Our chapter book read-alouds are some of our most cherished times together. Here are some of our favorite chapter books we’ve read together.
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My boys and I read a LOT of chapter books together. Our read-alouds are some of our most cherished times together. In fact, my husband teases that he’s usually not sure who loves it more — the kids or me!
And while, of course, we still read plenty of our favorite picture books, there’s just something special about sharing a lengthier chapter book. It’s like a journey we get to embark on and experience together. It’s bonding.
Plus, my reader heart swells every time I hear my kids beg for “just one more chapter!”
I started reading chapter books with Aidan when he was a four-year-old preschooler. At the time, it was difficult to find chapter books that were well-written and yet still age-appropriate for him. That led me to write my blog post, Favorite Read-Aloud Chapter Books for 4-6 Year-Olds.
Since then, we’ve added dozens of new chapter books to our list, and I’ve received several requests for suggestions.
I considered updating that previous list of favorite read-aloud chapter books, but then decided to leave it as it was — a list specifically targeted to those tricky earliest read-aloud years.
So now I’m creating a new list of our favorite chapter books for read-alouds, which I will periodically update as we find new favorites!
PRO TIP: For those times you’re just not in the mood to read, you’re under the weather, or you’re not able to read (while driving, perhaps), audiobooks are a fabulous alternative!
What I Look For in Our Chapter Book Read-Alouds
Before we get to the list, let me say a few words about what I look for in our read-aloud chapter books.
In my library school days, we were discouraged from thinking or talking about books as “good” or “bad”. Classics were no better than any other book, and anything that got kids reading was to be encouraged. At the time, I wholeheartedly agreed.
And I still agree… to a certain extent. But I’ve modified my stance a bit for my own kids.
Yes, I still view encouraging kids to fall in love with books and reading as the primary goal. With that in mind, we read a wide variety of types and styles of books, and I follow my kids’ lead and pace. (I talk more about this in my blog post about how to raise lifelong readers)
However, I also want to cultivate in my kids an appreciation (and skill) for excellent writing. And that happens by exposing them to it from an early age.
Reading, comprehension, focus and attention, and appreciation for the written word are all “muscles” that can be developed. And I firmly believe that kids — even modern-day kids — can and will rise to the bar we set.
We don’t need to settle for dumbing down the material; our kids have the same brain capacity as kids in Dickens’s day. It just needs to be used.
With that in mind, when I look for chapter books for our read-alouds, I’m typically looking for books that will:
- Model high-quality writing
- Expand their vocabulary (but not completely confuse them)
- Develop their critical-thinking skills
- Include examples of good character, moral behavior, and other traits I want to develop
- Challenge them a little, while still capturing their interest
And, of course, be fun and interesting to read!
That being said, I’m not opposed to reading fun, light, or even “fluffy” books, too, if it’s something my kids love. But rather than being a staple in our read-aloud line-up, they’re more like a dessert in our steady diet of “good” (yes, I used that word *wink*) books.
Of course, none of that means you have to follow suit! Reading of any kind is a good thing. I merely wanted to share some of my read-aloud goals, as well as encourage any of you who might have bought into the lie that “kids these days don’t read those kinds of books anymore.”
Our Favorite Chapter Books for Read-Alouds
Let’s move on to the list, shall we? Here are some of the chapter books we’ve read so far and loved:
The Green Ember series, S.D. Smith
This series has been a hands-down favorite for us!
The Growly Books series, Philip & Erin Ulrich
I will say, we enjoyed the original trilogy better than Haven and Winter.
Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
So far, we’ve read four out of the seven. Aidan’s interest waned a bit, so we’re taking a little break. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Way of the Warrior Kid series, Jocko Willink
This one isn’t my favorite for writing, per se, but it has such good messaging for kids (and adults!).
Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
Stuart Little, E.B. White
We’ve read each of these multiple times now!
The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate
Note: I did skip over a part or two that I thought might be a bit too disturbing for my sensitive child.
James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
The Prince Warriors trilogy, Priscilla Shirer
So far, we’ve read book 1, but we have them all and plan to continue.
The Borrowers, Mary Norton
This series has some tricky language, as it was written by a British author, but with a little explanation here and there, it wasn’t an issue.
Frindle, Andrew Clements
This was a quick, but super fun read that we all enjoyed.
Ramona Quimby series, Beverly Cleary
I love hearing the giggles from the boys at Ramona’s funny antics.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
We haven’t seen the movie yet, so the story was brand-new to them. It was so fun to read it with them!
The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
There are 4 other books in the series, which I’m SURE we’ll have to read at some point.
The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann David Wyss
I knew this classic would challenge Aidan’s comprehension skills, but for the reasons mentioned above, I wanted to at least attempt it.
And he LOVED it. The tales of adventure, resourcefulness, and animal encounters were right up his alley.
He occasionally asked for an explanation, and I threw in definitions here and there, but he exceeded my expectations following along.
The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo
This was a fun, fairly easy read (which was a nice change of pace after Swiss Family Robinson), but still had the beautifully-crafted writing I appreciate in our read-alouds.
It’s a very engaging book that does a FABULOUS job of drawing the reader (and/or listener) into the story.
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Aidan was so hoping this book was a series because he wanted to read more about Matilda and her special skills.
The Secret School, Avi
The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail, Richard Peck
Redwall series, Brian Jacques
We’ve only read the first one so far, but we loved it! (Heads up: There were a few minor curse words, but I skipped over them.)
The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall
Aidan was a bit resistant at first, thinking it was “a girl book”, but he was quickly charmed and captivated by it. When we finished, he immediately requested we get the rest of the series.
The BFG, Roald Dahl
This book absolutely delighted my boys! (And, of course, they thought the “whizzpopping” was hilarious.)
Ranger In Time series, Kate Messner
This series has all the historical adventure of the Magic Tree House series, but without the mystical component, and the time traveler is a golden retriever instead of two kids. We breezed through what’s out so far and are eager for the next one!
According to Humphrey series, Betty G. Birney
These books are delightful! We’ve loved the whole series.
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
A few of the chapters lost their interest, but overall, we enjoyed this one.
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket
Aidan (7) opted out of this series because he thought it looked too scary, but Andrew (5) was all about it. We are now on the final book, and we’ve had a great time reading them together. And wouldn’t you know it… whenever we’ve read them around Aidan, he has always stuck around to listen. 😉 I think he may end up reading the series for himself at some point now that he knows it’s not as scary as he thought.
What’s Next on Our Read-Aloud List
My “to-read” list of chapter books for read alouds is as rapidly-growing as my own personal list. I won’t share all of the books on our list to check out, as I haven’t looked deeply into each of them.
But here are some of the titles that have been recommended by trusted sources and are highly-ranked on our list of chapter books to read next for our read-alouds:
- The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The Wingfeather Saga, Andrew Peterson — I’ve been told this series might be a bit intense yet for my 6yo, so we may wait a couple of years for this one. But it is recommended often to me!
- Wilderking Trilogy — same note as above about waiting a couple of years
I will update this list of chapter books for read alouds as we read, so be sure to bookmark it to consult regularly! And follow me on Facebook and Instagram because I give frequent recommendations there, as well.
My enthusiasm for sharing favorite books is already rubbing off on Aidan, too. He and his cousin have formed a book club of sorts, and whenever we finish another book he loves, he’s always eager to pass it along. He got her hooked on The Green Ember series, and she has since passed along the recommendation to one of her friends. It delights my heart to see the next generation catching the thrill of sharing a great book. ❤️
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- Read Aloud Chapter Books for 4-6 Year-Olds