Great Chapter Books for Early Elementary

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Great Chapter Books for Early Elementary

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We have been helping Goofy (Kindergarten) begin to read chapter books. It is a fun time to snuggle up together for some “big kid” reading time.

Why chapter books?
  • Imagination - There are few if any pictures which allows for kids to use their imagination.
  • Vocabulary – These book are written with more complex vocabulary than the typical picture book which allows Goofy to enhance his vocabulary.
  • History – I love historical fiction! Well written books weave historical facts into the story line and help kids to remember and spark an interest in History!
  • Great Literature – This is a great time to start introducing great classic literature!
  • Loving to Read – Introducing them to a variety of books consistently throughout their childhood will help them to learn to love to read and learn.
  • Reading Comprehension – Chapter books have more complex narratives & plot development. Ask questions after each chapter to help make sure your children are comprehending what you read. Before you read a chapter the next day ask what has happening last time you read to work on memory skills.
  • Strengthen Attention Span
  • Many books deal with real issues or situations your child may not have experienced yet: bully, moving, riding a train, etc. By reading the books together you are expanding their horizons and preparing them for new experiences.

Here are some of my top picks so far:

This quick read is part of a series – America’s National Mystery Book series by Carole Marsh. The book did a fantastic job of weaving information about Jamestown (which we had just studied in school) throughout the story in a natural way. The mystery was just right from my 6 year old. The chapters were short, there were several pictures, and it kept his interest. The series revolves around two kids: Christina and Grant who travel with their mystery writing grandparents. We can’t wait to read our next book in this series!(Ages: K-3rd)

This book is from the A to Z Series. As this book was also historical fiction I am going to compare it to the one we read for America’s National Mystery Book series. This book was a quicker read with more illustrations. There were historical facts in it, but the Jamestown book contained more historical information within the story. This book had a more interesting plot, but then again I wouldn’t want my kids to think they can wander off or jump over a closed gate to get away from someone who’s following them. But I think if you read it aloud and have a dialogue about the decisions the kids made it was appropriate. I also wanted to note there were a couple references to witch in this story: boat was names Sea Witch and the children saying the old lady looked like a witch (actually his disguise). We tend to be more conservative and don’t talk about witches so I just changed a couple things as I read it and it was fine. But wanted to make you aware of it. I will definitely be looking into more from this & the other series.

Charlottes Web is a classic for good reason! It is the story of a pig name Wilbur, the girl who loves him, and a spider who becomes his friend and saves his life. It is a simple but beautiful story about friendship. I will mention that in the story Wilbur (the pig) learns that pigs get slaughtered in the fall – this is something that comes up throughout the book. I loved that it presented what really happens in a tasteful way, but if your child might be upset to learn that bacon comes from a pig – you might want to consider if he/she is ready for this book yet. Spoiler Alert: Also, at the end Charlotte (the spider) dies. It is more presented in this is what happens, although Wilbur is sad and misses his friend. Again, I loved that it introduced the topic of death and how Wilbur moves on but always remembers her. Once my kids are ready I’d rather introduce them to life topics in a gentle way with me there to answer questions they have. But wanted to at least point that out to you.

A while back I thought I wonder if Goofy would enjoy (and sit through) the original Winnie the Pooh books – not the Disney filled with pictures (which we love too!). This was actually his first chapter book! So I tried – he LOVED it!! The silly old bear i s just as lovable in these more complex stories with beautiful language. This was a great place for us to start – with a character my son already knew and loved. He appreciate the simple drawings from time to time.

  The Magic Tree House series is another popular series a lot like the A to Z mysteries. It is nice to have some go to series that your child will already be familiar with and excited to jump in. I found this to be the most simple of the series – as far as story complexity. But there is a large variety of topics in this series so your child is bound to find one that interests him. These might also be idea for children actually ready to begin reading chapter books themselves because they are a little simpler with larger text. So I think we are going to focus on the other series we’ve liked and save these for when he is ready to dive into reading chapter books himself.

  This is Goofy’s new favorite book. And I have to admit, mine too! In this wonderful book you get to take a stroll through history and YOU choose your path! Yep, this is like those wonderful choose your own ending books that were my favorite growing up. But this one is even better (according to this homeschooling Momma) because it is based on actual people’s lives! In the story you are wanting to travel west to make your fortune in the California Gold Rush – you choose how you get there (land or by sea) and have 54 choices throughout with 14 possible endings. Not only was it a fun read, but this interactive history adventure gave us a lot of historical information and helped us to imagine the time period better. There are actual pictures and images of posters throughout that develop the time period even more. There are several books in this series including a pirate book we will be checking out next!

Little House on the Prairie is an American Classic that tells the story of Laura (and her family) who move west in their covered wagon. This story is great way to introduce the pioneer / westward expansion period of American History in personal way that kids can understand, remember, and relate to. This beloved story spawned the writing of many more in the series and a long running TV series. But this is the book that started it all. This book is much longer than the typical story books I’ve been reading to Goofy; it is a 335 page book! So I would wait until you’ve given you child a good introduction to fun chapter books and have the time to commit to a longer book.

Looking for more book recommendations?

What are your families favorite Chapter books?


  1. My son loves the A to Z Mystery and Magic Tree House series. I have not heard of America's National Mystery Book Series. I will have look for it. Thanks for the recommendations.

  2. Three Tales of My Father's Dragon

  3. My son loves the Magic Tree House books of course he is a bit older (2nd grade) and can read them himself. He also loves the Hank the Cowdog books. I think he's read all our library has.