“Picture books can be magical for readers of all ages, even adults. But when it comes to reading aloud to young kids, I’ve learned not to ignore chapter books and novels. It may seem daunting to open up a hundred-plus-page tome when your audience has an attention span the length of a Peppa Pig episode, but the experience of making it through the story can be deeply rewarding. In a memorable Reddit thread, one father shared what it was like to read The Hobbit to his six-year-old son over the course of two months.”
“Here are some tips:
- Choose your first novels wisely. Sarah Mackenzie, founder of the Read Aloud Revival podcast and author of The Read-Aloud Family, says that the most important things to look for are “short chapters, lots of dialogue, and memorable characters.” Some great examples she gives include Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald. Here, we’ve rounded up 14 chapter books for preschoolers that librarians keep recommending.
- Let them fidget. Don’t expect your kids to sit there, legs crossed, hands in their laps, hanging to your every word. They’ll listen better if they have something to do, like color, mold Play-Doh or sort socks.
- Read in short bursts. Remember, the dad on Reddit spent two months reading The Hobbit to his son. Tackling a massive novel is a great endeavor, but if you look at as a string of 10 to 30-minute reading sessions, it’s manageable. When going through novels with my daughter, I might read a short chapter and then pick up a separate picture book afterwards, just to mix it up. It’s really about the journey with your kids, one that doesn’t need to end once they learn how to read.”