Books for 5-6 year olds

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  • Chapter books to read with my daughter

    (32 replies)

    My daughter is getting to the age where we're reading chapter books together and I'm so excited to share some of my favorite ones from when I was a kid. However, most of those books were written a long time ago and feature strong girls, but mostly white protagonists e.g. Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte's Web, Nancy Drew, Ramona, etc. Although I haven't read these books in a long looonnng time, I am certain they would capture her imagination and want to her love reading as much as I do. I am also certain there will be some stuff that I find cringey and discriminatory today. 

    We talk a lot about diversity, and have made a big effort to have a very diverse picture book library and I feel that it is a shame to go backwards in some ways. 

    I am a person of color. My daughter is half-white. 

    Anyone else thinking about this? Would welcome any thoughts, book recommendations or pointers for how to discuss this. 


    My kid is a teen now, but reading to her remains such a happy memory. Here is a website that has some good resources:

    Happy reading!

    This doesn't fully respond to your post, but I strongly recommend bookstore as a great resource. They have books on their website by age category and also a series/chapter book section. I've also found them to be incredibly responsive and helpful when I've contacted them. Happy reading!

    For finding new book recommendations, try asking the librarians at your public library or Oakland Public Library for recommendations! They have these awesome book bundles and like to have diverse characters:


    You might want to check out the Laurie Halse Anderson trilogy chains, ashes, forge... it might be too advanced still for you guys, but the narrators and protagonists are black kids during the revolutionary war and it’s a powerful story. 

    When I was a kid, I really liked The Babysitter's Club. There were seven girls in the series and each had their own story - there was a Japanese American, African American, a Californian, redhead, the tomboy, New Yorker. Each book is a story about one of the girls - there are at least 100 books. I was drawn to "Kristy" because she opened up the babysitter club business, so I thought it was empowering that girls these age were that organized! I think I started reading these in third grade (1989). I gave my collection to my niece who is currently in fourth grade and she loves them. I'm sure it's pretty dated by now, and also the author wrote discussed stereotypes of that time. worth a shot for when your daughter is a bit older!

    For fun reading, at her age now, she might ilke Amelia Bedelia, which is about a maid who makes a lot of mistakes cleaning houses, but makes up for it with her baking. The newer Berenstain Bears books are good too - ones written by their son, after the original authors passed. She might be outgrowing those though.  

    I’m so excited to recommend Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park to you. You may have heard about it already it made quite a splash last year. It is a specific rejoinder to the Little House books… embracing what’s wonderful about those books while making important changes to the way frontier stories are told that include the perspectives of displaced native people and the overlooked non white heroes in this part of American history, as well as giving us important lessons about racism that are applicable in any time.

    After we read Prairie Lotus, we ended up eagerly devouring the entire works of Linda Sue Park! They’re mostly historical fiction with elementary school aged protagonists. The best one featuring a girl that I would recommend to an early chapter book reader would be Seesaw Girl, although the best book of the lot is A Single Shard, although it features two male characters.

    You are right about the "old-fashioned" (e.g. thoughtlessly, casually sexist and racist) milieu of many of our favorite books from childhood.  I have taken to reading a book before sharing it with my grandchildren. Turns out Peter Pan, Swiss Family Robinson and the Beverly Cleary books contain assumptions not really acceptable to modern awareness.  We do love Pippi Longstocking and the Oz books, and recommend them wholeheartedly.  A friend with reading-age children say they like the "feisty feminist" Lumberjanes books by Mariko Tamaki, which look fun if I can just get past the illustrations.

    Hi- check out Under the resources tab they have a section for lists of diverse children’s books.

    If you personally haven't re-read the books from your childhood that you are thinking about sharing, I'd start there. Some of mine have had aspects that are not acceptable, but my kid has been old enough to discuss the issues and it's been a good learning experience alongside the story. I felt like others were really far off the mark and the issues were ones that he's not developmentally ready to tackle in meaningful ways yet. There are a lot of newer books with diverse characters who have lead and authentic roles in the stories and I've come to love them alongside my child, for example, the Dragon Masters series and the Upside Down Magic series. 


    I've always prioritized reading diverse books with my girls too and once they got to the chapter books stage, it was definitely harder to find diverse books. But they are out there! Here are some of the ones we enjoyed:

    The Sofia Martinez series

    The Jannah Jewels series (this was our favorite and I liked it so much I gifted it to so many people who also loved it).

    Meet Yasmin

    Katie Woo

    Ling and Ting

    Zooey and Sassafras series

    Jasmine Toguchi series

    Juana and Lucas

    Nikki and Deja series

    Book Uncle and Me

    Also this great org has awesome diverse book suggestions by grade (including chapter books)--you have to sign up but it is worth it. I started a book club with some friends thanks to their lists and curriculum:

    Also, the good thing about this reading stage is that the chapter book stage doesn't last long. Once she moves into middle grade books, there are many options for diverse books again, thankfully. Of course the publishing world still needs to publish many, many more diverse stories, but we have been able to find a lot we love. I liked this list once you get to that stage to get started:

    Happy reading!

    Hi! I have been thinking about this, too, because a friend recently asked for suggestions. My daughter is older now (12), but when she was younger I read the Little House on the Prairie series to her and her younger brother. They both (but especially her), like realistic fiction -- they loved thinking about what life was like for Laura and her family and how different it is to our life now. It generated a lot of discussion. I also made sure that we talked about the Ingalls' bigotry against Native Americans, and what it might feel like to an African American to read about Pa dressing up in blackface.  At the time, and now too, I felt it was a teachable moment. But I have lately wondered if that is true. Even though we talked about it, is that enough? Or were they too young to understand what I was trying to teach them? Did their love for the characters lead them to conclude their behavior was OK? I am curious what other folks think. 

    I would also love to hear suggestions as my 9 year old son is a reluctant reader, but is engaged if the series captures his imagination. He read some of the Akissi books (graphic novels), all of Avatar and Zita the Spacegirl. Together we are reading Harry Potter -- again a series with white main characters -- so maybe our next series could have more diversity. (We are a white family.) Thanks all!

    A good transition from picture books to chapter books is the Julian and Huey series by Ann Cameron.  They center on the adventures of Julian, Huey and Gloria.  The boys are brothers and Gloria is their friend.  All the characters are African-American.  The illustrations are great.  And the stories are humorous, imaginative and thoughtful.

    Contact the library! Librarians spend a lot of time thinking about this exact question. Oakland Public Library has a service called Book Me where you fill out an online form describing what you like or what you're looking for and a librarian emails you personalized recommendations. When I've used this I've gotten really amazing responses with lots of titles to choose from. There is also a "great reads" page on the "kids" part of OPL's website that has lists of kids' books about characters of color and lists of other resources to check out: Other libraries offer similar services and probably also have lists of recommendations ready to go.  

    We're just starting to read chapter books in my household, but so far we've loved the Zoey & Sassafras series by Asia Citro. They're about a Black girl protagonist and her scientist mom, and their secret work helping magical animals (dragons, unicorns, etc) by doing science experiments. 

    Grace Lin's Pacy Lin books have a sort of Ramona-like feel (in that they're about daily life and trials & tribulations of school, friends, & family - not as wacky as Ramona) but with a Taiwanese-American protagonist. They're also Lunar New Year-themed, so now is an appropriate time to start them! Year of the Dog is the first one in the series.

    I completely related to this post! There are a lot of ways to come at this. My daughter really loved the entire Little House series and I was grateful that I read it to her rather than having her read it herself (we started around age 5). There is A LOT of racism in old books (we also read Mary Poppins and Pippi Longstocking). I found this to actually be a tangible way to have discussions about racism and other prejudices with her so we would pause whenever we came to a part where something came up and talk about it. I was actually glad to be reading books with overt racism in them because we had a lot to talk about, in terms of history and how people thought back then — and how some people still think today. I think if you are ready and willing to stop reading when something hard or inappropriate comes up it can start conversations naturally that might be hard to have otherwise.

    There are also some more modern books that have strong girls of color in them (Zoey and Sassafrass; some of the chapter books from the Rebel Girl series; Anna Hibiscus; The Great Cake Mystery). There's also an excellent series about a girl named Violet Mackerel. If you get the Australian printings (rather than American), Violet becomes best friend's with a Black little girl when she moves in next door and their friendship is lovely. My daughter now reads these to herself at 8, she loves them so much. Good luck in your search :)

    Hello, dear fellow parent! I love that you are on the hunt for good books. I have recently re-read Anne of Green Gables, and I did not find anything in there to cause cringing. Of course, as you note, all of the characters are white. (Me, too.) The Laura Ingalls Wilder books are also pretty solid; the main thing is that Laura's mother is quite openly racist - but Laura describes it pretty clearly. I think that the main issue with Charlotte's Web is also likely to be that again, everyone is white. 

    I just asked my 20 year old avid reader whether she has any recommendations; she mentioned a great app called We Read Too, which has recommendations for books by and about people of color for each age group. I hope this is helpful!

    There seem to be a bunch of great book recommendations on this site:

    Here are some suggestions, mostly for kids 8/ 9/ & 10+:

    One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (set in West Oakland)

    A good Kind of Trouble by Lisa M. Ramee

    For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama Lockington

    Jada Sly: Artist & Spy by Sherri Winston

    The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

    The Vanderbeekers of 141st St by Karina Yan Glaser

    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

    Blended by Sharon Draper 

    Children's literature is getting more & more diverse and representative of the big beautiful global mosaic.  Enjoy that precious reading aloud time! I miss it with my now nearly grown kids :)

    You don't say how old your child is but if they're in the 8-12 range, I have really enjoyed reading books by Jewell Parker Rhodes with my daughter (10). She writes from the perspective of BIPOC persons and the content, while heavy, is relevant to today's current events.  

    Yes! It is so tricky. Some books from my childhood I let go of altogether because my values were too different, especially ones for the 5-8 range. I never want to spend all that time on a read aloud that I am not comfortable with. As my kid got to the 8-12 range we talked more and compared/contrasted some of those "classics" vs contemporary books, many with non-white protagonists. My friend hosted a book club that compared/contrasted Little House with the Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. They are both the first books in a series set in the same region of the US. My kid did not want to keep reading the Ingalls series after reading the chapters with very dehumanizing descriptions of Indian people. She knew those people from the Birchbark books and it did not feel right to her. Some wonderful series: One Crazy Summer trilogy (set in Oakland in the first book!) and Birchbark House series. Mildred D. Taylor has a moving series for 4th-5th grade up too that we read in parallel.

    Some series we enjoyed when my daughter was read aloud age with non-white authors and characters: Ann Cameron has a series that starts with "Stories Julian Tells."  These a great pretty easy stories for early readers early read aloud.  Grace Lin has a series that starts with the book "Year of the Dog".  We read these when my daughter was in third grade and several times after.  Mildred Taylor wrote a series about an African American family in the south during the depression.  First book is "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry."   These are written for older children and contain more graphic details about what it means to grow up Black in America.  Appropriate for  5th or 6th grade and up.  Also in case you do not know about them Little Feminist book club has a subscription series for 7-9 years that will have more currently written books I haven't had the pleasure to read.

     Great question, thanks for asking

    Some recommendations: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and The Birchbark House

    I hear you on this. Our 3yo has really enjoyed the Zoey and Sassafras series, about a Black girl (and her cat) who use the scientific method to help sick and injured magical animals — it’s not an #OwnVoices series since the author is white, fwiw. And while there’s a bunch of good Instagram accounts out there that highlight books with good representation, my recommendation is to make use of Oakland Library’s free Book Me service and get some recs that are really tailored for your kid. 

    Hi! There are some great lists compiled online of chapter books for girls with POC main characters! Try this one, compiled by the Chicago Public Library: Juvenile chapter book series for 1000 Black Girl Books! Or I guess, technically, the list was started by the Grass Roots Community Foundation:

    Here are a few that were favorites when my daughter was that age:

    • Anna Hibiscus series by Atinuke (I loved these too!)
    • Katie Woo series by Fran Manushkin 
    • Zooey and Sassafras

    She liked Whoopi Goldberg’s series about the Sugar Plum Ballerinas too, though I quickly tired of them!  

    Feminist Books for Kids has some great lists that include some of these and many others. 

    A few off the top of my head:

    One Crazy Summer (Rita Williams-Garcia...takes place in Oakland)

    Esperanza Rising (Pam Munoz Ryan)

    Becoming Naomi Leon (Pam Munoz Ryan)

    Underground Abductor (Nathan Hale graphic novel)

    Sadako and the 1000 paper Cranes (Coerr)

    Alvin Ho (series)

    I Am Malala (kids version)

    Brown Girl Dreaming

    I HIGHLY recommend you talk to a children's librarian at your local branch. They LIVE for this kind of question/problem, and will offer lots of choices. 

    Hi! I totally feel the same way about reading with my daughter, though she isn't ready for chapter books yet. I'm a librarian and mixed race (my daughter is mixed race, too), so I think about diversity and representation in books a lot. If you haven't looked at We Need Diverse Books' (WNDB) Where to Find Diverse Books resources (, I highly recommend it. Great resources for finding books that don't have white protagonists and I'm biased being a librarian, but I do recommend looking at the awards lists for some great titles (linked from the WNDB page). Book Riot also has tons of articles and lists and other resources for finding books ( and have a ton of different newsletters you can sign up for (for free) to get notices of new books coming out. I hope these resources help. Also (again biased because I'm a librarian), you can always ask your children's librarian at your local public library for recommendations--they'll probably have a lot of great suggestions, too! 

    I have a younger kid and have been thinking about making edits to books (gender is my big issue at the moment - like his beloved Good Night Construction site book in which all the trucks are "he" when they should be "they"). At some point when he realizes that we've made edits to the books, we can discuss why more. I've already told him that I don't like the Curious George books because the adults are always yelling at George when he's just curious and trying to be helpful and they leave him alone instead of helping him. He still likes the books but hopefully I'm showing him that we can and should be critical about stories. And I never choose them to read.

    I wonder if the same could be true for some of the books that you loved and want to share with your daughter. Could they open the door for discussion about issues in the past and how they affect the current issues in this country? Laura Ingalls Wilder in particular writes some really racist stuff toward native peoples that I remember cringing at as a kid but also didn't have parents who addressed it. Pairing her books with books written by native people might help her understand the context better and why Laura's family was part of the problem (some of which is addressed in "Pioneer Girl," a recent biography about her). At the very least, you can talk about it and help her be a critical consumer of historical information - who's story is being told? Who's isn't? There's also a lot of issues with female roles in historical novels and I remember reading them and being so thankful that I had more choices in my life than the female protagonists and I think it made me a stronger feminist. A lot of the books that you mention also stuck with me because of the relationships of children to other children and general struggles in growing up, which taught me some social-emotional skills. 

    However, there are lots of new and wonderful chapter books out there should you choose to ditch these older books - your librarian or daughter's teacher should be able to make some recommendations, in addition to lists that you can search for on the internet. I've also been learning that I need to read books before my kid so I know if there are any issues!

    Yoshiko Uchida's novels about growing up Japanese-American in Berkeley, and the internment camps, are wonderful. (Uchida was about to graduate from Cal Berkeley when she and her family were rounded up and sent to Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno and later to Topaz, Utah.) Her style is very clear and straightforward, but she packs a lot of quiet moral authority as well. Suitable for kids about 9 to 12.

    Thanks for asking this question, curious to see what replies you receive as I am wondering too.

    I can highly recommend any of Grace Lin’s books, with Where the Mountain Meets the Moon being one of our very favorites. Beautifully written! 

    I highly recommend talking to Mr. Michael, the children's librarian at the Claremont Branch (the corner of Ashby in Elmwood) of the Berkeley Public Library. My son met him when his class went to the library and he requested we visit to get more book suggestions from Mr. Michael. I am not sure what his schedule is now, but we used to visit him in the library on Wednesday afternoons.  He has wonderful suggestions! Absolutely love Mr. Michael! 

    I stumbled upon the Heidi Heckelbeck series by Wanda Coven and just love reading them with my daughter, who is almost 5. The stories are sweet yet relatable (with a little bit of magic thrown in), and the adventures and emotions keep my daughter engaged. I also like that the pictures are sparse, so the focus remains on reading the words. We can finish the whole book, which is about 10 chapters, in one sitting. Good luck! I'll be printing out the other replies and going book hunting...

    A sweet series that you can find in the Berkeley Public Library: Zoey and Sassafras! 

  • We are driving cross country this summer with my almost-5 year old daughter. Last time we did this, we relied on a huge car nap to shave off some time for her, but she is done with naps. We don't use any sort of electronic media (iPads, movies), so I am hoping to find some audiobooks to play that will hold her interest (bonus if they hold mine as well!). I imagine she could listen for somewhere around 30 minutes or so at a clip.

    She loves non-fiction (books about the seasons, the way things work, etc.), as well as stories about animals, and the natural world in general. No princess stories or the like.

    Anyone have some good recommendations that could help get us through some of the 3,000+ miles there?! Thank you.

    I have family up and down the 101 so I know exactly what you're talking about! I also don't use screen time in the car. My 5 year old son really likes Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat and other stories audiobook and The Magic Tree House audiobooks. My husband also says he likes The Berenstain Bears and Paddington Bear audiobooks. I hope this helps!

    Try the Magic Tree House Series.  They are based on factual historic events, but around the fantasy world of time travel through a kid's eye.  They go on forever...

    Tons of kids books are available on CD, but here are some recs that a parent can enjoy too.

    There's an audio book of Charlotte's Web read by EB White that is wonderful. My daughter was enthralled by it at that age. On our last car trip, she (we) also got really into an audio book we found online of The Secret Garden. (She's 7 now, though. But her 5yo brother liked it too!)

    I absolutely LOVE the audio books of the Harry Potter series. The reader, Jim Dale, is phenomenal and does different character voices that are fantastic. Not sure your 5yo would be ready for Harry Potter - mine wasn't, but we have friends whose kids were ready at that age, so maybe?

    Have a fun trip!


    I was a nanny for 3 boys from ages 3-9 and we did a lot of driving. To keep them from fighting and becoming bored I played audiobooks that we got from the San Francisco public library. We didn't listen to any non fiction, but these were a hit with them-

    Little House on the Prairie series

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factoty

    Island of the Blue Dolphines

    Stink and Judy Moody series 

    Magic Tree House series

    good luck!

    It has been a while [ my daughter is 18] but she loved it when she had the book and the cd. She could look at the book , turn the pages and hear the story.  Oakland Public library was a great resource.  Also we had lots of kids music, Raffi, Smithsonian folk music and other kid songs.  Go to  children's librarian for other recomendations.  We also had a bags of other entertainments- coloring materials, tanagrams, etc to alternate. Good luck. I can be fun. Kathleen

    The Magic Tree House. It's a series - many books & audio books. You will both love it.

    As a dyslexic kid with a dyslexic sister, I loved audio books as a child. My toddler is not old enough yet, so my recommendations will be dated. But we loved listening to Joel Ben Izzy. He had a lot of Jewish and multicultural folk tales. I loved all his voices, his storytelling cadence, and his humor. The stories are short enough that they are easily followed, and each collection is fun enough to hold attention.

    I also had Narnia and Treasure Island on tape, although those are much longer and depend on your daughter's language and attention... they could also be a bit scary.

    Other favorites included Jim Weiss (American Tall Tales, Greek Myths, Arthurian Legends), Jim O'Callahan's Raspberries!, and (especially if she likes music) the Magic Flute.

    I highly recommend perusing the Berkeley library's collection of books on cd and digital audio downloads. They have some classics and newer stuff... Amelia Bedelia...Winnie the pooh.... Roald Dahl.

    Good luck!


    So I don't have kids but got really into audiobooks in my last job (lots of mindless busy work).  The Redwall series is a great series about animals on adventure. There are about 12 books now but the Audible versions have a cast of actors reading the stories. The first book is Redwall about an abby run by mice.  Another recommendation but this might be better for an older child is Watership down. It is the story of a band of rabbits that sets out to find a new home. It's fairly adventurous with some challenges they face on the way.  It ends with a battle between the hero rabbits and a war-lord rabbit that gets pretty gorey.

    Best of luck on your trip! 

    I get audio books for my kids using the Overdrive app on an iPad (that kids only use for audiobooks on car rides). Overdrive lets you connect with libraries (I belong to Berkeley, Alameda Co, and San Francisco, the last of which you just have to be a CA-resident to get a card and has good selection) and borrow e-books and audio books for 21 days.

    Our kids loved the Little House On the Prairie audio books when they were small. Reading them aloud didn't work for some reason- they were too slow - but as audio books they were excellent. My 16 year old son recently commented that he remembered them quite fondly. 

    Good luck!

    We loved listening to Beverly Cleary books on cd/ tape.  They usually have a large variety at the public library.  The Mouse on the Motorcycle was a favorite.  Plus, all the Ramona books. 

    We have always enjoyed listening to books on CD when traveling.   One of our favorites is Charlotte's Web -- the version we got from the library had E.B. White reading the book, he is of course the author of the book.   It was wonderful.    If you are interested in borrowing books-on-CDs from your library, ask the librarian for other recommendations.   Happy listening!

    I highly recommend Sparkle Stories ( They are original stories and really great, even my husband and I like them. You can get a monthly membership or buy individual stories, most we have listened to are 20-30 minutes long, and there are many series. Our almost 5yo particularly loves the stories about Martin and Sylvia. Good luck!

    What about the James Herriott books [the vet in the Yorkshire Dales]?  All Things Bright and Beautiful, etc.  There might be a few episodes not entirely appropriate for 5-year-old, but they're pretty tame in general. 

    We are avid audiobook listeners and have been since my daughter was small (she's 14 now).  FWIW, the Berkeley library has a very large selection of books on CD (which I borrowed and loaded into and MP3 player).  My daugther's taste ran more to fantasy than non-fiction, but in case this helps at all, the following are ones I remember being good:

    The Cat Who Wanted to Go Home by Jill Tomlinson (there are several of these)

    The Magic Treehouse series.  They get repetitive for adults after awhile, but kids usually love them.

    The Judy Moody books by Megan McDonald

    The Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker

    The Bunnicula books by James Howe (all the ones narrated by Victor Garber)

    The Wind in the Willows 

    The Chronicles of Narnia (make sure you get the more recent ones narrated by iconic British actors, Michael York, Lynn Redgrave, Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Stewart, etc.)

    There's a whole Classical Kids series that's fantastic -- Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mr. Bach Comes to Call, etc.

    The Wind Boy by Ethel Cook Eliot is terrific

    The Cricket in Times Square

    We liked the Ballet Stories series by Jenny Agutter

    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is terrific.  Also The Tale of Despereaux.

    The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

    Anything by Roald Dahl

    The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

    Audiofile Magazine is a pretty reliable source of reviews for more recent stuff.  They usually do a summer reading roundup.  Here's the most recent award winners (you can listen to clips, too): and the listings for Earphones Award winners:

    Enjoy your drive!  :-)

    Much of my work is devoted to helping kids spend less time with screens so I support your efforts.  We like the Sing and Read Storybook and we have 4 of them, they are really short, they are older and harder to get now. Our kids have outgrown them. If you want to contact me through my website I could try to get them to you.  

    Have you tried the Magic Treehouse series? There are 50 books, so that would hold you over for awhile.

    My daughter also loves the Sparkle Storeis podcast (very gentle content wise). 

    The audiobook of Flora and Ulysses was a hit with my 6 year old on a recent 10 hour drive.  We also read Harry Potter aloud (although I've heard the audiobooks are good as well).  Check out the library for audiobooks!

    the Magic Treehouse series has worked well for our 4 year old for the last year. It incorporates historical characters with time traveling kids. There are also some great podcasts on science + general information that she likes -- we started with "But Why" from Vermont public radio, but we've expanded to a bunch of other ones.

    Usborne Farmyard Tales (book + CD) and/or the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker.   Also consider CDs of wonderful children's music by Melita Silberstein and her band, Octopretzel:  (CDs of the Muppets making music are fun, too!)

    We traveled up and down 101 with Heidi (even the abridged version made the adults in the car cry), Ginger Pye, the little house books read by Cherry Jones. The fudge books read by Judy Blume. The Clementine Books.

    U are in luck...anything by Jay O ' Callahan , such as Earth Stories, the Red Ball, are delightful....Story Crafters and Joel Ben Izzy, Odds Bodkin  are also great ...enjoy! They are all wonderful story tellers!

    We have listened to so many audiobooks in the car! You didn't mention what format you are looking for but Public Libraries still have audiobooks on cd's. When my daughter was 5-7 we listened to this fiction:

    where the mountain meets the moon, Grimm's fairy tales, Hans Christian Anderson, mrs piggle-wiggle, charlottes web, stories by Joel Ben kid has never enjoyed audio non-fiction but has listened for hours to the above. Good luck and safe travels.

    I have the perfect set of audio books for you - written and narrated by Jim Weiss, Greathall Productions. Amazon is carrying them now and there are other sites you can purchase them from too. The stories really range in topic, lots of history, tall tales, holiday themed...a real variety of stories. They are all really well written, and Jim Weiss is a fantastic reader. Lots of humor too. There are some oriented towards younger listeners and others toward older. My son grew up listening to the CD’s (from age 4 to 14). I purchased them because my son hated the car. When he listened to these CD’s he was completely spellbound. And I always really enjoyed them too. Not your typical annoying child fare. We have given them as gifts and everyone always loves them!

    Hello. Our daughter has the same interests. She loves the Magic School Bus audio books about exactly the kind of topics you mention. She can follow along in the actual book, if you happen to have it. They might be a little advanced for an almost-5-year old, but they are fun and our daughter learned a lot, which makes her happy. The other thing we've relied on is science pod casts for kids. We download them (but for this you need a computer or iPad, or something) and then she can listen in the car. The one we love is called Brains On, and there are others. Good luck with the trip!

    Any of the Julia Donaldson audio books are great!

    Our 5-year-old, who is also into science and not generally, super-interested in music, loves the "music stories" from the Magic Maestro: Eats up miles on long trips and we the parents enjoy them as well.

    From the grown-ups' point of view, Peter and the Wolf is probably the best music. Kid likes Tortoise and the Hare the best. Sorcerer's Apprentice, Juanita the Spanish Lobster, Mike Mulligan, Swan Lake are all pretty good, too.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions See Also

Positive chapter books for timid 5-year-old

May 2010

My 5 year old daughter LOVES the Cobble Street Cousins books (and so do I) but we've read each of them a zillion times at this point. I can't seem to find a similar series - books that aren't scary and aren't about siblings being mean to each other, kids being sassy to adults, or other negative behaviors. I'm looking for books where the characters model positive healthy relationships with others. By the way, she's pretty timid and doesn't like the Magic Treehouse books. I would appreciate any recommendations, even if they're appropriate for older kids - I'll just hold onto them until she's ready. Thanks so much! Deb

You will be inundated with answers to this one. My kids are now in their 20's, so these are not so new, but wonderful. Also, these are read-to chapter books, rather than for a beginning reader to get through on their own. First, Johanna Hurwitz wrote a wonderful series about Russell and his family (Rip Roaring Russell, Russell Rides Again, Russell and Elisa, Elisa in the Middle ...). The siblings have very real but sweet relationships, the issues are real ones kids face, but very mild (and with enough humor that they are fun for the parents, too). Then there are books by Dick King-Smith, generally about animals. Most of these are for kids slightly older, but they are a LOT of fun. My personal favorite is the Three Terrible Trins (about three young mice who outwit the farmhouse cats), but he has also apparently written at least two about a little girl, Sophie, who wants to be a farmer and practices by training insects (and not to discriminate, Martin's Mice is about a cat who doesn't what to eat mice but likes to keep them as pets--but that might be for a slightly older child). Enjoy. I still remember my favorite books

Little House in The Big Woods and its sequels (Laura Ingalls Wilder), Milly Molly Mandy story books (there are two) by Joyce Lankester Brisley, Betsy, Tacy and Tib books by Maud Hart Lovelace, All of A Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor, B is For Betsy and other books by Carolyn Haywood, Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond, The Borrowers Books by Sherwood Smith...these ought to get you started! Claire

hi, someone recently asked about beginning chapter books and there were a lot of good suggestions which i think also fit your criteria: my father's dragon series by ruth gannett catwings series by ursula k. le guin beverly cleary's books (there is a bit of negative stuff--sometimes the kids say mean things to each other--but it's very mild compared to contemporary books) winnie the pooh (so much fun to read aloud) and then cynthia rylant has some other chapter books which we love including thimbleberry stories and gooseberry park. and as she gets older, you might try: a cricket in times square and the sequels by george selden robert mccloskey's (make way for ducklings) homer price books the mary poppins series (some old fashioned language, but really great) e nesbit's books alice in wonderland, etc. etc. happy reading!

My 4.5 year old daughter loves to read, but is very sensitive, so we're always on the lookout for good books. Here are the ones she's loved so far: The Little House series (except for Farmer Boy, which has a pretty violent section), Charlotte's Web, Trumpet of the Swan, Misty of Chincoteague, and the Lighthouse Family series by the same author as the Cobblestone Cousins. Happy reading! Looking for book recs, too

I have a daughter also 5, and we recently tore our way through the Cobble St Cousins books, too. She is similarly sensitive to anything remotely scary or worrying. I just discovered in the library a small series of books by author Johanna Hurwitz. We're reading 'Make Room For Elisa', and loving it. Looks there's also 'E is for Elisa' and 'Elisa in the Middle', plus a few more about her and her brother. Really fun reads, all about events that are big in the life of a 5-6-year-old girl: new baby coming, moving to a new apartment, looking forward to kindergarten. They're funny, sweet, very real, and written by a long-time children's librarian. Try them out, I think you'll love them too. Kate

I swear I would have another child just to revisit Dick King-Smith. The writer of Babe. Start with Sophie's Snail and move on to Sophie is 6. LOVELY man, he was! The Claremont branch of the Berkeley Library is THE place to be at this age. Dawn may still be there and she is MAVEN of that age and will have a thousand reccomendations. Also, please dont let these years pass without story tellers on tape (disk) The whole Rabbit Ears series is very important! ENJOY Reenie

Our 5-year-old daughter loves the Boxcar Children Series right now. They are a nice family of four kids, very respectful, who solve 'mysteries' which usually involves another character breaking rules and causing mischief. In the end, the person always comes clean, apologizes and everyone is forgiven. Interested to know what others recommend! Laura

How about the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (Little House in the Big Woods etc.)? I loved them when I was a kid. Also Rabbit Hill, Pippi Longstocking, the Borrowers series (maybe a bit old, but FUN -- my 9 year old is still building borrower houses, and we read these when he was 5), Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, the Frog and Toad books, Wind in the Willows, the Moffats series, and Ginger Pye. I'd recommend a bunch more, but my kid is a boy, and very much into the fantasy thing (i.e. he loved My Father's Dragon and the Chronicles of Narnia, but those might be too scary). I don't know that these are all specifically about 'building healthy relationships' per se (don't know too many fiction books that focus on that, as a bit of friction is often necessary to have a story line!). But they certainly aren't terribly scary, and they aren't about kids being mean or sassy either. Karen

love charlotte's web leslie

Sounds like you should try something like the Little House on the Prairie series. We also really liked Harriet the Spy. And we love the Beverly Cleary books. They all have good characters in them. Be warned that Ramona and Harriet too do some things that you might not approve of, but there are always lessons in it, and it helps kids to realize that they don't have to be perfect to be loveable. Also, ask your librarian. They are loaded with good ideas.

Your daughter will LOVE the Betsy-Tacy series - especially if she is a fan of the Little House books. The Betsy-Tacy-Tib books were written by Maud Hart Lovelace and the first book (Betsy-Tacy) starts when the girls are five. From an editorial review: 'Betsy and Tacy are best friends. Then Tib moves into the neighborhood and the three of them start to play together. The grown-ups think they will quarrel, but they don't. Sometimes they quarrel with Betsy's and Tacy's bossy big sisters, but they never quarrel among themselves...Ever since their first publication in the 1940s, the Betsy-Tacy stories have been loved by each generation of young readers'. I have recommended these to two friends with young daughters and both girls LOVED these books. The only caveat -- the books follow the three friends through several different ages, all the way through the teen years. For some reason the 'teen' books do not work as well. But the first four books are absolutely GREAT, funny, insightful can't-put-them-down chapter books! Reading Mom

We recently read 'Serendipity' by Rosy Aronson, 2010. The book was fantastic! Magical, exciting, adventurous and informative. It tells the story of a family of young seals who become separated from their mother and must discover the larger world in order to find her. The themes in the book are captivating and extremely thought provoking. We had many discussions together as a family while reading it - about families, relationships, the larger world of interconnected life and the environment. I highly recommend the story to any family with school-aged kids! Rachel

Book to read aloud to Kindergarten class?

Oct 2009

Hello! I would really appreciate some recommendations for a good book to read aloud to my son's kindergarten class. I have to 10-15 minute time slot next month to read a book (although I don't need to use all the time alloted). I'm not sure if books my kids enjoy at home will work for a wiggly group of kindergartners. One book I'm thinking of is ''That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown'' because it has some nice repetition and also places where the kids can chime in. However, it may be too long. Any suggestions for books that you have successfully read in the classroom setting? Thanks!

Hands Down: Caps for Sale by Espher Slobodkina Teach students about the ''Tsz'' sound in the book and let them have fun with you! Caps for Sale lover

I did this last year. It was fun. I read: Bear Wants More, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and The Gift of Nothing. I say read what your child likes. I let my son pick the books I read; it made him feel special and all the kids liked and knew most of the books. book wormy

I recommend, Farmers Garden Rhymes for two voices, it lends itself for children to participate Example Corn Corn how do you grow? Tall and straight row and row What do you do when a crow flys near? Hope he doesn't nibble my ear. This picture book was written by David L Harrison and illustrated by me, Arden Johnson-Petrrov. Wordsong/ Boyds Mills Press published it. Arden

whenever I participate in Drop Everything and Read Day, I go to the local library and ask the children's librarian what she would recommend for the age group I have been assigned. They always have great suggestions! Plus it gives me a chance to plug the library to the kids by talking about how much fun it is to go check out books for free.

One of my kids' favorites in kindergarten was Chika Chika Boom Boom. It has a nice rhythm to it and is a fun ABC book with bright colors. Sharon

Kid books about starting kindergarten

June 2008

My 5.5 yr old son will be starting kindergaten in the Fall. Can anyone recommend good books for kids that are about starting kindergarten? Thanks! anon

We loved ''Franklin Goes to School'' - a paperback in the Franklin series. It addresses the butterflies and also points out that everyone is good at something different. Cute book! anon

When both my kids started kindergarten, the night before I read them ''The Kissing Hand'' by Audrey Penn. It's about the anxiousness a little raccoon feels about starting school without his mom being nearby him. Mom kisses the palm of his hand and tells him that whenever he needs to feel her near, to put his hand on his cheek, and he'll feel her love.

Then on the first day of school I kissed my kids' palm before they walked inside and reminded them that they could put that hand on their cheek whenever they needed some love while they were in school. This started a daily tradition that continues to this day -- and my oldest, my son, is now in 3rd grade!

Good luck! Stephanie

Kindergarten Rocks! Anon.

Dear Friends- I teach Kindergarten locally, and I can tell you that Kindergarten can be intimidating for the first week or so, but then the ice melts and the fun starts! ''Miss Bindergarten'' is a cute series about Kindergarten and if you type in Kindergarten on Amazon under kids books, you will pull up a few more. Perhaps you could set up a ''desk'' at home for ''practice school'' in August and equip it with some crayons and paper. I know that the children that can already write their names and can use a pair of scissors are a lot more confident. Best of luck on your child's new adventure:) Ms Mc

Rosemary Wells has two great books: My Kindergarten and Yoko's World of Kindness. Both of them are excellent books about great kindergartens, beautifully illustrated, compelling to kids, and very gentle.

Lauren Child has a Charlie and Lola book about fear of starting school called I am Too Little to Go to School, which is as funny as most of those are. Judith

Berkeley Public Library has a great selection of the books you may be looking for. This search will give you more than you're looking for, but might be a fun process for you to go through with your son. You can look through the book covers together, read the brief descriptions, and decide which ones you'd like to check out.

Search under Subject: First day of school -- Fiction

Engaging books to read aloud to 5 year old

Nov 2004

My 5.5 y.o. son loves reading time. He's not yet reading on his own but several days a week we sit together for about an hour and read one of the Magic Treehouse Mysteries. Unfortunately we're near the end of the series. Does anyone have any suggestions of a series (doesn't have to be a mystery line) that would engage him? I've seen several but the language looks over his head and/or the themes aren't appropriate for his age. Thanks for your help! Book Lovers

We LOVED the ''Junie B. Jones'' books by Barbara parker. Silly, fun, personal, and very age-appropriate situations. The protagonist is a feisty, slightly ''immature'' kindergarten girl who gets into some silly scrapes at school and at home. Some parents complain that some of the language isn't really proper English (not profanity or anything like that - just slightly imperfect grammar that sounds like Junie B. and her friends would actually talk). Have fun! RK

Try the Boxcar Children books (a mystery series), or a non- series book:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Stuart Little, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, any book by Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach, the BFG, etc), Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I read most of these books to my daughter a few years ago (she's 8 now) and we really enjoyed them. Kristen

My kindergarten son and I are currently reading the first Harry Potter book. We have also read and enjoyed the ''My Father's Dragon'' books (MUCH simpler than Harry Potter, more on the level of the Magic Treehouse books), and we read the first of the Little House on the Praire series (it falls somewhere in the middle of the above two). Last year, we read the original Wizard of Oz book (which does have a series, but we couldn't get into the second one and stopped trying after that.) Nanu

I'm a first grade teacher and love to read the first books of series to my class, hoping to get them hooked on the rest of the series. Two that come to mind, and that both of my kids also loved, are the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books (there are four in the series) and the Boxcar Children books (there are over a hundred in that series). Hope either or both proves enjoyable for you and your son. Judy

My five year old loves adventure but is easily scared. And I have pretty strong feelings about keeping stuff age appropriate. He has liked:

My Father's Dragon (this is the first in a series of 3 terrific books, very sweet, mild adventure but nothing too scary)

Mary Poppins -- there's four books in the series, I believe. My son loves them.

The Oz Books -- there's something like 40 all together and almost all of them are better than the famous first one.

The Time Warp Trio books are similar to Magic Treehouse in that they involve time travel but they're more geared toward the 8-10 year old boy crowd, so a bit more attitude and potty humor. Okay though, and if your kid is into historical stuff, they work. Not literature though.

Dinotopia. Two beautifully illustrated very cool books that are written as the journal of a 19th century explorer who finds a land where humans and dinosaurs live cooperatively. Lots of pictures and a nice utopian message -- not your typical monster-slaughtering adventure book. The first one is out of print, but you can find it at the library.

mr. poppin's penguins. Not a series, but a lovely chapter book that's suitable for young kids.

other series that I plan to introduce in the next few months:
-paddington bear
-little house on the prairie (I have friends whose kids love these books -- my son is easily frightened so I want to wait a little longer as there's some peril in the earlier books)
- finn family moomintroll

I look forward to hearing other people's ideas. nelly

There are many wonderful books for this age. If you're looking for a series of Chapter books, try the Oz books (note that we've only read the L. Frank Baum ones; I'm told the others aren't as good). Other great chapter books are I'd recommend, for starters, Charlotte's Web, James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If your child prefers shorter stories, try the Milne books (Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner -- lovely books, much different from the movies). For chapter books that come in a series, there is always the Half Magic books by Edgar Early; also Redwall and the Harry Potter books. Our daughter enjoyed them in Kindergarten, although I'm not sure that they're for every kid. Ann

Book to Teach 5 Year Old to Read

Aug 2004

My son who is five says he wants to learn to read. IbMarch 1999m not a teacher so IbMarch 1999m looking for recommendations for a book that we can work on together for him to learn to read. I found recommendations on the web for Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Engelmann, Haddox, Bruner. Does anyone have this book to loan or sell, or a recommendation for another book that I can use? Thanks! Time to Read

When my daughter wanted to start to read we got the Bob books. Its a series of little books (10 per box I think) with 4-6 pages of one sentence pages, all done with three letter words. Good for starting to learn sight words, easy to sound out words, and it gives them a sense of accomoplishment (vs. trying to read Hop On Pop which is long!) when they read a book. They are very popular and easy to find; I got mine at Barnes & Noble in Emeryville. Hilary

Try Books with patterns, rhymes, songs, and books that can be memorized/remembered easily.

Pattern and Predictable Books

Books with a repeating line or phrase
Carle, Eric, Today is Monday
Carle, Eric, The Very Busy Spider
Carle, Eric, The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Carlstrom, Nancy White, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? (and other Jesse Bear books)
Collicut, Paul, This Train
Martin, Bill Jr., Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?
Stow, Jenny, The House that Jack Built
Williams, Sue, I Went Walking
Wood, Audrey, The Napping House
Cookie's Week

Rhyming Books
Shaw, Nancy, Sheep in a Jeep

Westcott, Nadine Bernard, The Lady with the Alligator Purse (and other song books by her as well)
Over in the Meadow

Counting Books
Root, Phyllis, One Duck Stuck

Dr. Suess and Dr. Suess-like books
Berenstain, Stan and Jan, Bears on Wheels
Eastman, P.D., Go, Dog, Go!
Suess, Dr., Hop on Pop
Suess, Dr., Marvin K. Mooney will you Please Go Now!
Suess, Dr., One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

teacher and parent of 6 year old

Fun Easy Reader Books

April 2003

My daughter is a struggling reader, and we are looking for fun easy readers that appeal to her rather typical girl interests and are not too annoying for us to hear read aloud over and over and over again. Something along the Henry and Mudge line, only easier and more appealing to little girls. Thanks.

I hesitate to recommend them, as I don't like them too much myself, but my daughter loved the Junie B. Jones books (by Barbara Park) when she first started reading on her own. That actually worked to her (our) benefit, as I read her the first one, and then told her if she wanted to read more, she would have to do it herself. She did! I would say they are best for K-1st grade or so. Claire

I have boys, so my recommendations may be off point, but:

The Magic Tree House series is fun; a brother and sister travel in time to interesting places/times in history. It is a bit more advanced that Henry and Mudge, but kids can leap from that level to this in no time.

Nate the Great is a very easy series, which uses the same words over and over but tells ok mystery stories. Lead character is a boy, but there are some girl characters too. Leslie

You don't say how old your daughter is, but I would like to recommend the ''Amanda Pig'' series by Jean Van Feeuwen. It is about a little girl pig who lives with her parents and her brother, Oliver. Each book has several short stories (related, but not necessarily sequential). Though younger than her brother, Amanda is shown as a clever and strong little girl.The stories show very nice, gentle solutions to typical family situations. R.K.

Scholastic Books publishes a series of books called ''Hello Reader'' which come in four different levels. The Level 2 books are a bit easier than Henry and Mudge and the level 3s are just a bit harder. The books are on a range of topics (both fiction and non-fiction) and are by different authors. They're not all of equal quality though, for the most part, they are good, entertaining beginner books with lots of picture support, high frequency words, and rhyming language. They don't use the stilted controlled vocabulary of some beginner books and are therefore not only better for children but more tolerable to adults. Also Dave Pilkey's books about Dragon are good books at a similar level. Also, Dr. Seuss wrote a lot of great books for that level of reader. A number of other books by Henry and Mudge's author, Cynthia Rylant, are at a similar level and may be appealing to your daughter. These include Poppleton and Mr. Putter and Tabby. anon

Non-violent adventure books for 5 year old

March 1999

For the parent of the adventurous five year old, I've got the perfect series, The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne. A seven year old girl named Annie and her eight year old brother Jack encounter a mysterious treehouse filled with books. The books transport them to far away times and places, where they learn about dinosaurs, knights, Egypt, pirates, the moon, etc. Along the way they have mysteries to solve. There are now 18 books in the series. It makes the most sense to read them in sequence, as the first 8 lead up to a particular discovery, then the next batch constitute a particular quest.

Number one is called Dinosaurs After Dark, #2 is The Knight at Dawn, #3 is Mummies in the Morning, #4 is Pirates Past Noon. You get the idea. These books appeal to both boys and girls, to about age 9. They are chapter books about 70 pages long (we usually finish them in 2-4 nights), and cost only $3.99. You can get them through, and I've also seen them at Cody's, Mr. Mopps, and Borders. Natasha

This is for the parent who was seeking good books for her 5-year old son. I highly recommend a book called Valerie & Walter's Best Books for Children, by Valerie Lewis and Walter Mayes. It is the most readable book on great books for kids I've ever seen. It offers thumbnail descriptions of books they love and highlights terrific authors. Walter is well-known in the Bay Area as Walter the (Storytelling) Giant. He reads and acts out books all around. Valerie owns Hicklebees, a children's bookstore, in San Jose. I love to thumb through this books and select things for my 6 year old and 3 year old to read. Franny

Adventure books: My Father's Dragon is great and non-violent. depending on your child, the Narnia series by CS Lewis may be too old for him, but soon... Deborah