Chapter books for the younger kids


UPDATE 1/29/2014

I’ve compiled the over 110 comments from you and created a PDF with all your suggestions! Download it or print it out, and enjoy this great library resource! Enjoy!

click here to download

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Reading chapter books to your 3-8 year olds is a great way to get them to use their imaginations and to more advanced vocabulary. But with the advanced vocab, can sometimes come advanced content (sorry…I am not interested in emotionally scarring my 4 year olds by reading about vampires) or they simply have plots that can’t capture the attention of preschool age kids. Sometimes it’s a matter of not having enough pictures intertwined in the chapters to keep them turning pages with you.

So, thank you so much for your recommendations! We have read some of these, and can attest to our children being completely interested even though they are considered for Middle Grade Readers.

I have learned to never underestimate the reading comprehension of your children! Just last night, my just turned 4 year old…who has such a hard time sitting down to read…was completely wrapped up in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder…and even went to dress for the part of the hunter boys to get in the mood. I watched his eyes widen as he listened (there weren’t any pictures to look at) and felt like I was catching a magical moment where he was making the connection between the words and the images in his own mind. Pure Magic!

So….here folks is the list you put together!  Feel free to add to it, and I’ll edit them in.


The mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Ramona Books by Beverly Cleary

Emily’s Runaway Imagination Beverly Cleary

Ralf S. Mouse books by Beverly Cleary

Mercy Watson series by kate dicamillo

Tale of Despereaux by Kate dicamillo

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate dicamillo

Because of Wynn Dixie byKate Dicamillo

Catwings books by Ursula K. LeGuin

Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black

Just So Storiesby Rudyard Kipling

The Henry books by DB Johnson

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  by C.S. Lewis

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder


Halibut Jackson by David Lucas.

Paddington Bear by Michael Bond

The Adventures of Olga da Polga By Michael Bond

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine

Freddy Anniversary Collection by WalterBrooks

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Matilda Ronald Dahl

James and the Giant Peach by Ronald Dahl

The Ordinary Princess By M.M. Kaye

Wizard of Oz books by L. Frank Baum

Junie B Jones Series by Barbara Park

Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey

The Cricket in Times Square George Seldon

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson

The Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

The Littles by John Peterson

Pippi Longstocking Astrid Lindgren

The Boxcar Children Gertrude Chandler Warner

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Swiss Family Robinson Johann D. Wyss

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

Little Women Louisa May Alcott

Winnie the Pooh A.A. Milne

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

Elves and Fairies Annie R. Rentoul and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Peter Pan J.M. barry

Alice in wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Enid Blyton Goodnight Stories

The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Famous Five by Enid Blyton

Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

Anything by Thornton BURGESS

Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker

Far Flung Adventures series

Milly-Molly-Mandy Joyce Lankester Brisley

The Alfie Books by Shirley Hughes

Jip and Janneke by Annie M.G. Schmidt

The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail(and an Even Smaller Ant) by Avi

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweilerby E.L. Konigsburg

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

Grayson by Lynne Cox

Half Magic by Edward Eager.
Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynn Reid Banks

The Trumpet of the Swanby E.B. White.

A Necklace of Raindropsby Joan Aiken

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

I don’t know about you…but I’m heading to the Library today! Enjoy!

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  • D

    Wonderful list! I’m going to ditto the Mercy Watson series! My children (4 and 3) absolutely adore them. We’ve just started Charlotte’s web and so far so good.

  • Alice S

    Thank you for this list! I’ve bookmarked it for future reference. I’ve reserved “Lady Lollipop” at the library for us thanks to your recommendation.

  • Lorelei

    The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant) by Avi…..the illustrations by Tricia Tusa are an added treat.

    Great list you have going!

  • Terri Hitt

    Marissa just LOVES Heidi.

  • Angie

    Thank you for sharing this list. I have a 6-year-old boy and we’re currently blowing through Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins books. I’m always looking for the next ones to start. This really helps.

  • Amy

    Thank you, thank you! We actually checked-out Lady Lollipop yesterday, and I look forward to using your list for future library trips.

  • Kate

    My three year old loves Junie B. Jones and they’re the perfect length for her attention and memory span. The first chapter book I remember my mom reading to me was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg and it’s still one of my favorites. I also love vintage (not too scary) Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries.

  • Dana Beth

    Thanks so much for this list- we JUST started chapter books with my 3.5 year old. He LOVED EB White’s Stuart Little!

  • Jenny


  • Erin Wilson

    Great list! LOVED James and the Giant Peach and the Beverly Cleary books as a kid. Pretty much LOVED reading at all times :)

  • thedoodlegirl

    Every summer I read “The Chocolate Touch” by Patrick Skene Catling to my kids. They LOVE it! We eat chocolate together during the read. So fun.

  • sandra

    wow! thanks so much for the list. it’s always GREAT to read a book that was recommended, rather than looking blindly.

  • Sara

    Thank you SO much. I have been looking for a list like this for about a year now. I have another one–Grayson by Lynne Cox. True story and excellent (we are reading it for the 3rd time now).

  • Karen

    Thank You!!! So fun!!!

  • Carina

    Oh, don’t stop at the Wizard of Oz! ALL of Frank L Baum’s Oz books, and there are around a dozen, are FANTASTIC!

  • Susan

    Great list!

    Pippi Longstocking remains one of my favorites.:-)

    God bless,
    author of The Princess and the Pee

  • Carol

    Please add one of my favorites “Half Magic” by Edward Eager.

  • Sally

    I’d also add any book by Roald Dahl, Pippy Longstocking, Mr. Poppers, Bess and Tassy, The Melendy Quartet (4 books by Elisabeth Enright), and books by E Nesbit.

  • Louise

    Wonderful list, thank you Sarah…

  • Jandee Jones

    I love so many of these books, what a great list! As a young child I remember loving the Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynn Reid Banks. She also wrote a book called the Fairy Rebel which was a favorite!

  • sarah

    Thanks for the list Sarah, I’d forgotten about the books by Arleta Richardson – I’ll look her up now.

    On another note (thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder): My girls and I have always enjoyed watching the Little House on the Prairie tv-show. Always held their attention and it was nice to watch something from a gentler time. We bought the DVD sets but I know the libraries sometime have them too.

    Take care,

  • Andrea

    We absolutely love “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White.

  • Stephen Isabirye

    I am glad you mentioned a couple of Enid Blyton’s series, including The Famous Five. In fact, I have published a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (
    Stephen Isabirye

  • Brittany

    What a fabulous list! If it weren’t for Wilbur, we wouldn’t have the word humble flying around our home so much; thank you Charlotte’s Web!

  • Tricia

    Thanks for the great list, Sarah!

  • Lindsay

    You must not forget A Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken. A timeless and magical collection of short stories!

  • Sarah

    “The Wheel on the School” by Meindert DeJong is an often over-looked Newbery Medal book that is charming! It is still my brother’s favorite book and, amazingly enough, he recently took it with him on his honeymoon!

  • Sheryl Spencer

    Great list. Also…Pippi Longstocking is a FAV in our house.

  • karin

    Sarah, thanks! This is SO PERFECT for our little family right now. Our library will certainly be getting a visit from us tomorrow. I’m linking this list to my blog to share.

  • Jobeth

    Dear sweet Sarah! Thank you for this list! My son is currently working his way through the “Nate the Great” books by Marjorie Sharmat. Your little guys might enjoy those too.

  • Lynne

    Perfect, Sarah Jane!! That’s so funny that we were doing the same thing right at the same time!!

    Congratulations on the new house!!! I hope that you are having tons of fun moving in and getting settled!!!

  • Trisha P.

    What a wonderful list of books! So many are ones that I loved growing up and would no doubt have fun reading to my little girls. Your blog and Etsy site are just awesome. I absolutely love your artwork and have been trying to decide what is my favorite to buy. I love the simplicity of your work. You are one talented lady. Thank you for sharing. : ) Trisha in Alaska

  • Valerie P

    Sarah–I was thinking about this post and all the recommendations I wanted to make, of course getting around to post with twins underfoot is never an easy task. I checked out your list and saw some great books listed, but not my all-time favorites–so I am so excited to share them with you–The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. She also wrote The Hundred Dresses–another great, more serious book. You and your children will adore the stories–sweet, innocent, and funny–very refreshing! Oh, and Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher is another great read–and all the Judy Blume Fudge books, of course! Love that Dog and Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech are fantastic, too!! And for great picture books you must check out Cynthia Rylant and Patricia Polacco. And for poetry try Kristine O’Connell George and Georgia Heard. I hope you read this!!

    Happy Reading!

  • Jill

    My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett is a wonderful early read aloud! I read it to my daughter when she was 5 and I’m planning on reading it with my 4.5 y.o son this summer. It is first in a series of 3 books, and while the first is my favorite, they are all good.

  • Hadley Duncan Howard

    Thanks for this great list! My 5 year-old has read many of these, and I think I’ve read most of them in my time, but it’s good to have a working list to expand on. We’re off to the library for some new reads!

  • . tiny twist creative .

    Thank you so much, this is a great list!

  • Vanessa

    I was so excited that Design Mom linked to this today! I have a son in kindergarten who is learning to read. Just last week I was thinking it would be fun to start reading chapter books to him and his 4 year old brother. Thank you so much! I can’t wait to get started now that I have some recommendations.

  • Sarah Buttenwieser

    Love your list!

    Jamie and Angus stories (Anne Fine).

    I just posted on my blog (Standing in the Shadows) an essay about having an emerging reader–& my affection for Nate the Great.

  • Rachel

    What a fantastic list. We will be adding these to our list to check out at our weekly library trip. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

  • tracie @ {tsj} photography

    LOVING this list!! thanks for sharing!

  • heather

    thank you for this wonderful list! we are reading henry huggins now but i know we need to branch out soon!! :-)

  • Heather

    Wonderful list! Thank you so much for this, it is just what I’ve been needing. My 4 year old loves to be read to and wants us to read him chapter books, but it is so hard to find ones appropriate for his age. I’ll be checking some of these out on our next library trip.

  • Jen

    We read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Beautiful story but do be warned, there will be tears. Perhaps not theirs but definitely yours.

    We are huge fans of the Mercy Watson series too. So much fun and the books are simply gorgeous.

  • Bulgaria

    Reading it I believed it was highly enlightening. I actually value you taking the time and energy to put this article along. Again I find myself shelling out way too much time both reading and also placing comments. However so what, it was still of great benefit!

  • kids play schools

    thats great list wow i enjoy the reading

  • Meg

    Thank you for including, “My Father’s Dragon.” There are even two more books! This was one of my favorite stories when I was young. It’s such a fantastic story.

    One that I see very rarely. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve seen copies other than my brothers’ from the 70s. But, the “Great Brain” books by John D. Fitzgerald are fantastic. John is the younger brother to the “Brain.” The scrapes they get into and lessons they learn are wonderful.

  • Rebecca Brown

    The Penderwicks and A Mouse Called Wolf
    also Richard Peck wrote A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder that we’ve read aloud as a family and really enjoyed.

  • independent living retirement communities

    Do you mind if I quote your writing in my monthly newsletter? I think your writing would suit my readers perfectly. Well, thanks for writing this.

  • Anna Cooper

    What a great list! I will use it as I add to the libraries of my grandaughter and future grandkids. Here are my contributions, I hope you and your readers enjoy them. I loved this book as a child:
    Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, And Me, Elizabeth (Newbery Honor Book) E.L. Konigsburg (Author)
    and enjoyed reading it to my own children.
    I also loved reading this series to my children, which solved a few problems along the way:
    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle [Hardcover]
    Betty Macdonald (Author),

  • sarah / book bound bindery

    My Father’s Dragon is my favorite book of all time. My boys love it (read it more than once!). We are in the middle of The Indian in the Cupboard. Can’t wait to try your other suggestions.

  • Erin

    Charlotte’s Web…

    Also, my children LOVE when I read them non-fiction books at bedtime. Fiction they can do themselves, but they have trouble with some of the words in informational books. My children are 8,9, and 10 and we recently read Anne Frank. I had to edit parts of it, but it was a good way to introduce them to that part of history and make it personal without having to go into all of the gory/scary detail just yet.

  • Adi J.

    This is a wonderful list! Thank you!

    Oh… if you haven’t heard of them, the Bad Kitty chapter books by Nick Bruel (e.g., Bad Kitty Gets a Bath)are fantastic too (especially for reluctant boy readers).

  • Emily

    although I love this list, there are quite a few titles on here that I would NOT recommend for 3 year olds…at that age, longer picture books are better and more developmentally appropriate…

  • Holly

    Thank you! I love reading with my people (6, 5, 2 and new) and sometimes I’m at a bit of a loss in terms of *what* to read. I’m looking forward to working through this list!

  • Sarah L

    I loved The Black Stallion books – I think they would be great for adventuresome youngsters. My girls are also enjoying 50 Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin. It retells some of the most famous legends from the Greeks on up. Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges isn’t a chapter book, but it was a big hit at our house. I would offer a blanket recommendation on anything by EB White. The Chronicles of Narnia is great for the 5 and up set. Any of James Herriot’s adventures as a country veterinarian in England are wonderful. There is a beautifully illustrated collection called “James Herriot’s Treasury for Children” that my oldest (7-1/2) is enjoying on her own. My younger ones like it as a read-aloud, but I find constantly showing the pictures to be distracting when I’m reading to them..

  • angie

    Love the list…don’t forget The Adventures of TumTum & Nutmeg! I have 3 boys ages 5-11 and it’s truly a bedtime favorite for all!

  • Anna

    This list is exactly what I’ve been thinking about putting together for my children! You just took the work out of it. Thank-you!! A couple of books I would add: The Goose Girl and The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards is another lesser known, but great read. Also I LOVE Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Little Princess, Secret Garden, and The Lost Prince. I can remember feeling magic when I read those with my mom as a little girl. Mark Twain wrote some fabulous books as well, including Tom Sawyer and Huckelberry Finn. Thanks again!

    • Kate Branch Browne

      I entirely agree in adding books by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Her characters embody such wonderful positive personality traits, and are so likeable at the same time. My 5 year old daughter and I just read “The Racketty Packetty House” and LOVED it! We then moved onto some lesser known books: “The Trouble with Queen Silverbell as told by Queen Crosspatch” and “Spring Cleaning as told by Queen Crosspatch”. She is not old enough for us to read the better known Hodgson Burnett books, but I look forward to it!

  • Heather W.

    Loved this list, you included many of my favorites, but pointed me to some new ones to reserve at the library. Thanks!

  • Nicholle C.

    So glad I stumbled across this through Pinterest – can’t wait to share some of these with my daughter!

  • Natassia

    The Mary Poppins books and the whole Wizard of Oz series are amazing! Great list!

  • Jessica

    The first chapter book my son fell in love with was Mr. Poppers Penguins… he asks for it repeatedly still! :) FTR we were very disappointed in the movie. It strayed very far from the book storyline.

  • Darcy

    Thank you for this wonderful list! It brought back many memories of all the wonderful books I read a young girl and I can’t wait to read them with my daughter.

    Another series that I loved and my aunt would always read to me when we visited was the “Amelia Bedelia” books by Peggy Parish. And I also have to mention “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” by the Grimm brothers, especially the edition by Janet Lunn and Laszlo Gal.

  • Erin

    Thank you for taking the time to put together this list!

    I wanted to add The Doll People books by Ann Martin and Laura Godwin. Also, I don’t think anyone mentioned Rainbow Magic Fairies by Daisy Meadows. So far, the original series of seven has been the best.

    For more reading ideas, check out What the Dormouse Said: Lessons for Grownups from Children’s Books, collected by Amy Gash. It’s a book of quotations and they’re fun to read, but also there’s a great index of all the books in the back!

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for this wonderful list! It brought back so many wonderful memories from my childhood. My brother and I are both avid readers and I can remember many a late nite spent reading under the covers at bedtime with a flashlight after my parents had gone to bed. :)

    I have read many of the books in your list and am planning on a trip to the library to find the rest. My boys are 5 and just-about 4.

    A few more I would add to your list:

    Island of the Blue Dolphins (this is still one of my very favorite books)
    Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher
    Velveteen Rabbit
    Witch of Blackbird Pond

    The last one is maybe not for the quite so young, though it isn’t scary just maybe too emotional for them at times. It remains one of my favorites.

    Thanks again!

  • Truly Blessed

    Great list but you’re missing one of the best ever — ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ — for the older kids. Possibly one of the best children’s books ever full of wordplay and a great story to boot.

  • Betsy

    Betsy Tacy books are wholesome, good writing, and wonderful. They focus on the friendship of three girls. They start when the girls are 5 years old and go all the way until marriage. I only read the first four which stops with the girls at age 12ish. I read them to my 5/6 year old.

  • Caroline

    Great list! I would add Carolyn Haywood’s Betsy series, begining with “‘B’ Is For Betsy.” We tried a number of chapter books with my three-year-old and none captured her attention until the Betsy books.

  • Beth

    We have a lot of overlap on our book lists! I would add Dr. Doolittle- my kids and I loved it as well as the Indian in the Cupboard series. My 4 year old son was completely in love with this series!

  • Michele Massie

    Thanks so much for this list!! I found it off of pinterest. We are currently finishing up the Laura Ingalls books with our 6, 5, 3, and 2 year old. I was wondering what we would read next!

  • Erin

    Thank you for this list! My almost 4 year old surprised me when she asked to read Charlotte’s Web, because the Kindergardeners in her class are reading it. I had to change some of the words and recap every time we start reading, but she loves it and wants to read more chapter books. I have been asking around for suggestions for age appropriate content, and people look at me like I am crazy for wanting to read my 3 year old chapter books. So I greatly appreciate this list, and to know that other people read these books to their young children.

  • Jenny

    Great list. Another good series is Geronimo Stilton. My nephew loves it and there is nothing scary in it at all.

  • lauren

    The American Girl series; The Happy Hollisters are also great. We have to get The Happy Hollisters through inter-library loan.

  • Beverly

    Very nice list.

    Please be advised that the author’s name is “ROALD DAHL,” not “RONALD.”

    “Danny, the Champion of the World” and “James and the Giant Peach” are two of Roald Dahl’s works listed.

  • Emily

    Fabulous list! One thats not mentioned is Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series of books. Those were some of my favorites growing up. Funny and great life lessons!

  • Rebecca

    Ralph S. Mouse books by Beverly Cleary:
    The Mouse and the Motorcycle
    Runaway Ralph
    Ralph S Mouse

    The Fudge Books by Judy Blume:
    Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
    Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great
    Double Fudge

    My favorites!!
    Ps.. We love Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle as well!

  • Annie

    Love this list…I also loved Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink when I was growing up, especially for those of you who enjoyed the Laura Ingalls Series with your kiddos! Going to start reading chapter books with my 3 year old and almost 2 year old soon!

  • Heatger

    A book that is good to introduce history to younger kids is Number the Stars. By lois lowry. I read it to my fourth graders last year and they loved it! !

  • B

    May I add “The Fairy Rebel” to the list? My four year old and I are loving that one. Thanks for this list! This is awesome.

  • Alex

    I can’t thank you enough for this list. I have so many of these books and my girls loved Peter Pan and Charlotte’s Web and we are working our way through Thorton Burgess’ extensive library. I have to recommend however, a much overlooked book called The Land of Og by Pierre Burton. It is an absolutely fabulous chapter book with many pictures, all of which were drawn by Pierre’s 12 year old daughter. The story is riveting and will keep your young ones asking for more!

  • Mary

    What about Hank the Cowdog?????? fabulous funny reading. my boys loved Hank so much that we had to name our puppy “Hank”.

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  • Amy

    I absolutely adore Betsy&Tacy! I am adding this to the read aloud list for my little guys.

  • Felicity

    Great list!

    My nephew is currently obsessed with the “How to Train Your Dragon” books by Cressida Cowell. He’s six but has a reading age of nine so could read them on his own but his dad is reading them to him at night and they’re both having a ball with them.

    This is the first in a series of about 8 books aimed at 8-10 year olds. Both boys and girls love them as they’re really funny.

    When choosing books to read aloud, keep in mind that kids have a listening age 2-4 years above their chronological age. This means that a 4-year-old will enjoy hearing books read aloud that are intended for 6-8 year-olds to read independently.

    You can read more about this at

    Happy reading!

  • ange

    -Charlotte’s Webb by E.B. White
    -The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (not a fan of the movies, but the books are CAPTIVATING!)
    -The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major (Indiana classic)

    I know they are a little old school, but they were some of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITES as a little girl!

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  • Eljah*B

    Sara Jane, thank you so much for this list! I love to read aloud to my kiddos and this gives me even more to choose from. My five year old and I are currently reading “A Secret Zoo”. Awesome mystery!

    I shared your list with on my Etsy shop fanpage. I invite you to top by:)

  • http://www.etsy/ Mandy

    Thank you for this list, I’ve been a huge fan of your art on Etsy for years and I just stumbled upon this blog entry by way of pinteres. I’m so excited to hit the library with my girls tomorrow!

  • Felicity

    Forgot to mention: here’s the link to read more about the “How to Train Your Dragon” books …

  • Heather Ratliff

    Great list. My question is…how do you transition from short story books to chapter books?

    • kelly

      We found that we needed to pick something that related to her life (age 4), tell her a bit about the story and then…away we go :) So, we read “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder at the end of winter. We read Alice in Wonderland before her friend’s school play. Now she asks for more “long books that take 10 days to read” on her own.

      • Kelly

        Also, if we start a book and she doesn’t like it, we just let it go and move on.

        • Kelly

          And lots of beautiful pictures!

  • Amy Pond

    My daughter ,River, loved the Horrible Harry series.

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  • David

    My Daughter loved Johnny Dreamcatcher and the World of Dreams. or on Amazon

  • Read Aloud Mom

    Try “The Adventures of Tempest & Serena.” Suspense, heart and adventure as twins who think they’re soooo different find out how they’re really alike. Especially for girls but boys like all the action, too.

  • amanda

    Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh – loved as a kid but did make me cry

  • SPease

    I’m trying to read my six year old (almost seven year old) son “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, and it isn’t going well. He’s terrified! He’s one of those kids who’s always terrified of any dramatic tension, and I’m struggling to walk the line between forcing him to work through his fears and worrying that his memory of this beautiful book is going to be one of fear and of me forcing him to listen to it! Do I back off?

    • Debora Baird

      Plenty of time to read that book later. If he’s scared, pick something else. Make reading enjoyable. When a book makes me uncomfortable, I put it down–he should have that option too.

    • Valerie Carroll Kinney

      I must say that I didn’t like that book as a child and think I was scared by the lion scene. I have never read the rest of the series and won’t read them to my daughter. If she shows interest in them I will happily get them for her at the library but they will not be ones we read aloud. If he is scared please don’t force it.

    • Sarah

      I tried to read this to my 6 and 7 yr old boys and they found it boring, slow and not engaging. Try “My Father’s Dragon” series. My then 3,5 and 6yr old children LOVED this book and still remember all its parts. Its quick paced, funny and clever.
      Another they loved was “The Twits” and “Fantastic Mr Fox”.
      We didn’t get more than 1/2 way into The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe before we had to give it away.
      Oh and another series my kids loved was The Famous Five.
      Good luck.

  • Aynsley

    I don’t know many people who know the Milly Molly Mandy series!!! My Nana used to read me those!

  • Deanna

    These are wonderful suggestions. Thank you for the list and for all those that have left comments. Hopefully my suggestions aren’t redundant. We love the “Worst Witch” series. “Dearhound”, “Humphrey the Hamster” series and “Adventures of a South Pole Pig” is really good. Dr. Suess, Winnie the Pooh and James Herriot Treasury for Children helped up transition from short story books to chapter books.

  • Kelly

    Great list! Ty! Our librarian just doesn’t seem to get what I mean by chapter books for a four year old : ) The only thing I’d add, is that I’ve reread some of my old favorites- Laura Ingalls Wilder, Peter Pan, The Secret Garden- is that I have to spend time explaining colonialism, racism, European settlement of the Americas etc. We take out a globe and talk about history and fairness and some of the problems that still exist today as a result. We even talk about the simple biology of skin color- it exists on a continuum and has to do with genetics; also dark skin is better at deflecting sun’s rays and reducing skin cancer, while light skin absorbs much needed vitamin D in cold northern climes. She gets it, and I think its important so she doesn’t unconsciously absorb some of the racial attitudes of many of the classic authors.

    • Juanita

      Yes, I’m constantly surprised by how much “explaining” I have to do that “things are different today” with regards to gender, racial, economic, etc. issues that come up in many older-yet-beloved books. (BTW, there’s been research suggesting that a key evolutionary purpose of the skin pigment, melanin, is that it protects from UV degradation of folate which is needed for DNA replication and cell division, lots of which are necessary for a successful pregnancy, for example ( It strikes me as such an elegant system–balancing the needs of folate protection and vitamin D production–and yet it has had such a warped social outcome throughout history in much of the world.)

  • http://thepaintedpeony.weebly.

    My kids are 4 and 5 and adore “The Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pope Osbourne.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you! This is exactly what I need for my daughter – she is an extremely early reader (started at age 2). She is five now, and needs chapter books for the challenge, but most are not age appropriate. This list will help so much at the library!

    • Daisytoo

      Have you thought about reading poetry to her? Samuel Taylor Coleridge (sp?) “Answer to a Child’s Question” or anything by RL Stevenson – here’s another: The Fieldmouse, by Cecil F. Alexander … so many more too.

      Your child is extremely bright – and poetry might bridge that gap between what can be socially/developmentally interesting to her in chapter books, and the language she’s so capable of grasping.

  • soliyana

    u should let us choose what book we want to read, find it for us for free. by the way I’m ten.

  • raeavljus

    My 4 year old and I have been reading the Faraway Tree series (3 books) by Enid Blyton… next we will read her Wishing Chair series. I loved her books a s a kid and my daughter is really enjoying the Faraway Tree series at the moment. Full of fairies, elves, and various other fantasy folk… there are other lands at the top of the tree that change around. She loves getting to read a couple chapters at bedtime.

  • Christy

    Katie Woo, Penny and her song, Penny and her marble, Penny and her doll. Great chapter books with pictures!

  • Karen

    The Percy Jackson series was a HUGE hit when I read it aloud to my 3rd graders, also Harry Potter. I wouldn’t go below age 8 with either of those, but strong,u recommend. Had half of my class read the entire series independently because of interest sparked for, classroom readalouds (tough books for 8 year olds to tackle on their own)!

  • Fiona

    Thanks very much for this advice. My 3& 1/2 year old is into chapter books not because he’s gifted, he just loves books. We have had a few that we’ve had to stop part way in due to slightly scary characters so I’ve been struggling for ideas. I don’t want to frighten him at all, but want to run with his desire for more. These suggestions really have helped. :)

  • Fran

    I highly recommend the chapter book, The Bloody Book Bag Ordeal by C. Maguire. It’s both hilarious and educational.

  • Olivia

    I’m trying to write a book, but I ended it at three chapters. Is that enough? Each of the chapters are 1 page.

  • Amber Wiley

    Jenny and the Cat Club! SUCH great stories, and not too late for older kids – really, really lovely.
    Thanks for the list!

  • Marjorie

    I suggest those reading this blog should seek out a “like” non-scary new book by author Mark J Grant titled “LILA:THE SIGN OF THE ELVEN QUEEN”…LILA is surely on its way to becoming a new American classic fairy tale. Publisher is Mascot Books. Check it out on Face Book and Pinterest, etc.

  • SusanCK

    My sister-in-law bought us a beautiful book that has all of the Chronicles of Narnia in it. I really want to read it to my 5 year old now! I’ve never read them but really enjoy the movies and I know the books are always better. I also really want to read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, my husband said his Dad read them to him and his siblings when he was younger.

  • Bookwormmomma

    I was happy to find this list, as I have a book-loving, early reading, 4 year old. But I am writing to say I would like to REMOVE The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane from this list. It is incredibly sad, dark, and delves into death and the evil side of humanity. And, no, the take-away message about hope and love does not make this emotional journey worthwhile for a young child. I hope that this kind of content has been more thoughtfully considered in the rest of this list.

    • Daisytoo

      Thank you so much for the kind warning.

  • Daisytoo

    What a beautiful compilation! I did read my 3 year old grand-daughter “The Wizard of Oz”. She was enraptured. I did do some rapid substitutions, e.g., changed ‘killed’ (when the house came down on the witch) to ‘destroyed’ ..

  • Megan

    The swallows and amazons series by Arthur Ransome is also wonderful!

  • Pamela Bailey

    Was wondering if you have made a distinction between the preschool age child and the beginning readers?? I work at a daycare and we are looking chapter books to read to our preschoolers.

  • Louise

    Great list! Thanks…

    My 8-year-old daughter loves Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed and Nina and the Kung Fu Adventure right now – they’re fun and as Nina likes travelling to different countries in the books like my daughter!

  • Lynnsey

    I highly any recommend anything by Dick King-Smith, who I didn’t notice on your list. His animal stories are simply marvellous. My 7yo son and 6yo daughter both love them.

    They also love the “How to Train Your Dragon” books by Cressida Cowell. Their dad is reading the series to them, and he does all the voices – it’s great fun!

  • Meg

    Thanks for a lovely and comprehensive list! I would also like to point you in the direction of Enid Blyton. I just read the Faraway Tree tales to my 5yr old boy for the second time round (the last time was about a year ago) and he LOVED both readings. He also gained different insights and found different things funny and/or important.