The transition from picture books to chapter books was so exciting for me. I love picture books, but I was really excited to expose our boys to longer stories, too. Here are five chapter books we have thoroughly enjoyed.
1. Charlotte’s Web by the great E.B. White
A friend whose boys were all grown up told me this was the first chapter book she read to her kids. “They’re not too young,” she assured me, when I asked if she thought my boys would get it. They were probably 2 and 4, and she was right. They loved it, and were adequately grossed out by that rotten egg of Templeton’s.
2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
E resisted reading this book, maybe because of the witch in the title. That might have scared him off at first, but when I started reading, he couldn’t stay away. Both boys were drawn into the story, the magical world, the universal pull of good versus evil. Some of my best childhood reading memories are wrapped up in this book, which I first heard when my next door neighbors’ mother read it out loud to us on their back steps on a summer afternoon. I can still hear her emphatically read Aslan’s line, “And, whatever happens, never forget to clean your sword.” Probably I’ve been looking forward to reading it to my own kids since that very moment.
3. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
We loved the movie and finally checked out the book last year. I was surprised to find that the plot (at least in the first book of the series) is really nothing like the movie, except for the fact that Hiccup is a bit of a misfit. But it’s action-packed and funny and had our whole family hooked, worried, and laughing. There’s nothing I love to hear more than the desperate plea, “Mom, just one more chapter!” and that happened plenty as we read How to Train Your Dragon. When I did finally stop for the night, I always peeked ahead just to make sure Hiccup was going to be all right.
4. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
It was an absolute pleasure and proud parenting moment to introduce E and M to James Henry Trotter. Again, I wondered if they would understand all of the dialogue, but when E chucked at a bit of the grasshopper’s clever British dialogue, I was reminded to stop underestimating our children. I was also very pleased.
5. The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin
One of my best memories in all of parenting is sitting on the couch sandwiched between my two boys reading this book while they both laugh their heads off. This is a quick and easy read, and thoroughly entertaining. I think Doreen Cronin is really, really smart–writing clever, funny books for kids is hard work!–and I love her even more for giving me this reading memory with our boys.