While it can be tempting to simply pull any book from the shelf and read it at story time, it's generally not a good idea to do so. Here's why:
- Books that look like great story time books at first glance can sometimes turn out to be terrible read-alouds. There are many picture books whose rhyme schemes start out strong, for example, and then derail terribly in the latter half of the stories. There are also a number of books out there with surprise endings. It's a Book is a wonderful book, but I wouldn't want to discover the word "jackass" on the final page for the first time in a public read-through.
- It's hard to ad-lib or skip pages in a story you're not familiar with. When a story time crowd gets restless, it's great to know a book well enough that you can easily shorten the story, or change the words slightly to move things along and get onto the next activity.
- When reading to preschoolers, in particular, it's great to be able to encourage them to make predictions about the story. It's difficult to point out clues that hint toward the ending when you don't know yourself where the story is going!
- Reading aloud an unfamiliar text makes you that much more likely to stumble over words and make mistakes. It's much easier to engage an audience when you know a book well enough to read it with confidence.