Chapter Books for Four Year Olds

Reading is my all time favourite activity. Hands down. When I'm on my own, I want to read. When it's cold outside I like to read. When it's sunny outside I like to read outside. When I'm with my kids I like to read with them...

Every night Lily and I snuggle up to read a chapter book. Ollie is still a bit too young and so we always read a couple of picture books before wishing him a goodnight and cuddling up in Lily's bed to read the latest adventure.

At first I wasn't sure if she would be too young to have the concentration and memory for this but she has proved me wrong over and over again and still talks about her favourite bit from a book we've read months ago. 

It does take a bit of experience or trial and error in finding out what books will be best enjoyed by both you and your child. Some series start out light but can get quite dark towards the end (like Harry Potter) and so I would recommend leaving them until children are a little bit older.

That said, I do think that reading to and with your child is a great way to introduce difficult concepts so don't shy away from tricky subjects like death completely.

The following five books are ones which I have read with Lily over the last year and am happy to recommend based on our own happy experiences! 

The Enchanted Wood
Enid Blyton

Joe, Beth and Frannie move to the country and discover an Enchanted Wood with a tree that is visited by different worlds. Joined by new friends Moon Face and Silky they get into lots of different adventures in the magical lands at the top of the Faraway Tree.
We've read a few of the books in this Enid Blyton series now and Lily has enjoyed them all. However, this first one is my favourite as it introduces all the characters and concepts and doesn't feel as repetitive as some of the later stories. We started reading it when Lily was three and it was age appropriate. She was a bit bothered by the Snowman story but didn't have any nightmares or get upset.

Lily's Verdict:
I liked seeing the different worlds. And funny Moon Face.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
C.S Lewis

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are evacuated to an old and mysterious country house during the war. They're safe there but it is dull - until Lucy decides to hide in an old wardrobe during a game of Hide and Seek! She stumbles into the magical world of Narnia, where she and her siblings are destined to destroy the White Witch and free Narnia from an endless winter.

I couldn't wait to read this to Lily! Some of the concepts and scarier 'witchy' parts were a bit beyond her comprehension but she really fell in love with the story and was fascinated by the idea of talking animals.

Lily's Verdict:
I love the children playing in the snow. The talking animals are my favourite characters.

Johanna Spyri

An old-fashioned tale about a little orphaned girl who is sent to live with her formidable Grandfather high in the Alps. 

Lily has a bit of a thing for Heidi so it was great to get the opportunity to read the story together. Having watched the cartoon, she had no problem visualising the scenery and part of Heidi's lovely tale.

Lily's Verdict:
I love Heidi! And Clara and the mountains. I liked it when Heidi went back to the mountains. I liked reading Heidi the best. I want to read Heidi grows up.

A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sara Crewe starts school in London, far away from her beloved Papa and his riches in India. After tragedy strikes she is impoverished and treated like a servant by the Headmistress but stays a kind person - proving that all little girls can be Princesses in their own minds.

Reading A Little Princess was magical. I remember being given a copy when I was very young and reading it over and over.

Lily's Verdict:
My favourite bit is the magic and when she has a new family again. I liked Lottie and Becky, Ermengarde and Emily the doll.

Five on a Treasure Island
Enid Blyton

Julian, Dick and Anne are off to Kirrin Bay to meet their cousin George and spend the summer with their Aunty Fanny and Uncle Quentin. After a storm washes up an old shipwreck to nearby Kirrin Island, the four children and Tim the dog get caught up in an adventure hunting down lost treasure.

This is our latest favourite. Lily was caught up in the story from the very beginning and it was the quickest read of all the chapter books we've read. The perils faced by the characters aren't explored in too much depth which was great for her age. We've already ordered book two!

Lily's Verdict:
The best bit was George getting to keep the dog and letting him sleep on her bed. And finding the gold!

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