Reading aloud to my students is one of my favorite things to do. Sharing books is a magical time and it’s not something I am willing to skip just because we are short on time. My read aloud time is filled with both picture books and chapter books, often for different reasons. Reading aloud to my students allows me to share my passion for reading, expose my students to books they might not choose for themselves, introduce a book series or memorable character, model reading fluency and expression, and help build vocabulary in a unique way. Not all books are created equal when it comes to read aloud. Choosing the right chapter book read aloud can make all the difference when it comes to captivating your young readers. Here are some of my favorite chapter book read alouds for the primary classroom.
You can click on any of the covers below to learn more about each book.
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Gooney Bird Greene
by Lois Lowry
From the moment Gooney Bird Greene arrives at Watertower Elementary School, her fellow second-graders are intrigued by her unique sense of style and her unusual lunches. So when story time arrives, the choice is unanimous: they want to hear about Gooney Bird Greene. And that suits Gooney Bird just fine, because, as it turns out, she has quite a few interesting and “absolutely true” stories to tell.
by Betty MacDonald
Meet Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! She lives in an upside-down house with a kitchen that is always full of freshly baked cookies. She was even married to a pirate once! Best of all, she knows everything there is to know about children. When Mary turns into an Answer-Backer or Dick becomes Selfish or Allen decides to be a Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the perfect cure. And her solutions always work, with plenty of laughs along the way.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
by Kate DiCamillo
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. . . . Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle – that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
The Chocolate Touch
by Patrick Skene Catling
If he could, John Midas would eat nothing but chocolate all the time, and he’d never share it with anyone. Then one day, John finds a strange coin on the sidewalk and uses it to buy a box of chocolate at a mysterious new candy store. Suddenly, everything John’s lips touch turns to chocolate! Chocolate toothpaste and chocolate water fountains are great, but things get complicated when John can’t play the trumpet or bob for apples. Worst of all, he forgets and kisses his mother!
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
by Judy Blume
Life with his little brother, two-year-old Fudge, makes Peter Hatcher feel like a fourth grade nothing. Fudge is actually a tiny terror in disguise, causing mischief everywhere he goes. Whether Fudge is throwing a temper tantrum in a shoe store, smearing mashed potatoes on the walls at Hamburger Heaven, or trying to fly, he’s never far from trouble. He’s an almost three-year-old terror who gets away with everything, and Peter’s had it up to here! When Fudge walks off with Dribble, Peter’s pet turtle, it’s the last straw. Peter has put up with Fudge for too long. Way too long! How can he get his parents to pay attention to him for a change?
by Andrew Clements
Fifth grader Nick Allen knows just how to make school more cool. In third grade, he transformed Miss Deaver’s room into a tropical paradise with some paper palm trees and a sandy beach. In fourth grade, he taught his classmates to mimic the high-pitched calls of blackbirds. But now, in fifth grade, clever Nick has come up with his most ingenious idea yet. After learning about the origins of words, he decides to change the word “pen” to “frindle.” At first, it seems like a harmless prank, a way to annoy his dictionary-obsessed teacher. Then the whole class starts using the new word, and the joke spreads across town like wildfire. Suddenly Nick finds himself in the middle of a media frenzy over “frindle.” Will Nick emerge from the controversy a troublemaker or a hero?
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis
Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy —step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia. A once peaceful world inhabited by Fauns, Dwarves, Giants, and Talking Beasts, Narnia has been frozen into perpetual winter by the fiendish White Witch who rules over it. Before long, Edmund steps into the wardrobe, and, in spite of himself, into Narnia, where he has a chilling encounter with the White Witch. Soon, all of the children become embroiled in an adventure that includes themes of betrayal, forgiveness, death, and rebirth. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
by E.B. White
Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
by Beverly Cleary
With Mr. Quimby going to college and Mrs. Quimby going to work, it’s a good thing Ramona is big enough to ride the bus to her new school all by herself. Unfortunately, after school she has to stay with Grandmother Kemp until her moody big sister Beezus comes to pick her up. It’s a good thing Ramona is so mature these days: she is doing her best to help Beezus make dinner and to be nice to pesky little Willa Jean after school. She can’t help it if Danny, better known as Yard Ape, insists on making her school life difficult. Soon Ramona is living up to her reputation, accidentally squashing a raw egg into her hair at the cafeteria and throwing up in her classroom. Will life ever get any easier?
The World According to Humphrey
by Betty G. Birney
You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That’s what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy is it true! There are always adventures in the classroom and each weekend he gets to sleep over with different students. Humphrey learns to read, write, shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course), turn off TVs, teach English as a second language, and more. With a lock-that-doesn’t-lock and an adventurous spirit, what more could a mischievous hamster want?
Because of Winn Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo
One summer’s day, ten-year-old Opal goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
Willy Wonka, a crazy chocolatier, opens his chocolate factory doors for the first time to five lucky children who have randomly purchased the coveted chocolate bars containing the golden ticket. Besides a lifetime supply of chocolate, the children get a chance to tour the mysterious factory with their guide, Willy Wonka. Throughout their journey in Wonka’s factory the children’s selfish ways get them into hilariously odd situations, which have the result of determining their own doom, while Charlie’s characteristic integrity, honesty, and general sweetness afford him an opportunity to fulfill his dreams.
by Beverly Cleary
Third-grader Maggie Schultz has firmly decided that cursive writing is not for her. Then her teacher appoints Maggie class mail messenger. When she cannot read the notes she must deliver around school, Maggie suddenly finds cursive writing very interesting.
My Father’s Dragon
by Ruth Stiles Gannett
When Elmer Elevator hears about the plight of an overworked and under-appreciated flying baby dragon, he packs his knapsack with supplies and stows away on a ship headed for Wild Island. Nothing will stop Elmer from rescuing the dragon!
The Hundred Dresses
by Eleanor Estes
Wanda Petronski is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.”
The Boxcar Children
by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Four resourceful, independent orphans find inventive ways to stick together through all kinds of exciting mysteries and adventures, including living in a boxcar! The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.
Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls and her family are heading to Kansas! Leaving behind their home in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, they travel by covered wagon until they find the perfect spot to build a little house on the prairie. Laura and her sister Mary love exploring the rolling hills around their new home, but the family must soon get to work, farming and hunting and gathering food for themselves and for their livestock. Just when the Ingalls family starts to settle into their new home, they find themselves caught in the middle of a conflict. Will they have to move again?
by E.B. White
Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure. Stuart’s greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
by Beverly Cleary
BORN TO RIDE! Ralph is not like the other mice at the Mountain View Inn. He is always looking for adventure. It is Ralph’s lucky day when a young guest named Keith arrives with a shiny miniature motorcycle. Right away, Ralph knows that the motorcycle is special – made to be ridden by an adventurous mouse. And once a mouse can ride a motorcycle – almost anything can happen!
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
by Florence and Richard Atwater
It is hard enough for Mr. Popper to support himself, Mrs. Popper, Bill and Janie Popper. The addition of twelve penguins to the family makes it almost impossible to make ends meet. Now Mr. Popper has sixteen mouths to feed! But Mr. Popper has a splendid idea – the talented penguins would be a sensation on stage!
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
by Louis Sachar
Wayside School was supposed to be built with 30 classrooms all next to each other in a row. Instead, it is an architectural accident that was built sideways. The classrooms were stacked one on top of the other, 30 stories tall! Here are some hilarious and fun stories about the school, the teachers, and the students. You’ll meet Mrs. Gorf, the meanest teacher of all, terrible Todd, who always gets sent home early, and John who can read only upside down, along with all the other kids in the crazy mixed-up school that came out sideways. But you’ll never guess the truth about Sammy, the new kid, or what’s in store for Wayside School on Halloween!
The Lemonade War
by Jacqueline Davies
Evan and his sister Jessie usually get along just fine, until he finds out that she’s skipping third grade. That means she’ll be in his fourth grade class next year, showing him up every day with her perfect grades. Now Evan doesn’t want her help with his lemonade stand, even though he could really use her math skills to make a profit. Jessie, who sometimes finds people more puzzling than math problems, doesn’t understand why Evan won’t team up with her, so she starts her own lemonade stand. Soon brother and sister are waging an all-out war for customers. Can Evan figure out the math to make more than he’s spending? And can Jessie attract customers and navigate a new friendship without Evan’s help?
Toys Go Out
by Emily Jenkins
Lumphy is a stuffed buffalo. StingRay is a stuffed stingray. And Plastic… well, Plastic isn’t quite sure what she is. They all belong to the Little Girl who lives on the high bed with the fluffy pillows. A very nice person to belong to. Together is best for these three best friends. Together they look things up in the dictionary, explore the basement, and argue about the meaning of life. And together they face dogs, school, television commercials, the vastness of the sea, and the terrifying bigness of the washing machine.
by Abby Hanlon
As the youngest in her family, Dory really wants attention, and more than anything she wants her brother and sister to play with her. But she’s too much of a baby for them, so she’s left to her own devices, including her wild imagination and untiring energy. Her siblings may roll their eyes at her childish games, but Dory has lots of things to do: escaping from prison (aka time out), and exacting revenge on her sister’s favorite doll. But when her family really needs her, will daring Dory prove her bravery by doing the right thing?
by Sara Pennypacker
Clementine tries to help out her friend Margaret, but ends up in a lot of trouble for it. Things get worse each day of the week, until finally she’s worried that Margaret is right: Clementine’s parents might consider her “the hard one” in the family. They’re up to something mysterious; are they thinking they’d be better off if they only had her little vegetable-named brother, Radish, “the easy one?”
What are some of your favorite chapter book read alouds? I’d love to check them out!