First Chapter Book

My son loves reading. Since we brought him home from the hospital at 2 days old he has been surrounded by books and stories. Between the books he has read on his own and the books we have read to him he has experienced thousands of books. I love that my son loves to read. My son starts kindergarten in the fall, and I’m excited that he will get to share his love of books and reading with his classmates and teachers.

I feel like it is time to try chapter books. When does a parent start reading chapter books to their child? I have no idea. It feels like he is ready, so I’m going to try it. If it is an epic fail, I won’t worry or stress. He’s a reader and that’s what matters. I’ve been talking to him a lot about chapter books over the last few days and I think he’s excited to give them a try.

One thing that I know about all readers is how important it is to have choice. Each night, before bed, my kids get to chose which books I read to them. I like them to feel empowered just like my fourth graders. Usually, I’ll bring a stack of books into their room and ask them to chose what they’d like to read. It’s fun! They learned that a good way to get a few extra minutes of reading is to answer, “All of them.” That is very hard to say no to.

I guess that I’m writing this post to get a little advice:

Any tips for helping students (I mean children) experience chapter books for the first time?

First chapter book recommendations? I was thinking of starting with Magic Tree House, but I’d like to give him lots of choices.

Thanks for your help everyone! Wish me luck:)




18 thoughts on “First Chapter Book

  1. Oh – this is a very exciting time. VERY. I started with some Dahl I think with my two (now nine) but a read aloud guarantee success – the Prince of the Pond by Donna Jo Napoli. When you talk like the Fawg Pin, he will be begging you for more! I think it’s about bringing it off the page through voices and visualizing and pure joy. You don’t need luck – you are going to enjoy this more than him! Yippee!


  2. My son is entering kindergarten in the fall as well. He turns 5 in a couple of weeks. We have started reading easy chapter books in-between his regular literary diet of picture books. Magic Treehouse is a good place to start, I think. Some other options: the Mercy Watson series, Cam Jansen, Nate the Great, The Frog and Toad series, The Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon (a favorite), Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree Collection (another favorite), Winnie-the-Pooh, The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Flat Stanley series, the A to Z Mysteries, Junie B. Jones series, the Amanda Pig/Oliver and Amanda Pig series, the Ramona series, The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Charlotte’s Web. Some of these suggestions were also favorites of my now 8-year-old daughter when she was in preK – 1st. We’re still trying to work through my son’s tastes. We’ve even read him simple Star Wars chapter books, which he has enjoyed. Sometimes It just depends on his mood that day.


  3. Cam Jansen, Arthur chapter books, easy Matt Christopher series, first three that came to mind, really easy Henry and Mudge


  4. Colby, I was in the same dilemma with my kids, now 5 & 7. I had no idea if they were going to go with it. Like you, I have been reading thousands of books to them even before they were born. I figure Tess has a head start because she had 9 months of listening to my son and I read.

    We did start with magic tree house and they loved it (my son is the older one – and very wiggly). They loved the characters because there is a boy and a girl, they love learning about new places and times and all the details that go with it. I truly believe that for them it is like learning through a story, like in the days when storytelling was the way to share values, information, etc. They remember because they love the story – if only we can make all learning like that.

    So tonight we will finish #34 I think, the one about the World’s fair in Paris. Reading them has sparked so many conversations!

    They also love The Littles.
    And yes we are reading MTHouse IN ORDER.

    Happy reading!


  5. Rylant’s Henry and Mudge and Mr. Putter and Tabby, Minarik’s Little Bear, Lobel’s Frog and Toad, van Leeuwen’s Amanda Pig would all be great beginning chapter book series, especially if he’s reading on his own.


  6. I think almost all we read were mentioned above except for the Little Bear books and although they aren’t published in chapters, my son also loved the Curious George adventures. What a wonderful time to start. My all time favorites are the Frog & Toad series. They are actually pretty subtle in their stories, & are just so giggly!


  7. My daughter will be starting Kindergarten in the fall too. She’s in a Montessori school right now, so it’s multiage and she’s one of the youngest in her class. Her teacher actually started reading some of the Magic Tree House books to those who she felt were ready around Christmas time. I had no idea this was happening until Maggie came home talking about Jack and Annie and their adventures through history. Her excitement clued me in that she was ready, and that SO excited me. Since then we’ve read many Junie B. Jones, more Magic Tree House, Charlotte’s Web (this was her favorite and mine), The Magic Finger, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and we’re currently reading The Tale of Despereaux. One thing that was kind of cool was that we were at the public library looking for audio books to take on a road trip and she picked out a Katie Kazoo Switcheroo book. I’d never read these even though I have several in my own school library. She LOVED them and often requests that I bring home one of the print copies from my library to read for one of our night-time selections. Occasionally she’ll loose interest in a chapter book (Edward Tulane, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator, Little House in the Big Woods have been a few that didn’t float her boat), and that’s perfectly fine. I’m enjoying reading the longer, more meaty stories with her and I’m amazed at her ability to concentrate and follow such more in depth storylines and plots. Of course, we still read picture books, but the journey into chapter books has opened up a whole new world, and it’s so fun to re-read some of my childhood favorites. Good luck to you!


  8. I had the same questions when we were ready for chapter books at our house with our oldest. A wise children’s bookstore employee recommended animal-centered stories with lots of pictures. Dick King-Smith’s Lady Lollipop was so fun, and Cynthia Rylant’s The Lighthouse Family series (first book is The Storm) are such great friendship/mild adventure tales. I probably wouldn’t have found either on my own and they are both delightful. She also suggested that the kids can color in the pictures (if you don’t mind that) in the book with colored pencils or crayons when you aren’t reading it to help them with the picture/text connections, which I thought was a great idea. I’ll always have such great memories of sharing that “first chapter book” with our girls. Enjoy this special time!


  9. Magic Tree House is great… You can start out reading them to him and before you know it he will be reading it himself:) the series goes on and on so that is great! They also have the nonfiction companion books which are a great and get you to go even deeper onto the topic:) My first chapter book for both of my kids (one boy, one girl) has been Charlotte’s Web! You can’t get much better than that!! It is full of wonderful vocab


    1. Sorry – I posted before finishing:)…
      I really thinking vocal is super important when doing a read aloud… This is your chance to really start to expose him to some really interesting words… Charlotte’s Web is great for this reason – and of course the story is just amazing! I am reading it to my 4 year old now and she LOVES it! Mercy Watson is also perfect… Great vocab and so fun to read and enough picture support to insure success:) BFG is great! The Nutmeg and Tum Tum books are also awesome!! Have fun- how exciting!!!


  10. We love the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo. The first chapter book we read was Flat Stanley. We read the original chapter book and then did a Flat Stanley exchange with other bloggers. It was so much fun. The chapters are fairly short and the whole book is pretty short, too. Making the switch into chapter book is a lot of fun. 🙂


  11. Some great suggestions here! I’m a fan of Mercy Watson as well, along with Henry & Mudge, Little Bear, and Frog & Toad. And Dahl’s shorter books are also fabulous (Esio Trot, George’s Marvelous Medicine, The Giraffe the Pelly & Me). There is a great chapter in the book “Family of Readers” (edited by Sutton & Paravano) about this very topic. They make a number of great suggestions not only of titles but also of what to pay attention to with your child in an effort to find titles that they like.
    Interestingly, neither of my girls were ever fans of Magic Treehouse. One dove right into chapter books the other would read a few chapters and go on to something else. You are so amazing at taking cues from your students in the classroom, the fact that you recognize the power of doing the same things with your own children will guide you right to where they need to be. Have Fun!!!


  12. Here are some books that my nieces and nephews loved as their first chapter books read to them (listed in no particular order):
    “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” by Richard and Florence Atwater
    “Dominic” by Walter Steig – this was a huge favorite for Evan. Lots of swashbuckling adventure.
    “Ralph the Mouse” series by Beverly Cleary – motorcycle riding mouse – enough said
    “Jenny the Cat” books by Esther Holden Averil – especially great if your son loves cats. The cats retain their essential felineness.
    All the Paddington Bear books but especially the first one “A Bear Called Paddington” by Michael Bond – who can resist a marmalade eating bear from the deepest darkest Peru?
    “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton – there is an endless fascination with the idea of tiny people living in your walls. There’s something appealing to kids that there is someone smaller than them out there.
    The Enchanted Forest chronicles by Patricia Wrede – spunky princess, dragons, enchanted forest, villains and lots of adventure. First book in the quartet is “Dealing with Dragons”.
    “George and Martha” by James Marshall – may be closer to picture books but wonderful stories of friendship

    2nd the recommendations for “Tales of my Father’s Dragon”, “Winnie-the Pooh” (my personal all time favorite kids’ books), and “Mercy Watson” series. All big hits.

    Looking forward to reading about what books he loves.


  13. Don’t forget “My Father’s Dragon” and its two sequels. The “Pinky and Rex” series by James Howe is sweet, about a friendship between a girl and a boy. “Pippi Longstocking.” My daughter liked the first couple “Boxcar Children,” but then grew out of them.


  14. I forgot two favorites that I don’t see mentioned. The Russell (and later, Russell and Elisa) books by Johanna Hurwitz captures childhood perfectly. And while my daughter and I loved all the Ramona and Henry Huggins books, it was the antics of “Otis Spofford” that had her laughing the loudest.


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