Looking for read aloud chapter books for a 5-year old.
June 28, 2016 9:20 PM   Subscribe

My daughter enjoys having chapter books read to her, and despite her age, seems to attend to and enjoy longer, more complex stories. Off the top of my head, over the past year or so we've read everything by Roald Dahl, the Wizard of Oz, and all the Little House books through Silver Lake (she started getting restless during that one, I think the language got a bit too high level and the plot more subtle).

She told me tonight that she likes true stories and stories about animals. I'm going to read the Incredible Journey to her next, but I'm not really sure where to go from there. I was a voracious reader, but I would have never sat still for any of these at her age, and although I'm not really worried about content so much, we do most of our reading before bed and I did a lot of skipping over the racist parts in Little House, which was tiresome. Thanks!
posted by lilnublet to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: That last sentence is confusing: We do most of our reading before bed so no scary stories, please. She cried when Pa shot the swan. She does like adventure-ey stories, though.
posted by lilnublet at 9:22 PM on June 28, 2016

Best answer: My 5-year-old loved the book Rascal, about the boy and his pet raccoon. We've also had good luck with some of the Narnia books, Ginger Pye, and the Beezus and Ramona books. Oh, and the Ralph Mouse series!
posted by I_love_the_rain at 9:25 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

My first and second grade kids (former teacher) LOVED the "Who Was" series

Charlotte's Web is amazing, but of course the end is sad. I also love Poppleton, Henry and Mudge, and Mr. Putter and Tabby (very very short, though). Do you think she'd like Beverly Cleary--not true, but realistic fiction?
posted by bookworm4125 at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2016

I_love_the_rain beat me to Rascal, which hits both the books about animals and true stories criteria. I'll also second Beezus and Ramona and the Mouse and the Motorcycle.

I'll add:
Charlotte's Web, Pippi Longstocking, and the Betsy-Tacy books.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:31 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

How about The Worst Witch books? I adored the idea of cats being scared to fly on broomsticks.
posted by kitten magic at 9:31 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh oh! Also, my amazing librarian turned me on to Dick King-Smith, who wrote "Babe"; he also wrote many books about Sophie, and others, too. "Sophie's Snail" (linked above) is the first of the Sophie books, but my class started w/ "Sophie's Tom" and we all loved it.
posted by bookworm4125 at 9:35 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here is a previous thread in which I posted a long list of recommendations.
posted by Redstart at 9:42 PM on June 28, 2016

My son is really enjoying the "Geronimo Stilton" series of books about a mouse and his adventures. There are roughly a billion different books in the series.
posted by rozee at 9:42 PM on June 28, 2016

Best answer: My kids love the magic tree house, and there's at least 50 of them if she loves them. We're almost done the birchbark house by Louise Erdrich, which compliments little house really well. There is one really sad chapter, so do read ahead. I second the mouse and the motorcycle. I also add the bunnicula books about a vampire bunny who attacks veggies. I also read them Harry Potter at age 5, but only the first book. It was a huge hit.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:05 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mrs pigglewiggle
posted by brujita at 10:22 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hugh Lofting's Dr Doolittle series. These books are old, and contain some careless racist elements which are products of their time, but recent editions have excised most of what could be hurtful today. They're wonderful books otherwise.

Seconding Pippi!
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:40 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hell yeah to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, although some aspects can be kind of dated.
Magic Tree House is also good.

Junie B. Jones is hilarious, but not true, particularly adventurous, or animal-centric.

If she likes mystery, The Boxcar Children will be less scary than Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys.
posted by meemzi at 11:16 PM on June 28, 2016

They may be a little easy for her, but the Humphrey books by Betty G. Birney center around a classroom hamster, Humphrey, and what he observes about the world around him. Very cute and fun.
posted by clerestory at 11:17 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Judy Blume's "Fudge" series, "The Phantom Tollbooth". "A Wrinkle In Time", maybe? It's been a long time since I read it, and there is a monster involved. "Poppers Penguins", the "Winnie the Pooh" chapter books, "Wind In The Willows", "The Bobbsey Twins" series.
posted by lemonwheel at 11:25 PM on June 28, 2016

Ramona the Pest and The Attic Mice; The Borrowers?
posted by jrobin276 at 12:38 AM on June 29, 2016

Best answer: The Moomin series is a delight and one of my favorite things ever. They're all excellent, though the early stories are more lighthearted and carefree and the later stories become, well, not sad exactly, but more and more pervasively melancholy.

It's not necessary to read them in order, especially the first four or five. Finn Family Moomintroll is a good place to start -- it opens with a series of fun scenes of a hat that transforms what's put into it -- eggshells become clouds they ride around on, an old dead houseplant becomes vines which transform the house into a jungle.

It's a book that was meant to be read aloud, and the author includes room for some parental improvisation. When false teeth go in the magic hat, what comes out isn't described, but the reader is advised to go ask their mother what it was.
posted by Rinku at 1:47 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Most of my favorites have been mentioned already, but for some more recent books I'll suggest the Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker (these are reminiscent of the Ramona books - very funny and sweet books about a girl who's always getting herself into trouble) and the Toys Go Out series by Emily Jenkins (about three toys - a stingray, a buffalo, and a plastic ball, who have adventures like going to school and going through the washing machine.)
posted by Jeanne at 3:20 AM on June 29, 2016

A not too scary animal story I loved as a kid: Misty of Chincoteague
posted by weathergal at 3:22 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding Magic Treehouse, which flipped a switch in my 5 year old's head to interest him in chapter books.

The other winner has been The Wild Robot, which is about a gentle, intelligent robot which for plot reasons joins animal society. I really liked the writing style, my kid robot and animal obsessed kid was enraptured.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:22 AM on June 29, 2016

I loved the Narnia books at that age. As an adult, some of the allegories seem a bit heavy-handed. But C.S. Lewis has a knack for really beautiful vivid descriptions, and so as a kid I just thought they were books about British kids going on adventures and magic lions and tiny warlike mice and old-fashioned sailing ships and talking horses and dragons and dryads and eternally gloomy Marshwiggles. If you read them, start with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and read them in the order they were written, rather than chronological order.

Other good books: The Wind in the Willows, and Winnie-the-Pooh.
posted by colfax at 3:28 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not true or animal orientated but FWIW in the last year my 5 year old has been read the following and loved them:

The How To Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell
The Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton
The Far Away Tree by Enid Blighton
posted by SpacemanRed at 3:42 AM on June 29, 2016

My son was like this and loved Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and The Mouse and the Motorcycle

posted by Mchelly at 4:49 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Catwings for sure.
posted by Cuke at 5:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

The exact books you're looking for are those from the Bunnicula series by James Howe.

Chester the too-smart-for-his-own-good neurotic cat: trying to warn the family that their newfound bunny is really a VAMPIRE bunny. Harold is the large, dopey, friendly dog that gets dragged into Chester's plans. My favorite was Howliday Inn, where Chester and Harold are forced to stay at a kennel while the family goes on vacation ... lots of hilarious animal characters.

I also loved The Wayside School series by Louis Sachar. Very kooky and silly and funny.

And lastly, for the summer: I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman. This is a hilarious book about a kid at camp who befriends another boy who is HATES camp but also is clever and good at everything. They get into many a hijinks.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:41 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Doll People series was a hit with my daughter at that age.

We waited until she was a little older for Harry Potter.

I found the Stilton books painful to read.
posted by samhyland at 5:50 AM on June 29, 2016

My votes would be for Pippi Longstocking and the earlier Narnia books
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:59 AM on June 29, 2016

Lulu and the Brontosaurus
posted by mareli at 6:27 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding the Wayside School books.

The Horse Diaries and the Dog Diaries. Island of the Blue Dolphins.

If you're going to take just one suggestion of mine: Harriet the Spy and (especially for summer) The Long Secret.

It might be fun to go together the children's section of your library and/or bookstore and ask them to set you up. I work in kids' books and sometimes you'd never guess what would be a hit or miss with someone.
posted by BibiRose at 6:31 AM on June 29, 2016

My Father's Dragon, The Satudays, All of a Kind Family, Elizabeth Enright, Edward Eager
posted by azalea_chant at 7:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Really good suggestions in here - thanks! We have already read the Ramona books, as well as Lion/Witch/Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland, the Tinkerbell books, Charlotte's Web, and Winnie the Pooh.

I read what felt like a hundred thousand Magic Treehouse and Junie B Jones books to my oldest and while I am forever grateful that those books unlocked her love of reading I just can't willfully make myself read them again - they're excruciating.

I loved Bobbsey Twins when I was a kid, but I was afraid it might be too archaic; maybe I will try it out. I think L'Engle might be too advanced, but I have considered it.

Library visit is a killer idea!! I can't believe I didn't think of that!
posted by lilnublet at 7:17 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In addition to Misty of Chincoteague, mentioned above, Marguerite Henry wrote a bunch of other horse books, including at least one sequel to Misty. Warning: some of them are really sad. If you don't want tears, avoid Black Gold and San Domingo at all costs. IIRC, Brighty of the Grand Canyon is safe, along with King of the Wind (the horse has a cat companion; cute) and Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Oh! And Cinnabar the One O'Clock Fox! (He does catch some chickens, but it's not graphic, and he's a fun character.)

It's been a long time since I read them, but I think Farley Mowat's Black Stallion series might also be good.
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 7:28 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

If she likes Laura, she might also like Caddie Woodlawn and some of the other books in the Little House family saga - I really liked the books about Laura's daughter, Rose (Little House on Rocky Ridge, Little Farm in the Ozarks, In the Land of the Big Red Apple), and Ma when she was a little girl (Little House in Brookfield, Little Town in the Woods). Because they were all written fairly recently, the "of its time" racism in the Little House books is not as much of a problem.

My dad read me the other books by EB White - Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan - at around that age. He also read me The Wind in the Willows. My mom read me Anne of Green Gables. They also read me The Cricket in Time Square, Ben and Me (about Benjamin Franklin and his mouse companion) and Paul and Me (about Paul Revere and his horse companion). This is also around the age I really loved the Childhood of Famous Americans series - especially Clara Barton, Babe Didrickson, Amelia Earhart, and Annie Oakley.

She might be old enough to enjoy The Hobbit. I loved the Girls to the Rescue series, which were short stories about girls from around the world (and fairy tales) where girls were the heroines. Along those lines, though perhaps when she's a little bit older, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:36 AM on June 29, 2016

Any and all of Ursula Veron's children's books. (Even though it's a comic, hold off on Digger until she's a bit older.) She's one of those rare writers who writes for children just as well as she does for adults.
posted by Hactar at 9:16 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Definitely The Phantom Tollbooth. I have very fond memories of having that read to me at her age!
posted by radioamy at 9:33 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lately I've been reading Franny K Stein to my 5yo. They are short chapter books, but they present a few outlandish ideas ("mad scientist" ideas) that I feel like gives my kiddo license to be creative.
posted by vignettist at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2016

Your daughter may be just advanced beyond this series, but my almost-5-year-old is a huge fan of Suzanne Selfors' Imaginary Veterinary series (which begins with The Sasquatch Escape) about a pair of best friends who get a summer internship at a veterinary hospital for imaginary creatures. The books seem to be aimed at grades 2 and up, but the language is straightforward and Selfors manages to convey genuine emotional drama and character development without any significant sense imperilment, and narrative anticipation without undo anxiety. Great illustrations every couple pages by Dan Santat, as well. We've read them over and over again.
posted by novelgazer at 8:01 PM on June 29, 2016

All Daniel Pinkwater is good, but especially I Was A 2nd Grade Werewolf, which is not scary.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:07 PM on June 29, 2016

The Pushcart War by Jean Merril
posted by werkzeuger at 9:23 PM on June 29, 2016

James Herriot wrote some kids' stories, and they're pretty good. Moses the Kitten and Oscar, Cat-About-Town are two. Nothing truly bad happens in any of them; they're just sweet short stories. There are some collections of them, which would feel like a chapter book. (My 5yo has enjoyed them.)
posted by linettasky at 10:00 PM on June 29, 2016

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