Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Five Must Read (Aloud) Chapter Books for 4-year-olds

My only real Education goal for this past summer was to read chapter books out loud to my two preschoolers each day. I spent a lot of time scouring preschool read aloud book lists created by other bloggers/pinners. Typically, if a book was on two or more lists I added it to my own "to read" list. However, I found there were many "highly recommended" books that simply didn't have enough photos to captivate my youngest preschooler, 3.5 year-old Nell.

Anyway, my point is to assure you all five of the books on my list will keep your youngest preschoolers interested. I have read each of them with a child who was just 3.5. Short chapters, adventurous stories, and lots of pictures -- those are the three musts for this age group.

As my kids approach four-years-old I like to start reading them chapter books in addition to our regular picture books. Some of the benefits include: remembering a plot line day after day, great bed or couch snuggles while younger siblings nap, and less interruptions about all the illustration details. No more rambling needed, here are my kids' and my own five favorite chapter books for age 4, and they are listed in order.*
Three Tales of My Father's Dragon
Hands down this is both Reid and I's favorite chapter book. We read through the whole series before he turned four. Then we re-read the first in the series (My Father's Dragon) this summer with Nell. It took us just two days, snuggled up together in my bed, to finish it. I honestly think they'd sit through the whole thing, cover to cover, if I was willing. The story is so captivating and there are just enough pictures to keep them interested but not so many they ignore their own imaginations. It is a must read for everyone with preschool aged kids.

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny
This is a very close runner up. My kids actually had me read it through twice before returning it to the library. That's how much they enjoyed it (and how easy it is to read). I highly recommend it to anyone with preschool aged children. It won't matter if they are too rambunctious to sit through a book -- in fact, they'll enjoy it even more if the are the rambunctious type. Plus, it teaches wonderful little life lessons throughout the entire story.

Lady Lollipop
The plot in Lady Lollipop is a little more sophisticated than the previous two books. Yet it was still engaging enough that the kids and I all loved it. The main characters (a spoiled princess and a kind farm boy) are wonderfully developed. The writing is fantastic and the pictures were plentiful enough to hold the kids' attention. The conflict-resolution and moral of the story are all wonderfully thought out. I wouldn't hesitate to read it again in a couple of years.

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
What young readers' chapter book list would be complete without some Roald Dahl? This is probably the easiest (and mildest) of his works. I read this to Reid back when he was just barely 4. He wasn't as engaged as I'd have expected, but he understood the plot well and enjoyed the moments we spent reading together. Unlike the other books on this list, the chapters in this one are long (I think there were just three), so we had to find another way to break up our daily reading. I think I'm going to check it out again to read it to Nell. It's a fun story with just enough pictures and plenty of humor. I know she'll be entertained by it.

Princess in Black
This really felt like a glorified picture book. The chapters are a bit too short and the plot feels like it could use a little more development. I did appreciate the way the story carried a couple different plot lines together throughout the book. That definitely made it feel more sophisticated than a regular old picture book. Overall it is perfect for this age group, and both Reid and Nell loved it. I'm eager to check out a couple of the other books in the series. As I typed this, Nell peeked over my shoulder and squealed when she saw the above photo. What preschool aged girl wouldn't love a superhero princess?  And there are plenty of monsters to keep the boys entertained as well (plus, my boy also enjoys a superhero princess every now and then).

And now, a quick review of the competition. We have read plenty of other books and have dozens waiting on our "to read" list. Most of the other books we've read are classics or ideas I got from other blog lists like this. I found they were better suited for older children or just not as intriguing as the five books that made my must read list.

Charlotte's Web: fabulous for about 6 and up. Nell was not having the lack of pictures and normal size font.

The Chocolate Touch: again, fabulous for about 6 and up. Great moral, cute story line, but not enough pictures for younger readers.

Winnie the Pooh: the kids did not love it, and the grammar drove me bonkers!

Two Times the Fun: cute, but noting spectacular.

Dinosaur Trouble: the kids enjoyed it (because they love all things Dinosaurs), but I think it is too wordy for this age group.

Adapted and Illustrated version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: if I knew this book was widely available I'd put it on that top five list. Nell keeps asking to re-read it. I don't know how easy it is to find the exact edition (Dalmation Press) we have (I got it in college).

Magic Pony Carousel: Nell grabbed this at the library once. It's fine and she enjoyed it, but I don't imagine there are many parents who are going to fall in love with it.

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Reid often picked this book for his bedtime reading. It's fun, but doesn't give way to much discussion or literary Education.

Currently, Nell and I are reading Little House in the Big Woods and Reid came home from Kindergarten begging me to get the first of the Magic Tree House book (his teacher is reading it to the class). Ironically, it was on our summer reading list but we just didn't get all the way through the many great books I want to read my children. I'm not beating myself over that though; there's always next summer!

*Amazon links are included for convenience, but I am not an affiliate blogger. I do not use this blog to make any money.

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