Sunday, July 30, 2006

Great Chapter Book Read Alouds for Elementary

(Updated in January of 2015 with clickable affiliate links to Amazon - see full disclosure here!)

I’ve recreated this list several times for different purposes, so I figured why not just keep it handy? These are all books Cassie and Jared enjoyed listening to and that I enjoyed reading to them. I tried to list books appropriate for a wide age range, since there is so much variation in listening comprehension and interest from child to child. Jared listened to each and every one of these books before the end of second grade, and I have no doubt that Cassie, now going into sixth, would gladly read any of them again.

The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster

A great, great book. I read this book to my kids just about every year of their elementary school lives, or at least until they took over for themselves.

Arthur, High King of Britain
by Michael Morpurgo

This one sparked an interest in all things King Arthur and also named one of our cats.  Of course, I’ve since heard the name Nimue pronounced three different ways now.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet and/or
A Wind in the Door
by Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle has many, many more but these three (and actually Many Waters
too) are great for elementary. Jared enjoyed these three in Kindergarten and will enjoy them again soon.

Black Beauty
by Anna Sewell

Oldy but goody...I actually had no interest in this book as a child, but thoroughly enjoyed reading it to my kids when they were in first and fourth grades.

by Lloyd Alexander

My kids like cats and wizards, so they enjoyed this one. I thought it was pretty good too.

His Majesty's Dragon
by Naomi Novik

We loved this entire series, although my boy was in fifth grade when we started it. Definitely for upper elementary or even early middle school

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl

Of course. 
I didn’t enjoy The Great Glass Elevator quite as much, but the kids did like it. James and the Giant Peach was never my favorite either. We all liked Witches a lot. Cassie really liked the BFG and Matilda, although I haven’t read either in their entirety. He has a LOT to choose from if you like him.

by Christopher Paolini

This might really be too difficult for a kindergartner or first grader, but Jared loved it in second grade. If you or your child likes magic or dragons, it’s a good one.  We didn't quite get into the others in the series quite as quickly.

by E.L. Konigsburg

The DaVinci Code has nothing on this one...well, at least as far as the ten and under set are concerned.

by Richler Wegner

Another one I chose because I enjoyed it as a child. Jacob’s need to say everything twice rings true. Apparently there’s a whole series though, so I can't speak to the rest of them.

by Beverly Cleary

If you like Junie B. Jones and don’t know Ramona yet (are there parents who don’t know Ramona?) run don’t walk and all that…it’s just as great for boys, by the way.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
by Robert C. O'Brien

Just another all around great book. There is also a book called The Secret of Nimh, which I think might be based on the movie. After he died, his daughter also published a couple of books based on his notes and characters.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread
Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate Dicamillo

Ok, so our favorite part of Desperaux was shouting out “GOR!”. Both were very sweet and enjoyable stories which Jared enjoyed as much as Cassie did.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
(and other Fudge books)
by Judy Blume

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
by Nancy Farmer

A futuristic book that my kids listened to over and over and over and over. I didn't even get tired of it. Although...I'm okay with a pretty good dose of repetition. That's why I'm a preschool teacher.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Funny ones that I remember reading as a kid.

The Pepins and Their Problems
The Trolls
Everything on a Waffle
by Polly Horvath

I’d start with Trolls and The Peppins.  But Everything on a Waffle is also excellent!

Midnight for Charlie Bone
by Jenny Nimmo

If you have a kid who loves Harry Potter but has run out of reading material, this is a fun next series. Same sort of kid at magical school type setting.  My boy and I didn't end up reading this entire series, mostly because we didn't start almost until he was in middle school.  But we enjoyed the first few and I'm sure if we had discovered them sooner, we would have read all of them.

The Name of this Book Is Secret (The Secret Series)
Pseudonymous Bosch

We had a lot of fun with this whole series. It's mystery and a little suspense and some magic, but presented with much humor. Amazon lists it for ages eight and up, and kids may need to be at least that to get some of the jokes. But there's no rule that says you can't read over their heads and explain as much as you can, then reread when they get a little older!

Over Sea, Under Stone
by Susan Cooper

This is the first in a series that is probably best left to upper elementary, since they can be just a little on the scary side, but the entire series is suspenseful and fun read.

The Wheel on the School
by Meindert DeJong:

It didn’t seem that promising when we started it (it’s about a girl who tries to figure out why storks don’t live in her village anymore), but the kids liked it enough to listen to it twice.

Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls

Get the tissues ready for the end of the book. Jared was in kindergarten when I read this to him, and he was just SOBBING at the end.

Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)
by Suzanne Collins

An all around great series about a boy who discovers an underground world populated by talking heebeejeebies. As bonus, I became just the teeniest, tiniest bit less afraid of cockroaches as the result of them being the good guys.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead
by Avi

I read this book to my daughter one day when she was home sick from school. Yes, one day. Granted, she was sick and couldn't do much else, but we didn't want to stop reading. We enjoyed the other ones in this series too.

The Whipping Boy
by Sid Fleischman

We had this one a good long time before I read it to the kids. I guess I was kind of afraid of the title – I thought it might be for older children. But we liked it.

Books about children with no parents or trying to find or save their parents are always fascinating to children. Along with the books I’ve already mentioned, my kids and I both loved Bud, Not Buddy
by Christopher Paul Curtis, The Cay (Laurel-Leaf Books)
by Theodore Taylor (be prepared to talk about war, hurricanes, and racism), My Side of the Mountain
by Jean Craighead George, The Sign of the Beaver
by Elizabeth George Speare, Dave at Night
by Gail Carson Levine


More great ones for older listeners -

The House of the Scorpion

My boy loved this one so much that he reread it a few times after I read it to him. That NEVER happened.  This is another by the same author as The Eye, The Ear, and The Arm, but the concepts are a little better loved by fifth grade and above I would think.  But Amazon lists it for ages seven and up, so it might be just as interesting for the littler ones.

by Philip Pullman

The movie was so-so but the book was wonderful. All the books in the series were good too, in a strange and enchanted way.

Read alouds that are too popular to need mentioning, but that I have to mention anyway - 

Magic Tree House
by Mary Pope Osborne

It’s hard to tell what’s best about this series: that they’re entertaining and yet unapologetically educational at the same time, that it’s the girl who always wants to barge on ahead and take chances while the boy balks, that they are short enough to read in one night …either way, the kids love them and I can read a good ten or fifteen out of the series without getting too bored.

I made the mistake of getting one of the "reference guides" when they were first recommended to me and I was all, "This doesn't seem so great...".

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

by JK Rowling:

Need I say more? Ok, well since you asked…these were too scary for either of my kids in kindergarten and even first grade was stretching it a little.

The Chronicles of Narnia
by CS Lewis

We had better luck with these in third grade and above. Second grade was a little young for them.

Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever!
by Barbara Park

This is a love ‘em or hate ‘em type series. You have to be able to let go of the idea of correct grammar to truly enjoy them.

While that’s obviously not every book we’ve enjoyed over the past few years, I figure it’s at least a good start!

Happy reading!


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