These are the best first chapter books for reading aloud. It’s no secret that I love reading the classics to my kids. I read The Chronicles of Narnia to my oldest before he even went to school. There’s just something about the classics that’s so…classic. However, it takes us FOREVER to get through them. I think I read The Wind in the Willows over three or four months. F-O-R-E-V-E-R.
So, even though the classics are great, it’s also great to move through some faster short first chapter books. That’s where Early Readers come in! Here are the top 50 Early Reader chapter books that are GREAT for starting out reading aloud!
You might be thinking “50?!? Does that really say ’50’?!?”
YES!! These 50 books are perfect for the first books for reading aloud to your young kids, and knocking out a few chapter books in a week or two. And since there are 50 of them, even though they go quickly they should keep you busy for at least a little bit!
Here’s why this list is awesome
They’re FAST reads
Every book on this list can EASILY be read in under a week, even if you read less than a chapter a day. Most of them are such simple stories and short chapters that you can probably read the whole book in one sitting if your kids get into the story.
They’re for EVERY age
All of these meet the qualifications of what I believe a book needs to be perfect for the toddler and up set: illustrations on every page, only a few characters, and an easy to follow story line.
They also are interesting enough to keep my kindergartner engaged!
They’re fun to READ ALOUD
Because I wanted this list to be only FAST reads that you can get through in a day or two, most of these would be considered an “Early Reader.” That’s great! However, not all Early Readers are good for reading aloud. For example, some of them have so much repetition that mom is sick of the book halfway through the first chapter.
These are all super fun to read aloud!
So, check out these 40 books in 10 different series that you can easily read in a few days, and get reading!
If you click on the book title it will take you to the Amazon page to purchase the book. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
**A note about the order of this list: I ordered the books from shortest to longest. So, if you have a child who can’t stand the thought of not reading a book through in one sitting, you should be safe with anything off of the first half of the list.**
50 Quick and Easy First Read Aloud Chapter Books for Preschoolers
Dragon Tales by Dav Pilkey
Dav Pilkey is middle-grade author royalty – you might have heard of a little series he wrote called Captain Underpants? This series about a lovable dragon is geared for a younger set. Fully illustrated and with short chapters, the Dragon Tales books are fun to read aloud to all ages.
Books in the series: A Friend for Dragon: Dragon’s First Tale, Dragon’s Fat Cat, Dragon Gets By, Dragon’s Halloween, Dragon’s Merry Christmas
The Dodsworth Series by Tim Egan
Author Tim Egan has said that Dodsworth is a mouse, but I have to disagree and say that I think he is a mole. In this delightful series Dodsworth and his companion duck travel around the world. It’s perfect for introducing little listeners to different places!
Also, there are only two main named characters in the whole series, so it is a great first chapter book series for even the youngest listeners. This chapter book series definitely is the one on this list that will be best for youngest listeners. It is basically a picture book with occasional chapter breaks.
Books in the series, in order (Order does matter in this series.): Dodsworth in New York, Dodsworth in London, Dodsworth in Rome, Dodsworth in Paris, Dodsworth in Tokyo
Snail & Worm by Tina Kügler
Snail and Worm are good friends. They have sweet, quiet adventures. These are great stories of friendship, in a graphic-novel style book.
These books are great for reading aloud to toddlers or preschoolers. Each “chapter” is a stand alone story, but the entire book is short enough you could easily read it in one sitting. HIGHLY RECOMMEND, especially if you’re willing to commit to doing voices for Snail and Worm.
Books in the series: Snail & Worm, Snail & Worm Again, Snail & Worm All Day
Narwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton
Have you noticed that narwhals are sort of having a moment in pop culture right now? (So are unicorns and llamas, I think. And maybe sloths.) Ben Clanton has capitalized on that with a sweet graphic novel series about Narwhal and his best friend, Jelly. These are graphic novels, so be prepared to use your finger to show where you are at on the page.
All of my kids are OBSESSED with this series. Even though there are chapters, there is so little text that you can EASILY read the book in one sitting.
Books in the series: Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea!, Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Narwhal’s Otter Friend, and Happy Narwhalidays
Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog by Peter Meisel
Written by Peter Meisel, this silly series about the stinkiest dog with the best sniffer will have your kids rooting for Stinky Spike to save the day! At least, as much as a pirate can save the day… Spike really isn’t a bad guy, even though he’s a pirate. The stories are short, with lots of full color illustrations. Highly recommend for all ages, with the sweet spot being 3 years old and up!
Books in the series: Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog, Stinky Spike and the Royal Rescue
Fergus and Zeke by Kate Messner
These books by Kate Messner are set in an elementary classroom and feature some very smart classroom pets. Like all of the books on this list, the illustrations are excellent and on every page, so even those listeners who aren’t in school yet will enjoy the story. I recommend for ages 4 and up.
Heads up that it has recently been released as paper backs, so these are available extremely inexpensively!
Books in the series: Fergus and Zeke, Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair, Fergus and Zeke and the Field Day Challenge
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
Who knew my kids would fall so in love with a mischievous pig who loves toast with a great deal of butter? Kate DiCamillo is children’s author royalty, and this illustrated series proves why. The prose is fairly simple and a little repetitive (I’d kill for a pronoun in these books sometimes) but the stories themselves are interesting and very funny. Even though they are chapter books, we’ve read them in one sitting before, so they’re definitely a fast, easy read.
Books in the series: Mercy Watson to the Rescue, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, Mercy Watson Fights Crime, Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise, Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig, Mercy Watson Something Wonky This Way Comes
Tales From Deckawoo Drive by Kate DiCamillo
Love Mercy Watson? You’ll also like her neighbors. I have to confess, my kids didn’t get as into this spin off series as much as they did to the original Mercy Watson stories…mainly because they kept asking where Mercy was. (If your kids also love Mercy, she does show up prominently in Stella Endicott and the Anything-is-Possible Poem.) However, these are funny stories, and if you like Kate DiCamillo’s stories they’re worth reading.
Books in the series: Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon, Where are You Going, Baby Lincoln?, Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package, Stella Endicott and the Anything-is-Possible Poem, Franklin Endicott and the Third Key
Three-Ring Rascals by Kate Klise
The three-ring rascals are small and wise and love popcorn. They’re also mice who travel with a circus made up of talking animals. These sweet stories have quite a few characters, but very simple story lines and can be read quickly. Heads up to the parents parenting kids from hard places that characters do deal with not having enough food in the first book.
By the way, the audio books of this series are fully produced, with different voice actors and everything. They’re wonderful, even the grown ups enjoy them on road trips. I can’t recommend those enough!
Books in the series: The Show Must Go On!, The Greatest Star on Earth, The Circus Goes to Sea, Pop Goes the Circus!, Secrets of the Circus
Wallace and Grace by Heather Alexander
Wallace and Grace are owl detectives who do their best work at night…or during the day with sunglasses on. They solve important cases for their forest friends. There are less illustrations in these books compared to some of the others on the list, but there are still enough pictures to keep my toddler entertained.
It would be a stretch to read the whole book in one sitting, but you probably could. I especially recommend them for your budding mystery lover – the stories are not super predictable, but not at all scary.
Books in the series: Wallace and Grace Take the Case, Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper, Wallace and Grace and the Lost Puppy, Wallace and Grace and Owl-o-ween Mystery, Wallace and Grace and the Gift Thief
The Adventures of Pug by Laura James
Written by Laura James with darling illustrations by Eglantine Ceulemans, your kids will fall in love with adorable Pug the pug. He doesn’t say much, but his expressive little face lets you know EXACTLY how he feels about the scrapes he gets into. I recommend it for all ages. It’s especially good for families like ours that have a wide age range of kids. Both the youngest toddler and older elementary listeners will enjoy Pug’s antics.
Although this is a fully illustrated chapter book, it is fairly long. You could get through the whole book in one sitting, but make sure to have water nearby, because that’s probably about an hour of reading.
Books in the series: Captain Pug, Safari Pug, Cowboy Pug, Pirate Pug
Time to Request a Few Books at the Library!
These are all such fast reads, you won’t have to worry about renewing them. Happy reading!