Favorite Chapter Books to Read to Young Children

chapter books for young children

(Photos of Henry by Rachel Thurston from our family shoot )

Two years ago when Henry was around 4 we started reading real books to him, not picture books but chapter books. I have such fond memories of reading classic childrens literature with my parents and wanted to have that same experience with Henry as well. It’s  so much more enjoyable to read with your child when you’re enjoying the book you’re reading, and we both look forward to it.

013Jared and I are each reading him different books so we don’t miss something if the other parent puts them to bed. Jared’s currently finishing up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I’m reading him Comet in Moominland. I’m always surprised with how much he understands and how long he can sit without having pictures to look at (although an occasional picture is always fantastic).

019I got recommendations from our local librarian, friends, family, and also my own memory of course. Here are a few favorite chapter books we’ve loved reading together with Henry. Would love your recommendations as well, they make great gifts!

First of all: Anything by Roald Dahl

Keep reading to see them…

1. *Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

2. The Dangerous Book for Boys
(this was the first one Jared read with Henry. It took months to get through it but they loved it!)

3. *Toys Go Out
(we’ve read the whole series of these, highly recommend. They’re what the Toy Story movies are roughly based on, but completely different characters/plot. So sweet and charming)

4.*The BFG

5.Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (series)
(I have such fond memories of reading these books. Henry got such a kick out of it)

6. *Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon
(this was the first one we started with, it’s charming and lots of pictures so a great transition to chapter books!)

7.Comet in Moominland

8.The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Others on our list to read:
Danny the Champion of the World
The Great Brain Series



Another great transition series to chapter books is “The Littles”. I second anything by E. Nesbit as well as the Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright. Swiss Family Robinson and Dr. Dolittle were big hits along with Mr. Poppers Penguin’s, Ralph and the Motorcycle and Stuart Little. I’m not sure how old your son is (just stumbled on this list), but My Side of the Mountain was a fun one to read out loud with my kids that really led to some interesting discussions. I’m a BIG proponent to reading out loud to kids and say the earlier you start the better. My 3 oldest shared a room up to ages 10, 8 and 6 so the youngest laid there and listened to chapter books as soon as she started to share a room with her older siblings. Even as a 2 year old she would listen and ask questions. Now she is 10 and shares a room with her 5 year old sister who lays there and listens as we read Anne of Green Gables, Roald Dahl books and many more. Again, my 5 year old loves listening to the stories and while I don’t think she catches the whole plot she enjoys the books and is involved in the story. Also, I still read out loud to my 15 and 13 year old sons. We pick a “spooky” book like Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, etc to read out loud at Halloween time and I’ll try and read the Christmas Carol out loud to them at Christmas time. There is just something about reading out loud that is so special. So keep at it because it is so worth it and the time spent is definitely an investment into the future. I can attest to that!

My daughter is 4.5 and we started reading chapter books about six months ago. We’ve done James & the Giant Peach, Matilda, Freckle Juice, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Charlotte’s Web, Clever Lollipop and Lady Lollipop (Dick King-Smith) and now we are working our way through the Ramonas (Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave so far) – she ADORES Ramona. The ones that have movies we have watched on family movie nights and that is also a big hit.

What about some new ones? My nephews are getting Fortunately the Milk, My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, and Diary of Wimpy Kid for Christmas.

MY FAVORITE BOOK EVER! Our mother daughter book club loved it as well

Highly recommend the book Wolf Story by William McCleery. I’ve been reading a chapter a night to our son on and off for years. Written in 1947 based on on ongoing story the author told his son over a bunch of nights before bed. It’s our longstanding favorite.

I love reading a good chapter book to my soon to be six year old son. Like you, my husband and I take it in turns reading each book because I hate to miss out on the story I’ve started.
A few favourites have been Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Fantastic Mr Fox, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Mr Poppers’ Penguins, Mrs Piggle Wiggle series, Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan.
I will have to take some of your suggestions and some from above also when picking out a few for xmas this year. Happy Holidays!

Sideways Stories from Wayside School, definitely Matilda, Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Frecklejuice, Chocolate Fever, Mouse and the Motorcycle, Holes by Louis Sachar. . .

Ronin JUST barely started paying attention to these, but I think it’ll be awhile until he’s Henry’s age where he can focus longer w/o the photos.

random note – where is his green bedding from? love!

The Narnia books, anything by Enid Blyton, and the Catwing series are favourites over here!

The Phantom Tollbooth

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

were two of my favorites!

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (possibly a little old for Henry right now, but maybe in a few years?)
Half Magic by Edward Eager (and his other books as well)
Anything by E. Nesbit, especially the Wouldbegoods
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll

What a lovely tradition! And one that will have an impact. I’ll never forget my fourth grade teacher reading books aloud to us (some of the ones on your list too!) and how it changed my life. Keep on! 🙂

The Indian in the Cupboard is one I remember being read aloud as a kid. So special. I LOVED Little House on the Prairie and the Chronicles of Narnia books, too. Such a great tradition to help raise a reader!

So many good ones! In addition to any Roald Dahl… the first two Harry Potter books; Mr. Popper’s Penguins; The Invention of Hugo Cabret; Wonderstruck. Our daughter is 7 and we just started the Little House on the Prairie series. We also have The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures on our list.

These are great choices! I’m pregnant with my first baby (a boy) and I can’t wait to read with him. Some of my favourites from when I was little are The Borrowers (Mary Norton) and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM (aka the Secret of NIHM – Robert C. O’Brien). Danny the Champion of the World is also fantastic!

Oh my gosh the BFG… great idea to start reading chapter books at a young age. So engaging and a special time with your little dude.

This is such a good idea- The Wildwood Chronicles might be a good series to try too- they are such fantastic stories and the illustrations are beautiful–

Comments are closed.