Greatest Children’s Chapter books of All-Time

Children can be a little resistant to make the jump from picture books to chapter books. I remember one year where I removed the picture books from the class and only let the children read chapter books.

Students grumbled, but a few months later when the kids were reading books that truly captured their hearts, they thanked me for making them make the switch.

I’ve learned a lot about the true value and power of “story telling” and I have come to see that nowhere is the true art of storytelling more alive than in picture books. Picture books manage to capture the hearts, minds, and imagination of children with a fraction of the words.

That being said, students must make the jump to chapter books. It seems like it’s making the jump from having books capture their imagination to capturing their soul.

Here are my picks, and my students’ picks for all time greatest chapter books for children making the just from picture books to chapter books.

Greatest Children’s Chapter books of All-Time

• Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , by Roald Dahl. Money is not everything. A poor kid who captures your heart.
• Charlotte’s Web , by E.B. White. You will cry, your students will cry, and it is worth it. 
• Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol. This is a book series about Leroy Brown, a brilliant kid who solves neighborhood crimes. A few years ago my students didn’t have an interest in this series. I don’t know what changed, but the kids these days love him. I loved the series as a child, and my students do today.
• Freckle Juice , by Judy Blume. Judy Blume, has such insight into kids’ minds that any child, or adult will identify with her characters. (We were all kids at one point and her books make us remember.
• From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler , by E. L Konigsburg. The characters in this book truly come alive. What a fun adventure you will take.
• Harriet the Spy , by Louise Fitzhugh. Anyone remember Humphrey Bogart and the Maltese Falcon? Well, that story has nothing on this “on the edge of your seat” detective story for kids. You will love it!
• How to Eat Fried Worms , by Thomas Rockwell. Skip the movie, read the book! All I can say is, “Boys do the strangest things!”
• James and the Giant Peach , by Roald Dahl. Magical storytelling, plain and simple. Profound characters that will leave you contemplating the story for decades.
• Junie B. Jones Series , by Barbara Park. This would not make the list if it were not for one particular student love of the series. It is great for kids make the jump to chapter books, and girls seem to make a real connection with it.
• Magic Tree House Series , by Mary Pope Osborne. More educational than one might think. Fun and educational. The topics are the ones kids love most, and even adults who make the time for them. Ninjas, knights, dinosaurs, and wizards!
• Matilda , by Roald Dahl. Over the course of the book Matilda will become a true friend. She will be a friend you want to revisit more than once. 
• Stuart Little , by E.B. White. As a child I was woken up late at night to speak to my grandmother. I was talking rather oddly and my parents finally asked, “What’s your name?” I replied, “Stuart Little.” Your students will be thinking about this book while they sleep, just like I was!
• Superfudge , by Judy Blume. Fun! Enough said!
• The Book of Three -The Chronicles of Prydain , by Lloyd Alexander. The only thing not to like about this series it that it ends. Each book in the series is… perfect! Don’t let the fact that it’s about a pig-keeper’s assistant fool you. It has been entertaining kids and adults for generations.
• The Borrowers , by Mary Norton. So fun and so full of adventure they had to turn it into a movie. Read the book, skip the movie.
• The Great Brain , by John D. Fitzgerald. Why this series has not become more noted is beyond me. I have to bully my students into reading it, and they always thank me afterwards.  For many it is the best of the best when it comes to good reading. For some, it may not be their cup of tea. 
• The Ramona series , by Beverly Cleary. The movie is out, and it seems to have caught the spirit of this fantastic series by a fantastic author. Read all the Beverly Cleary books!

What are some of your favorites, and your students’ favorites? Be sure to leave your list in the comments below.

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