Reading chapter books aloud to children is a wonderful way to build vocabulary, develop mental images, and model fluency. Sharing a chapter book with a child for the first time can be a magical experience.
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My son was 4 years-old when he was ready to listen to a chapter book. Each night before bed I read to him from a chapter book and it is one of our favorite times together.
As we select chapter book read-alouds for young children, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
- Pick books that have lots of dialogue.
- Choose books with short chapters.
- Select books that you love. Your enthusiasm is contagious.
Favorite First Chapter Book Read-Alouds
Here are some of the books that we have had the best success with for young listeners.
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden was one of my favorite books as a child. It was the first book I chose to read with my son when he was ready to listen to a chapter books. A cricket makes his way to Times Square after getting trapped in a picnic basket. He meets great friends in New York but yearns to get back to the country.
The Littles by John Peterson is a classic about a family of little people who live in the walls of a house. When a new family moves in for the summer, trouble and danger brews. Luckily, the Littles have a plan! You could even have a Family Dinner Book Club after finishing this book.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Clearly will delight new chapter book listeners as they envision a mouse riding around a hotel on a toy motorcycle. My son begged for me to read multiple chapters each night.
Stuart Little by E.B. White is the book we just finished. Stuart is a mouse who loves adventure and has plenty of it being so small in a big world. I did find that the two chapters about boat racing were full of lots of technical vocabulary. It might be helpful to read or reference a picture book about boats during those chapters.
The Magic Tree House: A Perfect Time for Pandas by Mary Pope Osborne are ideal for adventurous children. A Perfect Time for Pandas was the first one that we read in the very long series. It was also our favorite. Jack and Annie climb into their tree house and are transported to another time and place. In this case, they are whisked off to China and get to work with pandas at a rescue center. Along the way they deal with an earthquake too.
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne makes a good first chapter book because the chapters are episodic. You don’t have to read the chapters in sequence for the book to make sense. You can easily skip chapters that aren’t working for your family.Plus, creating voices for the characters in the story adds to the fun of reading this book aloud.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo is great for new chapter book listeners because it is full of picture support. Mercy Watson is a pig who lives indoors with a family and even gets to sleep in a bed. Her favorite food is buttered toast and she loves adventure. If you enjoy this book, you will be happy to know that there are more titles in the series.
I have a long list of books from my childhood that I can’t wait to share with boys. What chapter book do you remember from your childhood? It might be the perfect book to share with your children now.
Jodie Rodriguez has served as a teacher, reading specialist and administrator in urban elementary schools for almost two decades. She is the creator of Growing Book by Book where she shares book lists, reading and writing activities, and literacy building tips to help caregivers nurture young readers. You will find a stack of picture books in every room of her house that she loves to share with her two little boys.
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