When I was in the classroom, one of my absolute favorite times of the day was the “read-aloud.” I LOVE LOVE LOVE children’s literature and feel that introducing it to children is a true gift. The next time you read a new story to your child, watch their eyes light up…..pay attention to the way they anxiously await to find out what will happen next….note the way they relate to the characters…Teaching your child to develop a passion for reading is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give them. Reading is the gateway to knowledge and the doorway to adventure. We MUST endeavor to create lovers of literacy in our homes! Lead by example! Allow your child to see YOU reading, and read to your child EVERYDAY!!

I was recently asked to recommend some chapter books that would be appropriate read-alouds for the younger preschool set. I had a very hard time narrowing my list down (and frankly just ADORE children’s lit) so I will be providing reading suggestions to you on a regular basis! This week’s suggestions are geared towards 3-4 year olds with shorter attention spans. I have a list of suggestions ready to go for 3 1/2 to 5 year olds that are able to listen for longer stretches of time that I will post in a few days.

The following books are perfect for kids who are just learning to sit still for a story that is slightly longer than your average picture book. Each of these chapter books have SHORT chapters (that are easier to sit through), and offer a picture or two here and there. Children love illustrations, and often learning to just listen and paint the pictures in their mind is a hard adjustment. These chapter books ease them in slowly…

1. The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne – There are 28 books in the original series, although the author has created a spin-off series as well (twice as long, and not quite as suitable..) In these books, brother and sister, Jack and Annie by way of a magic tree house filled with special books, go on journeys and adventures, solving missions, performing rescues, and learning new facts along the way. I love that this series appeals to boys! It seems as though the majority of children’s books are geared towards girls, so it was really fun to find this series that my sons can enjoy! Open up these books and visit the dinosaurs, meet knights in shining armor, sail with pirates, swim with the dolphins, and roam the jungle.If your child likes the books, you can visit the website, Magic Treehouse, for fun printables!

2. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown – This is a wonderful little chapter book that engages both genders. Stanley is a normal little boy until a giant bulletin board flattens him! He then goes on all sorts of adventures in his new flat form. He becomes a kite, hangs on the wall, and is mailed in the mailbox! (My kindergarten classroom mailed a cut-out of “Stanley” around the world, and kept track of all the places he visited during the year!) You and your kids could do that as well! This really is a cute little story, that has also spawned a few sequels.

3. Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne – While the chapters in this book are a little longer than my first two suggestions, children enjoy hearing about characters they are familiar with. And for most, they will be stories that are still new and fresh! (And yes, you might hear, “But where’s Darby?!”) My own children loved hearing about the adventures Pooh and friends had prior to his super sleuthing days. This book also sports beautiful illustrations, which will help with the slightly longer chapters.

4. George’s Marvelous Medicine  by Roald Dahl – I LOVE Roald Dahl! LOVE him! I will be recommending several of his other books later. However, this is a great starter for your kids, due to its length and illustrations. Kids will love the crazy story and the funny antics. Dahl uses lots of colorful and creative language that helps to engage children. One word of caution when reading Dahl is you sometimes need to edit as you read. WhenI read his books to my classroom, I often left out multiple words. He sometimes uses words like “stupid, moron, idiot….a few of his books use the word ass)…Towards that end, this is why I love his books for reading-aloud…You can choose which words to say! Aside from that, this story is very cute. George decides he is tired of his cranky and cantankerous grandmother. He gathers up lots of crazy supplies from his home and concocts a “medicine” to give her. The results are quite funny and NOT what he expected!

Stay tuned for my list of chapter books for kids with slightly longer attention spans (chapters about 10 minutes long.) I can’t wait to share them with you!!!  I have a few more suggestions for this younger set as well! Try out some of these suggestions, or try your own! Just READ! Read every single day! Find a time of day that works for YOU. You do NOT have to read right before bed just because everyone else does. If reading after dinner, or at naptime, etc. works best for you, go with it! If you are just beginning to introduce chapter books, read it at a separate time from other picture books. Set aside a specific time just for chapter books. Cuddle up, make some popcorn, and make it special! Let your child know you are doing something fun (and grown-up or something that “big kids” do!) They will love it! Happy reading!!