Lion has slowly been easing into chapter books. Although he still loves picture books and we check out about 50 books every two weeks from the library, he’s been enjoying chapter books more and more recently. I like them because we don’t tear through ten books at once and I think it’s great that Lion is starting to rely more on his imagination than the pictures in a book. We started with the Commander Toad series when he was about 20 months old and while he enjoyed them quite a bit, chapter books didn’t take off for him until just before he turned 3-years-old. One problem that we are having, though, is getting Lion to understand that we don’t have to finish the entire chapter book in one sitting! Here are some of our favorite chapter book series.
Commander Toad by Jane Yolen – There are seven different books in the Commander Toad series and they were the first chapter books we borrowed from the library. Lion enjoys books about space and found these books to be pretty funny. There are pictures on every page, even if there’s a lot of accompanying text, making it an easy transition from picture books to chapter books. Commander Toad in Space, Commander Toad and the Dis-Asteroid, Commander Toad and the Voyage Home, Commander Toad and the Intergalactic Spy, Commander Toad and the Planet of the Grapes, Commander Toad and the Big Black Hole, and Commander Toad and the Space Pirates.
The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems – I actually didn’t know this was a chapter book and ordered it from the library simply because we’d read all of Mo Willems’ other books. The Story of Diva and Flea has plenty of pictures, so another good transitional book. We borrowed it right around the two-year-old mark and Lion really enjoyed it. He wanted us to read it to him multiple times.
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat – There are twenty-six books in this series and we’ve only read a couple of them, but definitely have the rest of them on our library list. Nate the Great is a detective and there’s a new mystery to solve in each book, such as Nate the Great and the Snowy Trail, Nate the Great and the Stolen Base, Nate the Great, San Francisco Detective, Nate the Great on the Owl Express, and Nate the Great and the Monster Mess.
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett – This trilogy is a big hit for toddlers; what child doesn’t love the magic of dragons? I actually remember this series from my own childhood, so it’s a great trip down memory lane to read My Father’s Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland. All three are available in this collection.
Rabbit and Robot by Cece Bell – There are only two in this series, but like Commander Toad, there are a lot of pictures to go along with the text. These books are shorter than most other chapter books, making them a great transitional series. Lion loved Rabbit & Robot and Ribbit. The other title is Rabbit & Robot and the Sleepover.
Teen Titans Go! – These books were more that we just stumbled upon without realizing they were chapter books. Lion loves superheroes, so I ordered a couple from the library. We’ve tried a few different ones like Robin Rules, Raven Rocks and Beast-Boy Bro-Down.
Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne – One of the reasons I was so excited for Lion to start reading chapter books was so that we could start reading the Magic Tree House series. Although I had never read it before having Lion, when I was in high school and college, I worked as the lead bookseller for the children’s department of a Barnes and Noble. This series was hugely popular at the time and each time a new one was released we’d have boxes of them shipped and huge displays in the children’s department. I think it’s popular for good reason, with the two kids in the story transported by a magic tree house to different time periods and locations, with great information about different subjects; Lion loves telling me which subject he wants to read about the next time we go to the library. There are over 50 fictional stories as well as non-fiction companions and research guides. I like that they’re numbered, which makes it a bit easier to keep track of which ones we’ve already read. Here are just a few titles from this series: Midnight on the Moon, The Knight At Dawn, Night of the Ninjas, Dolphins at Daybreak, Revolutionary War on Wednesday, Polar Bears Past Bedtime, Pirates Past Noon, Afternoon on the Amazon, and Vacation Under the Volcano. The more recent Magic Tree House books, known as the “Merlin” series are longer than the original 28 books and we haven’t ventured into those yet.
What are your favorite chapter books for young preschoolers?