I need a good book recommendation for a chapter book I can read with my eight year old daughter in the evenings. Sarah really hasn’t discovered a genre of books she loves and enjoys thoroughly yet. She did read the first Harry Potter book on her own this summer, but I think she read it more because her brother and parents all have read and enjoyed it. She’s a very good reader on her own, and can read with great expression, but I don’t think we can say she’s really fallen in love with a particular book or book series yet. I’ve read several different book series with Alexander (Narnia, LOTR, Eragon and Eldest, Dragonsong and the other two books in Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall Trilogy) but have not yet read a full chapter book with Sarah yet. My first thought was E.B. White’s “Trumpet of the Swan,” but my dad read that to her last summer. I want to remedy this inequity of not having shared, evening chapter book reading experiences together, but I’m not sure what we should read.

Any suggestions for us? This will be a bedtime book that I’ll read aloud to her over the course of many weeks.

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37 Responses to Chapter book bedtime reading advice needed

  1. Not knowing Sarah’s interests here’s a few ideas: Artemis Fowl series, Alex Rider series, Eragorn, 7th Tower Series, The Tale of Despereau (sp?), Becaues of Winn Dixie, A Bridge to Terabithia (sp?), The Westing Game (awesome!), A Wrinkle in Time, Holes, many Judy Blume books……. my wife would have more but is asleep…

    Hope this helps.

    Sean M.

  2. Nick says:

    I second the recommendation for the Tale of Despereaux. I read this to my eight-year old daughter (who is now 9), and it was a terrific bonding experience for us. Highly, highly, highly recommended!

    Also, my two boys loved The Indian in the Cupboard when I read it to them at about the same age.

  3. Ann says:

    What are Sarah’s interests and reading level? I have a few thoughts from my experiences as a Mom of two daughters and a fourth grade teacher. I’ll brainstorm and hopefully come up with other ideas when I’m not so tired.

    Books by Roald Dahl are great read-alouds. A Roald Dahl favorite was Danny the Champion of the World. The BFG was a favorite of my girls and fourth graders. I agree with others that Judy Blume books are great hits for girls that age as well. Have you heard of Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan? It’s a good one too! I’ll dig deep into my brain and come up with others tomorrow. Good night and good luck!

  4. Mobbsey says:

    I’d second Roald Dahl’s books – I have the fondest memories of BFG and Witches.

    For the horse lover there’s always “My friend Flicka”.

    What about the Earthsea Quartet? Or the Narnia stories? Norhern Lights (aka The Golden Compass) is also a good read.

    Hope these help!

  5. My daughter loved the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series when she was that age.

  6. Louise Maine says:

    I have fond memories of reading the whole Harry Potter series to my kids. We read together so no one would have to wait. We could not wait until that night’s installment.

  7. Megan says:

    I was going to suggest the Indian in the Cupboard series as well.
    You could also try Frindle or other books by Andrew Clements (so much fun).
    OR….the “Dear America” series.

  8. Penny Coutas says:

    I also loved Roald Dahl’s books being read aloud to me 🙂 And “Anne of Green Gables” because my Mum loved them… but it’d be strange listening to Anne read by a male voice!

    I adored Tamora Pierce’s “The Lioness Quartet” books as a kid, and her “Wild Magic” series as well. Also loved “The Dark is Rising” by Susan Cooper (the movie does not do it a bit of justice)

  9. Captain Chaos says:

    My 8 year old daughter is in exactly this situation – she has been enjoying Heather Dyer’s books, particularly “The Girl with the Broken Wing”

  10. Anne Reardon says:

    Wes, I’d second the Roald Dahl books. James and the Giant Peach is my favorite (and much better than the movie)! An oldie (but goodie) is Mr. Popper’s Penguins. There’s also the whole Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    We miss those days of bedtime reading now that our boys are teenagers. My husband read them all of the Lord of the Rings books, a few Harry Potters, and My Side of the Mountain and its sequels, by Jean Craighead George. Great times!

  11. The Peter Pan series (Peter and the Star Catchers) by Dave Barry (yes, that Dave Barry) and a colleague are perfect read alouds for that age. My boys love the series and there are a few offshoots, too.

  12. How about Because of Winn Dixie?

  13. Heidi Van Riper says:

    My son and I love reading the Magic Treehouse series together. Jack and Annie go on many adventures through times to different countries. We get to learn about history and different cultures. They are great books!

  14. Kara Rosenblatt says:

    I love all of the suggestions, and have one to add,The Princess Bride. I taught for five years and although this book is a little bit older,my students loved it.

  15. Amy Strecker says:

    I would also support Roald Dahl’s books and the Anne of Green Gables series. I also love Little Women and Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. My family always read books aloud on car trips and we all have vivid memories of Dahl’s The Witches and Stone Fox. Without giving anything away, on a car trip to Colorado we sat in the IHOP parking lot for 30 minutes because none of us wanted to go eat, including Dad, until Mama finished reading the book out loud.

    Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob I Have Loved were also favorites. As a second grade teacher, my mom’s kids always loved to hear Super Fudge by Beverly Clearly (there are some hilarious parts for an animated reader!) and I remember loving There’s A Boy In The Girl’s Bathroom as a read out loud in 5th grade.

    I wish I could still talk someone into reading out loud to me each night!

  16. Paul Barrette says:

    As a child, I loved the “Book of Three” by Lloyd Alexander and the subsequent four sequels.

    My 7-year old and I also love reading the “Jigsaw Jones” series together, as well as the “Magic Treehouse” series.

  17. Cassy says:

    I read “I Was A Rat” by Phillip Pullman (Of the Golden Compass series) to my 3rd grade class, even though it’s above their level a bit. It’s fabulous and entertaining for adults and children.

    One challenge with Roald Dahl, Despereaux, Terabithia and many of the classics is that they are commonly read in school. I’d look for something a little less popular. “King Matt the First” by Janusz Korcza is a wild adventure, the story behind the author is interesting as well.

    “The Westing Game” is a great recommendation, however keeping all the characters straight was hard for my 5th grader when he read it for a literature study in class. It’s like an introduction to Agatha Christie for kids!

  18. Wesley Fryer says:

    Wow, I am overwhelmed with all these great suggestions! This is great! I can’t wait to share these with Sarah tonight. I think we’ll make a list of all the suggestions and then make a decision together. What fun! 🙂

  19. I remember my mom reading the Little House on the Prairie series to me. I especially enjoyed Farmer Boy. Lois Lenski books are really good as wel, especially Strawberry Girl. I love Richard Peck. Actually, I am surprised that no one suggested Wilder or Lenski. Have we forgotten these great classics?

  20. Nicole Cox says:

    My daughter is 9 and had tried reading Harry Potter on her own. She didn’t really like it. When I began reading it to her, she became enthralled! She also likes books by Lois Lowry- Number the Stars, The Giver, can’t remember the others.

  21. Penny says:

    I second/third/fourth (whatever) the Dahl suggestions, and the LM Montgomery, Ingalls Wilder suggestions.

    I also enjoyed reading to myself books about Ramona and her family (by Beverly Clearly).

    If she likes animals then The Black Stallion by Walter Farley is a nice series to begin.

    The Secret garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    The wind in the willows by Kenneth Grahame
    What Katy did by Susan Coolidge
    The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

    The silver sword by Ian Serraillier is also good, not sure if it’s age appropriate but I remember our teacher reading it to us when we were about 9-10.

    Some of these have had movies made from the book which is a nice thing to segue into after you’ve read the book and provides opportunity for discussion and comparison.

  22. honeymic says:

    I am reading James and the Giant Peach to my class right now and they can not WAIT until the next day to hear more. Those crazy Wayside School Books have also always been popular with my students. A lot of my 8 year-old girl students enjoy Judy Moody or the Ramona series. We read Number the Stars, and Because of Winn-Dixie last year and both of those seemed to especially appeal to the girls. The Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series is very funny to girls and boys. Reading with my son is one of my favorite memories. Enjoy!

  23. Homer Price and Centerburg Tales
    The Judy Moody series (Stink is a spinoff – first book dedicated to moi)
    The Hank the Cowdog series
    The Borrowers
    The Boxcar Children
    Mr. Penguin’s Poppers
    Half Magic
    In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
    Stuart Little
    The Time Warp Trio series

    gorgeous new version of Pippi Longstocking illustrated by Lauren Child

  24. Chris says:

    I teach 4th and my students have always enjoyed having The Tale of Desperaux read aloud to them. You might also check out Dr. Geary’s collected Windows Photo Story Three book trailers (NECC 2008 session) that have been made by teachers and students and preview some books together.


  25. Adri says:

    Little House or Anne of Green Gables series

  26. Laurie says:

    _Paint the Wind_ by Pam Munoz Ryan is one of my recent favorites

    “Told in the alternating third-person voices of Maya and Artemisia, Ryan’s tale is a beautiful portrait of a rugged land, within which people and horses sometimes find a bond. Maya, Aunt Vi and secondary characters are well drawn, as is the world of wild horses. Readers will learn much about horses, and even those who know nothing about them will cheer as Maya learns to walk, jog, lope and gallop.” KIRKUS

    _Where the Red Fern Grows_ by Wilson Rawls

    My all time favorite children’s book . . . emotional and touching, but lots of life lessons. My class is reading it just now.

    _The Cay_ by Theodore Taylor – the Caribbean accent is fun and the story is beautiful

  27. diane says:

    I loved Caddie Woodlawn and A Wrinkle in Time; my daughter favored The Velveteen Rabbit and The Wind in the Willows. The series by Wrede that begins with Dealing With Dragons offers some strong heroines and light-hearted adventures.

  28. James Sigler says:

    Plus, almost all of Kate Dicamillo’s books are great. She is not only a great descriptive writer, but she has fascinating characters. Her description makes visualizing the story very easy. I have read aloud “Because of Winn Dixie” to my students before. I am currently reading “The Tale of Desperaux.” I use many of the accents from the audio book. Great practice for your French (the mice), Italian (the rats), and British accents (Miggery Sow). It is a terrific read aloud story about a mouse, a princess, and some soup. 🙂 The movie comes out this Christmas.
    I also love Hank the Cowdog.

  29. Laura Farnsworth says:

    Well those are great suggestions and you will have a way to choose the ones that are best for you. I will just weigh in about the impact of books in my life and the incredible gift of books received on my important days. The gift of books and parents that read to me and to each other, is a treasure I can spend and spend without a worry that it will diminish. I most loved the “Little House” books and others that were stories of real little girls in earlier times.

  30. […] an amazing list of chapter book recommendations for my 8 year old daughter and I to consider (which continues to grow and I have compiled into a new Amazon wish list this evening) but also for linking me to Dr. Mark […]

  31. Wesley Fryer says:

    I have created a new wish list on Amazon.com and added all the book recommendations suggested here so far which we do not already own. (We do have a few of those mentioned here already.) I’m going to review these with Sarah over the weekend and see what she wants to do. There are a lot of series here I had not heard of before. The Chronicles of Prydain, The Earthsea Quartet books and The Lioness Quartet” books are all new to me. The Tale of Despereaux would certainly be fun especially since the movie is coming out. Lots of less well-known title suggestions here too, which sound great. I had never heard of the “Dear America” series, and those books look great.


    Thanks so much to everyone who has taken time to make recommendations. This is amazing. I hope these suggestions are beneficial to others as well who are searching for new book titles either for classroom students, kids, or grandkids! 🙂

  32. Amy Strecker says:

    You’ll have to let us know what she decides and how much you both enjoy it! 🙂

  33. Tom says:

    First of all, all parents should read Jim Trelease’s “The Read-Aloud Handbook”, which is much more than just a reading list.

    As far as specific books, one of our all-time favorites was Charlotte’s Web, closely followed by Stuart Little. Our boys also really enjoyed the Roald Dahl books, especially Danny the Champion of the World. The Indian in the Cupboard series was also a great hit. Now would be a great time to read A Christmas Carol. No film has really done justice to Dickens’ witty prose.

    I believe it’s important to read as many of these fantastic books before your children see the DVDs based on these books. Sometimes, like the Narnia series, you know ahead of time that a film is coming out, so you can set a goal of reading the book before going to the theatre. It’s amazing and rewarding to hear them remark at the end of the film, “Wow, the book was way better than the movie!”

  34. Melissa Techman says:

    Lots of great books here! One more: Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. We listened to it on tape and didn’t want to get out of the car! An adventure that takes you to the Amazon and back in time.
    A comment – as a librarian, I am not seeing a few of these titles going over well in recent years with my elem. students – e.g. Prydain (HP lovers mostly find it slow), Westing Game (Chasing Vermeer is more popular in my library)…. could just be my school, though.

  35. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks for that additional suggestion, Melissa! I’ve added it to the Amazon wish list for the kids, along with Chasing Vermeer. 🙂

  36. astevens says:

    While growing up, I loved the following series: the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary, the Stuart Little series by EB White, the Bunnicula series by James Howe and Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary.

    Good luck!

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