Read Your Child a Chapter Book

Children love to have books read to them. I know that this was one of my students’ favorite end-of-the-day activities. It is a calm, relaxing time for both children and adults.

Visit the library and show your child a few options for chapter books that might interest him. Give him a brief description of the plot and allow him to choose. Read a chapter or two each night and discuss the plot and the characters with your child. Ask him to guess what will happen next and then he will have to wait until the following day to find out if his prediction was correct. This adds to the fun and excitement as you and your child hear the story unfold.

Benefits of reading chapter books aloud

  • Bonding time - This quiet activity allows children and adults to interact around a common theme - the story!  And when when a connection is formed, other interactions are likely to occur. Perhaps the action in the story reminds your child of some situation happening in his life. Or feelings of the characters in the book may be familiar to your child. Reading a book with your child may spark some intimate conversations.
  • Opportunity for auditory processing skill development - Chapter books often contain lots of details, since the number of illustrations is limited. By listening to the story, rather than relying on visual clues as in picture books, children have the opportunity to hone auditory processing skills. Ask questions about what was read or ask your child to give you a brief summary of the story so far to keep him interested and listening carefully.
  • Practice making predictions - The ability to make accurate predictions is a life skill that can be practiced when a chapter book is read. Since the plot of the story is more involved than that of a picture book, your child will have many opportunities to guess at what will happen next. In fact, each time you put the book down, ask your child what he thinks is going to take place in the next chapter. You might offer a guess, as well, and then wait until the next reading time to see who was right!
  • Discuss social situations - The behaviors of the characters in the story can be discussed. Does your child agree with the way the character(s) behaved?  Does he know other children who act this way?  Your child can learn about appropriate behavior from examples in stories.
  • Add to your daily routine - Children thrive with routines. They enjoy knowing what to expect in their day. Setting aside a specific time each day for reading the chapter book will contribute to a routine. Choose a time that is likely to be uninterrupted. Bedtime is actually a perfect time to read a story, as all children are tucked into bed each night!  The story may even be a good reason to begin the nighttime routine ten or fifteen minutes earlier. You may find that your child cooperates with the nighttime rituals and does not waste precious time when he knows a story is coming.
  • Highlights the joy of reading - Children learn a great deal by watching the adults they love. That old adage:  “Actions speak louder than words” is especially true with children. So modeling a love of books and reading sets your child up to love books and reading, too.

These are some of my favorite chapter books to share with young children. They have easy-to-follow storylines, chapters that are not too long, and endearing characters that children seem to adore.

  • Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little, both by E. B. White
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (or other Roald Dahl titles)
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Henry Huggins, The Mouse and the Motorcycle or any chapter book by Beverly Cleary.

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