 486
NSW 2037

Phone: 61 2 9660 2333
Fax: 61 2 9660 3597

ABN  87 000 357 317

May 2012

Here are some suggestions for books to read aloud.  They are picture books as well as fiction.   I shall gradually add to the list.

All prices are in Australian dollars and include 10% GST tax.   However this GST does not apply to exports from Australia.

If you would like to order any of the books on the list, send the orders to Austral Ed by email   Payment can be made by direct bank transfer or bank cheques in Australian dollars or by Credit card especially for private purchases.   Freight is sent by the most economical method within Australia or overseas, depending on urgency. 

Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke

Picture Books

Jez Alborough
Duck in the Truck  pb 9781933605760   $12.00    A wonderful story describing how duck’s truck gets stuck in the mud and how his three friends help.  Very funny with rhyme and repetition.
Hit the Ball Duck pb 9780007302918 $14.99    When Duck and his friends play ball, the ball gets stuck in the tree which again sets  off a very funny chain of events.  A very entertaining story with appealing illustrations.
Watch Out!  Big Bro’s Coming!  pb 9780744598346  $16.95      When little mouse comes running and calls out “Watch Out!  Big Bro’s Coming!”  “He’s rough, he’s tough and he’s big” all the animals are scared.  Children will love the surprise when they discover that Big Bro isn’t so big - though as little mouse’s big brother he is much bigger than little mouse!

Pamela Allen
Her picture books are loved by young children because of their bold bright illustrations and fast moving storyline with lots of rhyme, rhythm and repetition.
Who sank the Boat?   pb 9780140509403 $14.95  Board Book 9780143501992 $14.95 
A marvellous story which is unusual in that it also deals with science concepts.

Nan Bodsworth
A Nice Walk in the Jungle   pb 9780140541274  $14.95     Miss Jellaby is such an enthusiastic teacher that as she walks and talks her way through the jungle she doesn't notice that her class is, one by one, being consumed by a hungry boa constrictor.

Lauren Child
I will not ever never eat a tomato  hardback 9781846169052  $35.00  pb 9781846168864 $16.99     Charlie’s little sister Lola is a fussy eater.  However Charlie works out an ingenious way of encouraging her to eat, even the foods she doesn’t like.  Charlie says that these are not peas, “of course they are not, these are green drops from Greenland.”  Lola can’t resist just tasting them and finally she joins in the game and asks for the round red moonsquirter (she wouldn’t eat a tomato of course but moonsquirters are her favourite.)

Helen Cooper
Pumpkin Soup  pb 9780552545105 $17.95    A delightful story about Cat, Squirrel and Duck and the problems caused when Duck decides he will stir the pumpkin soup instead of Squirrel.  It takes a while but gradually everything is worked and cooperation reigns again.  

Lynley Dodd
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy hardback 9780143306153  $19.95  pb 9780140505313  $14.95  Big Book 9780947212117  $44.95  Board Book 9780143504450 $12.95     The exploits of Hairy Maclary are well know and loved throughout the world.  The rhyme has a rollicking pace and lots of humour.

Julia Donaldson
Gruffalo  hardback  9780333710920  $26.95,  pb 9780333710937  $14.95,  Big Book 9780333901762  $45.00

A deliciously scary book.  When a quick-witted mouse takes a walk through a dark wood and Fox and owl and Snake want to eat him he makes up tales of a fearful Gruffalo to scare them off. But then he does come across a real hungry Gruffalo.   (4 – 7 years)
Room on the Broom  hardback  9780803726574  $26.00  pb 9780333903384   $14.95  Big Book 9781405021746  $39.99  

Cat, dog, bird and frog all manage to find room on the broom and join the witch in an exhilarating ride.   Rhyme, rhythm and repetition, great illustrations and a scary dragon make this great fun.      (3 – 6 years)

Mem Fox
Mem is a wonderful storyteller and very well known because of the success of Possum Magic, illus by Julie Vivas  hardback 9781862915640 $29.99 pb  9781862915657 $15.99, Big Book  9781862916678 $39.99
Wombat Divine illus by Kerry Argent  pb 9781862918412 $15.99    Wombat, who is a most appealing creature, wanted desperately to take part in the Christmas nativity play but for each part he was too big, or too small or …  A marvellous text to read aloud and the illustrations have charm and humour. 

Jackie French
Diary of a Wombat  illustrated by Bruce Whatley  hardback 9780207199950 $24.95  board book 9780732286620  $14.99

This is a very funny book, ironic and whimsical.  Bruce Whatley’s illustrations of this hefty, very determined but endearing wombat are also a delight.  The text is very simple but it has layers of irony.

Bob Graham
Through his own very idiosyncratic cartoon style of illustration and gentle sense of humour, Bob Graham creates wonderful stories about families. 

“Let’s get a PUP!” pb 9781406308518  $16.95   A wonderful evocation of a family - the type of warm slightly zany family that Bob Graham creates so well.  When Kate breathlessly decides she wants a pup they end up getting Dave, a wonderfully bouncy excitable puppy and also Rosy, an old grey dog.

The Trouble with Dogs hardback 9781406303384  $29.95 pb 9781406326017 $16.95 is the delightful sequel.  Dave is still wonderfully excitable but the family decides that is hard to live with such excitement and consult a severe dog trainer to help.  But he too succumbs to Dave’s infectious enthusiasm.   

Sheena Knowles
Edward the Emu  illus by Rod Clement  pb 9780207170515 $14.99   Edward is the most expressive emu imaginable as he shows his boredom at being an emu and tries to imitate the other animals in the zoo.   The sequel is Edwina the Emu  pb 9780207189142  $14.99

Munro Leaf
The Story of Ferdinand  Drawings by Robert Lawson  hardback 9780670674244  $27.00 pb 9780140502343  $12.00  

The wonderful classic story of Ferdinand who was a huge, very impressive bull  but who loved to sit quietly under his favourite cork tree and smell the flowers.  He was taken to the bull fights in Madrid but to the extreme frustration of the matador who wanted to “show off with his cape and sword” all Ferdinand did was to sit in the middle of the bull ring and smell the flowers in the lovely ladies’ hair.   There are so many different perspectives in this delightful story.  (4 – 9 years)

Margaret Mahy
The Great White Man-Eating Shark  illustrated by  Jonathon Allen pb 9780140554243 $14.95
Norvin impersonates a shark so that he can swim unhindered in the bay but he is all too convincing and attracts a lady shark who considers him “the shark of my dreams”.  A favourite picture book of mine.  

Junko Morimoto
The Two Bullies translated by Isao Morimoto  pb 9780091834722  $16.95      Ni-ou was the strongest man in Japan and Dokkoi was the strongest in China but when they get within hearing distance of each other they show that bravery is not one of their strengths.  Illustrated with great inventiveness, humour and beauty using both traditional and modern elements of style.

Deborah Niland
Annie's Chair  pb 9780143501985 $14.95    Annie has a very special chair that no one else is allowed to sit in.  The only exception is Benny the dog but only, says Annie, if they sit in the chair together! Very appealing bright illustrations show Annie as a character with a very distinctive personality.  The lively text will appeal especially to three and four year olds.

Annie to the Rescue  pb 9780143503095  $14.95   

Another delightful story about Annie who is very resourceful as she climbs a tree to rescue her cat and then climbs carefully down again. 

Phyllis Root
One Duck Stuck illus by Jane Chapman  pb 9780744563443 $16.95    When “one duck gets stuck in the muck, down by the deep green marsh”, it takes many different creatures to help her free.  Repetition, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme ensure this is great fun to read aloud.  It is also a counting book with lively engaging illustrations.

Michael Rosen
This is Our House  illus by Bob Graham  

pb 9781406305647 $16.95  pb with DVD 9781406315455 $19.95 
George has decided that he is the only one who can play in the big cardboard house but the other children are determined that everyone shall play in it.  A charming and humorous picture book about sharing and cooperation.  (4 - 8 years)

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt  illus by Helen Oxenbury  hardback 9781406319408 $34.95 pb 9780744523232 $16.95 Big Book 9780744547818 $44.95    A wonderfully illustrated and retold version of the well know action rhyme.  Children will love to act out walking through the grass “Swishy swashy!’ and wading through the mud “Squelch squerch!”

Gillian Rubinstein
Sharon Keep Your hair On  illustrated by David Mackintosh  pb 9780091831608 $14.95
This rap poem is such fun to read aloud.  It is a virtuoso rhyming performance about an extended family which grows and then shrinks.    (5 – 9 years)  

Allen Say
Grandfather’s Journey  hardback 9780395570357 $24.99  pb 9780547076805 $10.99      Allen Say’s grandfather made the journey from Japan to the United States when he was a young man and this story beautifully describes through text and illustrations the love that he and his grandson feel for both countries.  Caldecott Medal winner.      (8 years up)

Colin Thompson
Fearless  illus by Sarah Davis hardback 9780733320255  $24,99  pb 9780733330827  $14.99    This is such a fun book.  When he was a puppy, Fearless seemed a good name but he grew up to be frightened of everything.  However one night, completely by accident, Fearless lived up to his name.  Wonderfully engaging illustrations show Fearless to be endearing, loving, and not very bright, though a much loved part of the family.   (4 – 7 years)

Martin Waddell
The Pig in the Pond illus by Jill Barton pb 9781406301595  $16.95    Big Book  9780744543919  $44.95  

It is a very hot day at Neligan’s farm but the ducks and geese are cool swimming in the pond.  The pig is watching and getting hotter and hotter and all pandemonium breaks out when he finally decides to jump into the pond.  Great fun to read aloud.

Sue Whiting
The Firefighters  illustrations by Donna Rawlins  hardback 9781921150296  $29.95   pb  9781921529498 $16.95  Big Book 9781921529702  $44.95        The children at kindergarten pretend to be real firefighters getting into their truck and racing along to get to the fire and squirt it with their hoses.  Later the real fire engine arrives and two firefighters arrive to show them their truck and tell the children stories about fires.  Bright illustrations and the lively text will make this book very popular with preschoolers.    (3 – 6 years)

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross
Big Bad Bun hardback 9781842709252  $32.95  pb 9781842709450 $17.95     I love the irreverent humour of this marvellous team.  Big bad Bun has written a letter to his parents describing how he has run away from home to join the terrible Hell Bunnies.  He describes their dangerous exploits and the way he now always goes to bed late and never washes his whiskers … but at the end of the letter there is a P.S. saying that none of this was true, that he was at grandma’s house and that he just wanted to remind his rabbit parents  that there were worse things in life than his terrible school report!  Tony Ross’s Illustrations are a delight as is Fluff’s report, signed by his teacher Miss Burrows.  (5 – 9 years)


Shenaaz Nnanji
Indian Tales: A Barefoot Collection and Christopher Corr pb 9781846864261  $20.00
The eight stories reflect very different regions of India.  The stories are well told and the illustrations add vitality and colour.  There are stories about magical spirits, sneaky robbers and brave heroines.  I especially liked the story of Five Men in a Cart from Andhra  Pradesh.  The five men slavishly follow their guru’s instruction to such an extent that they are completely unable to make any commonsense decisions and this makes for absurd situations and a very funny story.   (7 – 12 years)

Michael Rosen
South & North, East & West  pb 9781406309188  $27.95    An entertaining collection of stories from around the world, including Asia, illustrated by a variety of artists.  (7 – 13 years)


Lloyd Alexander
Chronicles of Prydain   pb  $11.00 each   This is a very entertaining fantasy series.  In the first book of the series, Taran knows only that he is an assistant pig keeper, but he meets a group of varied and wonderful friends and together they fight against the evil that is threatening the land.  Over the five books in the series, Taran gains in knowledge, ability, compassion and wisdom.  A delight read aloud as there is much excitement and humour.  The five books in the series are The Book of Three pb 9780805080483, The Black Cauldron pb 9780805080490,   The Castle of Llyr pb 9780805080506, Taran Wanderer pb 9780805080513 and The High King pb 9780805080520     (9 – 14 years)

Allan Baillie
The Excuse pb 9780140386592  $12.95      Pete shows great ingenuity in making up this amazing excuse for being late.  But is his teacher really as easily fooled as he seems?   (7 – 9 years)

Lynn Reid Banks 
The Indian in the Cupboard   pb 9780007309955 $12.99     Enchanting fantasy where a toy Indian comes alive and Omri discovers that this is not just any toy Indian but a warrior with very particular needs and desires. (8 – 13 years)
I, Houdini  pb 9780007341535 $12.99      This is the very amusing story of a hamster who like Houdini always escapes from the cage.  He tells his own story and so we can understand his viewpoint and see his irritations with his human family. (7 – 10 years)

Eoin Colfer
The Legend of Spud Murphy  pb 9780141317083 $12.95    Will and Marty are terrified when they have to spend three afternoons a week in the Library since the librarian, Spud Murphy, has a terrifying reputation and is reputed to keep a spud gun which fires spuds (or potatoes) under her desk.  Great fun to read aloud and who would believe that there could be so much suspense in the library?  (6 – 10 years) 

Terry Denton
Gasp! The Breathtaking Adventures of a Fish Left Home Alone  pb 9780140557008  $14.95   are the hilarious adventures of a naughty and greedy fish who breaks his fish bowl and, with only 27 pages to go, realises that he “is a fish out of water”.  Gasp!   Such drama to read aloud!  Denton is a witty writer and illustrator and this story will also appeal to beginner readers and ESL students.. (7 - 13 years)

Anne Fine
Diary of a Killer Cat  pb 9780140369311 $12.95  Tuffy the cat writes in his own very distinctive style.  OK, so he killed the neighbour’s pet rabbit but he is a cat and that’s what cats do!   A very funny story to read aloud as Tuffy’s character shines through.  
Flour Babies   by Anne Fine  pb 9780140361476 $12.95      An entertaining novel in which a class is given a lesson in responsibility when they have to care for their “flour babies” which are really six pound bags of flour, as if they were real babies.  The project has a surprising effect on Simon and his resulting reflections about himself and his family are at times surprising and hilarious.  (Make sure you have the original UK edition and not the much altered for the worse US version.)    (9 – 13 years)       

Rachel Flynn
Moon Station  illus by Judy Watson pb 9780143304524 $12.95    Williams has to do a project on designing a moon station. Some enterprising kids outsource their projects to their parents since this is the modern way or “best practice.”  Williams has a suspicion that this might be cheating.  A very amusing story about the hazards of doing projects.  One of the popular Aussie Bites.  (7 – 9 years)

Jackie French
The Goat Who Sailed the World  pb 9780207200779 $14.99  This book has two narrators, a young twelve year old boy called Isaac Manley and a much travelled and superior Goat.  This narrative device gives us two very different perspectives on Cooks’ amazing voyage around the world from 1768 to 1771, when Australia was discovered and the ship was almost wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef.  Very entertaining.   (8 – 14 years)
They Came on Viking Ships pb 9780207200113 $15.95 is a convincing and exciting story of Hekja who was captured by Vikings and taken to Greenland.  She has courage and determination and earns the respect of her captors and finally joins colonists on a journey to Vinland (on the coast of America).    (10 – 14 years)  

Morris Gleitzman
An extremely popular author in Australia who used to write for television, especially comedy.  Children love all his books. 
In Misery Guts  pb 9780330272315 $14.95 Keith persuades his parents to shift from dismal dreary England to Australia but still finds there are problems in the land of his dreams.

Toad Rage  pb 9780141306551 $16.95   This is a very funny story about Limpy the cane toad who is determined to change humans’ opinions of cane toads so he sets off on a dangerous and hilarious adventure.      (8 - 14 years)

Andy Griffiths
Just Tricking pb 9780330361415 Just Annoying pb 9780330360784  Just Stupid pb 9780330361484  Just Crazy pb 9780330362153  Just Disgusting pb 9780330363686  and Just Shocking pb 9780330423533  illustrated by Terry Denton  pb $12.99  each       Very funny stories with an irreverent, infectious humour which kids love, especially boys.  (9  - 11 years)

Philip Gwynne
A Chook called Harry pb 9780143303473  $12.95    is a very appealing story.  Chris’ family decides to buy ten chooks and the father thinks it is only sensible to eat any chook that doesn’t pull its weight by laying eggs.  But the chook that isn’t laying is Chris’ favourite chook, Harry.  Another in the Aussie Bites series.  (7 – 9 years)

Steven Herrick
Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair  pb 9780702228780 $18.95    A highly successful verse novel.  Humorous, engaging, sad and full of vitality this is the story of 16 year old Jack and his friends, his family, his hopes and his fears.  (14 – 18 years)

Anthony Horowitz
Falcon's Malteser  pb 9781406300437 $15.95    A very entertaining send up of detective stories which is fast paced and exciting.  Tim Diamond must be one of the world’s worst private detectives.  Luckily his younger brother is much smarter.  (8 – 12 years)

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera  pb 9780143011392 $22.95     Kahu is the descendant of the line of Paikea who came originally to Aotearoa on the back of a whale.  However her grandfather is disgusted that she is only a girl and not the grandson he had hoped for as he doesn’t believe that a girl can take over the male line of descent from Paikea.  Kahu tries to show her grandfather that she can do anything that the other boys in her village can do but finally she is able to show that she is a worthy successor to the line of Paikea.   

(9 – 14 years)
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera  illustrated  by Bruce Potter pb 9780143503279 $14.95  is the picture book format illustrated by Bruce Potter which tells the story for younger readers with beautifully realistic illustrations.  (5 – 9 years)

Paul Jennings
The Cabbage Patch Fib pb 9780140377699 $14.95    The very funny story of a strange baby truly found in the cabbage patch! 
The Paw Thing 9780140377705 $12.95, Singenpoo Strikes Again 9780141300993 , Singenpoo Shoots Through 9780141306094 $12.95 and Singenpoo’s Secret Weapon  pb 9780141306087  $12.95  Wacky stories about Singenpoo the remarkable cat who can read and even play Scrabble. Large print, simple text and illustrations.  All four stories also available in one volume  The Many Adventures of Singenpoo  pb 9780143304791 $19.95        (7 – 10 years)

Unbearable 9780140371031, Unbelievable 9780140371000, Uncanny 9780140371024, Unmentionable 9780140371048, Unreal 9780140370997, Undone 9780140368239, Uncovered 9780140369007and Unseen 9780141305158  all pb $14.95 each (8 - 15 years)

Quirky Tales 9780140371017 $16.95

Funniest Stories 9780670028900, Spookiest Stories 9780670028917, Trickiest Stories 9780670071845 and Weirdest Stories 9780670070640 pb $24.95 each are all collections which generally contain the same stories but in different groupings.

Morris Lurie
The 27th Annual African Hippopotamus Race pb 9780140342970 $14.95       The very funny story of a hippopotamus race like no other. This is a classic that has remained very popular for years.  Great to read aloud.  (7 – 10 years)

Margaret Mahy
The Great Piratical Rumbustification  pb 9781444005448 $12.99        This rumbustification is as full of rowdy boisterousness as it sounds on the occasion of the pirates’ celebration.  The second story in this book The Librarian and the Robber is not as rowdy but has wonderful ironical references to the art of being a librarian.   As a former librarian herself, Margaret Mahy has great fun with this relationship between a librarian and a robber.      (6 - 9 years)

John Marsden
John Marsden is Australia's most popular author for teenage readers. 
Staying alive in Year 5 pb 9780330358842 $12.95    Scott and his friends are just staying alive in Year 5 until their surprising new teacher comes along.   (8 – 12 years)
The Tomorrow when the War Began series is an extraordinarily popular series about a group of teenagers who are forced to fend for themselves and to fight for their country when Australia is invaded by a foreign power.  It is gripping, compulsive reading. Tomorrow when the War Began  pb 9780330274869 $16.99      (12 – 18 years)

Emily Rodda
Bob the Builder and the Elves   pb 9780733314841  $12.95        Bob is appalled when his house is infested with elves who keep his house much too tidy and make him fairy bread and polish his boots.  A very funny story.

Rowan of Rin  pb 9781862916357  $15.99  contains many of the elements of the traditional fantasy - the quest, the dragon, misty swamps and walls of spiders.  Sequels are Rowan and the Travellers pb 9781862916364    Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal pb 9781862916371 $16.99    Rowan and the Zebak pb 9781862916388 and the latest Rowan and the Bukshah   pb 9781862916395 $15.99 each   (7 – 10 years)

Jen Storer

Haggis McGregor and the Night of the Skull Moon illus by Gus Gordon  pb 9780143305248  $12.95   A spooky and at times very funny story of Haggis McGregor, a skeleton who likes to wear a kilt and a scarlet wig.  He is searching for a wee lassie to make his wife and rides on his skeleton horse at the time of the full moon!  One of the popular Aussie Bites.  (6 – 9 years)

Colin Thiele
Thiele's novels have been well known and loved for many years.
Storm Boy illus by Robert Ingpen pb 9781741101874  $14.95    is the well known story of the friendship between a boy and a pelican Mr Percival.  It has been reprinted with the original illustrations capturing the beautiful desolation of the sand dunes of this coastline of the Coorong of South Australia. (6 – 12 years )

J R R Tolkien
The Hobbit  hardback 9780261103283 $39.95 pb 9780261102217 $19.99    The much loved classic story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who left his quiet life in his hobbit hole to go on a highly dangerous quest.  This is a thrilling introduction to a fantasy world of dwarves, wizards and high adventure.   (8 – 13 years)

E B White
Charlotte’s Web hardback 9780141316048 $29.95 pb 9780141329680 $16.95    The classic story of Wilbur the pig and his friendship with Charlotte a beautiful large grey and very clever spider.  It is Charlotte who works out a way to save Wilbur from a terrible fate.  As a read aloud it is often funny but also can bring tears to your eyes.   (6 – 10 years)

If you would like to order any of the books listed above, send orders to Austral Ed by email to   All prices are in Australian dollars.

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© Kate Shepherd 2010.