Those of us who grew up with Reading Rainbow know that watching read-alouds is always popular with kids. You’ll find lots of options online, but some are better than others. Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you and found the best read-alouds on YouTube to share with the kids in your life.
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.
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 onscreen, 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.
Mrs. K often includes interesting facts during the introduction, then gets to the book itself. Her playlists include funny books, informational books, holiday books, and more.
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.
Read Right Now uses e-books instead of paper books, so the page flipping is a little different. But the reader uses a clear and engaging voice, and their selection of titles is top-notch.
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.
Brightly Storytime is another channel that doesn’t show physical books with flipping pages, but they do have one unique feature: the words are highlighted as they’re read, making it easier for kids to follow the text. The playlist where authors read their own books has some of the best read-alouds on YouTube.
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.
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.
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 10 “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.