This is the book I’ve been reading to Riley before bedtime during the last couple weeks. It’s the first chapter book we’ve started, and it hasn’t been 100% easy going—at first, he complained a bit about the lack of pictures, and he doesn’t always pay attention the whole way through a reading. (Me: “What are you doing over there?” Riley, guiltily producing a LEGO mini-fig from beneath the covers: “Ummm . . . nothing.”)

Still, he asks for the story each night it’s my turn to put him to bed, and I enjoy making our way through something a bit more palatable than those surely-educational but horribly stilted I Can Read! books. (My god, MY KINGDOM FOR A CONTRACTION.)

Anyway, we’ll soon come to the end of Ralph and his adventures, and I’d like to ask you what books you most enjoy(ed) reading to your child—or that you remember from your own childhood. I’m looking specifically for more chapter books, things a six-year-old boy might like. Suggestions?

PS. Amusing object from The Mouse and the Motorcycle I had to spend about ten minutes explaining: a telephone cord.)


200 Responses to “Chapter books for a six-year-old”

  1. Amy on September 15th, 2011 7:12 am

    when our kids turn five in our house, they have to read to themselves before bed. Lately all three big kids (9,7,5) like to listen to stories before bed on CD. There favorites are by far the Ramona and Henry Huggins series’.

  2. Rebecca on September 15th, 2011 7:18 am

    Another vote for Charlotte’s Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My boy and I have also been enjoying our foray into chapter books!

  3. Mary Beth on September 15th, 2011 7:27 am

    Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

    It’s organized both by age group and genre. My mom read aloud to us every night until I was 13 years old (now 29). The handbook was her bible and she found many stories that we still treasure and reference to this day. Long after I was reading on my own, I still looked forward to curling up with her and my brother for the next chapter of our current adventure. She never let me read ahead, so it kept me thinking about the character throughout the day.

  4. Erika on September 15th, 2011 9:18 am

    My 6-year-old loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (I don’t know if you’ll think they are a little inappropriate for the age group) but the way they are written makes them interesting to him (like a kid’s journal) and there are lots of pictures. Even my 4-year-old stays interested, and they are plenty long. Not exactly classics, but they like ’em. Also Roald Dahl books (the BFG, Matilda, etc) are a big hit. They have pictures too.

  5. Sue M on September 15th, 2011 9:35 am

    Try Edward Eager books – Half Magic, Seven Day Magic, Magic by the Lake… Somewhat Roald Dahlish – clever books about clever and not always perfectly behaved children getting into trouble with magic. There are even a few pictures.

    I’ve also read a few of the Narnia books to my six year old with pretty good success.

  6. Life of a Doctor's Wife on September 15th, 2011 9:44 am

    I agree with everyone who’s recommended Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and everything by Beverly Clearly and Roald Dahl. Judy Blume has some great ones two – Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Freckle Juice are fabulous.

    I loved Hatchet as a kid and The Sign of the Beaver.

    There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom
    Maniac Magee
    There’s a Girl in My Hammerlock
    The Chocolate Touch
    How to Eat Fried Worms
    The War with Grandpa
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
    All About Sam

    The My Teacher Is an Alien series is fabulous. Bruce Coville has tons of other wonderful books. The Cam Jansen mysteries and Encyclopedia Brown and Nate the Great.

    Oh my gosh – how fun to be able to start reading these books with your son. I remember some of these books as vividly as if I’d read them yesterday – and they definitely launched my love for reading and writing.

  7. Simon on September 15th, 2011 9:54 am

    The Decameron of Boccaccio.

  8. Rachel on September 15th, 2011 10:42 am

    Everyone’s suggestions are so delicious, I agree with all of them. The Hobbit is great to start at this age, one of my best memories of my dad is him reading it to me when I was 5. The Chrestomancy series is delightful. I can’t recommend classic literature enough: Robinson Crusoe, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, David Copperfield, The Jungle Book (by Rudyard Kipling, not Disney), Zane Grey’s Westerns, A Month of Seven Days, The Great Brain, Gulliver’s Travels, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, A Christmas Carol, anything by Jules Verne, Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, White Fang, Kavik the Wolf Dog, The Little Prince, The Adventures of Pinocchio (by Carlo Collodi, not Disney), Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner (A.A. Milne, not Disney) and everything child-oriented by Dr Suess.

  9. sarah on September 15th, 2011 11:22 am

    +1 for Cricket in times square, my fathers dragon & the phantom tollbooth (which is an awesome movie, too!)

  10. Barb Ruess on September 15th, 2011 11:23 am

    I read chapter books to my 6yo son also – it’s worth the challenge of sitting still! Right now we’re having fun with Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon series. I post reviews after each book here:

  11. Leslie on September 15th, 2011 12:18 pm

    I recommend the Little House books. When we started, my girls were just like Riley – hoping for more pictures, not exactly paying attention, but by the time we got to Farmer Boy, they were riveted. We’re reading On The Banks of Plum Creek now and I’m amazed at how often they bring up something we’ve read from the books in the every day doing of things.

    We also love Ivy and Bean books by Annie Barrows. The main characters are girls, but I don’t think they’re too girly. They’re actually pretty hilarious.

  12. Lindsey on September 15th, 2011 12:46 pm

    Great list. Glad you asked the question.

    We have a 5 year old new reader (lvl 1 & 2s). The thing I’m struggling with is whether to read him the beginner chapter books (ala Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones) myself, or whether to just wait until he’s ready to tackle them on his own.

    The only chapter books we’ve done with him so far were much more advances (Harry Potter, etc.).

  13. Kris on September 15th, 2011 1:58 pm

    To my dismay… Captain Underpants was a constant. Diary of a Wimpy Kid too, although I had to make sure he was actually reading the story and not just cruising the cartoons! We both really enjoyed the Stink Moody series. I tried to get him into Humphrey Hamster but he thought it was lame. Met with more success with the Geronimo Stilton series.

  14. Nikki on September 15th, 2011 3:06 pm

    We read the Lauren Child (of ‘Charlie and Lola’ fame) illustrated version of ‘Pippi Longstocking’ to our 5yo over the summer… she LOVED it. Yeah, it’s about a girl, but Pippi is so outrageous I think any kid would enjoy her antics. I also join the chorus of Roald Dahl recommendations, specifically ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. We started ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and Nan got bored after a few chapters. She’s DYING to start the Harry Potter books, but I want to make her wait a few more years.

  15. Shel on September 15th, 2011 3:24 pm

    Sideways Tales from Wayside School (It’s a series) Super Fudge, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Jolly Postman (This one is interactive w/ letters and envelopes you pull out and read!), Hatchet (Riley may like this one as an outdoorman), The Phantom Tollbooth, Where the Sidewalk Ends,

  16. Katie on September 15th, 2011 4:10 pm

    I will buy my kids as many “Magic Treehouse” or similar books as they want–but they must read them to themselves. I get to pick our readaloud book (yep, I’m mean).

    With both of my older ones, we started with “All About Sam” (Lois Lowry) other great “younger” ones have been: Anything Roald Dahl, the whole Ramona series, Socks, the whole “Fourth Grade Nothing” series, the first few Little House books, and the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series.

    For slightly older kids (more second-gradish?): The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, Dealing with Dragons (Patrica Wrede, a female princess protagonist, but my son loved it as much as my daughter), Snow Treasure, Number the Stars, and, of course, Harry Potter.

  17. sheilah on September 15th, 2011 4:14 pm

    Oh, yes, the Magic Treehouse books…my son is 8 and still loves them. Also Diary of a Wimpy Kid…I remember the Flat Stanley series as well.

  18. Kate on September 15th, 2011 4:41 pm

    The “Mercy the Pig” series by Kate DiCamillo are pretty cute…

    And the “Frog and Toad” series are ok too.

  19. Lindsay on September 15th, 2011 5:44 pm

    I have to second the fantastic The Great Brain series by John Fitzgerald. Riley might be a smidge young for them but otherwise they’d probably be right up his alley. And for Dylan you should check out the Boy, A Dog, and A Frog series by Mercer Mayer.

  20. Cate on September 15th, 2011 5:50 pm

    The CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS books. He will love them!

  21. Gwen on September 15th, 2011 6:49 pm

    Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath books are great, and she has another called Nurk. They may be listed for slightly older kids but I think most 6 year old’s get them.

  22. Frannie on September 15th, 2011 7:41 pm

    The Mossflower series by Brian Jacques is a favorite of mine. I still remember my 3rd grade teacher being so entertaining and funny while she read the story of “Fudge” by Judy Blume to us.

  23. Lucrezia on September 15th, 2011 9:03 pm

    I loved the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe books, except I think the last one (it’s been a while). A Wrinkle In Time was a big favorite, though it might be too advanced. And my mom read us the while Laura Ingalls series when I was a kid, and I’m still fond of them.

  24. Lucrezia on September 15th, 2011 9:05 pm

    Oh, and now that I’m brainstorming, the Boxcar Children books and Nancy Drew (Hardy Boys for him?) were other young kid books I liked. And I read the Hobbit when I was eight; he might be a little young for it now but maybe not.

  25. Michelle on September 15th, 2011 9:06 pm

    The ‘My Father’s Dragon’ trilogy is fantastic! We also loved Cynthia Ryland’s ‘Lighthouse Family’ series (I think there are four in total?) as well as the Boxcar Children books. I’ll second (or whatever) Jim Trelease’s Read-aloud Handbook, also Honey for a Child’s Heart is a similar guidebook. And, don’t be scared off, but Sonlight curriculum’s read aloud literature selections are top notch and give you lists by age/level. IMO, A Wrinkle in Time is one of the best, but not for a 6 yr old just starting to listen to chapter books at bedtime, you know?

  26. brenda on September 16th, 2011 3:03 am

    Try “The Twits” by Roald Dahl. It’s funny and disgusting, stuff a 6YO would like. My son loves it and I use it to get him to practise reading out loud at the funny passages.

  27. JB on September 16th, 2011 7:34 am

    My wife reads your blog and occasionally sends it my way. She did today because I came home yesterday with some chapter books from my school’s library. I am an assistant principal at an elementary school. My son said the same thing about the lack of pictures.

    I brought home some books from the Magic Tree House series by Osbourn. I started with “Night of the Ninjas” or something like that. My son is 5 and likes Power Rangers, so I thought this would be a way in. They are on a 2nd/3rd grade reading level but IF he pays attention, he might comprehend.

    Some others that my librarian suggested were:
    A-Z mysteries
    Junie B Jones
    Magic Tree House by Osbourn
    Books by Gutman – something about things that crazy teachers do
    Ready Freddie by Kline
    Arthur by Brown

  28. Lauren on September 16th, 2011 9:05 am

    I’m reading The Mysterious Benedict Society to my 5 and 10 year old boys. They love it and so do I! I enjoy your blog…thanks for writing!

  29. Cheri on September 16th, 2011 10:33 am

    I haven’t read thru the hundreds of comments here, and I’m sure someone’s already suggested the Superfudge books but…..I remember LOVING those as a kid.

    He’s probably too young still for “Where the Red Fern Grows” but I can remember our teacher reading that to us a chapter a day in maybe 2nd/3rd grade and the entire class was completely enamored with it.

  30. kristylynne on September 16th, 2011 11:06 am

    My 6-year-old boy loves the Henry and Mudge series, which are very short chapter books with pictures. He also loves the “let’s read and find out about science” books. Every one we have has been a big hit. They aren’t really chapter books but cover pretty advanced science topics in simple terms.

  31. Laurel on September 16th, 2011 1:36 pm

    I have a cherished memory of my dad reading me James and the Giant Peach when I was Riley’s age. You’ve gotten tons of great recommendations above too.

  32. Very Bloggy Beth on September 16th, 2011 3:36 pm

    Good choice, I LOVED that book as a kid. I also really liked Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, basically anything by Roald Dahl. I liked the Ramona books too, but those might be girly? I don’t remember.

  33. sara on September 16th, 2011 8:06 pm

    A big thumbs up to my father’s dragon series. They’re great introductory chapter books to read a loud. Once you get going , I aslo like the Roald Dahl books and and The last of the really great whangdoodles. A few people mentioned the read aloud handbook, which was a good resource for me as well.

  34. Donna on September 17th, 2011 2:41 am

    Hope this is not repeated information, but the character of Ralph also appears in two more of Beverly Cleary’s books. The titles are Ralph S. Mouse and Runaway Ralph.

  35. Clarity on September 17th, 2011 6:46 am
  36. Meagan on September 17th, 2011 10:35 am

    The Bromiliad trillogy by Terry Pratchett is awesome. My baby is too young to care what I read him, but I like it a lot, and think 6 would be a good age for it. You’ll enjoy it as much as he does.

    A suggestion I’ve heard for restless readers/listeners is to read to them during mealtimes, so they’re occupied with something else, but not so much that they won’t enjoy the story.

  37. anna samantha on September 17th, 2011 7:43 pm

    I read A Cricket in Times Square (among others)to my kids when they were little. It’s a lovely story and he is the perfect age for it. I also love The 11th Hour by Graeme Base…not a chapter book but an amzingly beautiful illustrated mystery. It’s probably my favorite book of all time.

  38. alyn on September 17th, 2011 9:01 pm

    The Magic Tree House Books

    Anything by Beverly Cleary

    Anything by Eva Ibbotson ( Island of the Aunts, Beasts of Clawstone Castle, etc)

  39. Fiona on September 18th, 2011 10:33 am

    Second Captain Underpants…my son loved these books!

  40. KC Brown on September 18th, 2011 12:30 pm

    I second Misty of Chincoteague and all other Maraget Henry, especially for your horse lover, but my brother wasn’t and he liked them too. I just read an abridged Black beauty to my 3 y/o. I’ll be adding Walter Farley The Black Stallion soon!

  41. SB on September 18th, 2011 8:16 pm

    Roald Dahl! James and the Giant Peach is a good one to start with.

  42. Lindsay on September 19th, 2011 12:12 pm

    You cannot go wrong with Roald Dahl. We are huge fans. Especially Fantastic Mr. Fox and The BFG. The Spiderwick Chronicles were also big hits. And you even get the odd picture. Which usually involved the kids leaping in front of the book for fear of having the page turned before seeing the picture…

  43. ElizabethZ on September 20th, 2011 12:57 am

    I too am in the same boat with the twins about to transition to chapter books at bedtime – they also started kinder this year. I was really glad to see so many votes for the Magic Tree House series because I just bought them nearly the entire set, the first 39 books in the series on ebay for about $1.50 each. They look like a great set of stories, and since my husband is in the process of building them a treehouse I figured what could be more perfect? I will check into some of these other suggestions too, lots of good ideas here. :)

  44. Lindsay on September 21st, 2011 9:32 am

    The Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight!! Chapter book blended with graphic novel. Fantastic books with a little lesson tossed in. Perfect for boys.

  45. Rose on September 21st, 2011 3:29 pm

    Love all the suggestions! I teach 5th grade and, honestly, read ANYTHING and EVERYTHING all the time to and with your kids. Let your kids see you reading “grown up” stuff, too. My own boys are now almost 19 and 14 (wah!) and up until graduation, we still made time to read aloud together at least a couple times a week (admittedly weird). Check your local library’s web site, as ours offers a service called NoveList and it. is. awesome.

  46. Christina on September 21st, 2011 8:48 pm

    We love Beverly Cleary! I read my 5 year old son the entire Ramona Quimby series (he loved it and we watched Ramona & Beezus after we finished), Henry Higgins, Ribsy, and now we are going through Little House on the Prairie series…which is also loves. I read all of them as a kid and loved them and they are NOT girly!

  47. Ang on September 29th, 2011 10:21 am

    Loads of good suggestions – second the captain underpants books (and the accompanying ook & gluk & super diaper baby series) – we also loved The day my butt went psycho…was the first chapter book our 6yo actually paid attention to. You can tell, we like a bit of crass potty humor at our house.

  48. Kaitlin on October 12th, 2011 3:42 pm

    My Kindergarteners LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Freddie Fernortner, Fearless First Grader! series by Jonathan Rand.

  49. Sara on November 4th, 2011 3:09 pm

    He may not be quite old enough, but the series starting with “The Name of This Book is Secret” is a great read-aloud. My daughter’s teacher started reading the series to her class last year (1st grade). It gets so much better once they are out of those leveled readers! If you are ever near Powell’s Books, the folks who work in the chidren’s section are great with recommendations. We are there far too often; I do try to check books out from the library!

  50. Teri M. on March 21st, 2012 5:46 pm

    I’m super late to this particular party because I’m supposed to be updating my resume and instead decided this would be a good time to catch up on the All & Sundry posts I’ve missed… Aaanywho… If you can find it, I recommend A Toad For Tuesday by Russell E. Erickson. I got to read a bit every night and once I finished I read it over and over and over again through the years. It does have a little bit of, hm, tension, shall we say so maybe read it first.

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