Top 10 Chapter Books to Read Out Loud to Little Ones

Published on October 06, 2020 - Updated on October 07, 2020

A few timeless books perfect for introducing chapter reading to preschoolers.

It’s easy to forget the joy of reading aloud to our little ones when they have a select few picture books that they want to hear over and over. While repeating stories is beneficial for children - it aids in word recognition and reading comprehension skills - at a certain point, you need some new content. This is an ideal time to break out some of your favorite chapter books from your own childhood.

Even before your little ones are reading themselves, they are ready to listen to longer, more involved stories. If quality time and snuggles are something you love, but you struggle to turn off your brain like me, reading out loud is a great option!! You will ultimately enjoy it as much as your kiddos. Here are some of our personal family-favorites that have survived the test of time.

Little House on the Prairie

Little House

I can’t possible write this list without including the Ingalls family. This was a favorite of mine growing up, and one of the earliest memories I have of owning a box set which I remember feeling was super special. My love of books may have been innate, starting even before owning that cherished set, but it certainly didn’t hurt!

My Father’s Dragon

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This book is not as widely read as many of the others on this list, but it certainly deserves the spot. It is the first in a three-part series, following Elmer Elevator. Everyone in the family will love this tale, and it is a quick read with just ten short chapters.

The Cricket in Times Square

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This is a sweet story about a cricket who makes unlikely friends. It teaches about forgiveness and trying to do the right thing in the face of mistakes. Kids of this generation love the different characters today as much as their grandparents did back when the book came out in 1960.

Mouse and the Motorcycle

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My second-grade teacher read this book to our class, and I still remember that time clearly because of the collective excitement we felt when he pulled out the book. When he finished the last page, we actually begged him to skip the book he had planned next and instead read more of the Ralph S. Mouse series. 

Charlotte’s Web

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This is one of the first novels to come to mind when thinking about introducing little ones to the fun of chapter books. E.B. White’s talent for creating characters loved by children and adults alike is demonstrated throughout his writing, but there is no more convincing example than in the form of one of most people’s least favorite species, the spider.


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This story about a very sweet little girl, who is also a genius, is a Roald Dahl children’s novel that was ultimately made into a popular film. While being sweet, Matilda (played in the movie from the little girl from Mrs. Doubtfire and the new version of Miracle of 34th Street) is also very mischievous, so it’s a fun read for all ages.

The Boxcar Children

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This was one of my favorites as a child, and while it is an old book (originally posted in 1924) with some antiquated values, it is still a beloved series. It will be a great transition for your children as well because after reading a book or two out loud to them they can take over as they improve their reading skills and continue through the series on their own.

The Trumpet of the Swan

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Another E.B. White success, this book is a sweet little love story about overcoming obstacles through perseverance. Along with the popular novel Stuart Little and the previously mentioned Charlotte’s Web, this author focuses on bringing a secret world of animals to life in the hearts and mind’s of chidren, and adults love reading his beautiful writing as well!

James and the Giant Peach

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This book is beloved around the world for the fantastically imaginative world it paints for little minds. This book can be read and reread and I guarantee your experience reading it to your children as an adult will bring a whole new appreciation for the creativity of the author’s vision.

Winnie the Pooh

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Disney has had great commercial success with this character, created by A.A. Milne, and many young people don’t even realize that it all began as a beautifully written chapter book. The story of Pooh and his wonderful collection of friends, including a boy named Christopher Robin, is timeless, and a favorite of adults and children alike!

If you read to your children at bedtime, then you will love introducing chapter books! While the “please, just one more book momma” gets a little tired after a while, choose the content wisely and you’ll be wishing you had time to read one more chapter.

An alternative that was recently suggested to me during this Covid-19 era with many people working from home - block off thirty minutes every day while your kiddos eat lunch to read from a chapter book. Select a book that has been made into a movie, so you can look forward to watching it together sometime after you turn the last page.

Do you have a favorite chapter book you love to read out loud to your kids? We’d love to hear about it at or tag us on Instagram @gethappyly

If you are interested in exploring more of our favorites, take a look at Top Ten Bedtime Stories for Little Ones and Top Five Children's Books to Read Out Loud. If you are heading out on a road trip, you'll love our list of Top Ten Family-Friendly Podcasts. Check out our blog for so much inspiration from our many featured activities, including Find A State Park Near You.

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Thoughtfully captured by:
Randi Banks
Randi (Betts) Banks grew up in New York and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She moved to Washington, D.C. more than thirteen years ago with her husband, Eaghmon, and they love to explore the area and seek out adventure, now with their two young children along for the ride. Growing up right near the beach, they are happiest when on or near the water, so exploring the rivers, lakes, and streams in the greater DC area is a favorite pastime for their family. In addition to serving as one of the Washington, DC area ambassadors, Randi is also the Editor in Chief and Co-founder of happyly.
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