40 Read Aloud Chapter Books for Young Children

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start reading chapter books at bedtime to our sensitive 4 year old son and spunky 2 year old daughter. Okay, the 2 year old might have been a stretch, but we’ll try anyway.  Yes, chances are that your preschoolers, too, can sit still enough to listen to a long book while having breakfast (rather than watching TV) or at bedtime, when they’ve likely wound-down and welcome your prolonged presence before the lights are turned off for the night.  Even if some of the language or concepts are slightly beyond your children’s understanding and maturity level in some of these books, you’ll be amazed at how much they will enjoy and even start to grasp “big” words and ideas after reading chapter books.  (Hopefully, my own kids will learn to become overall better listeners as well!)  Besides, habitual reading is a rewarding ritual to develop and excellent way to bond and build memories with your children at any age.

So I researched online, polled friends, thought back to when I was a kid and inquired at our local library to come up with this fabulous list of beginning chapter books suitable for young children ages 3 to 8 years old.  (A word of caution:  Please do your research on each book  just in case there are concepts or words you don’t want to yet introduce to your kids.)  Some of the books are illustrated, some are not.  Some have meaningful messages, some have educational value, while some are pure entertainment.  Some of these books are short, some are long-ish, and some part of a long series of books (I highly suggest looking for the first 3 or 4 in the series in that case).  Though I suggest checking your library first (I found all but 2 in mine), many of these books will make a great addition to your home library.  And when your children are old enough, many of them will serve as fabulous early chapter books for them to read on their own.

You certainly don’t have to read all of them.  Remember to read what you love and what your kids are interested in.  If they don’t seem interested in a particular book, try another book and go back to the other one a few months later.  In any case, I hope you enjoy them with your family, whether you read them aloud or via audio CD – at bedtime, nap time, homeschool time, breakfast or any time!

Please feel free to comment on what you liked or didn’t like about these books, and even add more books that you have loved with your own kids or when you were a child.

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  1. Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon (Gannett) – a good starter series of comical books that starts with a boy rescuing a baby dragon in a faraway land
  2. The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook (Hughes) – delightful stories about a pre-K boy and his toddler sister (another perfect starter book, especially for siblings)
  3. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Dahl) – a cunning tale of a fox trying to steer clear of 3 poultry farmers
  4. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (MacDonald) – a lively woman with a mysterious past and living in an upside down home filled with the aroma of cookies “cures” the common “ailments” of children (Can she cure my slow eater?)
  5. Ivy & Bean (Barrows) – a funny and vibrant series of books about two friends with nothing in common
  6. A Toad for Tuesday (Erickson) – instead of hibernating for the winter, Warton (a toad) goes outdoors and is instantly picked up by a lonely and hungry owl, who is later captivated by the toad’s kindness and conversation
  7. Two Times the Fun (Cleary) – a 4-book series about pre-K aged twins, Janet and Jimmy
  8. Catwings (Le Guin) – good for younger audiences, this is a series about 4 kittens born with wings
  9. Mercy Watson to the Rescue (Dicamillo) – a series of books about a pig named Mercy Watson (from the author of the award-winning Because of Winn Dixie)
  10. The Chalk Box Kid (Bulla) – a boy troubled by recent events in his life finds comfort in his extraordinary talent when he draws himself a chalk garden
  11. The Stories Julian Tells (Cameron) – Julian and his brother get into a heap of trouble at the “stories” he tells
  12. Pippi Longstocking (Lindgren) the amazing and funny adventures of a charming, precocious and optimistic parent-less red-haired girl
  13. The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh (Milne) – the timeless, beloved tales of Christopher Robin, everyone’s favorite silly honey-loving bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood
  14. Heidi Heckelbeck (Park) – a story about a girl and her adventures at school and with friends
  15. Martin Bridge: Ready for Takeoff! (Kerrin) – a simple collection of short stories about the daily trials, triumphs and imagination of an eight year old boy
  16. Ramona the Pest (Cleary) – a series of books that starts when spunky and curious Ramona Quimby was in Kindergarten (I loved these books as a child)
  17. Charlotte’s Web (White) – the classic, well-known story of the unlikely friendship between a pig and spider
  18. On the Dog (Andrew Lost #1)(Greenburg) – an adventure series filled with science knowledge
  19. James and the Giant Peach (Dahl) – an adventurous story about lonely James escaping a troubled life with his 2 aunts to finally find a place where he belongs
  20. Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure! (Brown) – a series of adventures about a boy turned flat
  21. Emmaline and the Bunny (Hannigan) – a delightful story about a misfit who changed her “tidy” and boring town
  22. Frog and Toad Are Friends (Lobel) – amusing and simplistic stories of an endearing friendship between a frog and a toad
  23. Ralph S. Mouse (Cleary) – a series about a hotel-dwelling mouse with big dreams
  24. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1) (Osborne) – I remember reading this series to first graders when I taught and I would often get bored.  BUT the kids loved it.
  25. Henry Huggins (Cleary) – a series of adventures about a boy named Henry (if you like the Ramona series, you’ll like these)
  26. Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Atwater) – a polar-dreaming house painter’s adventures with his penguins
  27. Toys Go Out (Jenkins) – the life and adventures of 3 toys when no one is watching (like Toy Story)
  28. Oggie Cooder (Weeks) – an energetic misfit with a unique talent
  29. The Adventures of Captain Underpants (Pilkey) – an action-packed comedic collection of books about the amazing Captain Underpants (it’s filled with “potty” humor)
  30. The Borrowers (Norton) – a classic tale of “little people” who like to “borrow” and re-use common household items from humans
  31. Matilda (Dahl) – a humorous tale about a uniquely gifted and talented young girl with” not-so smart,” dishonest parents
  32. The Hoboken Chicken Emergency (Pinkwater) – absurdly hilarious escapades of an abnormally large chicken on the loose in Hoboken, NJ
  33. Owl at Home (Lobel) – a compilation of dramatic tales about a friendly owl
  34. Five Children and It (Nesbit) – the discovery of a magical Sand Creature leads 5 children to unexpected turn of events as their daily wish is granted
  35. The Dragon of Doom (Coville) – comical, adventuresome and page-turning book about a boy that helps out a severely untalented magician and his talking toad  (the “doom-ful” dragon turns out to be tiny)
  36. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl) – the “sticky” adventures of honest Charlie and the other 4 children allowed to enter the gates of Willy Wonka’s famous factory
  37. The Little House on the Prairie (Wilder) – the treasured series of a girl’s childhood in the woods of Wisconsin in the late 1800’s
  38. Abel’s Island (Steig) – forced to be resourceful, a society mouse is castaway on an island far from the life he knew
  39. Busybody Nora (Hurwitz) – a series of adventures about a very young girl living in a NYC apartment building
  40. You Read to Me & I’ll Read to You (compiled by Schulman) – a hefty collection of short chapter books (many of which are already included in this list)

Valerie, a God-fearing coach’s wife and stay at home mom of five bright-eyed little ones.   She is the original founder of A Nation of Moms, a “one-stop shop” blog-azine of resources and advice for all moms who, like Valerie, just needed a little help.