Read Novels to Your Little Child

Picture books can be magical for readers of all ages, even adults . But when it comes to reading aloud to young children, I’ve learned not to ignore chapter books and novels. It may seem difficult to open a tome of over a hundred pages when your audience is focused on the length of the Peppa Pig episode , but the experience can be very rewarding. On a memorable Reddit thread, one father shared what it was like to read The Hobbit to his six-year-old son for two months.

I’ve been waiting to read The Hobbit to my son ever since he was born, but I had to wait until he was old enough to appreciate it. I also read this for the first time. He loves everything related to knights, castles and dragons, so I knew it would be a great success.

For two months, about 30 minutes every night before bed, I played out the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and company as best I could. I loved voicing different characters immensely, and I could, at my whim, turn into the Hobbit, Dwarf, Elf, Smaug and, best of all, Gollum.

We finished last night and today I heard my son sing the Misty Mountain song (I was asked several times to repeat this part and I was able to sing it well thanks to YouTube). The experience brought us closer together, and it warms my heart when I know how much he appreciates our hobbit pastime every night.

Reading chapter books and novels aloud requires young listeners to use their imaginations without the aid of amusing illustrations. When they can, they are hooked. For several weeks after my husband and I finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by our four-year-old daughter, she brought up various descriptions and scenes. I wonder what other books she was ready for.

If you want to start reading chapter books and novels for your preschooler or kindergarten, go for it. But there is a general plan. (You can’t just open War and Peace and say, “Okay, let’s go. Chapter One …”). Here are some tips:

  • Choose your first novels wisely. Sarah McKenzie, founder of the Read Aloud Revival podcast and author of The Read-Aloud Family , says the most important things to look out for are “short chapters, lots of dialogue and catchy characters.” Some great examples she cites are: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond , Mouse and Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald. Here we have compiled 14 chapters for preschoolers that librarians continue to recommend .
  • Let them fidget. Don’t expect your kids to sit here with their legs crossed, hands on their knees, listening to your every word. They will listen better if they have something to do, such as coloring, modeling clay, or sorting socks.
  • Read in short series. Remember, a dad on Reddit read The Hobbit to his son for two months . Working on a large novel is a great thing, but if you look at a chain of 10 to 30 minutes of reading sessions, it’s doable. Looking through novels with my daughter, I could read a short chapter, and then take a separate picture book, just to mix it up. It is truly a journey with your children that doesn’t have to end when they learn to read .

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