The Read-Aloud Transition: Kindergarten Read-Alouds

I was nervous about introducing chapter book read-alouds to my son. This was last summer — a year ago — and my son was four. We’d stuck with picture books up to that point, but I knew we’d be starting homeschool kindergarten in the fall, and I wanted to get into the habit of reading longer books together.

Why was I nervous? For one thing, I wasn’t sure if his attention span was long enough. I didn’t want to rush in too quickly and end up with him not being able to follow the story. Also, I knew we had something good going with our picture book reading, and I was nervous that he would consider reading aloud to be boring if we switched to reading chapter books too early.

Because of my concerns, I started out slow. We continued to read picture books as well, while I slowly introduced chapter books that had engaging stories, short chapters, and clear, straightforward sentences. And it worked! The transition went smoothly, and my son was able to follow the story lines even without the aid of illustrations. It warmed my heart to hear the story lines and characters from our read-alouds emerging in his imaginative play.

Here are some of the chapter books that we read over the last year. They are all very accessible to young listeners, with memorable stories and characters.

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon – by Ruth Stiles Gannett

my father's dragon.jpg

A young boy rescues a dragon, by means of his own ingenuity and the contents of a well-stocked knapsack. The two proceed to have many adventures together.

Stuart Little – by E.B. White

stuart little

A young mouse (born to a human family) has adventures and survives the dangers of daily life that come when one is a mouse.

Charlotte’s Web – by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web.png

A charming tale of friendship about barnyard animals who band together to save the life of Wilbur the pig.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins – by Richard and Florence Atwater

mr. poppers penguins.jpg

A house-painter who has always longed to see the world (particularly the arctic and antarctic regions) finds himself in an interesting predicament when a penguin shows up on his doorstep.

Anna Hibiscus – by Atinuke

anna hibiscus.jpg

A young girl growing up in Africa (with her African father and Canadian mother) has many adventures with her fun-loving family. This is the first in a series of six books by Nigerian author Atinuke.

The Boxcar Children – by Gertrude Chandler Warner

the-boxcar-children.jpg

Four siblings make it on their own by living in an abandoned boxcar. A sweet story about ingenuity and caring for one another. This is the first in a very long series — the first 19 books were written by the original author.

The Dolphin Adventure – by Wayne Grover

dolphin adventure.jpg

The true story of a man who helps an injured dolphin when he’s diving off the coast of Florida. An engaging story, with two sequels available as well.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – by Roald Dahl

charlie and the chocolate

The fun and quirky story of a young boy who finds a golden ticket, allowing him to tour Willy Wonka’s extraordinary chocolate factory. The sequel is entitled Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

The Children of Noisy Village – by Astrid Lindgren

the children of noisy village.jpg

A charming story of a group of children growing up in Sweden in the 1960s. They experience the various traditional Swedish holidays and traditions, and have fun adventures along the way. This is the first book of the trilogy.

Pippi Longstocking – by Astrid Lindgren

pippi

A red-headed, mischievous girl with super-human strength, no parents, and a horse who lives on her front porch has a series of hilarious adventures. This is the first book of the trilogy.

Tumtum and Nutmeg – by Emily Bearn

tumtum and nutmeg

Two respectable British mice take it on themselves to help the children of the cottage where they live. This collection contains the first three books of the series, and books 4-6 can be found in The Rose Cottage Tales.

The Littles – by John Peterson

the littles

 A family of little people live in the walls of the Biggs’ home. But when the Biggs go on vacation, turmoil ensues. This is the first in a series of fifteen books.

Five True Dog Stories – by Margaret Davidson

dog sstories.jpg

Five stories about remarkable dogs — some have become famous (such as Balto), while others are unassuming pets who show courage, loyalty, and tenacity. The same author has books of stories on dolphins and horses (though those two come across as a bit more dated than then book of dog stories.)

The Mouse and the Motorcycle – by Beverly Cleary

mouse and the motorcycle

A young mouse living in the walls of a rural hotel becomes friends with a visiting boy who has a toy motorcycle. There are two sequels available about this remarkable mouse.

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

treasury for children

A collection of heart-warming tales about Yorkshire vet James Herriot and the animals he cares for. Technically this is a collection of picture books (the illustrations are lovely), but the text is long enough (and complex enough) that it felt more like reading a chapter book.

Old Mother West Wind – by Thornton Burgess

old mother west wind.jpg

A collection of fun, old-fashioned stories about anthropomorphized forest and meadow animals. Despite the fact that the animals talk and wear clothes, a lot of the details about their lives and homes are true to life. Thornton Burgess has a number of other books and stories that feature the same characters.

Homer Price – by Robert McKloskey

homer price.jpg

A collection of stories about a spunky, mechanical-minded boy growing up in the mid-west in the 1950s. The sequel is entitled Centerburg Tales.

25 thoughts on “The Read-Aloud Transition: Kindergarten Read-Alouds

  1. annettepimentel

    My kids drank up the books in the My Father’s Dragon series (despite my thinking they were strange), and we all love the Anna Hibiscus series. It’s so exciting to share a new kind of reading experience with little ones!
    I hope you’ll still keep picture books in the rotation, though. There are fantastic nonfiction picture books being published today that really are aimed at elementary school children, not preschoolers. Your son, particularly with his experience with new kinds of books, will be the perfect audience for them, and I think you’ll find lots to love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth @ Pages and Margins

      You’re absolutely right — picture books are still so important. And it does seem like there are more and more that are being published with an older audience in mind. I know I’ve come home from the library with a few picture books that I’ve thought “We’ll wait a few more years on this in terms of the content.” It’s so good to have variety in our types of reading, and in what’s available!

      Like

  2. Kathleen

    Such a fantastic list of books! I remember being in elementary school and my teacher reading, Charlotte’s Web, Pippy Longstocking, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Wonderful suggestions and wonderful memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. swapna

    How old is your son? Mine’s 4.5 and I’m so relieved that we have moved to Chapter books! It’s so much more interesting that reading picture books repeatedly. (We still read picture books cuz they’re easy and quick and he’s just 4.5!)

    We LOVED my father’s dragon, it’s only 75 pages and immensely interesting! We read it in two sittings without any difficulties. I’ve ordered the next two books in the series and can’t wait to find out the adventures Elmer has with his dragon!

    The next few books you’ve mentioned are in my list, i’m still wary of long chapter books- most are at least 200 pages. I remember reading Wizard of Oz and by the time we reached the final chapter, we’d both lost interest. Maybe it wasn’t a good edition, cuz I found it repetitive. (but loved all the new words- that we never encounter in picture books!)

    Anyways, last week, I downloaded Roahl Dal’s audio book app and got two short books (i.e 30-60 mins) -they’re fantastic! One of them was read aloud by Kate Winslet and I loved her narration! I got the audio book since I’ve been so obsessed with podcasts lately, that I realised audio books can be tremendously helpful in the ability to concentrate and listen for a stretch of time!

    Anyways, i’m bookmarking this page for future ref. Thanks for curating!

    #practicalmondays

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth @ Pages and Margins

      My son is 5 and I agree — chapter books are so much fun! I still love some of the picture book too, but it’s great to have the variety, and for him to have a longer attention span. I’ll have to look up the Roald Dahl audio book app — that sounds awesome!

      Like

  4. the bespectacled mother

    My son has just turned 5 and I have thought about graduating him from the picture books and start reading chapter books to him. I started with Roald Dahl’s ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ which he simply loved. I tried another Roald Dahl’s ‘The Minpins’ but this one did not work for its length. Thank you for this list of Chapter books. The list is going to be helpful for me 🙂
    I am visiting here from #LMMLink-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mommynificent

    Oh, this timing is perfect! We love so many of these, but I’ve never heard of Anna Hibiscus and we are studying West Africa right now! Off to Amazon I go! 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
    Tina

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gayl

    This is a great list! Some of the books I hadn’t heard of, but many of them were some we used when my kids were young. Great quality books. Thanks for sharing at #LMMLinkup!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. thisgracefullgarden

    Awesome list! I forgot about some of these! My daughter just turned 5 and she loves chapter books. I remember when we transitioned into them I was like “can she sit for this long?” Yup. Now we’re always looking for more to read that are enjoyable for us as well as her! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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