Books, books, and more books

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Today I'm posting about some books we've been reading and enjoying. I would also love get some recommendations from you as our appetite for new stories is pretty voracious right now.

Some of our current favorites are pictured above. Most are either beginner chapter books and/or part of a series, such as the Oliver Pig books, Little Bear, Frances, Magic School Bus, Mouse and Mole, and the Magic Tree House books. Maia likes the familiarity of reading multiple books about the same characters and is very big on chapter books right now. I'm not sure if it's the novelty of separate chapters or if she just likes longer stories, but she'll usually comment on or ask if it's a chapter book before reading it.


Granted, the chapters are mostly short and illustrated, as in Little Bear, above, and Mouse and Mole, below. Although the Magic Tree House books are longer and only sporadically illustrated yet still keep her attention, which surprised me. I wouldn't have started reading them except that a friend of Maia's loves them so much. We've only read a few so far and I'm been careful to choose ones that seem more age appropriate.



We still love non-chapter picture books, too, including this beautifully illustrated one above: The Umbrella Queen. A little girl with original ideas grows up in a village known for its traditional umbrella making.


And Birds by Kevin Henkes was recommended by one of you and is short but absolutely wonderful. This page reads, "If birds made marks with their tail feathers when they flew, think what the sky would look like."


Inch by Inch is another beautifully illustrated short story. An inchworm measures birds then outwits one who threatens to eat him. We like just about everything by Leo Lionni!

And now I'm going to ask for your recommendations. I used to be able to read Maia the same book many, many times but these days she wants something new almost every time. We get stacks and stacks from the library each week, but I would love to go armed with a list of winners. So, what books do you or your children love?

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  1. tranabanana says

    A slightly longer chapter book, but one that held the interest of all THREE of my girls (ages 5-7) was “Gooseberry Park” by Cynthia Rylant. The chapters are fairly short, and at least every other page had some type of illustration. Cynthia Rylant also writes “The Cobble Street Cousins” books, which are slightly longer chapter books, but the characters and stories are really sweet. “Harry the Lady Next Door” is another cute chapter book.

  2. says

    Piper’s started asking whether the books we’re reading are chapter books, too! :) We’ve read a few of the “Little House on the Prairie” books (Pi loved them) and “Alice in Wonderland” (which she was sort of lukewarm about), and my husband has been reading the Ralph Mouse (Beverly Cleary) books with her at bedtime.

  3. says

    Strega Nona is a series that my daughter is really into right now. She also loves all of Mo Willems books: Piggie and Elephant, Knuffle Bunny, etc. Frog and Toad is also popular around our house. And some of our favorite early chapter books are also written by Cynthia Rylant. Second the Cobble Street Cousins and also love The Lighthouse Family. These are good early chapter books because of the short chapters and nice illustrations.
    Some nice picture books that we have been enjoying this summer include:
    Sally Goes to the Beach (part of a fun series about a dog)
    Owl Babies
    Feathers For Lunch and Market Day (both by Lois Ehlert…love her)
    The Seven Silly Eaters
    The Giant Jam Sandwich
    Fun to see what Maia has been enjoying. Happy Reading!
    Have you been doing any summer reading? I am on the hunt for some good adult summer reading recommendations.

  4. says

    Happy Summer! Here’s a few of our faves these days – we are also bringing home stacks and stacks from the library.
    Poppleton books by Cynthia Rylant (3 short stories in each book)
    Toot and Puddle stories by Holly Hobbie
    Max Ruby stories by Rosemary Wells (esp. Bunny Cakes and Max Cleans Up)
    The Great Gracie Chase by Cynthia Rylant
    Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin (also Diary of a Spider and Diary of a Fly)
    Watch Me Grow books by DK – great nonfiction books about animals
    Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo (we adore these fun chapter books with full-color illustrations!)
    We also enjoyed the Cobble Street Cousins and The Lighthouse Family books as suggested by others. :)
    Happy Reading!

  5. erin says

    My seven year old really loves the books, Zen Shorts and Zen Ties. Adorable illustrations. They are about a giant panda named Stillwater. I’m a newish reader to your blog, so I apologize if you’re familiar with these books already.
    My son also heartily agrees with Dim Sum as posted above.

  6. says

    have you read ferdinand yet? try the my father’s dragon series also. there is also the flat stanley series. my favorites are definitely the leo lionni books though! good luck–there are SO many great books out there! oh, there’s a really good one called library mouse also.

  7. says

    My three-year-old loves Uno’s Garden and almost anything from the Usborne Beginners series (“Planes” is his favourite but there are lots). He also likes Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff – but it’s a very old one, from when I was little, so I don’t know if it’s around any more.

  8. says

    If you’re wanting good books, sometimes the best thing to do is go to the library with an author’s name and get books by them. Cynthia Rylant and Ruth Krauss are two of our favorites.
    Also, my daughter was happy to have a chapter (or, if she was really into it that night, a few chapters) of Little House in the Big Woods (we got to the Plum Creek book before she lost interest, now we’re back to the Big Woods), Charlotte’s Web, books like that. She’s very sensitive to certain issues, so I watch for her ’emotional age’ when I pick out books to suggest.

  9. says

    Melanie Watt- the Scaredy Squirrel series and Augustine. Scaredy is a neurotic squirrel who finds unexpected surprises in each stories. They are very funny and clever. Augustine is a very sweet penguin who moves to the North Pole and makes friends through her artwork.
    The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller- a wordless book about a little dog who lives in a treehouse and has a boat and he has many adventures. I’ve given out this book many, many times to children as gifts and it always captures their attention.
    Charlotte’s Web, Frog Toad and the original Winnie the Pooh stories. The BBC production of the Pooh stories are a really wonderful audiobook set.
    Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco- a little girl overcomes her fear of thunder by helping her baba gather ingredients on their small farm to make a Thunder Cake. This story (and a couple of our own Thunder Cakes) helped my DS overcome his own fear of lightning storms.
    Shel Silverstein’s poetry collections
    The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch- a princess outwits a dragon to save her prince
    I’ll also second the John Muth, Zen Shorts, The Three Questions and Stone Soup are all very lovely.

  10. MO says

    Winnie the Pooh – I read this to my boys during a long car drive and I forgot how cute it is. Practically no pictures but does have chapters.
    Mr Putter Tabby series. Have nice short chapters, a good amount of pictures and are very entertaining (silly to the kids).
    Sadly, my 4 yr old boys are not yet into the “true” chapter books like The Giant Peach, etc., where there are no pictures. I might try again in a couple of months.
    Oh, one cute book we read recently that would be fun (no chapters but fun) is Rabbit and His Big Bad Mood (or something like that).

  11. says

    LOVE Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo and Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant. Can’t remember who does Frog and Toad, but they are great too!! Cynthia Rylant also does a mystery series with bunnies, but I can’t think of the name of it. My first graders (and 4 year old ADORE these books!)

  12. Molly says

    Stella also likes the Umbrella Queen. She also likes the Oliver and Amanda Pig series, Flower Fairies by Warne and Barker, and Rumplestilskin by Brothers Grimm, Poetry for Children. She is also really into poetry and short stories loves to hear anything from Jarod and my shelves.

  13. michelle says

    henry mudge
    complete tales of winnie the pooh
    complete tales of beatrix potter
    my Father’s dragon (complete set)
    junie b. jones series (not sure how you’d feel about these, though!)
    the boxcar children
    betsy-tacey series
    james herriott’s animal treasury
    the Little’s series
    milly-molly-mandy storybook

  14. Joy says

    what a perfect post and great suggestions – I’ve been looking for some new ideas! My 3 yo son loves Mercy Watson (though it’s definitely not a read-again story from an adult perspective) and also The Littles. For other stories, I find that my/our favorite books are almost always published by Candlewick Press – their books are so great. The combination of story and really engaging artwork works really well. Hard to look up books by publisher but keep an eye out for that name on the spine and it will likely be a good pick!

  15. Frances says

    Mouse Tales
    Mouse Soup
    Owl at Home
    All by Arnold Lobel
    These are simple and funny and well-illustrated “chapter” books like _Little Bear_ books.

  16. says

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time, but never commented before. Great blog, by the way! Give me great ideas to work with my 4 1/2 yo daughter.
    The Gruffalo and anything written by Julia Donaldson, not only picture books
    Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (wonderful!)
    Angelina Ballerina (my daughter loves this one, since she herself loves to dance)
    Anne of Green Gables (for a bit older kids)
    Have a nice summer you all!

  17. says

    We made our first trip to the library Monday and left with a nice little pile of books for my three year old. I have a list I got off another blog (if I remember which one I’ll come back and post it) of recommended books for ages 3-7 and I also printed off the Caldecott books list. I figured we would highlight the ones we have read and keep the list going until we read them all. We brought home the folowing from the library:
    Angelina Ballerina
    Sheila Rae, the Brave
    The Kingfisher Book of Nursery Tales
    I Love You, Stinky Face
    Guess How Much I love You
    Welcome to Zanzibar Road
    Make Way for Ducklings

  18. says

    M adores Oliver and Amanda Pig and the Frances books at Maia’s age and we started reading Magic Tree House around that time too. Some other short chapter series that we’ve enjoyed are the Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo, My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (first in a trilogy), and Flat Stanley (the author’s name is escaping me now). I saw that someone had mentioned Mr. Putter and Tabby. We love those too and we’re now returning to them for M to read to me which is so fun.

  19. Viva says

    I ditto the Frog Toad series by Arnold Lobel. Loved it when I was a kid, and now share it with my own.

  20. says

    My girls have recently fallen in love with Kevin Henkes…”Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse”, “Chysanthemum” and more :)

  21. Cassie says

    My little boy is younger than Maia, but seems to be at the same stage with the type of book he wants read to him. Have you come across Barefoot Books? They have an emphasis on marrying lovely stories with beautiful illustrations. They often come as collections, so not strictly chapter books, but they can be treated that way. We enjoy:
    The Story Tree: Tales to Read Aloud by Hugh Lupton illus. by Sophie Fatus
    Storytime: First Tales for Sharing by Jim Broadbent illus. by Anne Wilson
    The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems chosen and illus. by Jackie Morris (some are too mature in content, but we tend to skip them, and it’s one we will definitely come back to again and again as he grows)
    The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales by Malachy Doyle illus. by Nicoletta Ceccoli (both familiar and unusual tales here)
    We also like the Alfie stories by Shirley Hughes — about a big brother (he’s 5, I think) and his baby sister. The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook, and The Big Alfie Out of Doors Storybook are both collections, so again they “read” as chapter books. Simple, lovely, real stories, with messy houses and kids with cereal on their faces.
    In the non-chapter book, but with more words on each page, we have been enjoying Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen illus. by Kevin Hawkes.
    Oh, and can’t forget Jeremiah Obadiah Jackenory Jones by Allen Ahlberg — it might be out of print, but I’m sure a library would be able to source a copy for you. This one *is* a chapter book, and very fun — a muddled up fairy tale.

  22. Cassie says

    Oops — just checked our copy, and that last one should have been “Jerimiah in the Dark Woods” — and it *is* still in print.

  23. says

    I think you will really enjoy The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.
    Holly Hobbie’s Toot Puddle books have beautiful watercolor illustrations.

  24. says

    I just read The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, the last third of the book is just recommendations of books, with a brief summary and suggested ages. His website has some shorter lists.
    My daughter is a little younger but we both loved Here’s a Little Poem, edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fuesk Peters. The poems are all on subjects that preschoolers love, and beautifully illustrated by Polly Dunbar.
    We also just checked out a book of illustrated Greek Myths.
    Mary Pope Osborne reworks fairy tales for Kate and the Beanstalk and The Brave Little Seamstress.
    Finally, I can’t believe no one has mentioned Richard Scary! Yes, it’s a bit dated sometimes, but Fiona loves Richard Scary’s Animal Nursery Tales and we act out The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Red Ridding Hood or The Three Little Pigs pretty much every day.

  25. Ann says

    High Rise Private Eyes is the Cynthia Rylant dectective series. They are just super – fun for kids and so fun for the grownup reading it.
    Barn Cat by Carol Saul – ills. Mary Azarian is just beautiful -more for a 3 year old. Just passed on my copy as a bday present.
    Chinaberry books has a fun catalog to read and then I often get the books from the library.

  26. Ann says

    Oh and all the Janell Cannon books (crickwing, verdi, stellaluna…)
    My boys think the Tacky the Penguin are hysterical-me not so.

  27. Jessica Jones says

    We just read Peter Pan to our 4 1/2 year old, and she LOVED it. The book we have is called “Great Illustrated Classics” by Baronet Books. These books are simplified and illustrated versions of great classics. Every other page has an illustration, so as we read the book she could look at a picture, but the book is still a chapter book with 200+ pages. Now we are reading The Swiss Family Robinson, another “Great Illustrated Classics” book.
    Check it out. There are tons of them.

  28. aly says

    I second My Father’s Dragon. It’s a perfect first chapter book in my opinion. It has short chapters, plenty of illustrations, and a charmingly written and engaging plot. We also enjoyed The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. The premise is that lands blow in and away in the clouds at the top of a tree and one can visit them by climbing up. Some of the lands are fun to visit and others aren’t pleasant at all, and you have to make sure to leave before the clouds blow out so you don’t get stuck in there. My 4-year-old daughter has been making up her own make-believe lands ever since we read it. It seems to be a bit hard to get, but it’s worth the effort (our library network had it).

  29. says

    My girls love to be read chapter books too and we have read so many. I love the recommendations by Jim Trelease in The Read-Aloud Handbook and Hey, Listen to This. My girls have especially enjoyed Homer Price, Mr. Poppers Penguins, Mrs. Pigglewiggle, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We also loved the gorgeously illustrated version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
    I just found your blog and I am really enjoying it!