It’s CBCA Book Week! We have been having fun celebrating books this week with dress ups, making bookmarks, a new book lamp for reading in bed, and a couple of trips to the library planned. I wanted to share some of my son’s favourite books that he has been reading. In fact, as I edit this, he is curled up on the couch with a book. It’s beautiful.
I previously wrote about how we began to teach our son to read when he was only 3.5 years old. When I say “teach,” really, he mostly learnt by himself and through a game so I can’t really take any credit whatsoever. He is now almost 4.5 and he loves to read. He reads quickly and accurately. He rarely comes across a word he doesn’t know. He understands almost everything he reads and he reads with expression and the occasional hilarious character voices. The book that he is reading at the moment (Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Racoon) is apparently at a third grade reading level.
Although his reading ability is quite high, he is not reading full chapter books yet. He does occasionally lose his place and have to find it again and he prefers books with lots of pictures and slightly bigger writing. He also prefers to read out loud, although he can read silently. He doesn’t yet lose himself in a long book.
Hey Jack! by Sally Rippin
I have found it quite difficult to find books at his reading ability that are suitable content for a (very innocent) four year old. A lot of books of this transitional level are targeted at 6-8 year olds and are simply not suitable. Many have potty humour or jokes that he doesn’t get (and are often inappropriate for any age). Some have life experiences that he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand soccer rules or school playground etiquette so books based around those are beyond him. This is before you even begin to consider the literary quality of the books. Finding books that are suitable for his reading level, appropriate for his age and of a high standard of writing has definitely been a challenge. Thankfully, I have had some wonderful friends, groups and blogs who have helped me to find some delightful books for him.
We have been enjoying these transitional chapter books (and longer readers). Some are exceptionally written (and some are just well written). The chapters are short, the writing is bigger, and they have lots of pictures. They are shorter in length too and can often be read in one or two sittings. They are a great bridge between readers/picture books and full chapter books. These are (very approximately) sorted by length and difficulty.
Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel. Some fun short stories about two charming friends. These had Mr 4 giggling.
Billy and Blaze Series by C.W. Anderson. These are wonderfully written stories about a young boy and his horse. They are a longer reader length, without chapters.
Greg’s Microscope by Millicent Selsam. Really, any book my Millicent Selsam comes highly recommended by Ambleside Online if you can find them (they are a bit difficult to get in Australia). We only have this one, but it is wonderful!
Usborne Young Reading Series. Some of these are retellings of classic stories and fables. His favourite has been Saint George and the Dragon and he read it many times.
Hey Jack! Series by Sally Rippin. He really loved these and I think he related a lot to Jack as a slightly anxious and overwhelmed kid. Some of the stories were a bit over his head but they were quite wholesome compared to a lot of books about school-aged boys. The books are really short, just three chapters, with big writing. They are great “first” chapter books.
Going Bush with Grandpa by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. Sally Morgan has a few simple chapter books which present life from the perspective of an Indigenous Australian character.
Little Gems published by Barrington Stoke (authors include Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo, Malorie Blackman, Alexander McCall Smith, Dick King-Smith). This collection of books is presented specifically for children with dyslexia to be easy to read and I have found them great for new readers too. We have borrowed a few from the library and they have been fun, well written stories.
Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne. A fun (albeit somewhat repetitive) series about a brother and sister who find a time travelling treehouse. Mr 4 has enjoyed these and found them a great series to follow Hey Jack.
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. These are shorter chapter books which have a fun, easy to read story. The hilarity of a flat kid who can slip under doors and fold up in an envelope is perfect for a 4yo.
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo. These have been his absolute favourites so far. Each time we get one he reads it in one sitting, giggling with delight. The stories are absolutely perfect for his age and the books are full of gorgeous colour illustrations.
Books by Enid Blyton. We have particularly enjoyed Noddy and the Faraway Tree books. She has so many books, and I myself grew up reading them.
Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh. This classic story is wonderfully written and delightful to read.
The Tinklers Three Series by Meredith Badger. (Pictured in the header image) This was a series that we found at our local library and it was wonderful! The family in the story is quirky and eccentric and the stories are completely different to real life (anyone want to turn their apartment into a swimming pool?). Mr 4 has giggled and gasped his way through most of them.
Tales from Deckawoo Drive Series by Kate DiCamillo. These are the natural next step up from the Mercy Watson series and feature spin off stories from the original series. They are longer and more complex than the Mercy series. These books have been so helpful for helping our son to brave reading a book with more “white pages” as he says. He already knew the characters and so wanted to read the stories even though the books looked harder to him. He is reading this series at the moment.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler. This is currently waiting on his “to read” pile. It’s a classic story and a great early chapter book. I can’t wait to introduce it to him!
I hope you have found this helpful. It is by no means an exhaustive list of books for this level, nor is it only the very top literary books, although I do think they are some of the better ones. It is our list. Books that have suited our young son as he delves into the world of chapter books. I would LOVE to hear what’s on your list.