Kids love to hear stories - ask any child and I'll bet they tell you that one of their favorite parts of their day is read-aloud and storytime!
Listening to a book helps kids to develop better concentration and listening skills, engages their imagination, increases their vocabulary and enhances their desire to be a reader as they grow.
I love to encourage parents to read to their child each day. That 15 minutes of storytime has so many wonderful benefits!
In addition to parent/child read-aloud time, families can also include online read alouds and audio books as part of their child's literacy activities.
These online books can really help to increase the time your kids spend reading and being read to -- use them in the car when your running errands or in the evening while while you're preparing dinner. Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links for your convenience.
We've found some wonderful websites that offer stellar books which are read aloud to your child.
And a BIG bonus is that they are all FREE!
Yep, free stories online for the kiddos (pretty great huh!)
Storyline Online is brought to us from the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, these 20+ books are read aloud by some very famous actors and actressses.
The Details: I love the classic voices of many of the readers (seriously! James Earl Jones reads To Be a Drum & Betty White reads Harry the Dirty Dog). The books are read via video so the kids get to see the actor before the book begins. The illustrations are slightly animated. There is no text shown during the reading of the book (as I said before, I really wish they would put the text up on the screen for the kids).
And a BIG BONUS on this site -- each book has Related Activities that are offered and an Activity Guide that you can download too! I love both of these extras as they offer some great questions that you can discuss with your child to reinforce listening and comprehension skills. - also Rainbow Fish, bad case of stripes
In addition to the two pictured above, some of my other favorites on this site include Harry the Dirty Dog, A Bad Case of Stripes, and The Polar Express.
National Geographic Young Explorer
If you have kids that LOVE non-fiction and animals, that this is the place for you! The National Geographic Young Explorer website has more than 30 wonderful books about nature and animals from around the world.
Navigation is easy and sentences are read when your child clicks the button so they can take their time when looking at the photos. I love that vocabulary is included in the books and the photos & illustrations are amazing!
And a HUGE plus -- there is a "For Teachers" button with each book that includes a guide to the topic, discussion questions and great activity pages too!
Online Storytime by Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble's Online Storytime (see links below) hosts some very popular books that are read to kids. The titles include:
The Details: Barnes and Noble has a really nice selection of very well known (and many award winning) children's books. The voices of the readers are nice to listen to and kids will recognize many of their favorites.
I am disappointed with how the site chooses to show the book as it's read. You are only shown some of the illustrations and the pictures move as the story is read aloud. I find this very distracting. There is also no text shown as the book is read (I always think it's better to have the text shown in order to offer kids the opportunity for word recognition).
Update 1/11/2015: Barnes & Noble has changed up their website. Now the read aloud videos of the stories can be found my clicking on the book link and then paging down to the video.
Here are some of the direct links to the story videos -- many thanks to Carolyn from The Wise Owl Factory for alerting me to the change!
Storynory offers a great selection of classic storys, fairy tales, original stories and educational tales such as greek myths.
The Details: A well-known and well-established site, Storynory has been offering a new story each week since 2005 so they have quite a collection! The readers have wonderful voices and you can find many great fables and fairy tales on this site.
Each selection only includes one illustration but the entire texted can be viewed during the read aloud. This site is more of an audio book, but I really like that older kids can follow along with the text to increase word regonition and pronunciation skills.
KOL Jr. Stories
Unfortunately, KOL Jr. is no longer available. No one is sure what happened to the site, it just disappeared. So I'm searching for other options to add to this great list.
If your kids like Arthur, they can find more than 15 Arthur stories at KOL Jr.
The Details: The books read on this website show all the book pages with text and the words are highlighted as the book is read to you. I really like the highlighted text as kids are able to follow along with the story and practice word recognition and pronunciation skills.
Some of my favorite Arthur books that are read on the site include Arthur's Pet Business (An Arthur Adventure), and Arthur Meets the President: An Arthur Adventure (Arthur Adventure Series).
Another of my favorite book series, Toot & Puddle, also has one book that can be found here too - Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine.
And be sure to visit our original post -- Finding Free Kids Books Online -- where we share a number of great websites (like We Give Books, Project Gutenburg and Books Should Be Free) that offer free reading materials including popular picture books, classic chapter books and some of your childhood favorites too!
You might also like: