We read chapter books! Lots of them! I started reading chapter books to Lena when she was a little over 3. She probably has a better attention span than average, but no matter the age you start, children can understand so much of what you read. Reading chapter books encourages vocabulary development, provides opportunities to discuss new ideas or topics, gives lots of fodder for imaginative play, and helps children stretch their attention spans. We read most days during breakfast and some days during lunch as well. If Lena is crazy about a book, she and I will read it before her nap or bedtime. Maggie's so little that she never knows that she's missed any of the story.
Here are some Great Chapter Books For Preschoolers that we're read so far, and a brief review of each. This list will grow as we continue to read.
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Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
House painter and Antarctic enthusiast Mr. Popper ends up with 12 penguins as pets, all living in his small house and then eventually taking them on the road as a showbiz act. There are lots of silly antics, plenty of good educational tidbits, and it is quick and easy. The chapters are short, and we enjoyed the pictures.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I didn't read the "Little House" series when I was younger. There was something about the prairie-ness of it all that didn't appeal to me. Buy boy-oh-boy am I loving it now. The first book in the series begins as Laura is around 4 years old. It simply covers one year of life in a small cabin in the woods of Wisconsin-- the chores, food, clothing, toys, traditions, and holidays. One thing that makes this a god early chapter book is that there really isn't much of a story arc that young children might have trouble remembering or keeping up with. Each chapter just covers one cute little story, event, season, or holiday. It is a great read to show children how different life used to be, and to encourage them to be grateful for how easy and privileged their lives are!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Yes, there are parts of this book that are super creepy! But, if read in the right tone or skipped over all together, those parts may not be a problem for your child. Little Charlie wins a tour of a fantastical factory that is run by the reclusive and kooky Willy Wonka. All kids love candy, and this book is fun to drool over and dream about.
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Charlotte's Web is a children's classic, but it is definitely not suitable for all preschoolers. Charlotte, the lovable spider who saves Wilbur the pig, dies at the end. Take your child's sensitivity into consideration when deciding whether or not this book is appropriate. We've always been very matter-of-fact about this issue with our children (especially when it comes to animals) so I felt that it was suitable for our family. The majority of the book is a touching story about friendship that features charming characters that your little ones will love!
The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
This book is a sweet story about the children who live in 3 neighboring houses in rural Sweden. The story is simple, and basically follows one year of the children's lives. There are some interesting cultural tidbits about traditional Swedish life as well. I would recommend this as a good choice for a first chapter book since the chapters are quite short and are each a single event that can stand alone once the basic characters have been introduced.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
We love Winnie-the-Pooh around here. A good fifty percent of the girls' pretend play involves at least one character from the Hundred Acre Wood. And while we love the characters and the stories, this book actually didn't work so well as an early read-aloud for us. There is lots of dialogue, and much of it is nonsensical. It can be very confusing to a young listening ear. I ended up paraphrasing a lot of the stories, which, I know, took away a great deal of the charm. We may try again later.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Who doesn't love Pippi?! Nine-year-old Pippi lives by herself with a pet monkey and a horse in her ramshackle house, Villa Villekula. As she makes friends with the children next door, hilarity ensues. Pippi's story is pure silliness, full of whimsy, and an introduction to a classic character. This book is also short and an easy read. It is worth mentioning that in the story, Pippi's mother has died (before the story begins), so again, consider the sensitivity of your child.
There's just too many great books for one post!
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From Other Great Bloggers:
Travel Through Time With The Magic Tree House Series from The Educators' Spin On It
Making The Most Of Reading Aloud To Your Child from Stay At Home Educator
Over 50 Chapter Books For Preschoolers And 3-Year-Olds from What Do We Do All Day?
Tips For Reading Chapter Books With Preschoolers from Growing Book By Book