The absolute best read-out-loud chapter books

Reading a chapter book out loud to your kids can feel like a marathon at times: Hard to stay awake (yes, we hear the snores), not to mention the voice fitness required for all those upbeat vocal Olympics. But don’t be put off, the benefits and bonding are so enormously wonderful that it’s worth every ounce of time and effort. Grab this list of read-out-loud crowd-pleasers, snuggle up, and join the fun!

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien

For ages: 8 years old and up  / Genre: Fantasy
The Hobbit is one of the best-known and loved fantasy books for children. This book allows the children to escape to another world using their imagination and creativity. The Hobbit, the prequel to The Lord of the Rings series, follows Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who lives a peaceful life in his hole at Bag End. His comfortable life is disrupted by an old wizard, Gandalf, who persuades Bilbo to set out on an adventure with a group of 13 militant dwarves who are embarking on a quest to reclaim their treasure. This classic adventure brings out the best in the little hobbit at its centre: Bravery, loyalty, and cunning.

The Wishing Chair, by Enid Blyton

For ages: 7 years old and up/ Genre: Fantasy
This is more of a simple book, but is incredibly magical. The story follows Peter and Mollie, plus their friends and a pixie called Chinky going on adventures on a magic chair with wings that lifts them high up into the air and flies them wherever they wish! This book is a fun, exciting read for children that will have them sitting at the end of the bed waiting to hear what is going to happen next. This is an ideal book for younger kids especially, as all the stories end happily, leaving them settled for bedtime.

Badjelly the Witch, by Spike Milligan

For ages: 5 years old and up/ Genre: Humour, fairy tale
This is the kind of book that will leave your kids begging for one more chapter. This fairy tale follows the story of Badjelly the Witch, who can turn children into sausages, policemen into apple trees, or bananas into mice, and she is the wickedest witch in all the world. Searching for Lucy, their cow, Tim and Rose become lost in a great black forest where they meet Binklebonk the Tree Goblin, Mudwiggle the Worm, Silly Sausage the Grasshopper, and Dinglemouse. Unfortunately, they are all captured by Badjelly. This is a silly and hilarious story with lots of adventure and epic moments that allows children to experience a range of emotions in the comfort of their own home.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by JK Rowling

For ages: 8 years old and up/ Genre: Fantasy
The Harry Potter series of books are a wonderful escape into the fantasy world of wizardry. They are a riveting adventure that will have the kids hooked. However, sometimes these books are a bit challenging for the little ones, so this is when you can step in and take them on the journey of a kid called Harry. Harry discovers he is a wizard and goes to a school called Hogwarts, along with other wizards around his age. Throughout the school year, Harry and his friends go on many adventures in search for the Philosopher’s Stone, which holds special powers. This is the first book out of seven in the series to keep you and your kids busy for a while. Perfect for winter nights coming up, so grab a hot chocolate, dive under the blankets, and listen up!

The Prince of the Pond, by Donna Jo Napoli

For ages: 8 years old and up/ Genre: Fantasy, fairy tale
This chapter book is just dying to be read out loud. The story takes you on a wild adventure of the frog prince, but the story is told from the perspective of the ponds and other frogs. The prince is now a frog and must adjust to pond life and to talking like a frog. The prince finds this difficult, as certain noises aren’t possible, and he struggles with humorous tasks. This makes for an awesome story to read the kids. Be prepared or giggles and many frog sounds! This is the first book in the series, so gear up for more.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue, by Kate DiCamillo

For ages: 4 years old and up/ Genre: Children’s lit, early reading
This is a cheerful read about a pig named Mercy who lives with Mr and Mrs Watson in their family home. Mercy finds adventure and excitement at every turn in her simple suburban neighbourhood, when all she really wants is some hot buttered toast (and to be chased every once in a while). The story continues to follow Mercy and her neighbours Baby Lincoln and her cranky older sister, Eugenia, who does not approve of Mercy. This book is short enough to finish in one evening, but don’t fear, there are more books in the series for the children to enjoy.

The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton

For ages: 7 years old and up/ Genre: Fantasy
“One more page, please?” Read this book to the little ones, and this is what you will hear. With funny characters such as Moon-Face, Saucepan, and Silky the Fairy who will keep your children’s imaginations engaged, the book follows the story of three children discovering a magic tree in the forest near their house. All sorts of strange, magical, and eccentric folk live on the branches of this tall tree, and the children soon make friends with them. Every now and then, at the very top of the tree, a magical world appears at the top of a ladder. The kids go into the world and embark on different adventures – some good, some bad! After a while, the land at the top of the ladder moves away, and if you happen to still be in the world when it goes, you’ll be stuck there forever. This is the kind of book that will keep the kids on their toes wondering if someone will get stuck!

Charlotte’s Web, by EB White

For ages: 7 years old and up/ Genre: Children’s lit
Charlotte’s Web is a children’s classic that is a must-read in every household. This is the story of a little pig named Wilbur who was the runt of the litter, destined to become dinner for the farmer until his daughter Fern begged him to let the helpless little pig live. Fortunately, her father decided to let Fern keep the pig as a pet. Wilbur meets a bunch of new friends, including Charlotte the wise spider. Reading this book to the kids teaches them the importance of relationships with animals, and how helping a friend in need can also help you.

You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum! by Andy Stanton

For ages: 6 years old and up/ Genre: Humour
This book will have both you and the kids giggling every couple of sentences. The story follows Mr Gum, an old, angry man who gets mad at a dog who wrecks his garden. Mr Gum’s garden is the most beautiful, luscious garden in town, but if it gets untidy, he gets hit on the head by a fairy. So Mr Gum tries to poison the dog who made a mess of it. But don’t worry, there are plenty of heroes to save the dog. This is an awesome book, the first in the series, to read the kids to finish their day off on a great note, filled with giggles and interesting characters. The author’s Stanton’s style of writing is a refreshing change. His creative use of language will draw in even the most reluctant readers, and makes it a great choice to read aloud to younger children!

The Name of this Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch

For ages: 8 years old and up/ Genre: Adventure
Get the little ones all snuggled in bed and take them on an adventure with Cass and Max-Ernest, two 11-year-olds who find a box labelled “a symphony of smells” in dead magician’s house. With the help of Cass’s quirky grandfather, Max-Ernst and Cass go on mystery adventure to find the smells by looking through the house. Problem is, there is a couple who wants to buy the house, leading Cass and Max-Ernst having to escape from the prospective buyers as they’re viewing the house. The couple aren’t what they seem from the outside, as they have a goal and won’t stop until they achieve it.

By Sara De Grey
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