If your child attends well to books at age four, he or she may be ready to listen to short, simple chapter books. Occasional black and white pictures help ease the transition from picture books.
Below are chapter books that I have shared with my own children, beginning at age four (working up to some of the more complex books on the list). There are so many opportunities in each book to ask thought provoking and prediction questions. For example, “What do you think is going to happen next?”, “How do you think the boy is feeling?”, “Why do you think he is angry?” and “What do you think (vocabulary word) means?”.
Authors of these books usually explain meanings of more complex vocabulary words within the text, but asking your child what he or she thinks a word means and providing feedback as necessary, is a great opportunity to learn new words. Learning new words within the context of a story they are enjoying will help retain meaning.
Series chapter books make it easy to decide what to read next. Favorite character’s future adventures are exciting to look forward to.
Recommended Early Chapter Books
Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne – Books #1 through 28 are shorter than Magic Tree House Merlin Mission Books #29 through 44. Reading these books in order is fun, or have your child select favorite topics.
Judy Blume – These three chapter books can be read in one sitting each (and easily re-read):
The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo
The Pain and the Great One
The Pain and the Great One have their own series:
Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One
Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great One
Going, Going, Gone! with the Pain and the Great One
Friend or Fiend? with the Pain and the Great One
If you and your child enjoy these books, you may want to try The Fudge Books.
Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo – There are six of these simple chapter books that are colorfully illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Kate DiCamillo also writes longer, wonderful novels. Our favorite is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
Roald Dahl’s unique books range in length. The Enormous Crocodile and Fantastic Mr. Fox are on the shorter side. As a number of Dahl’s books have been made into movies, it can be motivating to watch the corresponding movie after reading the book.
The last few books we read aloud were Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Dahl, Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins (you’ll joke about the “submarine” (subliminal) messages) and sure to not only be a Manhattan favorite, but an adventure for all – Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry.
The later has taken us on our own adventures to check out the sites in the book – Grant’s Tomb, the whisper gallery at Grand Central Terminal, The Staten Island Ferry and the abandoned City Hall subway stop.
Continue to read chapter books aloud even when your child begins to read independently. Choose books above his or her personal reading level to expand interests, knowledge, vocabulary and critical thinking. You and your child will enjoy this special time together.
Stephanie Sigal M.A. CCC-SLP is a speech language therapist in Manhattan. She works with children with articulation delay and language delay in their upper east side homes. You can contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.295.4473.