Some of our favorite read-aloud chapter books

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Tate and I went out of town last week, and she had a ball spending most of her afternoons playing with friends and running in the sunshine. But in the evenings she’d wind down, and as grown-up as she seems to be lately (she’s 7 going on 17), her one request before slipping on her pajamas was this: “Mom, can you read Charlotte’s Web to me?”

This was important to her, even on a fun vacation. (I mean, don’t get me wrong, the girl also likes Phinneas & Ferb.) But she’s a decent reader for her age, and she enjoys tackling easier chapter books on her own (Magic Treehouse, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, and the like). From her infancy, we’ve ended our days snuggling and reading aloud. It’s her magical time where she can enter a world through her imagination, without having to “practice” her reading skills. All five of us are now often crammed on one bed to hear the evening’s story.

As Tate’s attention span has increased, so have our reading options—this means we often tackle chapter books with minimal pictures. Now, her two younger brothers still mostly listen to these types of books as they do other things, but that’s okay by me. I know at least the 4-year-old is listening. In his own way.

Here are some of our family’s favorite recent chapter books for reading aloud.

1. Charlotte’s Web

E.B. White has an eloquent command of language and sentence structure, so reading his stories aloud is pleasurable for both grownups and kids. In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur the pig is articulate and thoughtful, the charming barnyard setting is idyllically calming, and the simple messages of friendship, loyalty, and imagination are applicable to any age.

Honestly, anything by E.B. White is a winner—we also loved reading Stuart Little aloud a few years ago.

2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I thought about listing the entire Narnia series here, but I think The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most fun as an early read-aloud. Who doesn’t love the possibility that the back of your wardrobe is the portal to a winter wonderland? The whole series is full of great life analogies, so there’s plenty of conversation fodder around the dinner table. C.S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite authors.

3. The Little House series

We read some of the Little House series out loud last year, when Tate was in kindergarten. At first, Kyle and I would alternate shifts reading the book. By the end, we were all captivated on the couch, listening about 19th century family life. These books aren’t just for girls—I know plenty of boys who love them.

4. Winnie the Pooh

I agree with Gladys Hunt—the Winnie the Pooh books are often relegated to the very young, and usually in abridged formats. This is unfortunate—A.A. Milne’s writing is rich with humor and language, and children of all ages shouldn’t miss hearing his words in the original, unabridged formats. Don’t think your kids are too old for these books. They’re quality. (Oh, and make sure you read the originals, not the Disney-fied versions.)

5. The Wrinkle in Time series

Tate just got the Wrinkle in Time book series for her birthday on Saturday, and I’m pretty sure I was as excited as she. These books were some of my favorites as a young girl—I remember lying on my bed, unable to stop turning the pages. The story completely sucked me in. Madeleine L’Engle is one of the great modern-day storytellers. I can’t wait to jump into these this week.

I also love the entire Harry Potter series, though we had to stop halfway through the second book as a read-aloud last year—Tate was starting to get a bit scared. We’ll probably pick them up again in a few years (though I read them myself, and they’re some of my all-time favorite fiction books).

Still on our list for this year are Little Women, The Penderwicks, The Hobbit, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Saturdays. Tate’s independent reading will include The Boxcar Children, Strawberry Girl, Ralph S. Mouse, The Cricket in Times Square, Betsy-Tacy, and of course, more Magic Treehouse.

Also—audiobooks are great for quiet times, listening to books in the car or while cleaning, or generally giving a parent’s voice a break. Head here to find tons and tons of free audiobook classics (they’re all in the public domain.)

C.S. Lewis once said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of 10 which is not equally worth reading at the age of 50 and beyond.” Don’t settle for less than excellent literature for your kids—there’s more than enough from which to choose. And I’ll bet you’ll love them just as much.

Alright, I know you can add to this list (I barely scratched the surface of ours!). What are your top favorite read-aloud chapter books?

(And hey, in full disclosure, the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click on them and then buy something, I’ll get a small percentage. It’s your way of helping support this blog. Just wanted you to know.)

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Comments

  1. At what age did she move past wanting to hear the saaaaame book over and over and over ev.er.y. night, and into being ready to hear a bit more of the story each night? I am so looking forward to reading chapter books with my daughter, but at three, we’re definitely still in that first stage!

    • We must have read Put Me in the Zoo to my daughter for years. Every day. We were going a little nuts with it so we started reading it with a British voice, a pirate voice, Sean Connery’s voice…anything to make it fun for all of us. Though, confession: one day, after reading it, I pretended to yawn and Oops! the book fell behind the couch! Oh no….. :) We retrieved it of course but I get the anticipation for chapter books. Now, that book makes me smile every time I see it. Funny how that works.

    • It took us awhile, and at first, I read only a small bit (like, not even a chapter) while I let her do something else, like color. I think that laid a great foundation to her being able to listen to longer chapters later, and as she tells her 4-year-old brother, “You don’t need pictures; you can just make up your own pictures in your head.” I think we started with her around age 3.

    • Wow, I can sooooo relate to this! I love that my child loves to read, but the repetition certainly can give you the crazies:) My 3 year old seems to have gained some interest in moving on to chapter books just in the past few months. Small chapter books, which still contained pictures, seemed to help with the transition. Only 2-3 pages per chapter. I also hyped it up. I explained the idea of chapters and that it was going to be something special we would look forward to doing together each day. My little one now anticipates this time and loves to help “find our spot” in the book.

      Seeing them blossom in this area is such a blessing. Good luck!
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  2. My son loves The Imagination Station series from Focus on the Family.

  3. wholeheartedly agree with all of these! great choices! I was amazed at how we could start reading chapter books aloud to our children when they were as young as 4 & 6. What helped me was encouragement from our Classical school and from a mom who said it’s okay if they are quietly playing or coloring while you read. So freeing! Esp young boys may need to occupy their hands while listening. Going to check out “Wrinkle in Time” and the “Penderwicks”. Thanks Tsh!
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  4. I loved reading Winnie the Pooh to my kids!

    Stuart Little by E.B. White
    Any of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary
    The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
    The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
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    • My little man (6) and I just finished the Mouse and the Motorcycle yesterday. I loved re-reading it as an adult much as he enjoyed it the first time through. Henry Huggins are also great for boys, he is Ramona’s next door neighbor. Charlotte’s Web was pretty emotional for my sensitive little guy but he loved it. Little brother (3) hangs out and builds lego while we read. I would also recommend The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden. We are reading this one after the Ralph S. Mouse trilogy!

  5. Great list! I have been reading chapter books aloud to my oldest since she was 3.5 (now almost 5) at night before bed – the only time she will be still and listen. She loves them. Me, too – it is my favorite part of the day. I am waiting another year or so for several of the ones you list but I can’t wait to share them with her! I would add to your list: The Secret Garden; the original, unabridged Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; and the original, unabridged Wizard of Oz and any/all of the other 11 (12?) Oz books.

  6. We love anything by Roald Dahl (Matilda is a favourite).
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  7. My son loved, “The Indian and the Cupboard” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

  8. My daughter is turning 3 soon, so we’re not into the longer books yet. Right now, we’re really into the Frog and Toad books. LOVE THEM. We have some of the original Winnie the Pooh books by Milne, too. She’s not quite ready to listen to the entire story yet. I love how you read so much with your kids! Isn’t Tate a first grader? Seems like her reading level is advanced, but I don’t know much about older kids’ reading levels these days!
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    • She’s a bit advanced, but every child learns to read more deeply at different levels, so I’m sure in a few years, she’ll even out with her peers. She begged me to teach her to read at 4, so we just went with it.

  9. I tried chapter books about six months ago with my two and they just weren’t ready for it. I picked up Charlotte’s Web recently at our library’s little store for “someday” and they brought it to me a week ago and asked me to read it to them. We read every night now as they lay in bed listening to Wilbur’s innocence and fears and Charlotte’s kindness and they laugh every time the goose says anything at all. It’s my favorite time of day and I love that they’re not just ready for it but love it so much too. So excited to read more of these to them in the months to come. Thanks for the list to make it easy for me to pick new ones out soon!

  10. the bronze bow, the sign of the beaver, summer of the monkeys- some of our favs.
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  11. One of the first chapter books I read to my oldest daughter was the Roals Dahl books, Matilda first. Then the Ramona books by Judy Blume and then the Fudge books of course. My favorite books to read to my girls; because they were my favorite too is the Anne of Green Gables Series, and we always follow it up with the movie of course.

  12. avatar
    Jennifer B says:

    A few books we’ve loved reading out loud that haven’t been listed yet:

    1. The Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome. Slightly quaint and old fashioned, it’s a set of stories about kids and their adventures on the water (in boats), mostly in the lakes district in England. Heavy on independence, imagination and adventure, kid style. It took us a year to read through all of the books in the series, and my daughter wanted to be Nancy Blackett for Halloween.

    2. Pippi Longstocking and the Noisy Village series by Astrid Lindgren

    3. Mary Poppins by PL Travers

    4. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett – though your daughter may want to read these on her own at this point

    5. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty McDonald.

    And of course, Roald Dahl books, Beverly Cleary books, and just about everything that everyone else has mentioned.

    I also recommend the Mysterious Benedict Society series. We didn’t read them out loud but both my daughter and I thought they were fantastic.

    We still read out loud to our daughter at age 10.5, and my husband and I still read out loud to each other as well. It’s a great way to connect as a family.

    Read on!

    • Thank you for mentioning the Mysterious Benedict Society series! A friend here wanted me to borrow hers (she’s 9), and I told her I would in a few months, after I whittle down my ever-growing stack on my nightstand. I wanted to mention it, but couldn’t remember the name. I appreciate it!

    • The first time I read Swallows and Amazons aloud to my daughter, she was still in the womb! It was given to me when I was four, and has been my favorite book every since. Such a great tale!
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  13. Ooh, I love that you read Laura Ingalls Wilder, I LOVED (and still love!) those books so, so much when I was growing up. My dad read the whole series to me twice and again to my sister and me when she was older. Another series that still sticks in my brain is The Chronicles of Prydian by Lloyd Alexander… they get more advanced with each book, maybe a good series to read yourself (if you haven’t already) first. I was happy to see the Anne of Green Gables series mentioned by someone else, that was my other huge influence in my young reading life (I really enjoyed the Emily series, also by Lucy Maud Montgomery.) Yay for reading, I am excited to share these books with my own daughter and I’m happy to hear 3 years old isn’t too young to start.

    • We are currently reading the Little House Books – even my 5 year old son loves to listen to a chapter or two each night. My daughter (7) wore her hair in braids to school today and took her book to show all her friends!

      It’ll be a while before we are finished with this series, but I think we’ll pick up Little Women or Eight Cousins next as I loved anything by Louisa May Alcott when I was little.

  14. Great list! Not many people I know have read “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” but it is one of my favorites! LOVED the “Boxcar Children” as a child as well as many others on your list. Would second the “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle,” Roald Dahl, and Judy Blume suggestions :)
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  15. I was absolutely sucked into Madeline L’Engle’s books as a child as well. I remember the feeling of being totally transported into the story, and the feeling of ‘surfacing’ back into the real world when I put the book down again. So surreal!

  16. Oh, and My Side of the Mountain (and the other books in that series) by Jean Craighead George as well as Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell and The Swiss Family Robinson and Heidi and The Borrowers and Pippi Longstocking and and..! Dear heavens, how I love books.

  17. My son is 4 and we’re still reading picture books. I don’t know yet when I’ll start reading chapter books to him, though I think he will enjoy just listening. The other day he asked me to read some paragraphs from an encyclopedia (yes, we have a set). But of course, it’s because the subject was dinosaurs and he liked looking at the few pictures in there. Growing up, I enjoyed reading Mandy by Julie Andrews and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was fun reading about little girls finding a secret place and I wished I had one of my own.

    • Oh, Tate still reads lots of picture books, and I don’t think she’ll stop anytime soon. Our chapter books definitely don’t replace beautifully-illustrated picture books. :)

  18. My kids love all of The Littles books and Nate the Great. And my four-year-old, especially thinks that the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo is hilarious. I have a hard time getting my sensitive 6 year old too recognize that if we hang on through the slightly scary parts of a story, it will be worth it in the end. We started Indian in the Cupboard, and he loved it til the Indian threatened the boy with his knife. Then he was just done. But I have Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Birdbrain Amos and some of Kate DiCamillo’s more challenging books waiting in the wings. Ooh–and Marguerite Henry’s books and Black Beauty–I can’t wait for those!

    • I would be interested to know what books your son has liked. I have a very sensitive 6-y-o girl and we have a hard time finding things she can enjoy. Although we did pretty well with the Beverly Cleary Ramona and Ralph books (with some coaxing along the way!).

      • Yes, we only read the first Ralph book, and it took some coaxing. But the Mercy Watson books are gentle (not long, mind you, but gentle)–and the Nate the Great books (the author also wrote some books about Olivia Sharp–Nate’s cousin). I have read him Janette Oke’s Animal Friends books. I have found that until he will let me read the adventure, I have to choose shorter books. What about The Little Princess? That one was my favorite. And there is sadness in it, but Sarah Crewe is so brave, that you feel like you have to be too. And I do love the Penderwicks series. I think that they are pretty gentle, though since every child has his or her own brand of sensitivity, I know that I don’t read anything to him without first reading it myself. I’m always looking for suggestions too. I would love to stretch him a little further. Not to push him to grow up, just to help him learn that being able to process scary or sad events is important.
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  19. We’ve enjoyed the Little House series. We’re currently reading The Secret Garden. A great one to read, that makes me tear up every time, is The Rag Coat. My 10 yr old is enjoying The Warriors series by Erin Hunter. The Incredible Journey is a good one. They loved the animals in that one. We’ve also loved reading the Oz series.

  20. A friend in my homeschooling group, a former elementary school teacher, told me that she uses the ages of the main character in the story as a guideline for which age she will read (or have her children read) the book. I was surprised because I do the same thing (and for movies, too). The reason we were discussing this was because of Harry Potter – she said that she loves the series, but after the first book, they get pretty intense, so she thinks that it’s better suited to middle schoolers than elementary aged kids. Obviously it doesn’t always apply, since not every book specifies ages or has human characters, but I think it’s a good guideline, especially for books with more mature content.

    I also think there’s the possibility that if young children become overly familiar with a book they’re not totally comprehending, they may not be interested in rereading it when they reach the age when they would be “ripe” (so to speak) to fully understand and appreciate it. I could be totally wrong about that, though, as I tend to view books as precious gifts that shouldn’t be opened a moment too soon, and savored long thereafter :)

    I’m reading my 9 and 7 yr-old girls the Chronicles of Narnia and it’s wonderful to see them so engrossed in it. My older one totally gets it, and my younger one mostly gets it…our 5 yr-old son gets his own special reading time with his dad, but I’m looking forward to reading the series again in a few years when I know he’ll be riveted like they are.

    I remember my 5th grade teacher reading our class A Wrinkle in Time and I totally didn’t get it. Mind you, I was in the gifted kids program and English was my best subject. I’m looking forward to reading it my kids, but advanced as they are (both girls taught themselves to read as preschoolers), I don’t think they’re ready for it just yet…
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    • Literary Mom, this is pretty much how I’ve worked out what age is appropriate for what book for my kids, particularly with Harry Potter. My 14yo DS is a very mature teenager, with a great reading appetite, so he reads books about older teenagers -he’s currently working his way through the Tomorrow When the World Began series, a great series by Australian author John Marsden.

      My 10.5yo DD has a voracious reading appetite, and it’s been hard to keep up with it at times in regard to what’s age appropriate, I’m finding it easier now that she’s older, when she was 6-7 it was hard to match books with her age. My 9yo DS still loves what would consider ‘younger’ picture books, as well as Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

      Tsh, the list of books in your post is almost identical to what is on our reading list for this year – I’ve ‘lost my way’ with reading with my kids over the last few years, for a variety of reasons, and they’ve primarily read quietly by themselves at bedtime. I’m determined not to lose the beauty of reading together as a family, so I’m reclaiming that time, we’re starting with the Narnia series. Madeleine L’Engle is new to me, I’ve jsut found a 2nd-hand copy of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ for DD for her upcoming birthday.
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  21. Holes, perhaps the best children’s book ever written and Where the Red Fern Grows, a classic.

    • avatar
      Emily Woodall says:

      Oh, my; I forgot about Where the Red Fern Grows! That was one of my favorites! I read it and reread it again and again as a child. Now, I must buy myself(and my daughter) a copy! Thanks for the reminder:)

  22. We’ve been enjoying the Paddington series for our 5 and 7 year olds.

  23. We just finished Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood and the Faraway Tree series. Lovely. Three children find the Magic Faraway tree, and every day there is a new land at the top of the tree- the adventures and scrapes they find themselves in have captured my boys hearts- at ages 3 and 5 :)
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  24. We also like Little Women and A Little Princess :-) Oh, and Swiss Family Robinson is fun as well! I hope to start Nancy Drew soon too, because I loved those growing up!
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  25. One of my favourite books growing up was The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. Absolutely fantastic. I lost myself in that book. I had no idea there were 2 other books Blyton wrote to sandwich it. When I found a 3-in-1 set I snatched it up before Christmas and now almost every afternoon at the beginning of my 4 year old son’s “quiet time” I read him a few chapters, usually with him begging me to read more. It’s an honest-to-goodness chapter book with no pictures and I am astounded he is into it! But he is. So yes. That’s my recommendation.
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  26. All of a Kind Family was an incredibly sweet book, and I’m hoping to get the others in the series because my girls really connected with the characters.

    We loved Dr. Doolittle and Family Under the Bridge too!
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  27. We use Sonlight curriculum so we do an enormous amount of read alouds over here. But here are some of the favorites of my children through the years. (The oldest is 23 now.)

    Beatrix Potter Treasury, Little House series and the Rose series, Little Britches series (some of these are tear jerkers) , Where the Red Fern Grows (get out the tissues), Swiss Family Robinson, The Little Princess, Little Women and many more classics.

    I’ve had to read all the Star Wars books based on the movies to my youngest son. And I think the best thing I ever did was borrow the audio version of The Hobbit from the library. I could never read it like the gentleman on the CD!

    Honestly, there are very few books we’ve read aloud that my children haven’t liked. I think they just like the time together. I know I do.

    On a side note, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is one of the first books I remember from my childhood that I couldn’t put down. I still have the book. A Wrinkle in Time scared me half to death and I haven’t picked it up since. Maybe I should try it again?
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  28. My parents read out loud to us as children and I’ve been compiling a list of books they read to keep in mind for my own children, but every time I read a list like this I remember more ones that I’d forgotten we’d read, and new ones that we should have! To add a few:

    From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Bridge to Terebithia, Walk two Moons, Julie of the Wolves, Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, The Trumpet of the Swan, Watership Down (one of my absolute favorites!) and just about all the ones listed above.

    • I kept thinking Watership Down, Watership Down as I read through the comments till I got to this one! That was one my dad read to my sister and I as kids and the last time I read it as a twenty something I still couldn’t put it down. It is certainly time to break it out for my kids!

  29. Wrinkle in Time just celebrated a 50th birthday!

    Beverly Cleary is a big favorite with our 7 year-old right now. The Henry Huggins book and Ramona. We also like a little funny poetry in the afternoon… Shel Silverstien and Jack Prelutsky.

  30. be sure to read The Phantom Tollbooth

  31. I love the way Charlotte’s Web deals with the subject of death (and the life cycle in nature). It is very appropriate for kids without “talking down” to them about death.

  32. What a great post. Thanks for sharing the reads your kids love. :)
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  33. Southern Gal has a great list there. We too use Sonlight and I have LOVED most of the read alouds that they have suggested. We are currently reading Ralph Moody’s Little Britches and I find myself wanting to sneek read ahead chapters. It is a book I will be buying!

  34. This post and comments have been very helpful! I LOVE finding “new” books to read and listen to. I would add “Books Children Love” by Elizabeth Wilson. It’s a book about books for kids, including descriptions and grade levels.

    http://www.amazon.com/Books-Children-Love-Revised-Literature/dp/1581341989/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329139621&sr=1-1

  35. For boys, we were absolutely smitten with The Ranger’s Apprentice series by Flanagan. We wrote Mr. Flanagan and he not only wrote back, but sent us a mp3 of him singing one of the songs he had written for the book. . .a treasure!
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  36. My daughter and I both loved The Wind in the Willows…it is hilarious. It’s now one of my all-time favorites.

  37. My kids are a bit young for chapter books. But the one chapter book they are into is The Treasure Tree by Trent & Smally. Such a wonderful bedtime adventure for little ones and the art is amazing.
    I am however saving most of my favorite kids books for them, which are… Misty of Chincoteague, King of the wind, and others by Marguerite Henry. I have the Stallion of Broken Wheel Ranch Series, and of course there is Black Beauty (Yes, I was/am horse crazy.) Other books I hope to share with a daughter someday are The Secret Garden, and A Little Princess. These to me are the classics.
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  38. I love hearing about all the wonderful reading time you are all enjoying. I just wanted to encourage you to stick with it, even when they can read all the books on their own.

    We started reading out loud to our kids when they were born and never stopped. They are teenagers now and it’s almost impossible to find time where all 4 of us can sit down and read out loud together on a consistent basis, but they still want to. And that’s the thing that warms my heart.

    The ritual has changed over the years but the whole family still enjoys settling in for a good story.

    As the kids get older some of our favorites have been “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”, the “Wise Child” series, the “Little Britches” series and “Paint the Wind”.

    • I was going to mention this as well. I read to my kids a little bit when they were younger, but didn’t “really” get it until I brought them home to homeschool (they were all elementary age). I was never read to as a child, although I learned to read young and just always read to myself. Once I realized the joy of reading to them, it became the highlight of our homeschool day, just after lunch. We read SO many of the ones listed here! We also had a family business that kept us on the road a bit during certain months of the year, so we also did a lot of audio books. One of our faves was Focus on the Family’s Radio Theater version of the Chronicles of Narnia. We listened to them several times, and I believe my now 21 year old son should have them memorized as he took them into his room and listened multiple times over the years!
      And the kids did want me to continue to read as they got older but as Sandy mentions, it becomes more difficult as they become busy teens. I encourage you to keep it up as long as you can. Now that my kids are all adults, we STILL talk about characters from books! Some of our favorites as they got older were the Ralph Moody series, Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes, The Hiding Place…
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  39. We are currently reading Charlotte’s Web, and have most of the others on your list, but I don’t know much about the Wrinkle in Time series so I’ll have to look into those! Thanks for the ideas!

  40. I’ve been gathering chapter books/read aloud with less picture books lately. Well, I have a few. I’m gathering for when my baby is due. We will read aloud as I nurse. I’ve got Alice in Wonderland and the Brothers Grimm. I definitely need to add Charlotte’s Web to that pile.
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  41. What great suggestions on this thread! We are working through the Roald Dahl collection with my 5 y.o. daughter who loves them (haven’t gotten to Matilda yet, but now I can’t wait to.) I also pinned some of my favorites that I can’t wait to introduce to her here – http://pinterest.com/justpowers/kids-chapter-books/
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  42. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Little PrincessThe Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. WredeAny of the American Girl Series, the poems of Shel Silverstien, The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Borrowers, Charlottes Web, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Number the Stars, The Secret Garden, James and Giant Peach, Peter and the Starcatchers, The Boxcar Children, The Indian in the Cupboard and so many more…
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  43. I have a little girl who’ 6 going on 16, so I love a list aimed at her age range! We share many of the same favorites. I’ve been wanting to re-read A Wrinkle in Time for my own sake, but it never occurred to me she’d be old enough. Thanks for the suggestion!
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  44. Love this thread for all the great book ideas! My 3rd grader is reading the Penderwick’s at school now and loving it. His last book was The Castle in the Attic. It was the first time I saw it, and we both loved it. There is a second one (Battle for the Castle) that is on our list now. Great adventure story!

  45. I love this post! I’ve read all of the ones you mention to my girls (currently ages 7 1/2 and 6) except Wrinkle in Time. I will come back later to peruse the comments and glean more great titles!

    I host a weekly meme called Read Aloud Thursday in which bloggers share their families’ read alouds. Here’s a link—> http://www.hopeisthewordblog.com/?cat=54

    I have also blogged about my family transitional chapter book read-alouds for younger children—> http://www.hopeisthewordblog.com/2011/06/30/read-aloud-thursday-chapter-books-for-the-youngest-listeners/

    Each year I also do a recap and “best of” post for our chapter book read alouds. Here’s last year’s—> http://www.hopeisthewordblog.com/2011/12/29/read-aloud-thursday-best-of-2011/

    Everyone is invited to join in this meme!
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  46. Thanks so much for this list and all the great additions in the comments! My 4.5 year old will now sit and listen to chapter books before bed, so I’m really wanting to expand our collection and have some ideas of what to check out from the library. My 2.5 year old will usually sit and listen for a little while too – we typically read a picture book of his choice first, then read some from a chapter book. The little one often gets down and plays with something else, but that’s okay with me.

  47. we also loved Charlotte’s Web! :D Will definitely check out the others.
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  48. I liked reading everyone’s suggestions for reading aloud to children. My children are grown (25 and 30) but I read aloud to them all the time as they were growing up (on vacation all the other adults in the house listened in also). One of the sets of books that no one else has seemed to mention is the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. The language is advanced (nothing that kids can’t hear but sometimes you might have to have a dictionary handy) but children (especially boys) love the stories. I think there are 25 books in the series at this time (Mr. Jacques died in the spring of 2011 so there won’t be any more).

  49. The Hardy Boys are real fun — sort of cheezy but no little kids are going to mind. My people (6 and 4 during those readings) loved them, but eventually I got tired of them, maybe 20 books in.

    The American Girl Doll books are also surprisingly good. I hadn’t expected to enjoy them, but they’re sweet.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is my all time most favorite read-aloud so far. It’s a riot.

  50. The Penderwicks is one of my daughter’s favorites! We loved the sweet, retro feeling… We also devoured the Mysterious Benedict Society (the first one, especially) and the Secret Series (five in all). I wrote about those here and highly recommend: http://www.olliebop.com/2011/04/the-name-of-this-post-is-secret/
    Thanks for the ideas!
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  51. Yay for the Saturdays and the Boxcar Children! I loved those! I’m trying to think what else I liked at age 7…Peggy Parrish’s mystery series, starting with Key to the Treasure, and I’d highly recommend both the All-of-a-Kind Family books and The Borrowers series. The former taught me a lot about history in NYC and big families, and the latter made me imagine a whole world of tiny friends! :)
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  52. Love this post. As both a teacher and reading enthusiast, I adore many of the books on your list. My daughter is just 18 months but already has a love for books. I have the Little House series from when I was little and my husband and I just bought all the Harry Potter books because we love them and want to read them with our kids someday. My husband also can’t wait to read our children The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I get excited when its time to pick out a new book for reading aloud to my third graders and enjoy watching their love for good literature develop.
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  53. When I was teaching, my second graders always loved E.B. White’s Trumpet of the Swan. It’s a beautiful story. Thanks for the suggestions!

  54. Our daughter is a very advanced listener of 5. We just fell in love with Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga.

    *************
    *****ANDREW PETERSON’S WINGFEATHER SAGA*********
    *************

    ‘K, sorry, for shouting but seriously, more people need to know about these books. They are right up there with Narnia. In fact, in my opinion much better written and more gripping tales (although nothing can really touch Narnia, can it?).

    Suffice to say, I’m nearly in tears writing this comment because I’m being swept back into the emotion of the books and how precious and heroic and good they are. Seriously. Read these!

    They are brilliant for any child probably 6 and up, but most particularly I think for boys around 7-11.
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    • We love Andrew Peterson as well . . . . his writing, AND his books! Rabbit Room is also really fun.

      I also have a friend and former colleague who is currently writing her own children’s series, “The Keaton Kids,” that is in the tradition of the Bobbsey Twins and based on her own family’s travels. Tons of fun.

      Anne (shadowwonder.blogspot)

  55. I love Winnie the Pooh! And Charlotte’s Web is so great! It is funny and the wording is just so fun!
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  56. Lots of our lists here (been reading aloud to my kids for 15 years- phewf!)

    http://www.preschoolersandpeace.com/pandpblog/category/books-to-read-aloud
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  57. Great book collection! I have to say my all time favorite is the Wrinkle in Time. I read it as a youth and have read it several times to my children.
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  58. You must read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” by Kate DiCamillo.

  59. All of the above and also “My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannett, “The Indian in the Cupboard” by Lynne Reid Banks and Brock Cole, and also the classic Raggedy Ann and Andy stories by Johnny Gruelle.
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  60. avatar
    Diane Williams says:

    Younger ones: Anything Beatrix Potter – love the language!, older Golden Books such as Tootle, Poky Little Puppy (still have that memorized!), etc.
    anything Virginia Lee Burton – Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Little House, etc., anything Robert McCloskey – Make Way for Ducklings, etc., and Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.
    Older ones: The “Little Britches” series by Ralph Moody, Brighty of the Grand Canyon, Swiss Family Robinson, Gene Stratton-Porter books – Freckles, Laddie, etc., and, of course, the Narnia books. This last summer on the train, we read Aces of World War I – can you tell I have mostly boys!

    I tend to choose read-alouds not only for content, but for the way the author uses language – I want my kids to be able to learn the tools of using language to communicate well.

    • Oh yes, use of language… I loved reading Tom Sawyer to my son a few years ago, because we both could hear the beauty in the writing, with description and texture seldom heard today.

      Another great author for older children, if you enjoy L’Engle, is Susan Cooper and the “Dark is Rising” stories.

  61. Oh my goodness, I forgot about A Wrinkle In Time. I loved the boxcar books when I was little. I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, to by oldest daughter when she was still in the womb.

  62. I couldn’t read this without adding “The Secret Garden” – love that book!

    Please, please, please add a post for boys! I’m going to try reading “Shiloh” to our grandsons. Their favorite so far is straight from the Bible – the story of David and Goliath (they especially love the part where David cuts off Goliath’s head!) Gruesome!
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  63. You’ve all mentioned so many great books. For boys–my son loved Stuart Little when he was younger. Also from EB White: Trumpet of the Swans. A quick read (and poetry to boot): Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.
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  64. wow – awesome post – thanks for the info on the free audio books too. i get a pile of books from the library every week and we take turns, i read one my son reads one. I never thought of starting much longer chapter books for me to read to him. I’m going home tonight and starting Harry Potter !!

  65. I have to chime in today. I am passionate about reading aloud to children. My oldest is now 10 and we still read every evening to them before bed. We recently moved bedtime back to 9 pm so our routine is the following: get ready for bed at 7:50, then mom or dad reads from 8:00 to 8:25, and finally kids read in their own beds from 8:30 to 9:00. I love it. It is my favorite time of day. My kids are big fantasy fans, but I generally choose books that my children probably wouldn’t choose for themselves. Here are some of our favorites: Indian in the Cupboard (we’ve only read the first one, but we LOVED this book), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (it is quite different from the movie), Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, A Wrinkle in Time, and our all-time favorite. . .Watership Down.
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  66. All classics that I enjoyed as a child too. Can’t believe that “Wrinkle in Time” just turned 30. I read the some of the Harry Potter books to my daughter. She really wanted to read them, and I thought she might be too young for them (she was 7 at the time). Reading them out loud allowed me to explain or talk about any parts that were scary.
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  67. I concur with the ones you posted here! A few others are “Caddie Woodlawn,” the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor and The Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill.

  68. These are lovely suggestions. We have a few chapter books, but have not started them yet. We love listening to audiobooks. We go to the library and pick out a new one every week. Last week we listened to Peter Pan. My 4 year old daughter loves having a picture book and CD while in the car. She loves hearing the “turn the page” signal. I love it!
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  69. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Magician’s Elephant and The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo are read aloud favorites. There is a tiny element of darkness in each, but I loved that we could talk about it. And they were young (my oldest was 5 for Despeareaux, my middle son was 5 for Ed Tulane, and my youngest son was 5 for Elephant) This year, they loved Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith, which was pure silliness.
    melanie´s latest post: The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

  70. I agree completely. We’re currently reading Little House in the Big Woods with our 4-year-old kindergartner. She loves it. We read it together every single day. Over the summer, we read Zcharlie & the Chocolate Factory. She liked that a lot, too.
    Tara´s latest post: Crockpot Meatloaf

  71. This is so fantastic! We have just started chapter books, and Magic Treehouse is pretty much all we read – new to me and my 4 year old loves them. I find he does much better with the “scary” parts of stories than he does with television… perhaps because he can make the pictures in his head as scary or happy as he wants? I can’t wait to read more and more and more and this list (plus all the comments) are just gold!
    Alissa´s latest post: Baby Ellie

  72. Oh my goodness. I love the new worlds we get to give our kids each time we open up a new book. While Narnia was perhaps my favorite as a second grader, I also really responded to some of Ray Bradbury’s work and ANYTHING by Roald Dahl. Do you remember the first time you read BFG and Matilda? Magic.
    Meg´s latest post: A Friend in Need

  73. avatar
    Jolene in Michigan says:

    Caddie Woodlawn! My girls are loving it, and their dad wants to make sure we do the reading where he can listen in too. :)

  74. This is an AWESOME list! Thanks! Looking so forward to reading some of these to my girls. :) Thanks, too, for the link to the free audio books. :)
    Catie´s latest post: Saturday Skinny

  75. Y’all sound like us a few years ago when everyone was still small enough to cram onto the queen sized botom bunk of the boys’ room. We recenly graduated our nighttime reading to the living room – we all including the 14 yr old) LOVED Wee Sir Gibbie of the Highlands by george macdonald – also (this is new) the Wilderking series by jonathan rogers – entirely captivating!!! there are many more… have y’all read the serials for advent or lent by Arnold ytreeide?? i think the link is here http://bit.ly/g3q8CX well worth the time!
    blessings!

  76. My daughter is still too young for chapter books but I have fond memories of reading The Little House on the Prairie series with my parents when I was younger. They would take turns reading and my brothers and I were captivated. I can’t wait to continue the tradition with our daughter.
    Steph´s latest post: Mindset for Moms: Chapters 6-10

  77. My 5 year old daughter has loved all of the “All of a Kind Family” books. A couple are a little hard to find since they are out of print. We were able to get 2 from our library and the other two from our neighboring county’s library system. We have also just started the”B is for Betsy” series by Carolyn Haywood, which I read as a little girl. A new series that I highly recommend for little girls is the Doll Shop Downstairs. There are two of them so far and my 5 year old loved them.
    One way to easily introduce chapter books to your young child is by listening to audio books in the car. We listened to Anne of Green Gables in the car and my 5 year old loved it. The professional reader made all the difference. I am not sure if she would have been as interested if her father and I had read it to her.

  78. Great choices!

    I’m going to be obnoxious and point out the books you’ve listed here are actually middle-grade novels. Chapter books are those easier stories you mention — The Magic Treehouse Series, Junie B. Jones, Amber Brown — those books that bridge the easy readers and middle-grade novels. Mid-grade is traditionally written for children 8-12 (or 10 and up, depending on the publisher), though, of course, make great read alouds at any age!

    Okay, off my soapbox now. ;)

    • While the books we’re discussing might be middle grade level, they have plot development and language that are lovely for the children to hear. While Junie B. Jones is easier reading (for children reading to themselves, very useful) but there isn’t the intellectual stimulation there.

      My Junie B. Jones horror story is that my daughter who is visually impaired and in RSP (special ed) for Language Arts was given that series through 7th grade… then, in 8th grade they decided she wasn’t special enough to stay in special ed, and put her in a mainstream class where she had to read Anne Frank and Steinbeck’s The Pearl! I basically had to work with her at home to catch her up. So, I am both traumatized and have an axe to grind about books that don’t challenge and develop thought. Thankfully, as a high school senior she’s all caught up and doing beautifully. Moms, thanks for listening. :)

  79. I recently finished reading My Side of the Mountain with my kids (7, 9 & 11) and while my 9 y/o was the most into it, they all enjoyed it. We’ve started on the Kingdom Keepers series now, although Swiss Family Robinson was next on the 11 y/o list.
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  80. I just started reading chapter books with my kids – 4 and 2 1/2. I picked up abridged versions of Little Women and The Wind in the Willows from the dollar section at Target before Christmas, just to see how they went over, and I was surprised at how much my 4 year old daughter wanted to read them. My two year old son will sit and listen while we rock and read before bed, but he doesn’t choose to read those books, but I was surprised that he would listen even though he’s so young.

    We just picked up Charlotte’s Web at the library last week and they can’t get enough – maybe because we rented the movie and they loved it, so now they want to hear the book. We read a chapter every day at nap time and another one again at bedtime. I am really surprised how much I am enjoying it! Can’t wait to dive into more books with them!
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  81. I’m bookmarking this list! Some one mentioned wanting more ideas for boys. My brothers liked The Sugar Creek Gang by Paul Hutchens. I remember mom reading Island of the Blue Dolphins to us along with many of the above mentioned. Little Pilgrim’s Progress freaked me out about age five, but was ok for my older brothers. I loved and still love Little House books. Patricia St John books are good, The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban, Thrilling Escapes by Night by Albert Lee……ah, so much good reading to be had!

  82. Oh, we also LOVE the Little House books. I practically have those memorized, I do believe. We are starting to do Anne of Green Gables, a junior version, as well as a junior version of Little Women. It is a whole new world once we get into chapter books!
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  83. My little boy is only two so I don’t think we’re at the chapter book stage yet. But I still remember reading the Little House of the Prairie books and LOVING them! I plan to get my hands on a set once my guy gets older.

    I also love The Trumpet of the Swan. We have a hardbound book of it since it happens to be my husband’s favorite children’s book!

    And I agree about Harry Potter—I love, love, love Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s writing is superb. But that will have to wait once he’s way older because it does get scary.
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  84. So many great suggestions, already! I second (or third) the recommendations for the Little House books and everything by Elizabeth George Speare!

    I’m currently reading the Frances books–my childhood favorites–with my two year old, and looking forward to longer read-alouds as she gets older.

    From my own childhood and from my years teaching fourth grade, I’d add:

    Gone-Away Lake (Elizabeth Enright)
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Ian Fleming)–nothing like the movie!
    Treasure Island (R.L. Stevenson)–good for boys
    Tales of the Kingdom (David and Karen Mains)
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  85. I remember loving Harriet the Spy as a child. I think there are some great lessons to learn in there – a good one to read with the parents and discuss. So many other good suggetions, I’m going to see if my 4 year old will be interested in listening to books without pictures.

  86. I loved to read books to my son when he was little. Now he is all grown up and 26! It was something we did every night before bed! I had to laugh when you said the box car children! That was one of my favorite books when I was little. I have my mothers book of the box car children that must have been from the 50′s! Falling apart, but you can tell that it was well read and loved!

  87. We have a long commute, so audio books have become a staple, and bedtime reading too. Favorites are Betsy-Tacy and the Penderwicks (oh, how we love the Penderwicks) and now we’re getting into Harry Potter (but only the first three books. I draw my lines somewhere). We’ve also loved the Edward Eager books (Half Magic, and Magic By the Lake), Milly-Molly-Mandy, the Naughty Little Sister series and Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. The Nuni is 4.5, if that’s any reference. My challenge is balancing the joys of sharing a book with her vs. letting her discover them herself when she’s old enough to read them.
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  88. My 7 year old daughter loved the Romana series. We are now reading The Box Car Children series. We are on book 9. There are tons of them.

    My nephew, who is 9 and at a higher reading level can read on his own. He loves Geronimo Stilton, Cul-de-sac Kids and the Magic Tree House series.
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  89. I absolutely adored the Little House series. I read them over and over and over again. When she gets a little older, add the Nancy Drew series to the list. Another favorite of mine

  90. When I was teaching, read aloud was always my favorite time of day! My favorites to read aloud were anything by Roald Dahl. You do have to do a bit of self-editing when reading some of his books as he sometimes uses some inappropriate language. He does an amazing job of making you “see” the characters in your head. My favorites are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Twits. Now that I am a mommy, I can’t wait for my daughter to enjoy listening to a book rather than eating it :-).

  91. My mom read me The Little House series, Anne of Green Gables series, Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, Jo’s Boys, and Little Men, and more. I still love these books!

    Some that I enjoy reading aloud to my students are: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (lots of fun voices involved!), Holes by Louis Sachar, The BFG by Roald Dahl, any book by Joan Bauer, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi…and more…I’m reading The Hunger Games to my 8th grade homeroom–always a favorite with them. Happy reading!

  92. avatar
    Debbie Didreckson says:

    Thank you for this post. My son is just now of the age where I am reading children’s chapter books and I have been interested to find a list of thing other people have read to their children and enjoyed. Thank you again!

  93. Oh thanks so much for starting this conversation. I have a 5 and 3 year old who are just starting into chapter books. We have been successful with some of the Roald Dahl Books (George’s Marvellous Medicine & Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) – though James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Glass Elevator were a bit ‘old’ for them. Then we suffered through a ballet chapter book, (chosen by Miss 5) and are now reading one of my childhood favourites – The Book of Fairies by Enid Blyton.
    I’m so excited to be reminded of so many childhood favourites (and new to me books) that I’ll search out over the next few weeks.
    Cheers!

  94. You mentioned many of our favorites in your post, but here are two that we listened to over and over again as audio books – The Moffats (Eleanor Estes) and The Goose Girl (Shannon Hale). I have to admit, I forbade my then-11 year old daughter to listen to the Goose Girl without me. I didn’t want to miss any of it!

  95. What a great post. I love it when people talk about the amazing things that come from reading (like memories and family time and learning). Far too many people seem to forget how special and educational simple reading aloud is. I am loving that my newly turned 4 year old is finally getting interested into books that have a little more to them. I don’t really have a list of books to read since we are just starting chapter books, but The read aloud handbook (and there is a website also) has a huge list of top read aloud books for various ages.

    Rachel
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  96. The Trumpet of the Swan also by EB White is our very favorite read aloud around here. And Caddie Woodlawn is well loved here as well. :) I LOVE books!!
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  97. Check out all the Roald Dahl books for children like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” kid’s love them and are completely enthralled.

  98. Ohh! I forgot Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nymh. Great book!!

  99. Great Blog! A friend sent me to your site to look for a simple alternative to shampoo, but I got caught up on the read-aloud page. I’ve always read to my kids – now ages 4, 6 and 9. We typically read a picture book or two and then end with a chapter from our latest chapter book. I love your list. Here’s one to add to it — Half Magic by Edward Eager. Thanks for inspiring me to begin a Blog – some day. pbs

  100. I just wanted to thank you — and all the responses — for this great list! My daughters are 4 and 6 and we’ve just started reading chapter books together. My 6 year old reads a little on her own, she especially likes the Princess Posey books, but then she wants me to do the reading. I’m going to pick up the boxed set of EB White as Charlotte’s Web was one of my favorites as a kid. I may also grab the Ralph Mouse books. I will be bookmarking this post!

    Oh, and the Mercy Watson books someone mentioned are cute, too. We’ve actually been reading the 1st book in the series since my oldest was around 2 or 3? I was amazed it could hold her attention that long since we’d read the whole book in one sitting. I think all the colorful pictures helped. We’ve also read The Velveteen Rabbit together.

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