Chapter Books for Preschoolers

I found this question at Barbara Curtis’s blog Mommy Life, and she passed it off to me. So, I thought I’d take a stab at it.


I have been reading your blog off and on for a few months now. I was wondering if you could recommend some chapter books to read aloud to my children. They are three and five.

Like Barbara, I would suggest picture books first of all for this age group. I list over 365 of these in my curriculum book, Picture Book Preschool. I also list some easy reader chapter books that would be good to read with a three and a five year old. These have short chapters with a somewhat limited vocabulary:

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik. The are three or four sequels to this family story of Little Bear, Mother Bear, Father Bear, Grandfather and Grandmother Bear and all of Little Bear’s friends. My favorite story is when Little Bear goes to the moon.

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. There are also other Frog and Toad books. These stories are deceptively simple. The one about Frog and Toad trying and failing to eat just one more cookie is a staple at our house. We trot it out whenever we need willpower or need to laugh at our lack of it.

The Long Way to a New Land and The Long Way Westward by Joan Sandin. These books tell about a Swedish family who immigrate to the midwestern United States in the 1800’s.

Tales of Oliver Pig by Jean Van Leeuwen. This book begins different series of family stories about Oliver Pig and his little sister Amanda.

If these stories are too tame or too simplified for the five year old, here are a few chapter books with more text and fewer pictures:

Mixed-Up Twins by Carolyn Haywood. My urchins love these stories about identical twins, Ronald and Donald, who confuse everyone because they look so much alike. If you can’t find this one (it’s out of print), then try B Is for Betsy or Little Eddie, both by the same author.

Dolphin Adventure by Wayne Grover. The author meets up with a dolphin family in need of assistance.This book is good for animal lovers and for those who enjoy nonfiction more than fiction.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Four orphaned children, two sisters and two brothers, find an old abandoned boxcar and make their home there. The ingenuity of the children and their care for one another is so inspiring and fun to read about.

The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla. Shan, son of Lord Weldon, hides a sword in the hollow of a tree. The events of this book take place during the time of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, and Shan eventually ends up in Camelot. If you like this one, you might also like Viking Adventure by the same author.

The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron. Julian tells stories to his younger brother, Huey. I especially remember the story of Julian and the lemon pudding his father makes. Father takes a nap, and NO ONE is supposed to touch the pudding. There are two sequels, More Stories Julian Tells and Julian’s Glorious Summer.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. I’ve read this classic with my little ones, and they enjoyed it and understood it well as far as I could tell. Pooh is a bear for all ages.

I keep thinking of more possibilities, but I’ll have to save them for another day and another post.

4 thoughts on “Chapter Books for Preschoolers

  1. What a great list! My family has enjoyed many of these and recommend them to others.


  2. Mrs. S

    I’ll have to try some of these. I’ve been reading chapter books to my 3 year old for a month now (we’ve gone through 2 already) and he is absolutely hooked. He asks me me for books all the time now. It’s great. My only problem is finding enough books that are not too advanced for him to keep him happy!

  3. There are not a lot of chapter books (read-alouds) for preschoolers. After doing some searches, to no avail, I put out a list of books that I really liked on, click on “preschool chapter books.” So far I have around 30 books there.

    They are not all at the same level. Start with the simple ones like Magic Tree House, Andrew Lost, Moongobble, Mercy Watson, The Chalk Box Kid, and James and the Giant Peach. After reading through these simple ones (to kids age 4-5) the other ones on the list should all be accessible.

  4. Brrrlington

    Great topic! I found it looking for something new to read with my three almost four. I look forward to trying some of these suggestions- thank you. I second the Little Bear books and ANYTHING by Arnold Lobel for something longer but with pictures. Chapter books that we’ve read and continue to re-read include Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Dr. Doolittle, any of the Paddington Bear books, Jenny and the Cat Club books, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle- caveat: sometimes I edit some of these while I read if I deem something inappropriate. Happy reading.

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