Homeschool Tidbits: Great First Read Alouds for Young Listeners

May 5, 2023

Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 51 – Great First Read Alouds for Young Listeners. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!

Reading aloud to our children should start from the very beginning. There are so many fantastic board books and picture books we read with our babies and toddlers. But now your little one is almost preschool age and you want to try reading something a bit longer. But what should you read?

This question gets asked so frequently, I wanted to make a recommendation video/article about it. So here you go. I’m going to recommend 5 fantastic early chapter books to read to your 3-6-year-old!

First, when I look for books to read aloud to very young children, I’m looking for specific criteria. I want a story that reads aloud well. No stilted dialogue or boring repetition. Those are great for early readers, but not so much for reading aloud. I’m looking for stories that are fun and captivating, and I’m looking for books that still include plenty of illustrations. So with that in mind, let’s talk about my recommendations!

My Father’s Dragon – This classic is a perfect place to start. First, it’s a trilogy, so if you enjoy the first book you can continue with the rest of the series.  This is the story of Elmer Elevator’s trip to a strange island where he rescues a baby dragon. He has many adventures in which he meets various wild animals and placates them with tricks like a children’s book MacGuyver. The story is charming and memorable.

Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet: Skunked! – I adore the book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. I read it shortly after it was released and it’s still one of my top 10 middle-grade read-alouds of all time. Calpurnia just has such a great voice and it is oh-so read aloudable! So I was curious to check out the early chapter books based on one of my favorite characters. These are so endearing. Not only do they read aloud well, but if you have a child interested in animals, this is a great series to read. Calpurnia and her brother have a love for animals and each book is about their wildlife adventures, like rescuing baby skunks or helping a sheep to give birth. There are several books in this series to enjoy, and then, when your child is older, you can read them the original book!

Sydney and Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World – I adore talking animal stories. The Sydney and Taylor series harkens back to the likes of Frog and Toad and Owl at Home. Best friends Sydney the Skunk and Taylor the Hedgehog go on an adventure. I love the full-color illustrations. This feels like a picture book, even though it is 80 pages and broken into chapters. So, this makes for a perfect first-chapter book to read aloud. Also, the language is lovely. Big words are introduced with ease and the writing flows well.

Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows – This is another long-running series, so if you enjoy the first one, you have plenty more reading ahead of you! Zoey loves science and one day, she discovers that she can see magical creatures, and they need her help! She uses the scientific method to solve their problems. In this way, it’s similar to the Calpurnia Tate series, except in this case, the creatures are make-believe. This series is great fun and your child will fall in love with Zoey and her cat Sassafras!

Too Small Tola – This is a great story to introduce a new culture! Tola lives in Nigeria with her family. This book includes 3 short stories about Tola, the smallest in her family, and her adventures shopping at the market with her Grandmommy, helping to bring in water from the pump when the faucet breaks, and celebrating the holidays of Easter and Eid. Currently, there are three books in this series, the most recent just came out in March!

Let me know in the comments, what are your favorite first read-aloud to share with young children.

Coming up next…

I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!

Until then, happy reading!

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Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

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About Build Your Library

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history?

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