Daddy read me a story
December 20, 2011 2:14 PM   Subscribe

What are some good chapter books to read to an almost-six year old girl?

Asking on behalf of a friend, her father. She's neither a girly-girl nor a tomboy, and the preference is for stories with good solid female characters in them (even if they aren't the main character).
These would be books for dad to read to her, not necessarily for her to read on her own.
posted by sandraregina to Writing & Language (40 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I started getting into the American Girl books then, the girls have different personalities/stories so you might want to poke around to see which "fits" her best, but they're all about strong girls and plus, history.
posted by brainmouse at 2:16 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: Junie B. Jones books might be good. They are short, funny, and are pretty easy to read, so they'd offer some opportunities for the Dad to ask the child to read a page or a paragraph here or there.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:20 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just starting buying my niece of the same age the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew books - I hear she loves them and now thinks everything is "so mysterious". This thrills me because I just loved the Nancy Drew books while growing up.
posted by echo0720 at 2:22 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: My Dad read to me every night when I was a little girl -- until I was about nine or ten. It was awesome. I am sure that's why I love to read so much today. It was a great bonding time for us, since he was gone at work all day.

Of the top of my head, what aboutFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler? That book is awesome and full of adventures. The Little House on the Prairie books, too. All the Ramona Quimby books, of course -- man, I LOVED those books. Oh, Charlotte's Web -- both Fern, the protagonist and, of course, Charlotte, are awesome (I don't know how my Dad read it to me 100 times without crying at the end, but I never really thought it was that sad as a kid). Harriet the Spy when she's a little older.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I remember liking "Heidi."
posted by availablelight at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins and the two other books in the series (Toy Dance Party, Toys Come Home) are wonderful for this age -- sensitive, charming, literate, and funny.

I like Junie B. Jones, but in addition I'll suggest two other funny realistic girl series: the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker, and the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary.
posted by Jeanne at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: I was reading Narnia at that age. But HE MUST START with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
posted by chaiminda at 2:28 PM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Because of Winn Dixie
posted by Fairchild at 2:28 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: The Betsy-Tacy books are wonderful if slightly old-fashioned, but they are about girls just that age who are independent and do interesting and adventurous things.

Ditto Charlotte's Web and the Little House books.

Also old fashioned but wonderful are all the Oz books (and there are TONS)--my mother read them all to me when I was about that age. They were especially great because the chapters were really short and so she'd read two chapters a night instead of just one.

She and my grandmother also read The Hobbit to me when I was six (and made me guess all the riddles), but that might not go over with every kid.
posted by newrambler at 2:31 PM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Box Car Children.

If she likes sports at all, the Matt Christopher books.

If she's into this sort of stuff, Sweet Valley High shit.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 2:39 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What a great question! My favorite book to listen to at her age was My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett.
posted by slmorri at 2:43 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding the box car children.
posted by whalebreath at 2:50 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My six-year-old boy is currently enthralled by the Mystery series by Carole Marsh.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:53 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I came in to recommend My Father's Dragon, so here's another vote for that!
posted by heyforfour at 2:58 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: All-of-a-Kind Family -- stories about a Jewish family living in the Lower East Side early in the 20th century

Ballet Shoes -- three orphan girls adopted by a British paleontologist; one girl grows up to be a ballerina, another an actress, and another a scientist

Pippi Longstocking

I second the recs above for Little House on the Prairie, Narnia, Betsy-Tacy, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Oz. Your friend and his daughter are going to have so much fun!
posted by zahava at 3:04 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: There are some great suggestions in here! It's easy to overlook the classics, but I have really fond memories of my mum reading "Heidi" and "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe." The "Oz" series is fantastic as well. Would "Alice in Wonderland" go down well? I remember having trouble reading it by myself (I devoured big books at that age), but reading it aloud may be worthwhile.

In fact, I have such great memories of these books I still have the copy of "Alice" my uncle bought when I was 1, and I uncovered at an antiques store the exact hardcover edition of Heidi that mum used to read to me. That was a happy day.

Who suggested Sweet Valley High for a six year old??
posted by chronic sublime at 3:05 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I found Junie B. Jones totally obnoxious! The writing is awful!
Charlotte's Web was a hit with a 6 yr old I know. Also Little House in the Big Woods.
posted by mareli at 3:33 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: Also came here to suggest any of the American Girl books, as well as Ballet Shoes, and Harry Potter. Most Tamora Pierce books are female-lead-friendly (though preview them before reading, I know one of her best books alludes to sex in one of the later chapters).
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:39 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: The Ivy+Bean books are hilarious- my six year old son awaits the new ones, even though his sister has grown out of them. They really capture the specifics of young girl mischief.
posted by bendybendy at 4:02 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At her age, the best ones are the Little house books, the first few Betsy-Tacy books (save the high school and grown-up books for when she's 9 or 10), all the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's, All-of-a-Kind Family and all the sequels except Ella, Pippi Longstocking, Alice in Wonderland, Ramona (starting with Beezus & Ramona), Clementine, and maybe Oz (my five year old thinks the book is too scary still). I've read all but Clementine to my five year old daughter, and she loves them. (And now that I remember Clementine, I may need to find that.)

Matt Christopher can wait a year or two, Junie B. Jones can wait until she can read it herself, and Sweet Valley High she shouldn't even be sneaking to read herself until she's 10. American Girl books are neat, but slightly lower interest to adults, and perfect for 1st graders to read. Save that a year or so and let her read it herself. Likewise with The Boxcar Children. I love Ballet Shoes, but my daughter thinks it's incredibly boring. So I'd wait a few years on that, too. Harry Potter is incredibly scary -- unless she's used to horror, not yet. And I myself love Tamora Pierce, but I'm not going to read them to my daughter for a few years still.

I would also recommend Half Magic (my daughter's current favorite) by Edward Eager, Sideways stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, The Nickel-plated Beauty and Sarah and Me and the Lady from the Sea by Patricia Beatty.
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:04 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My introductions to chapter books were books by Enid Blyton and the Nancy Drew mysteries.
posted by aniola at 4:04 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: Seconding Mrs Piggle Wiggle, Betsy-Tacy, Pippi Longstocking, Sidways stories, Alice in Wonderland, Narnia, and the Little House on the Prairie series.

I'll add Phantom Tollbooth as a fantastic story that both daughter and dad will love. And Ronald Dahl's children's books (I'd start with Matilda) - in my experience kids love his slightly macabre stories.
posted by Gori Girl at 4:09 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, guys, thanks! I'm passing the link on to this thread to my friend. So many great suggestions.
posted by sandraregina at 4:44 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: I heartily endorse the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. I would suggest Edward Eager's Magic books and Lucy Boston's Green Knowe books. Diana Wynne Jones wrote some books for younger children. You can't go wrong with the classics like Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, Alice in Wonderland, Narnia, Oz, the Little House books, The Phantom Tollbooth etc..
posted by gudrun at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: Bobbsey Twins, Famous Five, Secret Seven were all favourites then. My mom also started reading me the Narnia books at that age. Little Women. Also by Alcott, the often-overlooked Eight Cousins and its follow-up, A Rose in Bloom. The Secret Garden, oh how I loved The Secret Garden. A Little Princess. The Henry Huggins books. The Superfudge/Tales of a 4th-Grade Nothing books. Also, a book called Amy's Eyes by Richard Kennedy is fantastic and amazing (though hard to come by).
posted by Felicity Rilke at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My granddaughter and I read the Boxcar Children together and loved every one of them. We also read the Chronicles of Narnia, but she was older then and, because they're British, we had to have some discussion about the different words they use - which was good, but still the books may be a little old for a six-year-old. We also read all the Animorphs books and she loved them because she chose which animal she'd like to morph to and the adventures were exciting. We really enjoyed the Redwall books by Brian Jacque, also; again, it was about animals - in this case, forest animals, and the stores are wonderful. I would personally stay away from Roald Dahl until she's considerably older, unless the little girl has a big brother who has already "broken her in" to scary stuff, unless Dad wants to be trying to unweave bad dreams all night.

I personally think that Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are more suitable for much older children than they are for young ones. The Wizard of Oz is a good movie for little ones - not scary - but the books are a little less fun and a bit more fearsome. Heidi is arguably my favorite story in the world and all children would love it, but it might move a little slowly for a child of this age, and Little Women is heartwarming, but it does have the death of the sweetest of the sisters, Beth, so Dad should know about that in advance if he chooses it.

Lucky little girl and lucky Dad - reading time can't be beat.
posted by aryma at 5:47 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: Marguerite Henry and the Five Little Peppers books.
posted by brujita at 8:11 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: We've been working our way through a big box of Ramona and Beezus books lately, which my daughter has loved, not least because its about a little girl with big feelings like her and she can really identify with that.
posted by Artw at 8:37 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love(d) Nancy Drew, All-of-a-Kind Family, Little Women, The Phantom Tollbooth (no strong female characters), Ballet Shoes, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden. My dad read me The Hobbit, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, and poetry - "Annabel Lee," "The Cowardly Dragon," etc.
posted by bendy at 8:52 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: My 6 year old really likes the first Boxcar Children book (she likes roleplaying Jessie and Violet) and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books.

She also is addicted to the 6-year-old crack that is the "rainbow magic" series, but she's reading these all herself, so I let them in the house. (but they're terribly formulaic dreck. On the other hand, she's reading them, so if the 6-year-old in question has a thing for fairies, this might be an incentive for reading to herself. )

The Magic Treehouse books aren't bad, and there's a lot of them.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:59 PM on December 20, 2011

Lemony Snicket.
Dear Reader,
I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:26 PM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: well, they have no major female characters, but then again, they have no major human characters either

but I absolutely adored Bunnicula and its sequel Howliday Inn.

I would also heartily second Narnia (in PUBLICATION order, the only way to read them), and Edward Eager's books.

When she's a bit older (maybe 8 or 9), the Alanna (aka Song of the Lioness) series was my all-time favorite, and has a great female protagonist.
posted by jb at 11:16 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Stuart Little
A Wrinkle in Time
The Phantom Tollbooth
posted by plinth at 3:19 AM on December 21, 2011

Best answer: At that age my daughter really liked Roald Dahl - especially Matilda and the BFG. She also liked the Worst Witch books.
posted by crocomancer at 4:09 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Okay this thread might be even better than the previous threads on YA books! I love kids books!

A Phantom Tollbooth is one of my favorite books ever - I've read it many times, starting when it was read to me when I was about 3, up to reading it again a few years ago.

Mr. Popper's Penguins is also great!

All the Beverly Cleary books - particularly the Ramona stories. And Lois Lowry has a great set of books about Anastasia Krupnik. Also Roald Dahl books of course - starting with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I looovedd the Betsy-Tacy series - I had a great librarian at my school who introduced me to them.

My favorite childhood author is Zilpha Keatley Snyder. The Stanley stories are great! There are a lot of books with great female protagonists, including The Velvet Room, The Changeling, Libby on Wednesday. A lot of her stories are set in different time periods, and little girls seem to love "the olden days."
posted by radioamy at 7:54 AM on December 21, 2011

Best answer: Seconding the Wayside School books from Louis Sachar; these have me in stitches when I read them. The Oz books are great for engaging young imaginations.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 8:20 AM on December 21, 2011

Best answer: Judy Blume and Paula Danziger's Amber brown and Matthew books.
posted by brujita at 6:23 PM on December 21, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, I pretty much just best answered everyone, because this thread is chock full of excellent suggestions.

My friend figures he'll start off with the Ramona books, and keep this thread bookmarked for more suggestions when those are done. Even for when she's a bit older and reading chapter books on her own, these are great ideas for gifts or helping her pick something out at the library.
posted by sandraregina at 9:31 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just remembered one more -- Tom's Midnight Garden. Absolutely gorgeous.
posted by zahava at 10:26 AM on December 22, 2011

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