Inside you’ll find: my boys favorite chapter books we read this year. Most of them I’d say fit the category of living books!
2017 was the year we really started diving into chapter books. I’ve been dreaming about this stage in life since before I was married! Sharing fantastic stories and adventures within the pages of a book with my children is even better than I imagined. Here are our highlights from this year. We read a couple more, but they didn’t make the cut. 🙂
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P.S. Wondering how the heck we read so many books when we still have a special needs toddler and bouncing boys? Mostly audiobooks friends. I can’t believe how many books we enjoyed together in the car or with Audible ( Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks) during quiet times! I only read about 20% of these aloud to them. The rest we listened to. I hope to shift that percentage as my youngest gets older, but you do what you got to do!
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Ok, this one was my second favorite book this year. I beg you to get this copy of the book, the illustrations fit the beauty of the prose, which is no easy feat! And read it aloud. Language this beautiful isn’t meant to be read silently. It might take a awhile. It’s very rich, but the plot held my older son’s interest and I delighted in each morsel we read.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
The story of a boy who craves connection to the wildness of the forest. Goodness sakes my boys learned so much natural history and survival techniques.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
So many laughs! My three year old was all about this one and the wild antics of Mr. Poppers pets!
The Bandit of Ashley Downs: Introducing George Müller (Trailblazer Books) by Dave and Neta Jackson
The Trailblazer series is a fantastic way of introducing your kids to famous heroes of the past in a living books sort of way. The plot is fictitious, but not far from the truth, and gives kids a look at this wonderful people from the past, through the eyes of a child.
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Hilarious. Simply hilarious!
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
This was the first chapter book I ever read on my own. It’s a bit of a mystery and full of lovely sibling relationships. My boys were literally bouncing as we read it!
The Cricket in Times Square (Chester Cricket and His Friends) by Garth Williams
I randomly picked this one up at the library and it quickly became one of my favorites! A cricket makes beautiful music in the otherwise dreary downtown subway station. The interaction between the animals and the little boy who’s family owns the stand rivals the genius of E.B. White.
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
This is the book that got my oldest hooked on chapter books. The plot sucks you in and holds you tight till the end! What could be more magical that mini figurines coming to life???
The Return of the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks
The funny sequel to “The Indian in the Cupboard.”
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
My boys listened to this one on their own and they were totally in to it! I asked them to tell me about it, and I got a good 20 minute narration about the boy destined for knighthood who loses the use of his legs, but still finds a heroic way to serve his king.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The perfect start to the series. Good for even the youngest crowd.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The classic book about a brave pioneer family and their struggles.
Farmer Boy (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
When I ask my oldest what his favorite book of the year was, he quickly pointed to this one. The third book in the Little House series takes a break from following the Ingalls family, and instead introduces us to Almanzo Wilder. He’s such a related boy and parents would be hard pressed to find a better role model for their boys! When my boys realized the author shares a last name with him, the mystery kept them anxious for the paths to cross in each following book.
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Back to the Ingalls family and back for more adventures in a new homestead claim.
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This one wins as my favorite read aloud of the year. Wow wow wow. Such an incredible story of the sheer will to survive. The heroism, bravery, and hope of these pioneer families brings me to tears every time I think of it.
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
We’re actually still finishing this one. But I just had to include the final book in one of the best series ever written.
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
A true story of a tomboy and her brothers adventures in the frontier of Wisconsin. Full of danger and excitement. If you like the Little House series (who doesn’t?), this is good choice to follow up with.
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
My new favorite E.B. White story. Louie the trumpeter swan is mute so he learns to play a literal trumpet and crave out a unique life for himself all over the country.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The classic tale of learning to love and let go. I can’t believe I cried at the end. I knew what was coming. I’d read it before. But goodness, it’s so flawlessly written!
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
A fascinating tale of a china rabbit doll who is living high and mighty as a favorite toy until one day, he is lost. He journeys for years and learn much about people and himself.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
A strange dog gives a little girl courage to face all the hard things in her life. Sad and poignant.
The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh by A. A. Milne
So many gems and one-liners in this collection! Pooh and friends should be a staple of every child’s youth.
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children by James Herriot
If you haven’t read anything by James Herriot, you’re missing out! True stories of a country vet in turn of the century England. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll learn so much natural history and biology! Timeless stories that delight all ages.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Over the top hilarious and all sorts of whimsical.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
I’m not sure which my boys liked more, the quiet, obedient, kind underdog winning, or all the candy!
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
A heartwarming and exciting tale of a poor family with five lovable children.
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
Very related antics of a young boy and his dog. My boys laughed aloud the whole time. Easy to read for newer readers too!
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
Can’t get much cooler than a mouse with a motorcycle! My middle son LOVED this one!
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis
A really fun prequel to the Narnia series! And the creation scene will stick in your mind forever!
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
If you only read one of the Narnia series, this is probably the best, though they’re all so good! Lewis is a genius, there is no doubt.
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ by C.S. Lewis
My personal favorite. Eustace and the dragon scene… Perfection!
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
I love this list. We’ve enjoyed many of the same books last year and have many of them on our list for this upcoming year. My boys loved The Cricket in Times Square and The Little House books which we listened to on audio because they are so good that way.
I agree with your choice to leave “The Last Battle” off of the Chronicles Of Narnia. I made that same choice when I read the series to my 7yo this winter.
I wish I had reread “Little House On The Prairie” before I read it to my 5yo. I had forgotten and wad unprepared for the intense anti-native American sentiments. It’s important to talk about it as a family, but I was really caught off guard!
Thanks for the recommendation of “My Side of The Mountain”; I think my sons will really like that!
Yes, that was pretty shocking about Little House. It led to a lot of good discussions in our family. I think Laura makes it decently obvious that Paw didn’t think the same way Maw did and that Paw was right. Still, it’s good to be prepared to talk about racism as a family.
Shanna Mae says
Us too! We decided to put it in the recycling bin and purchase some books by native authors. The website americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com was really helpful for our family.
Katelyn Carney says
I’ve been needing a list like this! Thank you! Just bought Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to get us started. As a candyholic I think he’ll love it!
That’s awesome Katelyn! The boys loved Charlie!
Shanna Mae says
Wow That’s a lot of books! I wish I could convince my kids to read this much. One question though… is there a reason you only read books by white authors? Was that on purpose? You seem like a really nice family, and I enjoy your blog as we are homeschoolers ourselves, so I’m guessing it was just an oversight.
To be honest, I’ve been there myself, but I realized that I was sending a message to my kids about what voices and whose stories were important to listen to. I also realized that race doesn’t make you a bad or good author, so by only reading books by white authors, I was probably missing out on a ton of amazing books.
Many of these books were audiobooks so that helps A LOT!
No, definitely not on purpose. I have found it MUCH easier to find picture books by authors of color vs chapter books for the younger crowd. And this post was written years ago, so we’ve been growing in that area. Two all star books we’ve loved recently were “Stella by Starlight” and “Bud, Not Buddy”. But I know my boys wouldn’t have been ready for the intensity of those back when I wrote this. I’d love to find more for the younger folks that aren’t so focused on slavery or violent racism because that of course is not the only story there is to tell and we want to hear from diverse voices. I personally read “Brown Girl Dreaming” which I think would be appropriate for a middleschooler and “The Hate You Give” but that one is way too much for my kiddos right now. Thanks for bringing up this discussion.
I should write a post about picture books by diverse authors. We’ve found SO many good ones recently now that libraries are filling their shelves with them!