Finding age-appropriate chapter books to read aloud to preschoolers and early elementary can be challenging! I’ve been on a never-ending search for them for the last year. Here are some of our favorites we’ve found so far!
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I suddenly found myself facing a challenge about a year ago when finding books to read aloud to Aidan.
He was 4 years old at the time, but he had a surprisingly long attention span for our read-aloud sessions. I decided to dip my toe into the world of chapter books with him, and he took to it like a fish to water.
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He loved them, and I heard echoes of my childhood in his fervent pleas for “just one more chapter!” (Who am I kidding… I still have this argument with myself on a daily basis!)
The challenge, however, was finding chapter books age-appropriate for a 4-year-old.
In my search, I found the vast majority of books targeted to that age were picture books (which, don’t get me wrong, we do still read and love!), and most chapter books were geared towards older children.
The other issue I found was that a lot of first chapter books are written for early readers — meaning they contain simple language structures, short words, and limited vocabulary. Which is completely appropriate for kids just starting to read.
But I was looking for books to read aloud to Aidan, and I wanted them to be more sophisticated examples of quality writing.
So, I embarked on a quest to find chapter books that were engaging and well-written but still suitable for a preschooler.
SIDE NOTE: I will say that I’ve learned not to underestimate his ability to comprehend and enjoy books slightly above his level. There have been several books (some on this list!) that I fully expected would lose his interest or ability to follow, and he proved me wrong.
So, my rule of thumb when selecting read-alouds for preschoolers is when in doubt, give it a try!
If they don’t like it or lose interest quickly, put it away and try again later. But you never know until you try, and you might be surprised at what they end up loving!
I’m still on the hunt for more quality chapter books to read aloud to preschoolers and early elementary (and I’m constantly finding new ones, so bookmark this post to come back to later!), but here are some of our favorites I’ve found so far.
OUR FAVORITE EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS FOR PRESCHOOLERS & EARLY ELEMENTARY
- Ralph Mouse Series — The Mouse and the Motorcyle, Runaway Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse
The Mouse and the Motorcycle was the first chapter book I ever read to Aidan, and he loved it. And I loved the memories from my own childhood.
- The Growly Books Trilogy — Begin, Widewater, and Morning
These are some of my absolute favorite early read-alouds we’ve read so far. The adventurous quests are engaging, and the writing is spectacular.
- The Magic Tree House Series — **I was a little selective about what I read to him from this series.**
- Stuart Little — A classic, for good reason
- Charlotte’s Web — Another classic
- Paddington Bear Series — So far, we’ve read A Bear Called Paddington, More About Paddington and Paddington Helps Out, but there are several more. These are great ones to get on audio for the accents!
- The One and Only Ivan — Heads up: this is not a light-hearted read. It gets a bit heavy and could be a difficult subject matter for very young or highly sensitive kids. I skimmed over a couple of spots when I read it to Aidan. It’s a really great book, though, and Aidan devoured it. We ended up reading it all in two days! (Spoiler alert: it does have a happy ending)
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins— This one is silly and a lot of fun, and we all enjoyed reading it together.
What’s Next on Our List:
- The Growly Books: Haven — This is a companion book to The Growly Books trilogy
- My Father’s Dragon (also Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland) — I’m constantly hearing about how good this trilogy is, so I’m excited to try it!
- The Chronicles of Narnia — This series is a classic, of course, but I haven’t been sure if he’s ready for it. As I said before, though, you never know until you try!
- The Borrowers series — I remember reading (and loving) these as a kid, and I’m excited to see if/how Aidan likes them.
Those are a few of our favorite read-aloud chapter books, but we’re always looking for new ones! What are some of your favorite first chapter books? Please share in the comments below!
Note: For more about the benefits of reading aloud to your kids, as well as practical tips for making it an enjoyable experience, I HIGHLY recommend The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie! It was one of my favorite books from 2018.
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- My 2018 Ultimate Gift Guide: Favorite Books for Kids!