We recently posted our thoughts about waiting for the proper time to introduce classic read aloud chapter books to our little ones. One of the suggestions we made was to read aloud the original versions of such books for the enjoyment of the whole family.
Most probably, you’ve seen some abridged, simplified, or Disney-fied versions of the following titles. Let me tell you, though, you and your child will have a more wonderful and meaningful time reading these original literary pieces.
We’ve listed some of the classic read aloud chapter books that we enjoy reading to our own kids. Children ages 2 to 3 will enjoy the shorter books listed from numbers one to three. The longer novels can be read to older kids, a chapter or two at a time. Remember, there are many benefits of reading to our kids even when they are already reading.
1. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Every child should know this lovable bear the way A.A. Milne pictured him! Born in 1926, Pooh’s wisdom and simple-mindedness is like a breath of fresh air in our busy and cluttered modern-day lives. Skip the Disney version and enjoy the classic Pooh stories! (Try Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest over at our shop.)
2. Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit (and the other books in the series)
Beatrix Potter’s lyrical tales about the animals that she grew up with are truly magical. These stories are simple enough for beginning readers to peruse themselves and for younger book-lovers to comprehend. You’ll be surprised how much your child will love the stories even though you’ll find the language a bit quaint… that’s vocabulary expansion for you! (Search for ‘Beatrix Potter’ at our online bookshop.)
3. Thomas the Tank Engine by Reverend Wilbert Awdry
Did you know that Thomas and Friends as you know them now are actually characters based on the classic stories by Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son, Christopher? Thomas the Tank Engine originally appeared in the second of The Railway Series books by the authors and have been delighting children everywhere since 1946. Read the original!
4. Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Wilder
My personal favorite! My daughter got hooked to this series ever since we got the first book upon Mariel’s recommendations of classic read aloud chapter books. We read a chapter or two (or three because even I got so addicted to it that I couldn’t stop reading aloud!) before bedtime and have finished several exciting books about the four orphans’ adventures.
5. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Who does not know the story of this boy who “won’t grow up”? Join Wendy, Michael, and John as they fly off to Neverland with Peter Pan and realize that there is no place like home. Yes, there are many versions out there from different publishers, but if you can get your hands on the original one, so much the better!
6. Little House in the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Go back in time with Laura and her family as she shares stories of growing up in the prairie with her Pa, Ma, sisters Mary and Carry, and their dog Jack. Make it twice as fun by dressing up like them and doing things, as the Energizer Bunny says, “just like in the olden days.” Oh, and even though Little House series was made into a hit TV series in the 1970s (which you can find in YouTube), reading the original story is much more exciting.
7. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classics (The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy)
Get out your handkerchiefs and get ready to have some major lumps in your throat as you read any of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books. Featuring children who feel unloved or go through some major changes in their lives, these classics will surey leave an indelible mark in your children’s minds. These books are as old as classics can get but the stories remain magical even in these gadget-filled times.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I put this in after my husband suggested that I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to the Energizer Bunny, who was in a wardrobe-hiding phase a few months ago. The adventures of the Pevensie children who became kings and queens in the magical land of Narnia will leave every child enthralled. A suggestion: read the books before watching the movies.
9. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The story of Dorothy and her friends in the Land of Oz has captured many children’s hearts since its publication in 1900… the Judy Garland movie helped too! The adventure begins when Dorothy, an orphan living with her aunt and uncle in Kansas, and her dog, Toto, gets caught in a cyclone and magically lands in Munchkin County in the Land of Oz. Rereading this to my daughter brought back so many childhood memories!
10. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Another classic that both kids and adults will enjoy reading. First published in 1908, each chapter of the book tells the adventures and misadventures of four characters- Mole, Ratty, Toad, and Badger. A timeless story about the friendship of four very different individuals. This is next on our reading list.
Did we miss anything? Share your favorite classic read aloud chapter books over at the comments.