Reading Aloud Chapter Books To Young Children

Today marks the start of a 3 part mini-series regarding reading. I am proud to introduce my partner in this series, Ms. Mariel Uyquiengco of The Learning Basket. She will be our guest writer for the whole of this mini-series! 

Mariel Uyquiengco of The Learning Basket used to borrow one chapter book, usually a Nancy Drew mystery, from her school’s library at 6:30 a.m. She managed to return it (and borrow another one) by 11:45 a.m., the end of her school’s morning session. Today, she runs with her friend, Sanne Unson, an online bookshop featuring pre-loved children’s books by the best authors and illustrators.

 Reading Aloud Chapter Books To Young Children

We read a story called A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban when my daughter was not quite three and we were waiting for the arrival of our second child. I remember complaining that it was very long, and can we please stop and just continue tomorrow? But my daughter loved Frances and the little songs that she sings, and always begged us to read again for the very, very last time. With parched throats, read we did.

(Exodus Books)

Some time after, I saw the “Frances series” on a list of chapter books for children. So, quite by accident, we discovered chapter books, which I had originally thought were for older kids. After all, I breathlessly devoured A Little Princess, Five Children and It, James and the Giant Peach, Tom’s Midnight Garden, and many others when I was already around ten.

What are chapter books?

Chapter books have little illustrations that do not move the story’s plot. You can say that it is a cross between a picture book that tells its story with a lot of pictures, and a novel which doesn’t have any at all.

Chapter books can be enjoyed even by non-readers. You’ll be surprised with how long young children can listen. The question is, can you read without pictures?


We continue to read amazing picture books even as we burrow our noses into chapter books. However, there are many reasons to start reading chapter books even to children as young as three or four years old. Here are some of mine:

Children can imagine the stories in their minds

Instead of being presented with an illustrator’s interpretation of the story, children can conjure up images in their minds. Often, I ask my child, How do you think (name) looked like? or How do you think that happened? We spend a few minutes just imagining and sometimes even drawing what we come up with.

Children’s listening skills and attention span are developed

In my Kindermusik educator’s training days, I learned that listening is different from hearing. Listening involves hearing, understanding, remembering – it is a mental process. When we read to our children without pictures to help them know what is happening in the story, we are training them to listen, pay attention, and understand.

Vocabulary is enriched

A longer book means more words. Hopefully, if it’s a good book, your child is bound to encounter an unfamiliar word that you can pounce on and delve in. Sometimes, even I don’t know what a word means and I demonstrate my research skills and look up a word in the dictionary (uhm, most often in Google). We love playing “use ___ in a sentence” to fully own our new word.

Different ideas can be explored with your child

I’m telling you now that chapter books can be loooong for reading aloud. But a good book’s length can be a rich, bubbling source of ideas. In the chapter called “Alone” in Frog and Toad Are Friends, we discussed why people want to be alone sometimes: maybe it’s to think, to relax, to let out anger, etc. Of course you can do this too with picture books, but getting to know the characters in different chapters, and therefore in different contexts can deepen the readers’ connection with the story and those in it.

(Exodus Books)

Reading together is good family bonding time

Take away all the benefits listed above and I would still read looong books aloud every single night. It gives me the perfect reason to slow down and spend focused, quiet and relaxing moments with my children.

When they grow up, I pray that the looong hours we spend on our bed reading together will be what they remember the most, and that their Mama gladly said yes to read again for the very, very last time.

Watch out for the next part of this series tomorrow over at The Learning Basket where Mariel will tell us all about the chapter books she is currently reading to her four-year-old!


  1. This is a very helpful post, recommending it to my friends…Have a great Monday!

  2. This is so true, Chris. We read to Vito daily, and at an early age, his natural curiosity for reading AND discovery has just grown. Even when we’re not reading books, he is reading and is exploring. Amazing!

  3. I miss story telling with my older brother! And my own story telling to my students too!

    Maybe in the future id be doing this again with my own kids 😉

  4. You’re right here!
    They learn faster when we read aloud –better enunciation of words, new word discovery, better expression and word association…
    Reading aloud also gives a completely different experience for them as we go through the stories. 🙂

  5. I have been reading to Sean since he was very little and I think it has helped him develop the love for books.

    • that is true Jade! just keep reading with him and you’ll be surprised one day, he will be reading along with you na! 😀

  6. Early introduction to reading is always best, whether it’s picture books or chapter books. My Gabbie loves/ prefers the former over the latter mainly because she imagines and expounds the action of the pictures more than listen to me read aloud the lengthy sentences.

  7. Great post! Reading is really one of the best activities both moms and kids can take up. I still prefer physical books to e-books. 🙂

  8. I admire mom who read books to their children. 🙂

  9. Great post, Mariel! 🙂 And what a wonderful idea for a series, Chris! 🙂 We LOVE reading aloud — on “lazy” homeschool days, that’s what we usually do a lot of! Read, read, read! 🙂

  10. great post! my kid really loves being read to and the books we read at home are already for older kids. it doesn’t stop me from reading to him though and we both love to talk about the stories we’ve read.

    i have yet to try chapter books though, i’d love to give it a try 😀

  11. I believe in the power of reading too! And I’m happy that my daughter loves books as much as I do too. We couldn’t get enough of them books.

  12. This approach is very powerful to promote early learning for the young ones.

  13. I miss reading story books with my daughter , since 9 na kasi e and i ba na ung hilig.

  14. reading is one of my passions + one of the things i would love to pass on to Jared, i have been reading to him since he was in utero + i am glad he has discovered the love of books at an early age. although, his books were now relegated to the sidelines in favor of cars + other toys, it is quite a source of delight for me seeing him grab a book or two + start browsing + saying the names of the shapes in the book aloud! a book-lover mom’s bliss! ^_^


  1. […] This is the third part in the series that Mariel of The Learning Basket wrote. The first is about why it’s great to read chapter books even to young children and the second is about bringing out the diva in you and making stories come to life with the way […]

  2. […] this second part of the Reading Series that I started over at The Mommy Journey, I am going to share with you the ways I bring stories to life for my kids. Somehow, my playful […]

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