Classic Books: Chapter Books for ages 5+

This is the next step for reading aloud to your preschooler, after picture books. Keeping young attention spans in mind, short stories and poems are good to start, and then books with short chapters, which are great for reading one chapter every night. (Or more, if your child is as good at wheedling as mine is.)

This list will be continually updated and revised with new information and recommendations. As well, you might want to look at the lists for older ages, as those titles can often be found in abridged versions as well, therefore suitable to read to younger children (ie. Peter Pan or Treasure Island).

I’m trying to focus on the ‘classics’ here, so not delving into newer books. My arbitrary cut-off point (for the moment) is 1970.

1696 – Fairy Tales from the Past (aka Perrault’s Fairy Tales), Charles Perrault – Can be found in many different editions. Famous tales include Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding-Hood. For Perrault and Grimms be forewarned: these are the original versions of these tales and can be surprisingly violent.

1812 – Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm – Again, available in many different editions and collections. Famous tales include The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin.

1837 – Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Andersen – A few of Andersen’s stories are more fatalistic and depressing than traditional tales. Might be wise to pick and choose which ones to tell. Stories include The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Red Shoes, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling.

1846 – Book of Nonsense, Edward Lear – Bizarre limericks and oddities. Limericks can be violent: read first to judge. Originally published as several works. Make sure your edition includes The Owl and the Pussycat!

1868 – The Magic Fishbone, Charles Dickens – Bizarre and humorous fairy tale set in Victorian London.

1877 – The Cuckoo Clock, Mrs. Molesworth – Moralistic tale with enchanting fantasy sequences.

1885 – A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson. Poetry collection.

1894 – The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling – Also: Just So Stories.

1900 – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (aka The Wizard of Oz), L. Frank Baum

1900 – The Book of Dragons, E. Nesbit – A collection of 8 funny, exciting and very odd stories.

1905 – A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett

1918 – The Magic Pudding, Norman Lindsay – Hilarious story about food and fighting. An Australian classic.

1922 – Rootabaga Stories, Carl Sandburg – An assortment of wildly fantastic 20th-century fairy tales in a thoroughly American style.

1923 – Come Hither, Walter de la Mare – A collection of poetry.

1926 – Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne – Also: The House at Pooh Corner, and books of poetry When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six.

1932 – Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder – Also: Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie.

1938 – Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse, Ursula Moray Williams

1938 – Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Richard Atwater

1945 – Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren – Also: Pippi Goes on Board, and Pippi in the South Seas.

1948 – My Father’s Dragon, Ruth S. Gannett – Very funny adventure tale.

1952 – Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White – Also: Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan.

1955 – Eloise, Kay Thompson – The humorous adventures of a rather alarming child living in the Plaza Hotel in New York.

1965 – The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Beverly Cleary

1968 – Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary – Also: Ramona and Her Father, Ramona Quimby Age 8.

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.