6 Read-Aloud Chapter Books I Loved Reading as Much As My Children Enjoyed Listening To

read-aloud chapter books

Now that it’s possible to buy almost any audiobook for a few pounds*, I’m enjoying the luxury of being more choosy about what I read aloud to my children.

This doesn’t mean we read aloud together any less than we used to, but I love that I can now delegate to professional actors the reading of great works of literature to which I couldn’t do full justice (usually because of a lack of personal interest in the book. I have friends who’ve spent a happy year reading The Lord of the Rings to their children, but J(8) is getting much more from Rob Inglis’s rendition.)

Meanwhile, there are some books I just love to read aloud.  Here are my top six read-aloud chapter books, chosen for the sheer joy they have brought us.

{*with an Audible subscription. Here are some of our favourite audiobooks}

Five Children and It

read-aloud chapter books

The story: Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and their baby brother the Lamb find a sand fairy – “Psammead” – who reluctantly agrees to grant them wishes under certain conditions. None of the wishes turns out quite as the children intend, but each leads to an exciting adventure.

Date published: 1904

Why I love it: I just adore reading E. Nesbitt’s writing aloud. (Maybe because I have a slightly posh English accent?)

My children’s ages when we read it: 6 and 7

Don’t: let the film put you off. I only managed to watch half of it. The book is infinitely better!

Becky’s Book Reviews contains some wonderful quotes from Five Children and It. Here’s one…


“The people who decide what the weather is to be, and put its orders down for it in the newspaper every morning, said afterwards it was the hottest day there had been for years. They had ordered it to be ‘warmer–some showers’, and warmer it certainly was. In fact it was so busy being warmer that it had no time to attend to the order about showers, so there weren’t any.”

Another favourite by E. NesbitThe Phoenix and the Carpet

The Return of the Twelves

read-aloud chapter books

Date published: 1962

The story: Eight-year old Max finds a box of old wooden soldiers, which come alive. Through the soldiers, Max and his sister discover some fascinating local history and help the soldiers in a quest to return to their rightful home.

Why I love itThe Return of the Twelves is a beautifully written and original story. I also love that it introduced my children to the Brontë family. After reading it, we named our puppy after Branwell Brontë! (Confirming our status among local friends as those slightly strange homeschoolers. :wink:)

My children’s ages when we read it: 8 and 9


“Gravey howled, stood up, and began hitting everyone at random, even while still wearing an expression of the utmost melancholy.”

{The Return of the Twelves was published as The Twelve and the Genii in the UK.}


read-aloud chapter books

Date published: 1880

The story: Five year-old Heidi is taken high into the mountains to live with a misanthropic  grandfather she has never met. Kind-hearted Heidi’s cheerful spirit thaws the old man’s heart and she settles into her new home well, only to have yet more changes thrust upon her.

Why I love it: Heidi is a delightful character, so positive and trusting that things will turn out for the best. The exquisite descriptions of the Swiss mountain setting are like a breath of fresh air, too.

Daughter’s age when we read Heidi: 7


“I’ll always say my prayers… and if God doesn’t answer them at once I shall know it’s because he’s planning something better for me.”

Understood Betsy

read-aloud chapter books

The story: Nine-year old orphan Elizabeth Ann has been brought up by over-protective aunts who have infected her with their own neuroses and hypochondria. When circumstances change and the girl goes to live with different relatives, she enjoys discovering unsuspected capabilities and a new-found independence in herself.

Date published: 1916

Why I love it: The characters are perfectly captured, the writing is charming, and Betsy’s transformation is a joy to behold.  Understood Betsy is also the perfect read for homeschoolers, showing beautifully the difference between schooling and education.

One scene is so well described I found tears rolling down my cheeks as I read aloud – much to the bemusement of my children, whose empathy capacities are not yet quite as developed as mine!  The book mostly made us smile, though.

My children’s age when we read it: 8 and 9


“Uncle Henry and his father – why Moses or Alexander the Great didn’t seem any further back in the mists of time than did Uncle Henry’s father! … And to think he had been a little boy, right there at that desk! She stopped chewing altogether for a moment and stared into space. Although she was only nine years old, she was feeling a little of the same rapt wonder that people in the past were really people, which makes a first visit to the Roman Forum a thrilling event for grownups. That very desk!”

Charlie and the Cat Flap

read-aloud chapter books

Date published: 2007

The story: Charlie and his friend Henry are good boys with a talent for getting into mischief. In Charlie and the Cat Flap the boys plan the best sleepover ever. Needless to say things don’t go quite to plan.

Why I love it: Charlie is one of those “adorable scamp” type of characters that everyone in our family can easily relate to. Hilary McKay has an enormous talent for setting up comical situations that make you laugh out loud as they unfold.

Also for new readers: My children discovered Hilary McKay for themselves in our local library. She writes for a broad age range. The Charlie series is suitable for fairly new readers, but I couldn’t resist reading it aloud to my son after I peeked at it over my six-year old daughter’s shoulder. We went on to read the entire series together, and many times I’ve given the books as gifts to young friends.

My children’s ages when we read it: 5 and 6

Another favourite by the same authorWishing For Tomorrow, The Sequel to a Little Princess (a sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess)

Fattypuffs and Thinifers

read-aloud chapter books

Date published: 1930

The story: Plump Edmund and his thin brother Terry go through a secret entrance and find themselves in the Country Under the Earth, where their different sizes lead to them being segregated. Edmund is taken to live with the fat and congenial Fattipuffs, whereas Terry must go with the thin and cranky Thinifers.

Why I love it: I adored Fattypuffs and Thinifers when my teacher read it to the class when I was seven (it’s one of only two books I remember being read to me as a child).

Reading it as an adult, I was struck by the parallels with French and German history and was astounded to discover that the book was written by a French author several years before World War II, whose events it heavily foreshadows.

My children’s ages when we read it: 7 and 8

What chapter-book do you love to read aloud?


chapter books to read aloud

For more read-aloud ideas, visit:

Barefoot Hippie Girl – Read Along Chapter Books

Every Bed of Roses – Our Top 6 Favorite Chapter Read-Alouds

Highhill Homeschool – Best Chapter Books

One Magnificent Obsession – Our Top 6 Read-Alouds


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Hip Homeschool Hop

Weekly Wrap-Up

Entertaining and Educational


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13 thoughts on “6 Read-Aloud Chapter Books I Loved Reading as Much As My Children Enjoyed Listening To

    1. I’d forgotten there were sequels to Heidi. They’re written by someone else, aren’t they? Good to know you enjoyed them, we’ll have to give them a go 🙂

  1. A couple new to me titles there, I’ll have to have a peek. We’re all obsessesed with the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus books by Rick Riordan right now–on House of Hades right now–and I’m as anxious to read the next chapter as they are. My eldest two are 11 and almost 9 right now, and reading aloud to them is still one of my favourite things… I rather hope they never want me to stop. We read JRR Tolkien together last year and that was pretty good (although man, talk about a slow moving book!) and some of the Harry Potters. Also absolutely love the Cressida Cowell dragon books. Geoff Smith’s Bone is another favourite (a graphic novel, but one that reads aloud really well).

    1. Good on you for reading them Tolkein! Perhaps I should brace myself and try again. I love Rick Riordan too but the trouble with audiobooks is that my kids have far more time than I do to listen so they race ahead of me. They also love the Kane Chronicles – those I really want to read too.
      Oh yes I forgot there were more Cressida Cowell’s. And I’ll check out Bone – thanks! 🙂
      PS your youngest will love the Charlie books

  2. I know what you mean about reading books that just don’t float your boat. I’m currently reading a book about Richard and Saladin, and whilst it is well written, it is not maybe my first choice of fun reading material! I’m having to feign excitement about reading it (shhh, don’t tell anyone!) and hope it is enough to get the children excited about listening. The five paragraph essay they have to write on the book at the end probably doesn’t aid in this goal…..

    1. You are so good, Claire! And it’s true that sometimes it is worth sticking with something that doesn’t immediately appeal. Something for me to work on!

  3. Tiger is a big fan of Edith Nesbit’s books so I’m glad to see her book listed here too. I’ve not heard of “The Return of the Twelves” but it sounds like a really good one so I’ll go and check that out from my library. I think for Lord of the Rings I’ll have to resort to both audio books and having Tiger read them to himself since I think my voice will go really coarse if I were to read the trilogy out loud!

    1. Yes my voice tends to give up on the long reads too! The second Harry Potter was as long as I could manage – and that’s not nearly as long as they get! You’re lucky Tiger is such a prolific reader on his own. And I thank heaven for audiobooks!

  4. Lucinda,

    What a wonderful post! I’ve only read one of these books out loud – Heidi- so there’s lots more we could enjoy. I must bookmark this post so next time we’re wondering what to read, I have some great ideas ready.

    I’ve read the Heidi sequels to the girls. They were written by Charles Tritten. Not as good but still enjoyable. I read all the Anne books too. That was a marathon! Some were better than others. Another series we all liked was The Shakespeare Stealers books. Meriol Trevor’s The Rose Round was delightful. I kept offering to read ‘one more chapter’ because I was enjoying it so much. We liked The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. It was MUCH better than the movie version. So were the book versions of Wendy Orr’s Nim and Nim’s Island. How about Noel Streatfeild’s books?

    I love reading out loud. It gives me a chance to enjoy a few children’s books, and there’s something special about sharing a good book with someone else who’s enjoying it too.

    In a moment I am off to finish reading The (Worst) Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. It is so funny!

    I could write about books forever but I’d better not!

    1. Sue,

      Thank you for your kind words and for your wonderful book recommendations! I haven’t come across many of these. Aren’t we lucky that so many talented writers have taken the time to put down their words for our enjoyment? So many years later in some cases.

      I must admit we tried Despereaux and no-one really took to it, but I’d like to come back and give it another try. I loved Noel Streatfield when I was a child. C(9) and I enjoyed Ballet Shoes but we’ve not tried any others – thanks for the reminder.

      I shall definitely check out the others you mention (exciting!).

      You can come over here and write about books any time!

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