Have you reached the chapter book phase with your kids yet? “Phase” may not be exactly the right word since they’ll be reading chapter books (we hope) from here on out for the rest of their lives. (An exciting prospect!)
What we really mean is, have you started reading chapter books out loud to your kids? If not, you have something wonderful to look forward to. If yes, you know just how much fun it is to have moved on to more substantial stories.
When we’re selecting a chapter book to read aloud with our kids, the stakes are considerably higher than with a picture book that takes a mere ten minutes to breeze through. A chapter book will last us through a week or more of nightly readings and can provide fodder for dinnertime conversations as well as countless daydreams. We want to choose our books well.
When in doubt, we turn to storytellers we can count on. These three have never let us down.
Roald Dahl is the author we turn to first for early read-aloud chapter books. Everyone knows about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, and yes, those books are amazing. But he wrote so many books, about so many odd topics, and each is better than the last. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a deeply satisfying tale of David versus Goliath; Danny the Champion of the World is an enthralling, somewhat criminal adventure, and a moving father-son story; and Esio Trot is a hilarious and quirky love story that involves a lot of turtles. That is just to name a few. Where did Roald Dahl come up with this stuff, and how did he make it so endlessly entertaining?
We also rely on the books of Beverly Cleary. This author knew her audience well, having worked for many years as a children’s librarian before taking up a pen. In her beloved Ramona series, she writes about an ordinary family from the child’s point of view in a way that is instantly believable, funny and absorbing. It is enlightening for parents to see the world from the perspective of a young girl. Cleary’s Ralph the Mouse series is also hugely popular with younger elementary-age kids, and Dear Mr. Henshaw is a rightly acclaimed story about how reading can change a child’s life.
A third writer who has proven a delight over and over is Kate DiCamillo. My daughter giggles to herself when reading the Mercy Watson books, and the cover art featuring a very cute, very pink pig had me sold at first glance. Bink and Gollie is a favorite story of friendship, and we’re excited that the second in the series is coming out in just a few weeks. But the book that made read-aloud time the best part of our day for several weeks was The Tale of Despereaux. Be sure to read it to your kids before they see the movie! The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is coming up soon on our list…. Can’t wait.
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