{A warm welcome to readers switching over from our old site, The Crafty Homeschool Mama!}

I’ve been wanting to create a running chapter book list for some time, and this week, as school came to a close, I finally got around to doing it.

Like most of you, here in our home, we read aloud daily.  On an ideal day, we read first around the breakfast table, then again during formal school time, then again at teatime, and lastly, at bedtime. On a busy day, we still manage to read during school hours as well as bedtime.  Life can and does often become very hectic, but I  have a general goal to read with the children, at minimum, two hours a day.
While picture books are also read frequently during read-aloud, today’s post is to do with chapter books.

It goes without saying that picture books are magical in their own right. They are a child’s first step when entering the great world of reading.  It is beautiful indeed to see young ones curled up in a cozy spot someplace, “reading” the pictures of their favorite familiar picture books, long before they can ever sound out a single word.  Picture books are delightful. They are akin to taking a leisurely stroll down the lane together, or exploring the back yard or the woods and streams near your home, and like a favorite path or spot in nature, children will want to return to them again and again and again.
But Chapter books? Reading longer chapter books to your young children is like giving them an invitation to come along with you on an adventure, long and far.  You may be away some time as you explore strange and marvelous new worlds and stretch your minds and imaginations. Of course the beautiful thing is that children don’t have to be able to read the words on their own in order to come along on this quest.  You are their guide and their leader.  You hold the keys that unlock the wondrous world of literature.


“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”  -Jacqueline Kennedy

My daughter is just finishing the 2nd grade and my 3 little boys are ages two, four, and six.  Our children have been television-free for nearly 3 years now, and reading is truly a large part of our day, after school and play. But what exactly does read-aloud look like with a pile of little ones?

Well, unless it’s bedtime, the boys tend to wiggle, play with their toys as I read, and generally make too much noise.  But I’m pretty sure that’s how little boys pay attention 90% of the time, and so we try to endure it.

My daughter, for as long as I can remember, has loved read-aloud time, and sits nearby at quiet attention (often drawing or coloring while listening) when a story is being read.

But this year, a lovely thing happened with my Kindergarten son.  The year began with him unable to last much more than 10-15 minutes when I would read a (picture-less) book aloud to everyone (the younger ones generally last even less time).  But as we continued reading, and reading, and reading, and I was careful to choose certain books which would stir his young masculine heart and hold his boyish attention, I witnessed his appetite for learning and for reading increase one hundred fold.  Soon, it was my son bringing me the chapter book as I worked around the house, my son begging me to come and read the next chapter of Hardy Boys or Narnia or Robin Hood to him. It was my son who sat wide-eyed on the edge of his seat, listening to every word, the richness of one good book after another saturating his growing mind.
Seeing a child’s appetite for literature grow and develop is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Still, none of the younger boys (now ages 2, 4, 6) hold a candle (yet anyway) to my 8 year old daughter’s voracious reading appetite.  Long after the littler ones have drifted off into dreamland, she is there, asking for yet another chapter.  Rather than move on ahead of the boys, this year we developed a great system where we all work through one book all together at tea and bedtime, but when the boys fall asleep, Eden and I pull out whatever book she and I are reading together.  In this way, we are able to read 5 or 6 books to the little boys’ one.  She is just now getting to the point of reading some simpler chapter books alone (like Magic Tree House), but I know that all my kids will continue to enjoy hearing books read aloud even once they can read them for themselves.

“Five years from now, you’ll be the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books that you’ve read.” -John Wooden

What to Read?

I am choosy about our read-aloud material, since reading aloud is a commitment of time, and time is already so limited. Only the best will do.  I regularly check out or purchase from suggestions made by grade at Ambleside Online, various Classical literature lists and this year, for my daughter, we read many from Ann Voskamp’s recommended list of girls’ books.

Here are the chapter books we read together during the 2013-14 school year.  I must say, each of them were enjoyed, but some were absolutely and dearly loved (see my kids’ favorites at the end of the post).

Titles marked with an * fit within our history curriculum {Middle Ages} for the year, and those marked ** accompanied our Science studies {Sem. 1 Flying Creatures & Sem. 2 Swimming Creatures}

2013-2014 Read-Aloud Book List

The Door in the Wall by Margurite De’Angeli*
The Tanglewood’s Secret by Patricia St. John
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Robin Hood by Howard Pyle*
Midsummer’s Night Dream (and several others) by William Shakespeare*
Classic Myths to Read Aloud: The Great Stories of Greek and Roman Mythology, Specially Arranged for Children 5 and Up by William F. Russell*
Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince by Sydney Baldwin (dramatic audio)*
Teddy’s Button by Amy Le Feuvre (dramatic audio)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The book of Genesis, the Bible
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLauchlan
The Boxcar Children, book 1 by Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Two Towers (part 1 only) by J.R.R. Tolkien
In Grandma’s Attic (books 1-4) by Arleta Richardson
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Betsy-Tacy Series (books 1-4) by Maud Hart Lovelace
The book of Luke, the Bible
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien 
All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Other Notable Picture Books & Poetry We Enjoyed this Year:

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
Insectlopedia, On the Wing and In the Swim (all Poetry collections) by Douglas Florian**
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies**
The Most Wonderful Doll in the World by Phyllis McGinley
The Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress by Oliver Hunkin
Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman*
Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley*
Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess

We are currently reading through (and loving!) Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and Book 4 of the Betsy-Tacy series.

And I’ve been compiling a few other books for our

Summer Reading List:

The Giant Killer by Charlotte Maria Tucker
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (unabridged)
Billy and Blaze by C.W. Anderson
The book of Acts, the Bible
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen


Of these, which did the kids like best?

My daughter’s top 10 from the year:

1. Betsy-Tacy Series

2. Understood Betsy

3.The  Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

4. The Hobbit

5. The Tanglewood’s Secret

6. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

7. All of a Kind Family

8. The Door in the Wall

9. In Grandma’s Attic

10. The Year of Miss Agnes


My 6 Year old’s Top 5 Books:

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

2. In Grandma’s Attic

3. Robin Hood

4. The Hardy Boys – Tower Treasure

5. The Hobbit


My 4 year old’s Top 4 Books:

1. The Door in the Wall

2. Robin Hood

3. The Hobbit

4. In Grandma’s Attic

I did want to mention that the the largest number of books that are enjoyed by my younger 2 boys (ages  2 and 4) on a daily basis are still picture books, with the most natural time for read-aloud being their naptime.  Typically I allow each one to bring 3 or 4 books of their choosing to me as we snuggle in bed.

I would encourage you, no matter what age your children are, to begin carving out a set time  each day to begin to read-aloud to them.  It will grow to become a tradition they will cherish.

What are the Benefits of Reading Aloud to Our Children?

We read aloud in order to:

  1. Entertain, delight, and relax our children
  2. Model how to read with enthusiasm and fluency
  3. Allow them to develop large, complex vocabularies
  4. Increase their attention span
  5. Encourage them to become lifelong learners
  6. Create within them an appetite for reading quality literature
  7. Provide them with noble and honorable character role-models
  8. Feed their spirits, transform their hearts, & speak LIFE
  9. Stretch their growing minds with higher-level content and language than they can read on their own
  10. Fuel their imaginative play

It’s never too early or too late to begin reading aloud to your kids~why not grab a good book and start today?

What are you currently reading and loving with your kids? 


















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