Every so often, one of my prep (4 to 5-year-old) students brings me the dictionary, a huge encyclopaedia, or a chapter book akin to Lord of the Rings and requests that I read it to them. The mystery of a chapter book is so enticing: the wonder of what a story with so many words might tell is magical. It is so wonderful to read a chapter book to a child, but to start with Lord of the Rings can often lead to frustration.
However, there are many chapter books that are great for younger listeners! Here's what I look for:
1. must have chapters or separate stories (it’s so exciting to get to the last chapter);
2. must be pictures on almost every page;
3. must contain some form of adventure (in some of the books below the everyday is made adventurous);
4. must be enjoyable for the adult who is doing the reading!
And here are some that we're reading and loving right now:
The Great Big Enormous Book of Tashi—Weighing in at a lengthy 1008 pages this ultimate collection of Tashi stories includes illustrations on almost every page. With recurring characters throughout the stories, the pictures help to match names to faces and spark theories in the youngest readers.
The Henrietta Series—My love for the Henrietta Series knows no bounds! I first read Henrietta and the Perfect Night in two lunch times. The everyday adventures of Henrietta as she begins school and awaits the arrival of (hopefully) a little sister are an adventure which every young reader can relate to. After finishing Henrietta and the Perfect Night we hopped straight onto the classroom computer to order the rest of the series.
The Sea Dog Books (Left Shoe and the Foundling)—With full-colour pictures and an informative glossary that sparks the inquiring mind, the Sea Dog books are a wonderful adventure with unlikely heroes and villains that are properly scary but not threatening. Readers will delight in the tight-knit Sandburrow family of tiny dogs who sail the sea. (It wasn't available on Book Depository at the time of writing but hopefully they'll restock it in the future.)
Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in my Life So Far—This quirky story (originally) follows the unexpected ordinary days of Bruno the cat and his friends. Bruno delightfully dives into many themes of friendship, inclusion and community in an unstable way. Chapter 3's ‘A day when the power went out’ is the shortest chapter comprising just a double spread with a wonderfully unexpected yet relatable ending.
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls—In my classroom at the moment, we are really into stories of women doing incredible things. There’s something about the obvious adventure and bravery that excites us all. Our latest find is Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Each page tells a story of a ‘rebellious’ woman and is accompanied by a portrait created by different artists. Sometimes we like to choose which story to read based on the illustration, other times we read by country (listed conveniently at the bottom of the story).
I (and my littlies group) love those stories—they each meet all four of my criteria! If you have favourites you'd like to share or if you'd like to talk about these, feel free to send me an email. I'd be delighted to chat.