The images do much of the talking, I think. And in a recent series, Tullet is creating very interactive books, with textures and lines that draw a child in. A book like that is likely to get a child's attention whether or not there is someone "reading to them". When a child feels a certain amount of understanding of a story, we'll see them read books back to themselves; an important aspect of becoming a reader and a writer.
Press Hereis the perfect example of a book that a child might engage with independently. When I think about wonderful children's books for independent exploration, I have a memory of the children in my classroom a few years ago taking turns reading Pete the Cat- this video is one of my favorite literacy moments.
Flipping through Tullet's books at that little shop downtown, and then rewatching the video, has inspired me to put together a list of great books for pretend reading. I know that any book can inspire independent exploration and storytelling, but there are also some that really seem to speak to children in their own way. A leveled "I Can Read" book rarely has the engaging content that draws a child in, and pretend reading is not about sounding out words - it is about understanding that text holds the same story with each retelling, that pictures and text carry information, and that text is related to spoken language.
I'm looking forward to making some book lists! In the meantime, are there any books that you love to have around to inspire some pretend reading?