Wanted: Good Children's Chapter Book Titles

by | Nov 3, 2008 | Parenting | 22 comments

I know you can help, faithful readers. I feel like we’ve blown through all the good chapter books to read at bedtime, but there must be hundreds I don’t know about. I’m looking for funny, sweet books, with some illustrations. Our favorites have been (in no particular order):

Not a very long list. I must be forgetting some. I know you’ll know more. Tell me!


  1. Anne

    The ones I loved were all really girly and probably incredibly dated — Carolyn Haywood books and Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy Tacy Tib).

    Somewhere on my home or work computer I recently unearthed a list of read-aloud chapter books that I had compiled from the internet somewhere. I’ll see if I can dig it up again.

  2. Anne

    Oh! I know. The autobiographical 26 Fairmont Avenue series by Tomie dePaola. The series begins as Tomie enters kindergarten, and covers the event of the birth of his baby sister. Very positive and very sweet.

  3. Emily

    mom always read us the little house books – at least we got through little house on the big woods with her reading and us listening, still one of my most heavenly memories. not too girly, that one, and all about food (sugaring dance at grandpas, pig butchering with cracklings and a blow up bladder for a balloon! FUN for all! bears and cows and bears mistaken for cows…is this what a chapter book is?

  4. Emily

    pippi longstocking too.

  5. Anne

    I’m still a little fascinated by the concept of cracklings. Those Little House books really stay with you!

  6. Paticus

    I’m not sure it fits the category(but i think it does) James & the Giant Peach ?

  7. Clog

    I guess you are way beyond Uncle Wiggly or it is so incredibly dated. Come on,Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy was more than the housekeeper!

  8. Steve Grover

    Well, the Forgotten Door (Alexander Key) is a GREAT book (IMHO) and also a nice sort of life lesson (I almost said parable) about values, good people, etc.
    I also recommend 21 Balloons, by William Pene du Bois (Newberry award winner that I remember from childhood).

  9. Julie

    I think the Little House books would go over well. And I have to try James and the Giant Peach again. When we started reading that a few years ago, Henry was so freaked out by the fact that James’ parents get killed on the first page that we couldn’t go on. But he might like it more now. And honestly the one thing holding me back on The Forgotten Door is the lack of illustrations. But maybe I’ll try anyway.

    We read Pippi Longstocking last month, and I have to say, it wasn’t as delightful as I remember. Mostly because Pippi is kind of an awful child. The boys liked it ok, but by the end we all felt like we were slogging through to finish. However, I was fascinated by the fact that in Sweden they have coffee parties (instead of tea parties, I guess), and I think Pippi Longstocking is partially what inspired our smorgasbord last month.

    I’m compiling a list of books that I had never heard of that sound pretty great. We got two out of the library yesterday (since we also finished the 700th reading of Charlotte’s Web last night). I’ll post the list when I have it all compiled.

  10. sutswana

    I loved the Little House books too. Also the Maud Hart Lovelace ones but possibly only because of the illustrations, and my lifelong envy of curly hair (insert link to picture of Tacy here) (and Nellie Oleson) (and Susan of the boing-boing curls in Ramona).
    What about The Cricket in Times Square?
    The year I taught literacy in middle school to some fairly low-level kids we read The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo. That was good. Great illustrations by Timothy Basil Ehring who we saw back when Space Gallery did their Lunchbox Series.
    Looking forward to your list!

  11. Christina

    I always thought the Emil series was much better than the Pippi series (I think the first in the series is “Emil in the Soup Tureen”)- also the Lotta books- both by Astrid Lindgren. I remember loving The Moffat series by Eleanor Estes, The Mrs Piggle Wiggle series, The Littles series by John Peterson (that one had fun pictures as I remember…) And Finn Family Moomintroll by Tova Jansson- slightly weird but very good if I remember correctly. Oh- and “The Old Nurse’s Stocking Basket” was a very fun book of stories.

  12. Steve Grover

    What about all the Wizard of Oz books? There’s at least a dozen of them, I really liked those as a kid. Not sure how many pictures they have, if I recall correctly there may not be many.

  13. Pete Bilderback

    Hi Julie,

    I read to Will for close to an hour every night at bed time. We just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which I see is on your list. I think we’re going to read Charlie and the Glass Elevator next. Of course James And The Giant Peach is another good one from Ronald Dahl.

    Before that we read the first of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. That didn’t go over nearly as well as the Harry Potter series (Will loved those). We also read the Narnia Series. I think a lot of that went over Will’s head, which is just as well perhaps, but he did enjoy them, especially the first one.

    Other good ones that come to mind: Stuart Little, The Wind And The Willows, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Cricket In Times Square, A Wrinkle In Time. As a kid I was very fond of the the Chronicles of Prydain (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, etc.) by Lloyd Alexander. (Some of these might be a little old yet, It’s hard for me to judge until we start reading).

    Of course, reading is all well and good, but don’t forget to introduce your children to the important classics of the cinema such as Ernest Goes To Camp and other Jim Varney classics.

  14. Julie

    Ooh, I never thought about the Wizard of Oz. I wonder if those have withstood the test of time? I’ll have to flip through them next time we’re at the library…

  15. Julie

    Hi Pete!
    I personally like the Series of Unfortunate Events, but I think they’re too scary for Henry. Maybe I’ll try Harry Potter! Though maybe those are too scary too? Will’s almost two years older than Henry, right? 7 might be a better age than 5 for Harry Potter. We did love The Cricket in Times Square. We started Wind in the Willows at my mom’s one time, and it was a bit over his head, but that was a few years ago, so maybe we should try again. I have A Wrinkle in Time so maybe I’ll scan that to see if it’s too old. I loved that trilogy when I read it, but I also remember that being where I learned about mitochondria, so perhaps that is also too old. Though it’s never really too early to start incorporating words like “mitochondria” into your child’s vocabulary.

  16. Pete Bilderback

    I try not to guess what is or isn’t over Will’s head. I just start reading and see if a book holds his attention. If it’s truly over his head, he’ll ask for something else. I think a book that’s a little over a kid’s head can be a very good thing because it can generate good questions and build vocabulary. (I have learned a lot of new words this way).

    The early Harry Potter books aren’t too scary, but they get progressively darker as they go along. Will is 6.5 now, and he didn’t seem to scared by them. We’ll probably read more of the Unfortunate Events books later. We’re holding off on Prydain for now, but I’m hoping he’s ready for them soon. I remember those being the first books I really loved, but my memories of them are very vague now. I was probably in third or fourth grade when I read them.

  17. Julie

    Definitely good advice. I’m not sure I’ve really thought too much about things being too far over Henry’s head. Ones that we’ve stopped reading (James and the Giant Peach, and others I can’t recall) have been more because they’ve been scary. The only one we stopped reading because it was over his head was Phantom Tollbooth. Oh, and Wind in the Willows, as mentioned before.

  18. Mary Grace

    Owen and Hugh are a bit older, but I’m trying to remember the early years: The BFG; My Side of the Mountain, Kate DeCamillo’s Edward Tulane; The Conch Bearer (set in India); The Hobbit (Hugh loved it at 7). I’m going to look for your list, though, as we’re feeding a fire here! –mgg

  19. Maryjo

    C.O.L.A.R. A Tale of Outer Space by Alfred Stole was a smash hit in this household. I enjoyed it too~MJK

  20. Katie

    I am a second grade teacher and my kids always love My Father’s Dragon. It’s a fun adventure. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is also a big hit. Silly and fun.

  21. Sally Crouse

    I had a blast reading the Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo aloud to my children, also Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke.

    By the way, may I use your bookshelf picture on my library website? I am in charge of a website devoted to gathering humorous library stories for my public library and I think your picture would fit right in. Thanks



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