20 of the best read aloud chapter books you and your kids will enjoy!

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When my oldest kiddo was about 3 months old, we began reading aloud to her before bedtime every night. She’s now 11-1/2 and we still haven’t stopped. Our reading now includes her 8-year-old brother. We have evolved from short, board books to chapter books. Around kindergarten, my kiddos were able to keep up with read aloud chapter books. We’ve found quite a few that we’ve enjoyed together as a family.

While my kids can read on their own, we enjoy reading books together. We make it a priority to spend 15-20 minutes together before bedtime each evening. Our kids get ready for bed, we pray together and then we read together. We’ve read all sorts of things. We’ve navigated through series and gotten enveloped in worlds as well as read stand-alone books. With our youngest being 8, we also read picture books.

Reading together before bedtime helps our kiddos settle down from the day and get ready for bed. Plus, we also enjoy the time together. (And I’m all for snuggling together to read!) Sharing a book together is fun. In fact, we often reference the books long after reading them. As an avid reader myself, I absolutely love that! We also pass time on road trips by reading together.

Both of my kids spoke early and well and have great vocabularies, which I attribute at least in part to our reading time. And, if you need more convincing to read aloud to your kiddos, all sorts of statistics show how beneficial it is to children. Reading with their parents encourages children to love books and exposes them to language they won’t hear elsewhere. Regular reading time is also linked to kids’ academic success.

So, pick a book off the list, order a hard copy or e-edition and get to reading with your kiddos! The majority of them are book series, so you’ll find way more than 20 books represented here. I’ve organized them by age range, but you know your kids best and what they’d like. We have read some of the books for third to fifth graders with our younger son, and he loved them as well!

Kindergarten through 2nd grades

We love “The Jesus Storybook Bible” from Sally Lloyd-Jones so much. Every story points to Jesus. We’ve read it through many times, and I love it just as much as my kiddos do! It’s divided into stories rather than traditional chapters, but it counts as a chapter book to me since you don’t read it all at once.

One of the first chapter books we ever read with our kiddos was the “Mr. Putter and Tabby” series. These books from Cynthia Rylant are divided into short chapters. For younger kiddos, a chapter at a time is just right, but as they get older, you can read then entire book at once if you’d like. This series is also great for emerging readers to try on their own with you and they don’t need to be read in order.

Another Cynthia Rylant series our kids have loved is the “Henry and Mudge” series. My son especially enjoys these books because he loves his dog so much just like the main character, Henry, loves his dog, Mudge. Again, the books have short chapters, are great for emerging readers and can be read by chapter or all at once. While the first book of the series introduces the characters, the books don’t have to be read in order to make sense.

The “Geronimo Stilton” books follow a journalist mouse who goes on all sorts of adventures. We’ve enjoyed quite a few of these books together. The fun part of Geronimo Stilton books is that you can find them for most any setting since sometimes Geronimo travels through time. Each book includes an age-appropriate mystery. This series is OK to be read in a random order.

We love, love, love the Humphrey book series from Betty G. Birney! (Humphrey likes to emphasize words sometimes by using them three times in a row, so I couldn’t resist.) Humphrey is a hamster who is a class pet to a second grade classroom and gets up to all sorts of things. The 12-book series is entertaining with great character development and plot lines. Humphrey books are good to read in order starting with the first one, but they make sense even if you don’t read them in order.

You also can’t go wrong with classics, like E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Webb.” Both of my kiddos read this book with their classes in kindergarten during class story time. And they both enjoyed it. This pair of unlikely friends — a pig and a spider — have a heartwarming story that has been enjoyed for generations.

A newer-to-us series is again from Cynthia Rylant. “The Lighthouse Family” series of eight books follows a mismatch family of animals who come together by the end of the first book to run a lighthouse. There is just the right amount of trouble to keep young readers interested but not so much as to make them anxious or worried. Read this series in order.

Another great series of 26 read-aloud chapter books is Ron Roy’s “A to Z Mystery” series. My daughter read them on her own in second grade, but we’ve read a few of them aloud together. Both of my kids love this series. They both dressed as characters from this series for a dress-like-a-book-character day at school when my son was in kindergarten and my daughter was in third grade. Each story in the series is independent, so they don’t have to be read in order.

My son and I have recently read a few of the “Magic Treehouse” books by Mary Pop Osborne together. This 28-book series follows the adventures of a brother and sister, who travel by treehouse to various locations and time periods. While reading them in order is a good idea, they don’t have to be read in order to make sense.

Based off the characters from the “Fancy Nancy” picture books, the eight “Nancy Clancy” chapter books by Jane O’Connor follow along with an older version of Nancy. My daughter, in particular, enjoyed reading through these books with me. We read them together before my son was old enough to enjoy chapter books. With great story lines and just the right amount of tension, these books are best read in order.

3rd through 5th grades

Two years ago, we planned to take our children to Orlando, Fla., on spring break. Since we wanted to take them to both Disney World and Universal Florida, we started reading J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series with them. To say they fell in love would be an understatement. The 7-book series is definitely one of our family’s favorites. We’ve read all the books and watched the movies afterward. It took us time to get through all of them; we only managed book one before our trip. But we all loved rooting for the boy wizard who had to overcome so many obstacles. I read the series years ago on my own as an adult and enjoyed it even more reading through it again with my children. The story lines continue from one book to the next, so read this series in order.

Because our family also loves Judy Garland movie and because both of my kids were munchkins in a K-12 production at their school, we also have read L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” out loud together. It’s a great read-aloud chapter book that you can then follow up with the movie, especially if you’ve not watched it with your kiddos before. There are additional books as part of this series as well. I’ve only read the first one with my kiddos.

If you’re not looking for a read aloud chapter book series, consider “Because of Winn Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo. My daughter read it for school in third grade and we read it along with her at home. All four of us enjoyed this story that has well developed characters and many touching moments.

Growing up, I loved Judy Blume books so much that I picked her as my career inspiration in fifth grade. So, I was excited to share her books with my kiddos. Neither have enjoyed them as much as I did, but the 5-book “Fudge” series is great for reading out loud and best for reading in order.

L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” 8-book series is another great read aloud chapter book for upper elementary kiddos. My daughter and I read through the first book together a few years ago. It’s one we’ll come back to. Because my daughter has red hair, we enjoyed reading about a main character with red hair! (And note that the Netflix version of Anne isn’t completely in line with the books and has darker content.) As Anne grows up from book-to-book, it’s best to read this series in order.

Another book I loved as a child and have been excited to share with my kids is Madeleine L’Engle’s “Time Quintet.” Just a few years ago, I learned “A Wrinkle in Time,” the first book of the series, was actually the first book of five. So, I read the remaining four and they are just as terrific! I’ve read part of “A Wrinkle in Time” aloud to my daughter, but she was too young to grasp it. I can’t wait to read it with my kiddos again now that they are older. This quintet is on my list for us to read together. I love the characters and lessons woven into these books, which you should read in order.

Our current read aloud chapter books have been “The Mapmaker Chronicles” by A.L. Tait. I bought the first three books for us and we loved following along with 15-year-old Quinn Freeman on his dangerous task of mapping the world. He had all sorts of adventures that kept us all intrigued and interested while also being age-appropriate. I found the fourth book in the British version recently and we just started reading it. Read this series in order.

Another great read aloud chapter book is Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The book is such a fun read (even more so than either of the movies). Charlie is an easy underdog for whom to cheer. A sequel to the books, “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator,” continues the story. I read the sequel myself when I was a child, but I haven’t read it with my kiddos.

The 7-book “Chronicles of Narnia” series from C.S. Lewis is great for family reading. We’ve not yet read through the series together, though my daughter is about halfway through the first book. This series is also on my list for us to read together. And the movies made from this series are pretty excellent. Just like with other books I’ve mentioned, we’ll watch the movies together after reading the books, which are best to read in order.

And, finally, I’m rounding out the list with Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” 5-book series. My daughter recently finished this series and fell in love with it. When we were talking about chapter books to recommend for families to read together, she insisted I include this series. We watched the first movie together after she finished reading the book, and I have a feeling we’ll read this series as a family together pretty soon. The story line continues from one book to the next, so you should read them in order.

About the Author: Stacey A. Shannon

Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and blogger who has been published internationally. She's also a Christian, a wife and a mom of two school-aged children. She started Families with Grace in 2019 to encourage Christian moms as they create homes filled with grace, love and faith.

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Family read aloud chapter books for kindergarteners through 5th gradersFamily read aloud chapter books for kindergarteners through 5th graders