Chapter books for 3 year olds

Posted by: MegMeg

Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/18/11 10:41 PM

I know there have been threads about appropriate books for young readers (e.g. 5 and 6 year olds reading far above grade level), but what about for a 3-year-old? Hanni doesn't read, but her attention span and comprehension are growing like crazy, and we're dipping into chapter books.

Right now we're doing Winnie-the-Pooh (the original), with me skipping large chunks when Eeyore is being a pill or other unpleasant things. I tried some Pippi Longstocking, but it was impossible to avoid bits where it's clear that Pippi lacks parents, or she's beating up burglars. Also tried Little House in the Big Woods. That worked fairly well except for having to skip all the animal slaughtering.

What I'm looking for are books that are fairly concrete. I don't think she's ready for magic, time travel, etc. On the other hand, we don't need simple vocabulary, such as one finds in early-reader books. We need exactly the inverse of that -- complex vocabulary and grammar are fine, but the stories need to be not too threatening to a 3-year-old's emerging understanding of the world.

Suggestions? (I love crowd-sourcing questions like this! Thanks in advance!)
Posted by: Giftodd

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 12:17 AM

Hi Megmeg,

Have you tried Enid Blyton? The Wishing Chair series and the Magic Faraway Tree books use rich vocabulary and are not scary (my dd is super sensitive) though the original books have some questionable racism and sexism due to the era they were written in - though much of that has been removed from more recent versions of the books (and at 3 maybe that's not such an issue?) They are about magic though.

I think she wrote others too for younger kids. At 4 dd loved her Famous Five
books too (not so much the secret seven)

I'm sure you'll get lots of good ideas smile
Posted by: Pemberley

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 12:34 AM

Maybe the "Beazus and Ramona" series by Beverly Cleary. In the first book Ramona is 4 years old and the story is told from her perspective. I think the first we tried was "The All of a Kind Family" - again the youngest sister was 4 in the first book so DD had someone to relate to.
Posted by: revmom

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 03:57 AM

When my oldest DD was three, she loved Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. This was also the book that my husband would read to her most often.
Posted by: Trina

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 04:53 AM

At that age we mostly stuck to The Magic Faraway Tree and other of the magical Blyton books - he was reading independently but, yes, needed something not too scary or too far outside his understanding. There are OODLES of Blyton books that are about right for that age / level. He also really started enjoying Encyclopedia Brown about that age, he also fell in love with Charlotte's Web, but of course that is VERY sad. Some of the (original) Thomas the Tank Engine stories might work too.
Posted by: Irisheyes

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 05:43 AM

I will second Encyclopedia Brown. I think we read a million of those.

At 3, my daughter liked listening to The Magic Treehouse series. The books are fairly formulaic, but at least they introduce interesting historical locations. I would only do the first 28 books in the series, though. After that the "Merlin Missions" become much more intense. My kids found them too scary.

Other thoughts (perhaps for a little bit older, but not much) would be The Boxcar Children series (the kids solve a mystery, not scary at all) and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Both have been big favorites in our family.
Posted by: ultramarina

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 06:32 AM

DD liked the Moomintroll series around this age, though sometimes they can be a little dark and they are rather strange (in a wonderful way). Cynthia Rylant's The Lighthouse Family series is wonderful and very gentle (also available on tape!). The Jenny and the Cat Club series by Esther Averill and the Catwings series by Ursula Leguin are lovely. Mr. Popper's Penguins, Pippi Longstocking.

I'm looking for suggestions, too, especially for books available on tape/CD. DS will listen to his complete Curious George for an hour and a half straight, though I'm not sure he's quite ready for the books above. He is doing well with AA Milne, too.
Posted by: JonLaw

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 06:38 AM

I'll second the Boxcar Children series. That's a fairly gentle set of books.
Posted by: passthepotatoes

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 07:42 AM

Yes, to All of a Kind Family and My Father's Dragon.

Also try:
Milly, Molly, Mandy storybook
Teddy Robinson Storybook (very gentle!)
Half Magic Series
Posted by: MegMeg

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 11:09 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions!

Enid Blyton, wow that takes me back. Me and my sister had some of her books when we were kids. We still quote from them when we want to crack ourselves up.

I never read the Boxcar Children myself. I'll look into that.

All of a Kind Family! We even have that! I'll put that next on my list.

The Moomin books -- wow, I could go on at length about those. I love Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, but you're right about the dark edge, especially Moominpapa at Sea and Moominland in November. I think the author probably suffered from depression. Finn Family is her only really joyful book, I think, and I look forward to reading that to Hanni, but for right now I think the scene where nobody recognizes Moomintroll would freak her out.

I never got into the Ramona books myself, but I think we'll give those a try. Thanks everyone!
Posted by: MegMeg

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 11:21 AM

For others who are looking too, I'm also having a lot of luck with finding picture books that have longer more involved story lines, some as long as a chapter in a chapter book. Picture books have really blossomed in the last couple of decades!

I don't try to be too selective at the library, I just get stacks and stacks and then preview them before I read them to her.
Posted by: ultramarina

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 11:35 AM

Bill Peet does some really great, long picture books with high-level vocabulary.
Posted by: onthegomom

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 11:51 AM

Wind in the Willows, Authors: Jan Brett, Grahme Base(sp?), Brian Jacques have wonderful picture books with lenghty text.

Chapter books I reccomend Frog and toad, Nate the Great, and The Magic Rainbow Fairies.

Look for web sites on these too. Let me know if you have trouble finding anything and I will be more specific.
Posted by: ellemenope

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 11:51 AM

I was just coming here to suggest longer picture books.

Many Moons

Many Moons, by James Thurber, has become DD's favorite book. She requests it almost every night. We call it many words. It is practically a 50 page novel. I timed my husband reading it the other night. It took 32 minutes, and my husband was reading fast. But, each page has a beautiful water color print.

I am also excited because DD loves the Frog and Toad books and Owl at Home. These were the only books by Arnold Lobel I could find at B&N. But, I just found a ton more on Amazon. Now, these books are long, but they don't have nearly the complexity or vocabulary that Many Moons does. DD just loves the feeling of these books. I find them boring, but I get it. They are sweet.


I really loves these picture books for their complexity and good vocab:

Zen shorts
Shrek
Ferdinand
Anatole
Amos and Boris
Sylvester and the magic pebble
James Herriot's Treasury of Inspirational Stories for Children



Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 12:06 PM

Fun topic! My DS enjoyed listening to the old classic fairy tales and myths at that age (but if your DD is sensitive, maybe the more modern versions would be better). I second the Ramona series, especially the first couple where she was young. Also the other Beverly Cleary books - Henry and Mouse and the Motorcycle (actually I didn't like the Mouse books, but many kids do).

We loved Frog and Toad too, and DS started getting into Magic Treehouse in his late 3's. One caveat with those - read a couple first to be sure that you want to read them over and over to your kiddo. I got so sick of them. I told DS we would only get new ones if he read them on his own. I'm mean that way.
Posted by: DeHe

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 12:48 PM

I 3rd the frog and toad, and add Beatrix Potter - the orignsl complete works, we had a big book of all of them and at 2.5 it was DS's favorite!!

DeHe
Posted by: kcab

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 01:17 PM

A couple ideas that I haven't seen on here yet:

the Paddington books,

Magic School Bus - the original ones with the dense pictures (personally, I found these a pain to read...you may want to wait, but I know the kids liked them at that age and later),

Freddy the Pig books might be good (though, I haven't read a lot of them - they were a DH favorite at some point in time),

Doctor Doolittle books,

books of poetry - AA Milne's poem books are a good place to start,

Little Bear books (Minarik) (easy readers, but loved & lovely)

Oh, didn't read these to either kid at that age, and might be better for older, but keep an eye out for the Quigley series by Simon Mason.

We have an old series of books that are compilations of different types of stories (folk & fairy tales, nature tales, myths, etc). Those have been good to read and go back to over and again. Don't forget the 398.2 section in the library - lots of good folk and fairy tale books are shelved there (assuming Dewey Decimal system).

We loved the Frog and Toad books, and Owl at Home too. Obviously, talking animals are popular around here.

ETA: Oh yes, I agree, don't forget Beatrix Potter! (speaking of talking animals!)
Posted by: 75west

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 02:51 PM

Ditto Frog and Toad, Magic School bus, Paddington, Little Bear; Beatrix Potter

Madeline - was a big favorite of my son at 2.5 years old.

Curious George

Mr Men/Little Miss series

Henry and Mudge series

Fly Guy series, a bit aimed at reluctant readers and boys though, but they are funny and captivating.

Anything by Richard Scarry

Barbar

Anything by Maurice Sendak or Tomie DePaola

Posted by: onthegomom

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/19/11 03:48 PM

I daughter use to really laugh with Junie B Jones and Amelia Bedilia(sp?)


Oh yeah, Mr. & Mrs Green, they had humor too

I just can't seem to stop- one more thought, it's also fun to listen to these on CD, Frog and Toad is especially good on CD
Have fun.
Posted by: Ametrine

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/21/11 04:59 PM

Originally Posted By: kcab
A couple ideas that I haven't seen on here yet:

the Paddington books,

Magic School Bus - the original ones with the dense pictures (personally, I found these a pain to read...you may want to wait, but I know the kids liked them at that age and later),

Freddy the Pig books might be good (though, I haven't read a lot of them - they were a DH favorite at some point in time),

Doctor Doolittle books,

books of poetry - AA Milne's poem books are a good place to start,

Little Bear books (Minarik) (easy readers, but loved & lovely)

Oh, didn't read these to either kid at that age, and might be better for older, but keep an eye out for the Quigley series by Simon Mason.

We have an old series of books that are compilations of different types of stories (folk & fairy tales, nature tales, myths, etc). Those have been good to read and go back to over and again. Don't forget the 398.2 section in the library - lots of good folk and fairy tale books are shelved there (assuming Dewey Decimal system).

We loved the Frog and Toad books, and Owl at Home too. Obviously, talking animals are popular around here.

ETA: Oh yes, I agree, don't forget Beatrix Potter! (speaking of talking animals!)
Posted by: Madoosa

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/22/11 02:55 PM

Agree with Enid Blyton

And I see that no one here has suggested Roald Dahl... My kids LOVE his books for bedtime stories. Try the Twits, James and the Giant Peach, BFG to start. Older kids will love Matilda, the Witches...
Posted by: kathleen'smum

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/22/11 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Madoosa
And I see that no one here has suggested Roald Dahl... My kids LOVE his books for bedtime stories. Try the Twits, James and the Giant Peach, BFG to start. Older kids will love Matilda, the Witches...


Oh, YES!!! Love, love, love Roald Dahl. Fantastic Mr. Fox and George's Marvelous Medicine are two of my favourites!
Posted by: utkallie

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/22/11 03:24 PM

My little girl has been enjoying the Rainbow Fairies: Pet Fairies.
Posted by: Madoosa

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/22/11 04:00 PM

kathleen's mum I totally forgot about George's marvelous medicine - I am so getting that at month end laugh
Posted by: Pemberley

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/22/11 04:38 PM

My DD loved James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but I thought they may be a bit much for a 3 year old so I edited them out of my earlier post. Kids love Roald Dahl but I find many of his characters SO dark...
Posted by: Taminy

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/22/11 05:20 PM

The Betsy-Tacy books by Maude Hart Lovelace--wonderful series and starts when the girls are around 3-4 years old. The Betsy character is wonderful! There is a part in the first book where Tacy's infant sister has died, you can skip it though if you find where it is.

Junie B. Jones are fun even though Junie is a sassy little girl--my DD was quite shocked by some of her antics. She's fun to read aloud though because the character has a great voice and many altered understandings of words (pronunciation, syntax and meaning smile ).

Phantom Tollbooth? My kids were older when we read them, but I think it would be ok.

Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo if she likes a bit of silly now and again (my kids were constantly quoting one of the characters)



It's fun reading peoples' ideas because in our house there is usually some oft-quoted line that comes immediately to mind and brings a smile on to my face. In our house oft-quoted lines tend to the silly rather than the profound wink
Posted by: onthegomom

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/22/11 06:53 PM

I love this thread because it brings back great memories. In fact this Discussion Board is wonderful!Thank you!

Some real sweet stories are Biscuit. Before my daughter could read I would point to the words "Wolf, Wolf" which are frequent in the book. As she was ready, we added the "Meow". She was all proud reading this, which boosted her confidence.
Posted by: bobbie

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/23/11 07:45 PM

DS (3.75) loved all the above, especially Magic Tree House, Magic School bus, Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair series, Frog and Toad, Paddington. He is now reading Puppy Place books (all very tame as he is sensitive to anything scary) and Pet Vet books. He still loves more in-depth picture books as well as non-fiction++. Non-fiction are great as you don't need to worry so much about the content smile. He started with the Usborne Beginner series eg space, castles etc but now reads anything.
Posted by: La Texican

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 08/24/11 08:22 AM

We have a whole Little Golden Book library my grandmother sent to us. You will never know what you're going to read. It includes stuff like Hansel and Gretel, The Emporers New Clothes, and The Poky Little Puppy. They have a great word/picture balance. I like the illustrations.
Posted by: ellemenope

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 11/08/11 10:14 AM

I have some more suggestions.

We have slowly transitioned to reading much longer books. We have been enjoying E.B. White (Charlotte's Web went over better than Stuart Little, the latter got kind of weird in the end,) George Seldon (A Cricket in Time's Square, Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse, Harry Cat's Pet Puppy) Roald Dahl (The Enormous Crocodile), Emily Jenkins (Toys Go Out).

We have really been impressed with her comprehension of these longer chapter books with very little pictures read over the course of a few nights. She has a knack for remembering small details, although some more mature themes go over her head. But, she can relay the plot really well. And, she enjoys them. So, although we still enjoy our favorite picture books, I am now on the lookout for longish read-alouds with rich vocabulary that a three-year-old can relate to. Like MegMeg said, we want books that are not easy readers. So, I'm bumping this thread for more leads.

We are going to order the My Father's Dragon series as well as more books from the authors above. probably for Christmas.

She also still loves Shel Silverstein poems. They are right up her weird alley, and she has been memorizing so many.
Posted by: kickball

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 11/08/11 10:34 AM

Oh WE ALL loved Toys Go Out ... you'd also likely LOVE Edward Tulane (parts are sad but so powerful).
Posted by: ellemenope

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 11/08/11 10:54 AM

Originally Posted By: kickball
Oh WE ALL loved Toys Go Out ... you'd also likely LOVE Edward Tulane (parts are sad but so powerful).


I know! We have to get the sequels soon. I can't get enough of those characters and their foibles.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane sounds like a wonderful addition to our library. Thank you. I have added to my list.
Posted by: Min

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 11/19/11 05:30 PM

Don't forget "My Father's Dragon" by Ruth S. Gannett.

smile
Posted by: ellemenope

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 11/28/11 10:26 PM

We are currently finishing up The Wind in the Willows. It is really sweet, and we particularly enjoy the illustrations of our particular book. It completely holds our three-year-old's attention. I am also excited to get The Reluctant Dragon by the same author. She loves dragons, especially when they are nice.

She is going to have to wait until St. Nick's Day (Dec. 6) for her next big book. She will get the next two books in the Toys Go Out series in her stocking, as well as some new easy readers.

Also, she is getting the My father's Dragon series, Abel's Island, by Wiliam Steig, Catwings, The 13 Clocks, by James Thurber, and The Minpins, by Roald Dahl, for Christmas. Yes, she did sit on Santa Claus and ask for more books. I hope these are hits. Thanks for the ideas!

We still try to hit one picture book a night, and let DD try to read a whole book to us, like Hop on Pop.

We also read the first chapter of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane in the bookstore a couple of weeks ago. I loved it, but I don't think she is quite ready for it. Although, we still talk about that vain little rabbit all the time. He sounds like a great character.
Posted by: La Texican

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 11/29/11 07:28 AM

I've got a cool copy of My Father's Dragon. When I went to go buy mine from Amazon somebody was selling a library bound copy of the book that the publishers messed up an put the cover on upside down. So I thought that was cool and it was the same price as the other ones so that's what I got.
Posted by: Somerdai

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 12/18/11 07:34 PM

I also recommend A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, the Amelia Bedelia books and the Boxcar children.

As a child I reread these books a lot (I listed them in random order), but since it's been awhile I may not remember if there's scary or mature content:

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Women and Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
The Black Stallion (and some of the series) by Walter Farley
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Posted by: momto2ms

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/22/12 08:20 PM

Funny, it had truly never occurred to me to read my DD4 a chapter book. LOL. Going to try Cam Jansen or MTH.
Posted by: MegMeg

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 04:14 AM

Funny how quickly they change! I wrote the original post back in August, and now she totally gets magic, and a whole range of things books can do with playing with what's real and what's not real. It's opened up a much wider range of things we can read.

We're still mostly sticking to the picture book section of the library (she thinks it's outrageous that a book wouldn't have a picture on each page). I recently read a distinction that's quite useful -- apparently there's a distinction between "picture books" and "story books," even though they're mixed together at the library. Story books are the ones that have an actual plot, with more text and more complex sentence structure and so on.

That's the leap that Hanni made about six months ago, which made me think we needed to start finding chapter books. But in fact I'm realizing that there's still a huge number of story books that we can tap into that I just wasn't even paying attention to six months ago.
Posted by: Chrys

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 05:03 AM

Lauren Child has an awesome version of Pippi Longstockings. She plays with the text layout and added lots of pictures similar in style to her Charlie and Lola picture books.
Posted by: geofizz

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 05:33 AM

All the EB White books!

Posted by: DeeDee

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 05:54 AM

The George and Martha series (James Marshall) makes a nice bridge between picture and chapter books.

DeeDee
Posted by: islandofapples

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 03:50 PM

I like the Magic Tree House books... but... magic.
They go back in time and travel to places, but once they get there they have a task they need to complete.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 04:19 PM

Loved the OZ series, particularly 'Tic-Tok of Oz' and 'Ozma of Oz' and 'The Phantom Tollbooth.' I thought that I had discovered some great overlooked truth of parenting when my DS enjoyed me reading these dense chapterbooks. LOL! The joke was on me when I figured out how far from normal my DS really was - it wasn't my fabulous parenting afterall...well maybe a teeny bit.

We also read 'Blue Fairy book' etc, but some of those stories were way too scary.

Dr. Suess books such as 'The Lorax' and Horton might be a good transition into books with content.

Smiles,
Grinity
Posted by: MegMeg

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 04:40 PM

Originally Posted By: annette
The problem with reading DS stories with more advanced vocabulary is that we are constantly stopping to explain what it means.

LOL, I've just given in! I just assume that new books from the library will take about five times as long to read, because of the constant discussion. The second, third, and fourth times through there are still questions and observations -- new, different ones. I know it's getting to be time to return a book when I can get through the whole thing without interruption!
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 05:22 PM

Give in is a great idea! Or get the kindle and use their dictionary...

also ask...what do you think this word might mean?
Posted by: MegMeg

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/23/12 06:56 PM

Oh, it's so much more than word definitions! Just as an example, a recent book, Runnery Granary (which I highly recommend!) elicited the following discussions:

- what a water-wheel is
- why you grind grain
- whether goblins and gnomes are the same thing
- why this artist drew gnomes that look different than other people's ideas of gnomes
- what gnomes really look like (and why that's a hard question to answer)
- why the cats look tough and aggressive going into the granary
- why cats would be afraid of gnomes
- why one could infer that something bigger than rats was infesting the granary
- why the people would tiptoe when going into the infested granary at night
- why the gnomes don't look happy when they are stuck to the gnome-paper
- why the gnomes went looking for another granary when they finally got unstuck
- why the gnomes never came back to the first granary

Like I say, I've just gotten really zen about it -- this is what reading together is!
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Chapter books for 3 year olds - 02/24/12 03:25 AM

Why why why ...
Trry this: think then sa either. Custom or nature. Custom is that people like too do things the way they always do. Nature means that there is some kind of good reason in reality that we don't stick forks intoo electrical sockets...I guess it means something like...because of the way thw world actually works.

Anyway...try those one work answers first then if the child is still interested ask what they think. Then answer using their language and ideas as much as is accurate. As much as they love asking they way more love an audience to listen. I guess I never out grew that.


Smiles
Grinity