Chapter Books for Reading Out Loud to Young Children

This year will be a banner year for reading in my household. Right after my daughter’s fifth birthday, I made an amazing discovery: Audrey finally has the attention span to listen to me read chapter books out loud!

The first book we tried was The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. She surprised me with her ability to follow this 111-year-old tale of Dorothy and her little dog Toto’s extraordinary adventure. There are some scary parts (the flying monkeys creeped her out), but she stuck with it until the end.

I had fond memories of the Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, so we tried that next. Success!

After that we began working our way through the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Ramona’s antics have provided us both with hours of amusement. So far we’ve finished Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

Another Beverly Cleary classic we read and enjoyed was The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

We’re almost finished with Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This one has required more interruptions than most of the others, while I stop to explain, as  best  as I can, why the Ingalls family must churn their own butter and make their own bullets.

I’m thinking of giving the Roald Dahl books a try this summer. James and the Giant Peach was one of my favorites in elementary school.

Do you read chapter books out loud to your kids? Please give me your recommendations–we need a healthy reading list to get through the summer before kindergarten!


  1. I love this! My mom used to read me chapter books and I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough. She read me many of the Shoes books by Noel Streatfeild (Ballet Shoes was my favorite). I loved Carolyn Haywood’s Betsy series too.

  2. We started with Enid Blyton’s Noddy series at 3 years old and then moved quickly on to others in Enid Blyton’s collection, but only the original versions of course! The Enchanted Wood series and the Adventures of the Wishing Chair are the current favourites. Charlotte’s Web has also been a very popular one here.

  3. We aren’t quite there yet (my daughter is 1), but I can’t wait to read her, “The Secret Garden” – one of my all time favorites!

  4. My mom read the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series to us, and we loved it when we were little. Your entire list of books brings back such fond memories — I enjoyed them all as a child, and they’re wonderful books to listen to! I’m looking forward to this stage in the future for my little ones…

  5. I LOVED my dad reading the whole Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series to me when I was in early elementary school

  6. Thank you for reminding me about these great books! I loved them ALL as a kid, especially the Mouse and the Motorcycle. Can’t wait until my kids are old enough!

  7. My son (just about same age as Audrey) has very much enjoyed “Winnie the Pooh” and “House at Pooh Corner” — we got them on audio CD for the car but also read my own childhood copies together.

  8. I LOVE the idea of an audiobook for kids for the car – that is great! I always got car sick as a kid when trying to read (still do, in fact), so I think this is genius. We will SO be doing that.

  9. My mom read to me until I got married (right out of high school). One of my favorites was the Shallows and Amazons. I LOVED those books and plan to read them once I get done with some other books I’m reading.

  10. WE have loved all the ones you listed. My little Betsy adored Betsy and Tacy too. More modern versions of Ramona are Junie B. Jones and you have GOT to read Clementine. Love, love, love Clementine. I cried in every single book and my kids just didn’t understand why because they were laughing but Clementine is incredibly loveable. At this moment we are reading A Wrinkle in Time to my boy child and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (I’d never heard of her either but she’s fabulous) to my girl child. Both kids are mesmerized by both books. 7 and almost 10 and I still read to them every night. It’s definitely a good tradition. Oh, another good one to try with younger ones are any of the magic treehouse books – especially if you have a kid who loves to know everything about everything as they are chock full of history and science with a lot of imagination thrown in.

  11. Oh, oh, and of course Little HOuse books. I was so nervous about reading these to my kids as I was so emotionally attached to these books, and the first few chapters I had to kind of drag them along but by the end of “Little HOuse in the Big Woods” the kids were completely sold.

  12. My son (6) has enjoyed the Ronald Dahl books. Sometimes I’m get a littly concerned about where the story is going, but it has always turned out well with lots of humor. We especially liked the Giraffe, the Peli and Me. My son likes animals so the Akimbo books have kept his interest. He also has liked My Father’s Dragon series and To Tame a Dragon series. If I’m concerned about name calling or some action in the book, it becomes a chance for us to discuss make-believe vs real actions. Appreciate everyones suggestions. Thanks!

  13. I love all these suggestions! Many of them were favorites of mine growing up. I’m also looking forward to some of the new ones. Reading chapter books out loud is much more entertaining than reading picture books–for me.

    Kristin–I loved the Secret Garden, too! We’re about halfway through the Little Princess by the same author. It’s a bit more difficult (with its Victorian language) than the other books we’ve tried. I’m thinking Audrey will appreciate it more in a year or two.

  14. I agree with the commenter above: anything by Enid Blyton is bound to be a hit. Same with Roald Dahl – my favourites of his were The Witches and George’s Marvellous Medicine. Also, Judy Blume’s Superfudge series was always a winner. I’ve already bought copies of some of these books from our local used book store…to prepare for the delight of reading to our children.
    The Wind in the Willows is another good one.

  15. I remember reading The Secret Garden with my mom. Also: Five Children and It, The Phantom Tollbooth, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (now a movie!), all the Roald Dahl books, Watership Down (still one of my favorite books of all time), The Great Hoboken Chicken Emergency (all Daniel Pinkwater books are great!), Anne of Green Gables.

  16. Thanks for the suggestions! We are at the same stage with my son. We have read a lot of the Magic Tree House books so far. And I do a lot of audio books for longer ones like Harry Potter or The Secret Garden – we listen to those in the car since we have a 20 minute drive into town.

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