Best Chapter Books to Read Aloud

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As your child gets older, their attention span increases, and suddenly you can easily read 2, 3 or more books during a bedtime reading session. If you find yourself in this situation, it may be time to consider chapter books. But which are the best chapter books to read aloud to your child?

Girl Reading Chapter Book

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I have been reading at bedtime with my son since he was only a few months old, and we still do this today.

But our reading material has significantly progressed. It has been with some nostalgia (on my part, not his) that we have left behind the board books and picture books and moved to mainly reading chapter books aloud each evening. 

I admit I am quite excited when now and then he is still happy to read a Mr Men, Dr Seuss or a Classic Fairytale but those days are getting less and less. 

So how do you know when is the right time to start reading early chapter books and which are the best chapter books to read aloud with your child?

Let’s start at the beginning.

What are Chapter Books?

A chapter book is a storybook for young children that serves as a transition from picture books to books with more text. Chapter books for young children (early readers and beginners) will still include illustrations; however, these illustrations play a less critical role in the story than they would in picture books.

How do I Know if my Child is Ready for Chapter Books?

As with most aspects of our children's lives, this does depend on the individual child. Some children may start to show an interest in Chapter Books at around 5 years old or younger whilst other children may not show any interest in chapter books until they are 7 years old or older.  

If your child can quite easily sit whilst you read 2 picture books together and even asks for more, they may be ready to transition to chapter books to read aloud. You could start with some early reader chapter books and see how your child reacts. If they are not showing any interest, then go back to picture books and try again later. 

Reading should be fun for your child, so don’t push it if they are not quite ready yet. Beginner chapter books are longer picture books broken into just a few short chapters or books that have several short stories (where each story is a chapter). As a guide, they are typically suitable for 4-8 years old.


How to Pick the Best Chapter Books to Read Aloud?

So how do you go about picking the best chapter books to read aloud? Below are some tips on what to look for and consider when choosing chapter books.

  1. 1
    What is the age of the main character? If the main character is about the same age as your child, then they will likely enjoy the book.
  2. 2
    Amount and type of illustrations. Books with more illustrations are aimed at younger children. Starting with books with more pictures can be a good choice, especially if your child does not particularly like reading. If the illustrations are coloured, this is also an indication that the book is aimed at younger children.
  3. 3
    Size of the text. Those books with larger fonts are aimed at younger children.
  4. 4
    The number of pages. Books with less than 100 pages are an indication that the book is an early chapter book. I know the first chapter books my son was interested in had around 60 pages and lots of colour illustrations.

Tips for Reading Chapter Books Aloud with Your Child

There are few things nicer than snuggling up with your child and reading a book together. Reading chapter books is different from reading picture books. A picture book you will typically finish reading with your child in one reading sitting, but with a chapter book, you may end up reading the book over a few evenings or days.

So here are some suggestions for reading chapter books aloud with your child.

  1. 1
    Talk a bit about the book before you start. As there are fewer illustrations in chapter books, it can be more difficult for your child to keep track of the characters and what is happening in the book. By discussing the book – an overview of the story, the characters, etc., your child will find it easier to understand what is happening in the story as you read.
  2. 2
    Ask questions and recap the story as you go along. As you read, ask your child questions about what is happening in the story. You can also summarise what happened in each chapter before you go onto the next one.
  3. 3
    Be prepared to stop mid-chapter. Some books have long chapters, so if your child is starting to lack interest midway through a chapter that is fine, just stop and pick the book up again the next day.
  4. 4
    Review each day before you start. When you pick up the book the next day, do a brief recap of what has happened in the story so far. The summary will ensure that your child can keep track of the story as it progresses.
  5. 5
    If your child is not enjoying the book, choose another one. Some books may not resonate with your child, if that is the case, and you can see your child is not enjoying the story put the book down and pick another one.

Which are the Best Chapter Books to Read Aloud?

Now that you know:

  • how to identify if your child is ready for chapter books,
  • how to pick the right book and
  • and are armed with some tips for reading chapter books aloud with your child.

Let’s look at some of the best chapter books to read aloud.

To simplify this, we have broken our recommendations down into 2 categories:

  • Beginner Readers (4-8 years old)
  • Chapter Books (6-10 years old)

Categorising books can be a bit challenging however for simplicity in the Beginner Readers list we have included books that are essentially longer picture books written over a few short chapters. You could either read these chapter books aloud with your child or once your child has learnt how to read independently, these make great first reader books. These are great chapter books to start with. 

Once your child can easily sit through reading these beginner chapter books, you could progress to age-appropriate chapter books which are less like picture books and more like chapter books (less illustration and more text).

If you are thinking about teaching your child to read, you can read our review of a great reading program – Children Learning Reading.

15 Best Beginner Readers to Read Aloud (4-8 years old)

15 Best Chapter Books 4-8 Year olds

1. Frog and Toad: A Complete Reading Collection by Arnold Lobel

About the Book: Frog and Toad are best friends who are always there for each other. Whether they are writing letters, going swimming or just telling stories, these friends are always together. 

Age: 4-8 years old

2. Mobi Shinobi and Toby Too! By Luke Flowers

About the Book: This short story format has easy to read rhyming text and full colour illustrations. These books about Moby Shinobi and his dog Toby are full of humour, that will delight little Ninja’s everywhere. 

Age: 5-7 years old

3. Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes

About the Book: Penny is a sweet, curious little mouse. This book tells the story of when Penny finds a marble in Mrs Goodwin's yard. Penny takes the marble but is it hers?

Age: 4-8 years old

4. Hello Hedgehog – Do You Like My Bike? by Norm Feuti

About the Book: Hedgehog has a new bike which he loves, but when he asks his best friend Harry to go bike riding with him, Harry does not want to. Why – does Harry not like the bike or could it be something to do with the training wheels? These books are in a comic type format and have large text which is great for early readers.

Age: 4-6 years old

5. Bumble and Bee by Ross Burach

About the Book: Bumble and Bee are full of energy and love to make mischief. Their cranky best friend Froggy, however, prefers the peace and quiet of sitting on a lily pad.

Age: 4-6 years old

6. Diary of a Pug by Kyla May

About the Book: Baron von Bubbles, a.k.a "Bub," is the cutest pug on the planet according to him. He loves fashion, peanut butter, and his human, Bella. He does NOT love: Nutz the squirrel, baths, and the rain.

Age: 5-7 years old

7. Press Start by Thomas Flintham

About the Book: Super Rabbit Boy is speedy and brave. He also happens to live in a video game world as a video game character. Will the game be over when Sunny, the boy playing the video game loses?

Age: 5-7 years old

8. Unicorn and Yeti by Heather Ayris Burnell

About the Book: Unicorn and Yeti are an unlikely pair of friends. Unicorn has a horn, can perform magic and loves snowball fights. Yeti is big and furry, cannot perform magic and does not like snowball fights.

Age: 5-7 years old

9. Princess Cora and Crocodile by Laura Amy Schultz

About the Book: An unexpected story about Princess Cora, who is sick of being a princess. She wants a dog, but her parents won't let her have one. Cora's Fairy Godmother responds to Cora's letter asking for help but not in the form Cora was expecting.

Age: 4-8 years old

10. Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliott

About the Book: This adorable early chapter book series is about an owl Eva Wingdale who has big ideas. These books are perfect for young girls who love friendship stories starring animal characters. These books can be purchased separately or in a variety of box sets.

Age: 5-7 years old

11. Paddington by Michael Bond

About the Book: What can you say about this classic? Paddington Bear has charmed readers around the world for over 50 years with his adventures and mishaps. With many books in the series, there are plenty of experiences that will delight and enchant your child.

Age: 4-8 years old

12. Unicorn Diaries by Rebecca Elliott

About the Book: These books follow Rainbow (known as Bo) Tinseltail and the other unicorns of Sparklegrove Forest. Each unicorn has a magical power, with Bo’s power being the power to grant wishes.

Age: 5-7 years old

13. Henry's Awful Mistake (Henry Duck) by Robert Quackenbush

About the Book: Your child will love this book about disaster-prone Henry the Duck. In this book, Henry makes a massive mess in his kitchen all because of an ant.

Age: 4-8 years old

14. Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle

About the Book: This is a classic that your child will love. Raggedy Ann first appeared in print in 1918 and since then has charmed and delighted millions of readers. Raggedy Ann comes to Marcella's nursery and quickly becomes the leader of the dolls. 

There are many delightful stories in this book like the time Raggedy Ann has her stuffing replaced and gets her famous "I LOVE YOU" candy heart or when she shares the excitement of a baby brother for Marcella.

Age: 5-8 years old

15. Henry and Mudge Collector's Set by Cynthia Rylant 

About the Book: This box set contains the 1st six books from the Henry and Mudge series. These books are about Henry, a little boy who is lonely living on a street without any other children until he finds companionship and loved in the form of his lovable 180-pound dog, Mudge.

Age: 5-7 years old


15 Best Chapter Books to Read Aloud (6-10 years old)

15 Best Chapter Books 6-10 Year olds

1. Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo

About the Book: This is one of the best-known chapter books. To Mr and Mrs Watson, Mercy is not just a pig – she's a porcine wonder. These books are about Mercy, the pig who is adopted by an elderly couple Mr and Mrs Watson, who have no children of their own. These books are hilarious and will keep your little one entertained.  

Age: 6-8 years old

2. Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book 10-Book Box Set by Herman Parish.

About the Book: This box set contains the 1st 10 books in the series. These chapter books star Amelia Bedelia, a literal-minded young girl. The stories feature family fun and friendship and include fun extras such as "Two ways to say it" (a guide to idioms in the book) and more.

Age: 6-10 years old

3. How Not to Start Third Grade by Cathy Hapka and Ellen Titlebaum

About the Book: This book is about Will and his little brother Steve and portrays the difficulties and embarrassments of starting school with a bothersome little brother. Will is about to start 3rd grade and should be excited, but his little brother is starting kindergarten.

Age: 7-9 years old

4. B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood

About the Book: Irrepressible Betsy is scared about going to first grade. But then she discovers school is a great place, where she makes new friends, learns new things and has more fun than she ever thought possible.

Age: 6-9 years old

5. Ivy and Bean Series by Anne Barrows 6

About the Book: This series of books follow the adventures of best friends, Ivy and Bean. These books are filled with vibrant characters and humour, which makes them a charming series for your child.

Age: 6-10 years old

6. Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

About the Book:This is a timeless tale about a china rabbit, Edward Tulane, who belongs to Abilene until he gets lost one day. Edward goes on an extraordinary journey, and we realise that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, loss and love again.

Age: 6-9 years old

7. The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

About the Book: These delightful books follow the adventures of Princess Magnolia who ditches her dresses and becomes the Princess in Black whenever there are monsters about who need stopping.

Age: 6-9 years old

8. Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

About the Book: There is a reason some books are popular for decades. This series which has over 25 books, was first published in the 1970s and is still hugely popular today. Nate the Great is the world's greatest detective, and these books will encourage children to solve the mysteries with Nate using logical thinking. 

Age: 6-9 years old

9. Kung Pow Chicken by Cyndi Marko

About the Book: A great book series about a superhero Kung Pow Chicken who fights crime in the city of Fowladelphia. These books are fast-paced, funny and perfect for newly independent readers.

Age: 6-9 years old

10. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Styles Barnett

About the Book: A delightful fantasy chapter book about Elmer Elevator who stows away to Wild Island to free a dragon. Elmer’s incentive he wants to fly and anyone who frees the dragon from its captors might be entitled to a free ride.

Age: 6-10 years old

11. Mouse and Mole by Wong Herbert

About the Book:This award-winning series is about best friends Mouse and Mole. The author vibrantly combines illustrations and text, making these books a great choice for this age group.

Age: 6-9 years old

12. Junie B. Jones 4 Book Box Set by Barbara Park

About the Book: This box set contains the 1st 4 books of the series about the world’s funniest kindergartner. These books will keep your child reading and laughing – there is a reason they have sole over 60 million printed copies.

Age: 6-9 years old

13. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

About the Book: This award-winning book tells the story of best friends Cowgirl Kate and her devoted and stubborn horse Cocoa. Together they ride the range, count the herd and argue till the cows come home.

Age: 6-9 years old

14. Babe the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith

About the Book:  A cute story about a sheep herding pig called Babe. Babe has a talent that no-one expected he could handle Farmer Hogget's flock of sheep better than any sheepdog.

Age: 6-9 years old

15. A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

About the Book: Join the escapades of Chester Cricket and his friends in bustling New York City. This book is lively and entertaining.

Age: 6-9 years old

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