Why class read-aloud novels are important – and how to choose one

Why class read-aloud novels are important – and how to choose one

Choosing a classroom read-aloud novel is one of the most common dilemmas in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community.

Finding the right book to hold the attention of 30 or more kids with different interests and abilities can be a challenge.

And then there’s the problem of fitting the ‘reading aloud’ bit into a very busy school day.

It’s no wonder that teachers can feel like throwing their hands up and forgetting the whole thing.

But award-winning children’s author Sue Whiting has written a letter from the heart to outline some great reasons to persevere with reading aloud in the classroom – and, to make it easier, has put together some terrific tips for choosing a novel that will work well as a class read-aloud.

She’s even curated a list of ten fabulous Australian novels she thinks will work well for years 3-6.

Take it away Sue Whiting!


Read Aloud, Read Strong: why classroom read-alouds are important

Sue Whiting authorDear wonderful primary school teachers,

Thank you for all that you do to nurture and educate our young people. Teaching is a challenging job, and an essential one, and I sincerely appreciate your professionalism and dedication.

I have one favour to ask of you though.

If you don’t already do so, could you please try to make time in your busy classroom timetables to read aloud to your students? I promise that you won’t regret it.

The kids will love it. And the time invested will be time well spent as the benefits are far-reaching and numerous. Plus, I think you will really enjoy it too. And that’s important also.

Reading aloud to your class provides a shared experience for the whole class, regardless of students’ abilities and can lead to great discussions, critical thinking, background knowledge development and improved comprehension.

It exposes kids to books that they may not read or are unable to read themselves (this is particularly important for struggling and reluctant readers).

It is integral in creating a reading and writing community/culture in the classroom, is a wonderful way to model fluent, expressive reading, and has been shown to develop listening skills and vocabulary. The list goes on …

But don’t take my word for it, here are two articles by literacy experts that explain the benefits more thoroughly:

7 reasons every teacher should read aloud every day (Aus)

10 significant benefits of reading aloud to your students (US)

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours in story,

Sue Whiting

Children’s Author

PS: If you are keen to discover some tips for book selection keep reading …


How to select the right read-aloud novel for your class

Selecting the right novel is, of course, key to success of class read-alouds. The novel must tick many boxes for maximum benefit.

Australian classroom readaloud novelsAs a children’s author and former primary school teacher who is passionate about reading and writing for pleasure and creating reading/writing cultures in the primary classroom, nothing warms my heart more than a teacher dropping me a note to tell me they are reading one of my novels as their class read-aloud and how the kids are loving it.

I especially love it when I hear that the novel is causing robust discussions. Oh, how my heart swells.

It is no surprise then that I hope my latest novel Pearly and Pig and the Lost City of Mu Savan will also make a good class read-aloud, particularly for Grades 3-5.

So I decided to put the book to a “criteria” test to see if it measures up.

Here goes.

The below criteria are from this article on The Teacher Studio website.

•Is it LIKELY to be a new book for most of the students?

This one was easy. Pearly and Pig and the Lost City of Mu Savan is a new book for everyone! And while it is the second book in a series, it is a standalone adventure.

•Does it read aloud well?

This of course is subjective. I believe it does. I know teachers who read Pearly and Pig and the Great Hairy Beast (book #1) and said that it read aloud well. The chapters are short. There are cliff hanger endings, and I am confident that the many twists and turns and rising tension will engage young listeners.

•Is there something about the book that will connect students to our curriculum?

There are several connections:
– the importance of caring for the environment;
– the jungle/rainforest landscape, flora, fauna and habitats;
– ancient cultures and civilisations;
– world cultures;
– families, friends and relationships;
– and dealing with anxiety.

•Is it a text that will “stretch” the class–both in terms of the literary elements AND the themes involved?

This is a big yes to my mind. I imagine much lively discussion, not just about the characters and plot, but about some thought-provoking issues it raises in relation to family dynamics, trusting one’s abilities, true courage, dealing with anxiety, rising to the challenge, decision making, consumerism, the impacts of tourism, preservation of culture, conservation and so forth.

I also think that the novel could be used as a mentor text for writing, focusing on using sensory information to create vivid descriptions, show don’t tell and how to create rising tension. [Classroom ideas can be found here]


For more great tips, lists and criteria to help you select and benefit from your class novel, read this article by Australian Literacy Consultant Annette Gray at Primary Learning.


Finally, here is a list of ten great Australian children’s novels that I think fit the above criteria and would also make great class read alouds. Click the title to find out more about the book*.

10 great Australian children’s novels to read aloud to your class


Australian classroom read aloud novelsThe Book of Wondrous Possibilities by Deborah Abela

Paws by Kate Foster

Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay

What About Thao? by Oliver Phommavanh

Australian classroom read aloud novelsEvie and Rhino by Neridah McMullin

My Brother Ben by Peter Carnavas

The Fire Star by A. L. Tait

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy

Australian classroom read aloud novelsHaywire by Claire Saxby

Cop & Robber by Tristan Bancks



Happy reading! Read aloud. Read strong.


Sue Whiting is an award-winning children’s and YA author and editor and former teacher, who has worked in publishing for twenty+ years. Sue’s latest books are Tilda, a historical novel for readers 10+ and Pearly and Pig and the Lost City of Mu Savan, the second book in her new junior fiction series. Sue is passionate about the power of story and is an advocate for reading and writing for pleasure. Find out more.


Allison Tait Your Kid's next ReadAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for more book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!


*This post contains affiliate links. More details here

25 books about Muslim life for kids of all ages

25 books about Muslim life for kids of all ages

One thing I love about Your Kid’s Next Read is the generous author contingent within the community. Today, I’m excited to welcome a member of that community, Razeena Omar Gutta, to share a wonderful booklist.

Razeen Omar GuttaRazeena and I ‘met’ when she sent me a copy of Hana’s Hundreds Of Hijabs, her debut traditionally published picture book (illustrated by Manal Mirza and published by Barefoot Books), along with a lovely letter.

The book is a delight and I was so happy to be able to share it via the Facebook group and the podcast.

Razeena is also an avid reader and shares her favourite books on Instagram at @razeenareads

Now, in the lead up to Ramadan, which this year begins on 22 March, Razeena is here to spread the word about other children’s and YA books that showcase Muslim life.

From board books to engaging own voices YA novels, there’s something here for every young reader. Click the book title to find out more or to purchase via Booktopia*


25 books about Muslim life for kids of all ages

Booklist by Razeena Omar Gutta

Muslims across the world are getting ready for Ramadan – a month of fasting, prayer and community-building. Ramadan lasts for one month, at the end of which is the most important Muslim holiday of the year – Eid al Fitr. This celebration is filled with fun, food and family.

Aside from Ramadan, Muslims have other important aspects to their lives that may be different to others. For example, many Muslim women choose to wear the hijab and Muslims are unable to eat certain foods.

There are many fabulous books that showcase Muslim lives in various ways. The Muslim tradition is rich in art, history and a variety of cultures, and there are authors across the world, working hard to ensure Muslim kids get the representation they deserve in children’s books.

Hana's Hundreds of Hijabs by Razeena Omar GuttaFor instance, my picture book HANA’S HUNDREDS OF HIJABS (illustrated by Manal Mirza) showcases creativity, problem-solving, community and hijab-joy, in a way that’s true to my reality.

It was important to me to share this with others who don’t often get to see the positive aspects of this sometimes misunderstood item of clothing.

Whether you have Muslim children in your school or classroom or not, I encourage to check out the books on this list to a get a sense of what Muslim life might look like.


Board Books

25 children's books about Muslim LifeHats of Faith by Medeia Cohan & Sarah Walsh


It’s Ramadan Curious George by Hena Khan


25 children's books about Muslim lifeR is for Ramadan by Greg Paprocki


Baby’s First Ramadan – DK Books


First Festivals – Ramadan – Ladybird Books



Ramadan and Eid Picture Books

25 children's books about Muslim lifeThe Month That Makes the Year by Inda Ahmad Zari


Moon’s Ramadan by Natasha Khan Kari


Children's books about RamadanLailah’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi & Lea Lyon


The Night Before Eid by Aya Khalil & Rashin Kheiriyeh


Zahra’s Blessing by Shirin Shamsi & Manal Mirza



General Muslim Picture Books

25 children's books about Muslim lifeIn My Mosque by M.O. Yuksel & Hatem Aly


Hana’s Hundreds of Hijabs by Razeena Omar Gutta & Manal Mirza


25 children's books about Muslim lifeGolden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan & Mehrdokht Amini


Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Aziz & Parwinder Singh


The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, & Hatem Aly


Middle Grade

25 children's books about Muslim lifeOnce upon an Eid edited by Aisha Saeed & S.K. Ali


A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi & Laura Shovan


25 Muslim children's booksPlanet Omar (series) by Zanib Mian


Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga


Bhai For Now by Maleah Siddiqui



25 children's Muslim booksAs Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh


All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir


25 Muslim children's booksLiving on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren


Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali


Yes I’m Hot in This by Huda Fahmy


For more recommendations or any questions regarding Muslim children’s books, get in touch with Razeena Omar Gutta on Instagram at @razeenareads.



Allison Tait Your Kid's next ReadAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!


*This website contains affiliate links. See contact page for details


Do you remember why you started writing?

Do you remember why you started writing?

Every month, I connect with my Write With Allison Tait group via Zoom and we talk about the ins and outs of writing.

It’s an opportunity to catch up with everyone about how their projects are progressing, for me to answer any questions that might come up and for us to explore the world of writing. One thing about being in a writing group is that someone else will often ask a question that you didn’t even know you had until it’s articulated.

It was in the midst of a discussion about editing and rewriting that I had a revelation of my own.

I was reminding the group about something Kate Forsyth said during her recent visit to the group.

“You have to love planning or you have to love editing,” she said. “You’re going to have to do one or the other.”

I’m currently in the middle of the fourth draft of a middle-grade manuscript that I began three or four years ago. And when I say ‘fourth draft’, I mean, ‘total upending and rewrite’, which is not easy.

You would think, I joked to the group, that I’d have learnt my lesson by now and become a dyed-in-the-wool planner.

And then went on to explain all the reasons that I haven’t.

Because, for me, the high of writing comes from discovery. From taking a ‘what if’ question and rolling off down a hill to see what might happen.

Even as I explained myself last night, I felt the goosebumps rising.

The thrill of the chase is what keeps me writing.

Even when I am mired in mud, feeling my way through, trying to solve a crisis of my own making, those moments when it all comes together and I’m flying along a path once more are what makes it worthwhile.

It’s why I started writing fiction in the first place.

I am always quick to point out the downsides of this method – and my planning and plotting friends are kind enough to be gentle with me when I wail about my fourth rewrite – and it is true that I am more likely to outline these days.

But I am glad that I had the opportunity to articulate that feeling last night.

It will help me turn chapter three inside out today.

Why did you start writing?


Allison Tait head shotAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

For full details about Write With Allison Tait, my new online writing community offering Inspiration, Motivation, Information and Connection, go here


Your Kid’s Next Read Best Books of 2022

Your Kid’s Next Read Best Books of 2022

At the beginning of each year, we ask the Your Kid’s Next Read community to nominate the books their young readers raved about over the preceding twelve months.

And here we are with the 2022 version. One last round of applause for the books our young readers loved last year before we welcome in 2023’s new titles.

It’s always an interesting list, with a mix of new titles and old favourites, because the books don’t have to have been published in 2022, they just need to have been read in 2022.

These are the books that the young readers of the Your Kid’s Next Read community are actually reading. The ones they recommended when asked to share the best books they read in 2022.

We’ve also added in a few favourites from #TeamYKNR (Megan Daley, Allison Rushby and me), focusing on books published in 2022.

It’s a terrific list for discovering those gems you may have overlooked!

But before you dive in, if you’d like to know the origin story of Your Kid’s Next Read, you’ll find it here, and you can also subscribe to our brand-new free newsletter for your chance to win our big bookmail giveaway each month.


Best books of 2022 (according to Your Kid’s Next Read)

Books are divided into approximate reading age suggestions, but, of course, all readers are different. Click the title link to find out more about the book or to purchase*


Picture Books

Picture books for ChristmasThe Best Hiding Place by Jane Godwin, ill. Sylvia Morris

King Baby by Kate Beaton

Llama Llama Time To Share by Anne Dewdney


Your Kid's Next Read best books 2022Hana’s Hundreds of Hijabs by Razeena Omar Gutta, ill. Manal Mirza

Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson, ill. Axel Scheffler

Spot (series) by Eric Hill


Your Kid's Next Read best books 2022My Deadly Boots by Hakea Hustler, Carl Merrison, ill. Samantha Campbell

Dirt by Sea by Michael Wagner, ill. Tom Jellett

Frank’s Red Hat by Sean E. Avery


Your Kid's Next Read best books 2022Come Over To My House by Eliza Hull, Sally Rippin, ill. Daniel Gray-Barnett

The Wild Guide To Starting School by Laura Bunting, ill. Philip Bunting



Junior Readers (5-8)

Your Kid's next read best books 2022The Odds (series) by Matt Stanton

Questioneers (series) by Andrea Beaty, ill. David Roberts

Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher


Your Kids' next read best books 2022The Travelling Bookshop (series) by Katrina Nannestad, ill. Cheryl Orsini

Narwhal and Jelly (series) by Ben Clanton

The Secret Explorers (series) by SJ King


Your Kid's Next Read best books 2022Pearly and Pig (series) by Sue Whiting

Hot Dog by Anh Do

Magnolia Moon (series) by Edwina Wyatt


Your Kid's Next Read best books 2022Furball: Spy Cat by Adrian Beck

Smarty Pup (series) by Ahn Do, ill. Anton Emdin

The Underdogs (series) by Kate and Jol Temple


Your kids next read best books 2022Willa and Woof (series) by Jacqueline Harvey

The Princess in Black (series) by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, ill. LeUyen Pham

Zoey and Sassafras (series) by Asia Citro, ill. Marion Lindsay


ghost stories for kidsMiss Penny Dreadful and the Midnight Kittens by Allison Rushby

Little Ash (series) by Ash Barty, Jasmin McGaughey, ill. by Jade Goodwin

What Snail Knows by Kathryn Apel, ill. Mandy Foot


Your kids next read best books 2022Surviving The Wild (series) by Remy Lai

Amulet (series) by Kazu Kibuishi

The Lost Rainforest (series) by Eliot Schrefer

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, ill. K. G. Campbell


Middle Grade (9-12)

This is such a popular section that we’ve divided it up a bit to make it easier to navigate. Note that there can be crossover in the categories.



Your kids next read best books 2022Exit Through the Gift Shop by Maryam Master

The 13-Storey Treehouse (series) by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

New Dragon City by Mari Mancusi


your kids next read best books 2022Pony by R. J. Palacio

Gus and The Starlight by Victoria Carless

The Sugarcane Kids and the Red-Bottomed Boat by Charlie Archbold


Your kids next read best books 2022Paws by Kate Foster

We Run Tomorrow by Nat Amoore and Mike Barry

The Day I was Erased by Lisa Thompson


Your kids next read best books 2022The Jammer by Nova Weetman

Runt by Craig Silvey, ill. Sara Acton

The Bravest Word by Kate Foster


Your kids next read best books 2022Zadie Ma and the Dog who Chased the Moon by Gabrielle Wang

Dragon Skin by Karen Foxlee

Penguin Bloom (young readers edition) by Chris Kunz, Shaun Grant, Harry Cripps


your kids next read best books 2022The Goodbye Year by Emily Gale

All Four Quarters Of The Moon by Shirley Marr





Your kids next read best books 2022The Unstoppable Flying Flanagan by Felice Arena

Evie and Rhino by Neridah McMullin, ill. Astrid Hicks

Tilda by Sue Whiting


Your kids next read best books 2022Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief by Katrina Nannestad

Ming and Marie: Spy for Freedom by Jackie French

Waiting For the Storks by Katrina Nannestad


Your kids next read best books 2022Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald

Goodbye Mr Hitler by Jackie French

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo




your kids next read best books 2022A Girl Called Justice by Elly Griffiths

Friday Barnes (series) by R. A. Spratt

Twitch by MG Leonard

Cop and Robber by Tristan Bancks


Fantasy and sci-fi

best books 2022Amari and the Night Brothers (series) by B. B. Alston

Chasing The Valley (series) by Skye Melki-Wegner

The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C. S. Lewis


best books 2022Wylah: The Koorie Warrior by Richard Pritchard, Jordan Gould

Kingdoms and Empires (series) by Jaclyn Moriarty, ill. Kelly Canby

The Wizards of Once (series) by Cressida Cowell


best books 2022Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A. F. Steadman

Mars Awakens by H. M. Waugh

Nevermoor (series) by Jessica Townsend


best books 2022Wednesday Weeks and The Dungeon of Fire (series) by Denis Knight and Cristy Burne

Keeper Of The Lost Cities (series) by Shannon Messenger

Spaceboy by David Walliams, ill. Adam Stower


best books 2022Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna

Which Way To Anywhere by Cressida Cowell

School for Good and Evil (series) by Soman Chainani


best books 2022A Tale of Magic (series) by Chris Colfer

The Ateban Cipher (series) by A. L. Tait

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer


best books 2022The Wintrish Girl by Melania La’Brooy

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick


Young Adult (13+)

best books 2022Heartstopper (series) by Alice Oseman

The Summer I Turned Pretty (series) by Jenny Han

The Wolf’s Howl (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) by A. L. Tait


best books 2022Future Girl by Asphyxia

Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr

When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin


best books 2022The Stand In by A. J. Rushby

The Wearing Of The Green by Claire Saxby

The Medoran Chronicles (series) by Lynette Noni


best books 2022The Museum of Broken Things by Lauren Draper

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

The Notorious Scarlett & Browne (series) by Jonathan Stroud

Cards On The Table by Agatha Christie


Looking for more inspiration? You can find the 2021 list here.


A L Tait The Fire Star USAAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!

9 more posts about writing you may have missed (+ 1 creative exercise to try today)

9 more posts about writing you may have missed (+ 1 creative exercise to try today)

It’s the earliest days of a brand-spanking new year and anything is possible!


If your goal is write more this year – perhaps to finish the first draft of your first novel, perhaps to add to a growing body of work, I’ve rounded up some more of my ‘elsewhere’ posts (below) to help you on your way. (You’ll find another 10 posts about writing here.)


From top tips for writing commercial fiction to the nitty gritty of raising the stakes in your story, I’ve got you covered!


I’ve also added a creative exercise to help get you started. I did this exercise myself this morning as part of the #Fresh5000 challenge in my Write With Allison Tait group and it helped to unlock a thorny problem in an idea I’m working through.


Hopefully it will work for you, too!


9 posts about writing


An insider’s guide to story structure


Beyond the writing 5 authors share their tips for a successful career


5 reasons why you should write middle-grade fiction


Twitter for authors: is it still worthwhile?


5 ways to increase the stakes in your story (and keep readers wanting more)


Anna Spargo-Ryan’s top tips for writing beautiful sentences


Is your manuscript ready for feedback?


5 top tips for writing commercial fiction


Content writing versus copywriting: what’s the difference


And a creative exercise

This is an exercise I created for my online writing group, and attempted myself this morning.


Poetry makes us look at language in a different way.

Today’s challenge is to find three poems to read. Any three. They can be from a book on your shelf. From the internet. Or search for #poetry on Instagram (it’s a surprisingly effective platform for poets).

Once you’ve read three, try writing a poem of your own. It can be a haiku, it can be a stanza, it can be a sonnet, it can rhyme, it can be free verse – the beginning of a verse novel perhaps.

If you can’t think what to write, look out your window and try to write a poem describing what you see.

This exercise is about bending your brain just a little bit.


I looked for poetic inspiration in an anthology on my shelf, in the spoken word performance of Joel McKerrow (highly recommended) and in the (also highly recommended) Instagram posts by Red Room Poetry.

It’s not hard to find these days!

If you’d like to try more creative exercises and write 5000 words by the end of January, it’s not too late to join us!


So You Want To Be a Writer bookWould you love more writing tips and advice? Check out my book So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job), co-authored with Valerie Khoo and based on our top-rating podcast.

Buy it here!

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