When my son, Ethan was about 3.5 I thought he might be ready to listen to me read a chapter book to him. I hesitated because I find immense value in picture books (especially nonfiction picture books for 0-3 year olds) and didn’t want to rush into chapter books. He has the rest of his life for those! But then I thought it might be fun to mix it up and try something new. After some online research I decided to go with My Father’s Dragon. And what it hit it was! I purchased the trilogy and we read the whole set three times in a row. It took weeks but he really loved it. Although we still read mainly picture books; since then we have continued to mix it up from time to time by adding chapter books into our bedtime reading routine.
Here are some chapter books my kids have loved listening to (affiliate links):
Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgiliesh – My 5 year old and 3.5 year old both love this book. We first read it about a year ago so it could work well for even a very young child. My kids prefer the audible version to me reading the chapter book. I get it and I don’t take any offense. The audible version is really good.
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo – There are several books in this series and both of my kids love them! They are quite silly and have great full color illustrations. They are on the shorter side and if you had enough time, I’m sure you could read the whole book in one sitting without your kids losing interest.
The Dragon Masters series by Tracey West – There are currently 10 books in the series, with the latest due out June 2018. We have read them all. I’d describe them as Harry Potter lite. There are lots of dragons, two wizards and just a little bit of suspense; just enough for a very young or sensitive child. I bought these for my 5 year old but my 3.5 year old also happily listens to these books and follows along well from night to night as we work our way through each day. There are small pictures on almost every page.
The Last Firehawk by Katrina Charman – We have read the first 3 books and the 4th is due out in July of 2018. I’m sure my kids will want to keep reading. They are very similar to the Dragon Masters series with lots of pictures and just enough suspense to keep the story interesting but not scary. The main characters in this book are a squirrel, an owl and mystical creature called a firehawk. So, if you don’t like talking animals, this one is not for you.
We did follow the Montessori approach of sticking to nonfiction before age 3. I felt my kids were ready for these types of books because they have a really good grasp on reality vs. fantasy.
I feel like it’s important to note that as a parent, I don’t mind reading any of these books out loud. They are all good stories and interesting enough!
Do you recommend any chapter books for young kids? I’m sure we will read some classics soon like Charlotte’s Web or James and the Giant Peach but I’ve been waiting for my younger daughter to get a little older so we can all enjoy those together.