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Q&A: Any tips for reading aloud to my children or recommended chapter books?

Want to read aloud to your children more often? These 5 tips are SO helpful -- especially if you have children of various ages!

This summer I really want to start reading chapter books out loud to my children. I have 4 children: ages 7, 5, almost 3, and 10 months. We read books a lot, but I’ve never read chapter books to all of them at one time.

My goal is to read for 20 minutes each morning. I was wondering if you had any tips and what your top recommendations are for chapter books. I’m finding it difficult to find ones I think all of my children would find engaging!  -Jayne

1. Read At the Level Of Your Oldest Child

Children can understand a lot more than we give them credit for. While I’m a big fan of reading fun picture books, I think it’s also good to read books that are a little bit above a child’s level to help them think, learn to analyze, and expand their vocabulary.

When I’m reading to my children, I always read books that are geared for Kathrynne’s level. And you know what I’ve found? Kaitlynn and Silas understand much of what I read and get into the story, too.

2. Gradually Increase Your Reading Time

If you’ve never done much read-aloud time before, I’d recommend starting with just five or ten minutes and working up from there. For those who have young children, starting them on chapter books by reading while they are eating breakfast or lunch is a great way to introduce them to good read-alouds while their hands are already occupied and their bodies are still.

With some practice, you’ll probably find that your children are engaged for longer stretches and they may even be begging for more after you’ve already read two or three chapters.

3. Don’t Expect Your Children to All Sit Quietly

While I know some people expect that read-aloud time means everyone sits with their hands in their lap while mom reads, that’s not at all what happens at our house. In fact, I’ve found that often my children listen better when their hands are busy.

So I encourage my children to play with Legos, or draw, or color, or do some other quiet activity while I’m reading. They seem to enjoy it a lot more — and the time flies!

4. Make Sure Your Oldest Children Are Engaged

Foster a love of good books in your children by making sure that they are staying engaged when you are reading. Not all school subjects are always going to be fascinating and captivating, but I try to pick chapter books that Kathrynne and Kaitlynn are going to really get into.

If things seem a little dry in portions of a book, I’ll sometimes use funny accents or totally dramatize things just to make it fun and exciting. If the girls are intently listening and then beg for more when it’s time to stop, I know that I’m accomplishing my goal of making read-aloud time something they love.

5. Don’t Forget the Picture Books!

If your read-aloud time is geared toward your older children, make sure that you also include a regular diet of picture books for the younger ones, too. We often start out our read aloud time with one or two picture books that everyone crowds around to listen to and then we pick up our chapter book once I’ve finished reading the picture books.

In this way, we’re making sure that read aloud time offers a little bit of something for everyone — and it helps provide some variety, too.

Some Of Our Favorite Chapter Book Series

Imagination Station Books

Childhood of Famous Americans Biographies

Youth With a Mission Biographies

Little House on the Prairie Series

For other good chapter book recommendations, check out Honey for a Child’s Heart, Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Read For the Heart, and Educating the Whole-Hearted Child.

What about the rest of you? What advice and book suggestions do you have for Jayne?

photo credit

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138 Comments

  • Sarah S. says:

    My kids (4, 6, & 8) love The Boxcar Children and The Chronicles of Narnia.

  • Stephanie says:

    There is a fantastic series my family read together when I was younger called the Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. Geared a little more toward boys, but I enjoyed it as much as my brother did.

  • Jl Johnson says:

    I’m a teacher and that sounds like a pretty broad range. The 3 year old may have a difficult time sitting for a chapter book since it’s not really developmentally appropriate for them to be able to do so. Perhaps some picture books that are a little bit longer in text to also engage the older kiddos. Bill Peet has some great ones – you could also do the more unknown Dr. Seuss books. The play on words would be interesting for the younger child and the plot would be interesting for the older ones.

    When they get a bit older, the Clementine books by Pennypacker are great. Think of Junie B. Jones but much better language. Also the BFG and other Roald Dahl books are hits with the 1st grade – 3rd grade range.

    • Kim says:

      My children are 9,7,7,4; we are currently reading The BFG, we’ve read the Little House series, Sarah Plain and Tall, and quite a few others.
      I read to them for 20-30 minutes every night before bed. My 4 yr old rocks with me while I read and loves listening just as much as the older ones do.
      I agree toddlers don’t have the attention span to sit still for that long. But when they’ve grown up with it they enjoy the routine and are usually happy to cuddle mom while she reads!

  • Donna says:

    Here’s a list from Charlotte Mason’s early read alouds:
    http://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/eyguide/eyreadalouds/

    I don’t know whether you have boys are girls, but some old (available free online on Gutenberg and other places) and very good books for boys are: Tom Swift series, The Rover Boys, 5 Little Peppers, Aesop’s Fables, The Tuck Me In Tales by Arthur Scott Bailey, books by Horatio Alger…

    Happy reading!

    • Alicia Hart says:

      Donna-
      I was just curious to know if you used the online curriculum plan for Simply Charlotte Mason. We used it last year and really enjoyed it.

      Alicia

      • Donna says:

        Alicia,
        Our primary ‘curriculum’ for years has been the Robinson Curriculum. However, once we get through those, I look to CM and a few other sources for ‘good books’ that I can get from the library. (The RC books are all printable…and now that I’ve printed them once- all the children can use them. 🙂

        But my children have very much enjoyed most of the books on CM’s suggested lists. They are VERY good. I love that I can go to their site and type in a subject and pull up books in the grade levels that I need!
        It helps me to ‘fill in the gaps’ -without feeling like I have to read everything first. 😉

  • Particularly, if your eldest is a girl, a good way to start is with the lovely Milly Molly Mandy series. This is ideal as whilst it is a chapter book, each chapter is complete in itself. Milly Molly Mandy is set in England in the 1920s in a family who live in a “little white cottage with a thatched roof.”

  • Sara says:

    My kids are 2,3, and 8. A great time to start reading chapter books is nap time. My little ones know to stay on their bed quietly looking at books while I read to my older daughter. They have picture books to look at but I am always amazed at how much they retain from the books, my three year old son often asks questions about what we’re reading. Don’t assume that because they are young they are unable to follow the story line. Allow the little ones to keep their hands busy (legos, play dough) and you will find that they listen.

    • karen r says:

      My kids are 19, 16, 8, and 6 and we have always read aloud as a family, and always at a range of reading levels including novels for adults. The little ones don’t always act like they’re focusing (or even aware that I’m reading) but then they’ll mention something in the story at a later time and I’ll realize they had followed along. The key really is to allow them to play. Or draw quietly during story time.

      We’re reading The Princess Bride right now and they all love it.

  • Angela says:

    I’ve seen a few of these mentioned:

    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
    The 39 Clues Series
    The Ramona Series
    The Anne of Green Gables Series
    The Harry Potter Series

  • MK Jorgenson says:

    My daughter’s not quite two, but I’ve always read chapter books aloud to her at lunch. Sure, she doesn’t understand, but she’s learning to enjoy read-aloud time. And once we started reading Little House in the Big Woods, she latched onto the book cover, pointing out all the characters every day and repeating words or names she knew as I read.

    Recently, we’ve added audiobook time in the afternoon: I put in an audiobook CD (currently Strawberry Hill), set my daughter up with coloring or something quiet, and we listen for about 15 minutes. It’s good daily practice for quiet church sitting with a fun story.

    Of course, the hard part about introducing all these stories so young is that I’ll have to read them again when she’s older. Oh the sacrifices we make for our children 😉

  • Amy says:

    Beverly Cleary’s books are great read-alouds. I would suggest Ramona, Henry Huggins, and the Mouse & the Motorcycle series. Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little are also fun read-alouds. Your family can celebrate the completetion of a book by watching the movie together. Make comparisons between the book and the movie. My children often preferred the book’s storyline over the movie.

    The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease would be a great a great resource for any parent interested in reading aloud to their children. The first half of the book explains all the whys and hows. The last half lists Jim’s book suggestions by age and topic. Read reviews on Amazon and then check your local library for a copy.

    • Rachel says:

      I was just skimming comments before I was going to recommend The Read-Aloud Handbook as well:) There are at least 6 editions, so my guess is that if you don’t mind missing more recent book recommendations, a good deal could be had on ebay.

  • jamie says:

    One of my favorite books growing up was Island of the Blue Dolphins. James Herriot has some wonderful animal stories for children as well.

  • Erin says:

    My kids and I have just stumbled across two great series by Arleta Richardson — the Grandma’s Attic series and Orphan Train series. Very engaging, good writing and a solid Christian message. I don’t want to stop reading any more than my kids do!

    • Diana says:

      I was going to mention Grandma’s Attic, too–those were some of my favorites when I was a kid. Also, there’s a series about a lady named Mrs. Piggle Wiggle that I loved. Like Grandma’s Attic, each chapter is one story, but they’re such fun to read–Mrs. Piggle Wiggle “helps” kids who are struggling with an area (not listening, not wanting to take a bath, etc.) by suggesting something hilarious that ends up helping the kid see the importance of that action.

  • Danielle Hull says:

    We’ve used coloring sheets that go with the story to help keep the little ones busy. There are a lot of freebies online, and Dover has many reproducible books. Just keep the books put up, or the kids will color in them!

  • Melissa says:

    Magic Tree House hands down!

    • Joyce says:

      I totally agree, and was going to post this until I saw you did it first! My son (7) LOVES the Magic Treehouse books, and he even got his own library card this year so we can go to the library and check them out together. They really stimulate his imagination and curiosity!

    • Rebecca says:

      I was going to say Magic Tree House too. My daughter just turned 5 and we have been reading the series since April of this year. We are now on Book #35. They are such good books, and we have both enjoyed them. We often read one every night.

    • SusanR says:

      I have 6 year old twin girls, and one of them loves Magic Tree House. She’s reached the point of being able to read them on her own, which is good, because my other daughter doesn’t like them at all. Since she’s the weaker reader, I have started reading something she’s more interested in at night before bed – Ivy and Bean. I know, not the greatest, but she likes them and she looks forward to it, so that’s what is important. 🙂

    • amy in arizona says:

      I definitely agree about Magic Tree House books.

    • Melissa Evans says:

      YES! Magic tree house is awesome! They are imaginative, informative, and just plain fun! They have research guides to go with the series that help the kids to learn the facts behind the fiction and there are even lesson plan ideas online for free! We also enjoy the Wrinkle in time series, Chronicles of Narnia, Beverly Cleary books, Left Behind Kids, and Roald Dahl.

    • Tricia says:

      Agree! My 3 & 5 yr-old got hooked on these when I picked up the first 4 as audio books with a road trip last year. The (then barely) 3-yr-old feel alseep during some, but they listened to all 4 books twice through. Since then we’ve borrowed most of the first 40 from the library. We use them to discuss fact vs fiction and what parts are based on things that really happened. We usually borrow audio for chapter books. (I have a tendency to get super drowsy when reading aloud.)

  • Cassandra says:

    An oldie, but a goodie, Box Car Children! They used to be some of my favorite books! Also, the Berenstain Bears chapter books are great.

  • Diane says:

    We read a lot of the ones already mentioned, but one of their absolute favorites were “The Incredible World of Wally McDoogle” series by Bill Myers. These are funny and have good morals in them. And most definitely do different voices!

  • Tamara V says:

    My son and I enjoyed reading the whole series of Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, including the Mouse and the Motorcyle and Henry and Ribsy books. He also enjoys Flat Stanley.

  • karen r says:

    Books we’ve enjoyed as a family:

    Chronicles of Narnia
    The Princess Bride
    Harry Potter series
    Winnie the Pooh
    Trumpet of the Swan
    The Hobbit
    Just So Stories

    • Joe Morgan says:

      My girls (6 and 8) are currently enjoying The Hobbit. I’d love to get a copy of Princess Bride too

      They’ve also loved the Magic Tree House books and American Girl stories.

      • Carrie Beth says:

        Although I LOVE The Princess Bride, I would not read it to a younger audience, or if you do, be ready to do selective editing as you read aloud- the book is actually much racier than the movie :)!

  • Kristin says:

    The Magic Tree House is a great series. It’s enough to keep older kids engaged, but not too much that little ones can’t catch on. They are the most popular books in our library at school! My 6 year old son loves them!

  • There is a great on-line search tool for books, especially for your daughters at WhatShouldSheRead.com. It’s a family guide to great books for girls. The site includes classic favorites like a lot of the book mentioned here and a few books written in the last few years. You can search by age and reading level.

  • Brenda says:

    A favorite with our boys was the “Mice of the Herring Bone” by Tim Davis (www.bjup.com). My husband read this to both of our boys when they were just starting to read & they would just sit there & giggle & laugh, loving every minutes of it. It’s well written from a Christian perspective (published by Bob Jones Press–along with LOTS of other WONDERFULLY written books for all ages from PreK-Adult). There are 5 books in this series & a they are good ones to *hook* them on reading. Others my oldest son has enjoyed reading include The Boxcar Children books, Jigsaw Jones books, & Encyclopedia Brown books. He also really enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia audio book series that Crystal recommended last summer from ancientaudio.com. He said that listening to that series was his favorite part of the school year this last year.

  • T. Graham says:

    10 Tips for Reading Aloud to Children (by Jim Trelease, author of the Read Aloud Handbook):
    1. Remember, the art of listening is acquired
    2. Set aside at least one traditional time each day for a story
    3. Read slowly enough for the child to build mental pictures
    4. Use plenty of expression, change your tone of voice and adjust the pace to fit the story
    5. Encourage involvement (invite the child to turn pages for you)
    6. Ask questions like “What do you think is going to happen next?”
    7. During repeat readings of a predictable book, stop at key phrases and allow the child to provide the words
    8. If you can’t finish a chapter, find a suspenseful spot at which to stop
    9. Vary the length and topic of your readings (both fiction and non-fiction)
    10. Reading aloud comes naturally to very few people. To do it with ease takes practice.
    And, of course, I am going to recommend any title from Usborne Books, especially the (Very) First Reading program.
    http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/

  • Cara says:

    I would recommend the Bindi Wildlife Adventures Series. My son and daughter, who just turned 5 and 7, really enjoy these! Currently reading the Trumpet of the Swan which has been excellent so far.

  • BethB says:

    Somewhat related, I got Roxaboxen from the library after your recommendation. My almost 6 y/o son is obsessed with it! The first thing he said when he got up this morning was “Can we build Roxaboxen now?” I felt bad telling him he had to go to school. He spent the time before breakfast drawing up plans. I’ve scouted our basement for boxes and other materials to pull out when he gets home. It’s really triggered something in his imagination. Thanks!

  • Anna says:

    My daughters are a in the same age range, and they have loved chapter books. Paddle-to-the-Sea is a chapter/picture book that we are reading right now, and my oldest is enthralled (to my surprise actually). All of mine loved The Trumpet of the Swan (by E.B. White), and it has some science thrown into the very engaging story. We read Little House in The Big Woods (and the next 3 Little House). One thing I’ll do is read a page or two of a new book aloud, and test my kids interest. If they aren’t engaged, then I look for a different book. I want reading to be really fun and interesting, and with so many good books to choose from, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be.

    • katie says:

      It is so great that you are enjoying reading with your two girls! I agree that reading can and should be enjoyable and applaud you for taking the time to give that gift to your children. Can I encourage you to read a chapter or more, perhaps while the girls are engaged in something else fun like a craft or drawing, before deciding whether or not to go on? I only suggest this because my own experience, particularly as a young girl was that the books I hated most and labored through in the beginning always seem to be the ones that engaged me most and became my favorites by the end. You are so right that there are so very many good books out there to choose from – enjoy!!

  • Alicia Hart says:

    Great article!

    We love excellent literature in our home! We believe that reading aloud to our children for a minimum of 1-2 hours per day (not all at one time of course) is one of the best things that you can do as a parent. Research has shown that it increases vocabulary and actually helps them to learn to read or to become better readers.

    We get many good book reccommendations from the book, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Ambleside Onlline, and as mentioned before, the Simply Charlotte Mason website.

    Some of our favorites have been:

    Pollyanna
    Anne of Green Gables (the first one)
    Swiss Family Robinson
    Alice in Wonderland
    Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Peter Pan
    Robinhood

    Some of these books were a little over the heads of some of my kids but they were able to catch the jist of the story and still enjoyed them very much.

  • Mrs. R. says:

    Thanks so much, everyone, including Crystal!

    We’re saving this post and Comments for our precious wee ones’ benefit (and ours)!

  • Alicia Hart says:

    Oh and I almost forgot –

    Charlotte’s Web was sooooo good. A beautiful story of self-sacrifice and true friendship.
    Heidi is a wonderful story too. We always read the unabridged versions. They are truly the best.

  • Toni says:

    Begin with 10 minutes and increase a few minutes at a time. At your children’s ages, ours enjoyed:
    -The Tales of Winnie the Pooh
    -The Boxcar Children
    -Tom Sawyer
    -Patricia St. John books (can’t say enough good things)

  • Christine says:

    If you’re a Christian I recommend The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Children’s Stories. It’s easy to read with brightly illustrations. My 7yo reads 1 or 2 chapters nightly, anywhere from 15-20minutes total. I’m guessing by August we’ll have completed it. After that thinking of kid’s daily devotional or series about specific events/people in the Bible.
    Check out http://www.christianbook.com children’s section. They have incredible sales and great selection of kids ebooks valued $0- $1.

  • Carrie Beth says:

    Check out Sonlight homeschool curriculum’s website. Their read aloud lists are absolutely excellent. They challenge the children, excite them, and motivate them to learn. Some of the books are not available through a library, and would have to be ordered through Sonlight (books about missionaries, etc.), but I have read these lists to my children each year, and my oldest is a rising fifth grader, and we have always had a very good experience with them. I am loving re-reading the lists to my younger son now- all of us love these books!

  • Kate E. says:

    This might have already been mentioned, but I don’t have time to read through all of the previous comments so I don’t know. (Although I’m bookmarking this for future reference!) When I was little, my mom and grandma would read to my sister and I from Ralph Moody’s books. “Little Britches” is the best known of his books, but there is a whole series of them. I re-read all of them a few years ago, and I enjoyed them just as much as an adult as I did as a child.

  • Nicole Taylor says:

    I haven’t read all the posts, so I apologize if this is redundant. I love to create an activity after a read aloud that corresponds to what we have read. For example, in Little House in the Big Woods, Ma (if I remember correctly) churns butter. After we read that chapter, we make butter using heavy cream in a glass jar. Just shake like crazy and let the kids help. You will see it become whipped cream and then butter. Then sample the butter on crackers or fresh bread. I try to find something to connect to as often as possible. I am a teacher and used to have summer reading groups so we would do these activities to make the reading more enjoyable and not feel like doing “work” during summer vacation.

  • jerilyn says:

    The Chronicles of Narnia for sure! My almost 5-year-old loves them! My almost 3-year-old is just learning to sit and be quiet- he probably isn’t following the story but that’s okay.
    My 3/4th grade teacher would always read to us after recess. I remember the Redwall series the most- your kids might like those by Brian Jaques. She would give us some play wax that could help engage our hands while we focused on the story.

  • Katie says:

    Great post, Crystal!

    I had to laugh though when you wrote: “…Reading while they are eating breakfast or lunch is a great way to introduce them to good read-alouds while their hands are already occupied and their bodies are still.” Maybe, you can do a post just for me on how to make that happen! Right now my 3 yo boy thinks that eating is a full-body sport 🙁

    Anyway, I saw that you recommended “Hand that Rocks the Cradle” by Nathaniel Bluedorn. This is SUCH A GREAT RESOURCE!! I wanted to mention too that his sister, Ava Bluedorn, wrote a pamphlet in a similar vein called “Lives in Print” which contains only biographies and auto-biographies. Find it on Amazon or search for the title to find it on their family-website (Trivium Pursuit). I just finished “Allen Pinkerton: Master Detective” by Arthur Orrmont which was recommended in “Lives in Print. What a great grade-school reading level book about the founder of the American Secret Service!! http://www.amazon.com/Lives-Print-Good-Biographies-Autobiographies/dp/0974361674/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339009205&sr=1-2

    I highly recommend reading plenty of biographies as I think they help kids to transition from novels and easy-readers to higher-level literature later on in their teens. For Christian biographies I recommend Faith Cook. Many of her books contain several shorter biographies which would be appropriate for read aloud time, though her longer bios are excellent as well. One of my favorites is “In Trouble and in Joy” about 4 Christian women from the 1600s – 1800s and how they served Christ cheerfully in varying circumstances. Soooo encouraging! And because each short biography is broken into parts (Historical Setting, Letters & Diary entries, Early Life, etc.), you can easily choose to read a bit at a time.

    Enjoy your journey into reading aloud, Jayne!

  • Katie says:

    All the Beatrix Potter’s are great “bridge books” when your oldest is unable to sit through a chapter book yet but isn’t interested in “baby books” anymore. The ones with the original illustrations are exciting, have great vocabulary, are funny, and only have one (fantastic) watercolor illustration for each open page. Some have more text per page than others. There are so many fantastic ones, but I highly recommend “The Roly Poly Pudding” if you can get your hands on it. My son thinks it’s hilarious.

    • Ami says:

      I was going to recommend these for the same thing. Beautiful vocabulary and artwork…so fun to read in an English accent!

    • Alicia Hart says:

      My kids love Roly Poly Pudding as well!

      We have read nearly all the Beatrix Potter books. They are high quality literature for kids. FYI, if you read Squirrel Nutkin carefully you will see that there are several riddles in the story with the answer sort of hidden in the following lines of the story.

      • katie says:

        Amy – Yes!! KIds love when you read in an accent and I think it also helps me to “lose face” and loosen up as an adult!

        Alicia – My son likes roll up in blanket, meow at me and tell me he’s pudding 🙂 And I love Squirrel Nutkin! Those riddles are so fun – only I really don’t get the one about the Nettle!! Was “Hitty Pitty” and old phrase for a nettle? It’s so lost on me, even with the explanation in the riddle!

  • jenn says:

    My fathers dragon
    The iron giant
    The just so stories
    When my name was keoko

  • Janet says:

    The Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series. I was read these as a child and always looked forward to it and so did my father – they are great for children and entertaining for parents. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle has cures for all sorts of childhood bad habits (each chapter being a story about a different child and their bad habit, so chapters are great stopping points). Mrs Piggle Wiggles Magic is my favorite book and included some of the funnest “cures” like the Thought-You-Saiders Cure and the Bad-Table-Manners Cure. You and your children, boys or girls, will enjoy these stories!

  • Ami says:

    The Boxcar Children, at least all the ones published before 2000. These are awesome because it’s about 4 children who always get along and find ways to work together and help people. The first few were written in the ’40’s, I think. Older ones have the grandfather saying things like, “A boy should only have to be told something once,” but the newer ones have the grandfather repeatedly giving instructions…sounds like a reflection of the flaws in our modern parenting trends! I like the older ones because the kids are given so much responsibility.

    Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is hilarious!

    And A.A. Milne – SO MUCH better than the new Pooh stuff – I can’t even tolerate that stuff. The old Pooh charactars are surprisingly naughty. (Once they take Tigger for a walk and try to intentionally lose him because he’s obnoxious. They get lost instead and he finds them!)

    I started reading chapter books when my oldest was 3. Our first was Charlotte’s Web. (All of E.B. White are great, too!) I realized my boy was “getting it” when I read the passage about the barn swing and I could see how his face was lit up with imagination.

    I’ve been surprised that my 3 kids (oldest is 8) do NOT like to keep their hands busy while we read. Their bodies typically freeze while I read; I don’t know why.

    • katie says:

      I loved the early Boxcar children – all in the same vein as Robinson Crusoe, Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain – taking responsibility and creating your own corner of the world with your bare hands – with the added delight of good company.

      A.A. Milne’s poetry is also delightful and good for beginning read-aloud time when your kids are just barely moving beyond baby-type picture books. Short quirky poems with an illustration each – Now We Are Six and When We Were Very Young. My favorite poem (growing up) was “Forgiven”, and my son’s is “The Train”. I read my son the same copy of “Now We Are Six” that my mom inscribed for me on my own sixth birthday 🙂

      Another poetry collection that fits this bill is “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson. There’s a lovely one illustrated by Tasha Tudor as well as an abridged edition edited by Cooper Edens in Board Book format.

  • Clara Auty says:

    Don’t forget that your local children’s librarian can often help you out in a bind.

    3 year olds vary so much in what they are able to tolerate. Give it time and come back to some of the books later if there isn’t interest right away.

    For early chapter books, we liked anything by Cynthia Rylant: Mr. Putter and Tabby, Poppleton, and Henry and Mudge. You might have to read the whole book to fill 20 minutes, though.

  • Wendy B says:

    I so recommend Magic Tree House Books / Mary Pope Osbourne

  • Shelby says:

    My daughter is 5, and we just read our first chapter book aloud together over Christmas break. We started with “My Father’s Dragon” and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a book to start with. It was so fun and imaginative and caught us both up into another world. There are 2 more books in the series that we ended up reading the same week. We loved them.

  • Linda Maddox says:

    Cutting Tiny Bites has some great chapter book lists.

  • Jen says:

    Thanks so much for this post!! One of my goals for this year is to read 3 books aloud to my kids. I’ve been feeling frustrated because my 3 year old boy is not all that interested in sitting quietly and listening…but your ideas are very helpful. Thank you for the great suggestions. 🙂

  • Kelsey says:

    My oldest daughter is 9 yrs old and I am looking to get some self development or self confidence books. Does anyone have any good suggestions?
    Thanks!

  • Jessica says:

    Love tips from Money Saving Mom. Also, check out the read aloud revival podcast. Its all about this topic! http://amongstlovelythings.com/read-aloud-revival-the…/ That said, you’d be suprised what your kids will love! We started out with Charlotte’s web, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins and other books that we could then watch the movies after we finished. We also keep an audiobook in the car, even just for short errands. any time we are in there, its on! We just finished The Castle in the Attic that way! It and its sequel, the battle for the castle, were GREAT!

  • Tricia says:

    Some parents would love to read together but feel they can’t for various reasons. Maybe the family is too busy, English is not the parent’s primary language, or there are health or speech impediments that make it hard to read aloud for long.

    While we do a lot of traditional reading aloud, we also love audio books. Libraries usually have a decent selection, especially in Overdrive collections (digital checkout). When I’m willing to spend some money I go for whispersync books through Amazon Kindle. I use the free apps (no Kindle device necessary) and add on the audio to the Kindle version. It’s usually cheaper than just the audio, and you can switch between reading and listening or do both at the same time.

    Favorites: Ella Enchanted. Get the audio. The book is OK, but my brothers (yes, this has a girl for the main character yet all 3 of my brothers like it) fell in love with the story because of the audio version. The actress who reads it really brings it to life in a way simply reading it can’t. (And don’t discount it because the movie was lame. They are vastly different.)

    Tuesdays at the Castle

    Mr Poppers Penguins

    The Witch of Blackbird Pond (for older kids- set around the time of the Salem witch trials and is about misunderstandings, not witchcraft)

    Mercy Watson- early chapter books with lots of fun illustrations

    Many of the titles listed by others are also favorites. My kids (3 & 5) fell in love with Magic Tree House (or as they call them, The Jack and Annie books) after listening to the 1st 8 on a car trip… several times over. We’ve found more from the library and the older one always asks to do the passport questions on their website. These have also helped with conversations about fact vs fiction vs legend as we talk through what parts were based on history, what is made up, and what is based on an unverified kernel of possibility.

  • Will says:

    I’m more of the fantasy guy, so we are reading the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson right now, and my love it. We’ve also read the entire series of The Chronicles of Narnia.

    My wife has read Little House on Prairie and Anne of Green Gables to them.

  • Sarah Wh says:

    Your public library is a great place to get reading recommendations! Speak with the Youth Services librarians. They can tailor reading suggestions for your kids ages and likes/dislikes.

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