The Best Classic Chapter Books to Read Aloud to the Littlest Listeners

Your children love picture books! Great job Mom!

You’ve started them on the path to a lifelong love of reading! Now for that tricky transition to chapter books. You’re longing to share The Hobbit, Narnia, and Anne of Green Gables with your five year old (or your three or four year old if he or she has a long attention span), but WAIT!

First chapter books are an important and memorable experience for your preschooler or kindergartener!

And believe me, the transition to chapter books will be much smoother if you begin with one of these delightful books written just for children listening to their first chapter books. These classic first chapter books have charming illustrations scattered throughout and short chapters the perfect length for a limited attention span.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small fee if you purchase a book through my link at no additional cost to you.

Milly-Molly-Mandy is a sweet little girl enjoying family and small town life in a multi-generational home. Nostalgic and innocent stories with lots and lots of illustrations!

Jenny is a fashion-loving little black cat who longs for some friends. In Jenny and the Cat Club, she meets a memorable group of beautiful and ragged felines. A book about making friends, finding your own talents, and appreciating others’ differences. There are several more books about Jenny’s adventures available!

Raggedy Ann‘s cheerful nature and simple adventures have delighted children for over 100 years! Always a hit with 4-5 year old girls!

Twig‘s impoverished family lives in a tenement house. But one memorable day, a tomato soup can, a dandelion, and her imagination bring the best kind of magic into her life. After that day, Twig sees her life and neighbors through new eyes.

This is a transformation through imagination story in the tradition of Nesbit and MacDonald, so I personally liked it. But if you are very sensitive to the use of “magic” in stories, you may want to avoid this one.

Of course every child needs to listen to The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh! This beautiful hardcover edition includes lots of full color illustrations to make this beloved first chapter book even more enjoyable.

The Thornton Burgess 26-Book Set brings you to the world of the little forest animals. Most chapters are only 2-4 pages. Not as many pictures as some of the other books on this list, but still held the attention of my 4 year old.

Happy Little Family focuses on Bonnie, the youngest in an Appalachian family. At 4 years old, Bonnie feels quite grown up and ready to participate in all the family fun. All 4 years old can relate to her little joys and disappointments.

Continue reading Bonnie’s adventures in Schoolhouse in the Woods. Bonnie starts school, learns to read, and makes friends.

If you’re looking for more stories for 4-6 year old listeners, I highly recommend diving deep into fairy tales and folk tales! Check out my list of Good Fairy Tales, Fables, and Tall Tales for Catholic Kids.

Review of “Portrait of the Son”

portrait of the son book cover

A new book from Josephine Nobisso!

Is anyone else a huge fan of of Josephine Nobisso’s The Weight of a Mass and Take it to the Queen? These gorgeous books combine luminous illustrations with fantastic stories in a truly transcendent experience. I’ve been waiting for years for her to add to this series of allegories and it’s finally happening!

Portrait of the Son

In her new book Portrait of the Son, Josephine Nobisso tells a story about charity: love. It’s a variation on an allegory that’s been told many times over the centuries to help us understand a little about the love between the Father and the Son. In the story, an old father and his son live in a world of superlatives. Their great love for each other spills over into helping everyone around them. They create the most amazing art collection in the world, live in the most wonderful house, are kindest to their neighbors, and love each other dearly. When the son dies in the war, what will the father do? To whom will he bequeath his precious art collection?

A Fitting Third Book

The Weight of a Mass reminds us to have faith. Take it to the Queen gives us hope for our fallen world. Now, Portrait of the Son concludes the Theological Virtues Trilogy with an allegory about true charity. I was disappointed at first to see a new illustrator, but then was impressed how the continuity of the illustrations was maintained. Illustrator Ted Schluenderfritz really did a fantastic job keeping the style of the luminous watercolor illustrations in the first two books. Parents will appreciate the extensive symbolism used throughout Portrait of the Son. See how much symbolism you notice, then turn to the beginning and end of the book for a full explanation.

Portrait of the Son is being released November 2021! It would be a great Christmas present or addition to your family library.

You can buy this book through my Amazon affiliate link: Portrait of the Son: A Tale of Love

Or, buy it through my Bookshop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/book-review-books

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Portrait of the Son” from Gingerbread House Books in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

See more of my favorite Catholic picture books on my list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

planet earth

Review of “Saints Around the World”

saints around the world cover by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

Saints Around the World

If you haven’t heard the hype yet, the internet is buzzing about this amazing new book by Meg Hunter-Kilmer! And with good reason! This is hands down the most thorough look at saints from all around the world I’ve ever seen. From Africa to South America to Asia to the Caribbeans, there really are saints from all corners of the world featured in Saints Around the World!

Around the World and Down to Earth

Although this book features Saints from all sorts of cultures and walks of life, the emphasis is on their common humanity. You’ll hear how saints changed diapers, saints gave their grandchildren pony rides, saints did laundry. This is so important for our kids (and us) to understand: the saints were not just great preachers and theologians, they were moms and dads and kids like us!

Broken and Beautiful: The Body of Christ

This book is a celebration of the diversity of the Body of Christ. You’ll read the stories of Saints from Papua New Guineau to Iceland. You’ll learn about Saints in wheel chairs and Saints with birth defects and Saints who were blind. You’ll read about Saints with learning disabilities and speech impediments. You’ll learn about saints with big personalities and saints who were desperately shy. You’ll see Saints from various ethnicities with a great variety of skin tones.

Beautiful Watercolors

To match the beautiful souls described in Saints Around the World, Lindsey Sanders illustrated this book with beautiful watercolor pictures. Many pictures feature everyday items as symbols. This emphasizes the theme that these saints lived seemingly ordinary lives. You may spot a soccer ball, some musical instruments, horses, and more in the background of these illustrations.

You can get a preview of the gorgeous illustrations and read excerpts from the book on the launch site: https://saintsaroundtheworld.com/excerpts/

You can buy Saints Around the World through my Amazon affiliate link: Saints Around the World

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Saints Around the World” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Interested in more of my favorite Catholic books for Catholic Kids? Check out this list: Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

gray sheep

Review of “Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus”

Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus

Like author Maura McKeegan, I discovered Biblical typology in college and was utterly fascinated. As a well-catechized, homeschooled cradle Catholic, I couldn’t believe I had never learned about all the amazing parallels between the Old and New Testament. Now, with the Old and New series of picture books, you can teach your 5-10 year olds about typology as they become familiar with Bible stories.

What is Biblical Typology?

Biblical typology is the study of seeing the prefiguring of people and events of the New Testament and covenant in the Old Testament and covenants. McKeegan quotes Augustine’s explanation:

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is unveiled in the New.

Saint augustine

In McKeegan’s Old and New Series, of which Saved by the Lamb is the fourth volume, you and your children can see how Old Testament figures like Jonah, Adam, and Moses are types of Christ.

Saved by the Lamb: how Moses foreshadows Jesus

In Saved by the Lamb, McKeegan traces Moses’ life and the events of Passover. On each page, you’ll read a paragraph about Moses, then a paragraph about Jesus. The parallel placement of the text with carefully selected similar meter and diction really brings home to children the parallels. You’ll be crying out in surprise with your kids as the amazing parallels unfold.

You’ll understand the Gospel of Matthew better: why Matthew, the learned Jew, was so excited about Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. You’ll learn how the centuries of Passover sacrifice was conditioning the Jews to understand Jesus as the Paschal lamb that must be slain to save the people. And so much more!

An Important Catechesis

These simple picture books really provide an amazing opportunity for early catechesis. I believe they’ll awaken an interest in Biblical typology and scriptural exegesis in many children. The target age is 5-10, and I found this spot on for my own children: it went over my 4 year olds head mostly, but my 6 and 8 year olds loved it and kept interrupting to restate the connections. You can buy these books through my Amazon affiliate link: Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Saved by the Lamb” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Check out my some of my other favorite books on My Book Lists page!

girls-children-tulips-netherlands.jpg

Review of “Through the Year with Jesus”

A hit at my house!

This year, I’ve been testing out Katherine Bogner’s new children’s Bible Study book: Through the Year with Jesus. And I have to say, it has just blown me away! Not only that, my kids love this book too and now look forward to our weekly Bible study time.

What I love about it!

First, I love the fact that this is a weekly book. Once a week is so much more doable with a busy family with littles than aiming for a daily reflection and feeling bad about how many days you end up skipping. In Through the Year with Jesus, you can just pick one time weekly to read and reflect with your children, whether it’s Sunday before Mass, as part of a morning basket rotation, or during a special family dinner night.

Also, I love that this book follows the Liturgical year. It begins with Advent, the beginning of the Liturgical year, and provides a reflection for each week of Advent, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter Season, and the second Ordinary Time. Is this book specific to a particular Gregorian Calendar year, you ask? No. The readings are chosen to be in the spirit of the season of the Liturgical year but are timeless and appropriate for any given Gregorian year.

Lectio Divina …

These Gospel Reflections are written in the time-tested Lectio Divina method of Bible study. Saints through the ages have practiced this simple but effective method of meditation on God’s Word. There are 4 steps to Lectio Divina: Lectio. Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio. Katherine Bogner simplifies and translates the steps to: Read, Meditate, Pray, Listen. In Through the Year with Jesus, you’ll find a Bible story for each week, discussion prompts for meditation, journaling, or discussion, prayer prompts, and suggestions for practical application.

and Visio Divina

I also love that Through the Year with Jesus uses a lot of Visio Divina. Similar to Lectio Divina, in Visio Divina, you gaze on religious art, meditate on the insights the art gives us into the scene, pray about it, and listen for what God is trying to teach you in this picture. Sound complicated? Really, it’s not, I promise! This is my kids favorite part of this book. We spend about 60 seconds silently looking at the religious painting, then talk about it, often using the prompts from the book. And if you’re wondering, the artwork is high-quality reproductions in full color! You’ll see art from Rubens, Fra Angelico, Barocci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and dozens of other great artists.

You can start at any time!

Since this book follows the Liturgical seasons, you can jump in at any point. It would make a great Easter basket gift, and you could begin the readings with the Easter season section and continue through all the way to the following Lent and beyond. This beautiful and inspiring devotional will be sure to help your family understand- and pray- the Bible like never before!

You can buy it through my Good News Book Shop link: Through the Year with Jesus

Or through my Amazon affiliate link: Through the Year with Jesus

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Through the Year with Jesus” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Check out more great books for Catholic kids on My Book Lists!

black horse running on grass field with flowers

The Best Picture Books for Little Horse Lovers

Do you have a little one who loves, loves, loves horses? I was that child, and to this day I love horses. Here are my favorite picture books old and new which capture the beauty and spirit of this special animal.

One of Jan Brett’s lesser known books, but still a charming story with lovely illustrations. Fritz is a short, ugly pony that the people say is unworthy to carry the children. But when the beautiful horses shy away in a crisis, Fritz is there for the children.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Fritz and the Beautiful Horses

Buy it through my BookShop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

The Perfect Pony is another pony story about looks being less important than a sweet nature. Katie dreams of a beautiful, prancing horse, but finds that her wise mother is right that the perfect pony may be different than she imagined.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Perfect Pony

Who doesn’t love Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague? In Five O’Clock Charlie, Marguerite Henry tells a memorable story about a winsome old draft horse named Charlie. Love the Wesley Dennis illustrations.

Buy through my affiliate link: Five o’clock Charlie

Buy it through my Bookshop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

hush little horsie cover

This gorgeous Jane Yolen and Ruth Sanderson story makes a gentle bedtime story about mother love.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Hush, Little Horsie

This touching historical fiction story set in 1843 tells about little Gretchen, separated from her wagon train, and The White Stallion who saved her life.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The White Stallion

Buy it through my Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Two sisters remember their mother telling them that the Carousel horses waking to life in early spring. They go on an imaginative journey which brings them healing after the death of their mother (trigger warning: mother has died). Gorgeously illustrated by Jim LaMarche.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Carousel

Once upon a time, there was a boy who “loved horses more than anything else in the world”… The Billy and Blaze series are classic adventures about a boy and his pony. A little lengthier than other picture books, these are also great for young readers.

Buy through my affiliate link: Billy and Blaze Collection

Buy through my Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

In this Caldecott Winning story, a Native American girl cares for her tribe’s horses and eventually becomes a horse herself.

Amazon affiliate link: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

A sleepy child learns from her grandmother how to visualize imaginary Sleep Ponies carrying her away to sweet dreams.

Amazon affiliate link: The Sleep Ponies

A little girl longs for a horse more than anything, but her parents carefully explain why buying one isn’t possible. Instead, she uses her imagination and drawings to fly through the stars with her dream pony.

Amazon affiliate link: My Pony

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Cowboy Small and his pony Cactus explain to little cowpokes how to take good care of a pony and what a cowboy does every day.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Cowboy Small

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Alice and Martin Provensen’s whimsical story about their farm animal perfectly captures the memorable personalities of their herd of horses. This has been one of my favorite books for 25 years.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

Virginia Lee Burton of Mike Mulligan fame wrote and illustrated this hilarious story about Calico the Wonder Horse. Calico not only outsmarts a band of ornery bad men but convinces them to reform.

Buy through my affiliate link: Calico the Wonder Horse

Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/the-best-picture-books-for-little-horse-lovers

For more of my favorite picture books for children, check out my Book Lists!

aerial photography of snow covered trees

20 Beautiful Winter Picture Books

We were blessed with the magic of a white Christmas this year, so I’m in hte mood to share some beautiful winter picture books! Here’s some of my family’s favorite winter picture books that celebrate the beauty of snowy winter wonderlands.

stopping by woods on a snowy evening

A lovely poem by Robert Frost with serene illustrations by Susan Jeffers: what could be better? The whole family can enjoy this beautiful book.

Affiliate link: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

We just love Jim LaMarche’s magical illustrations that capture the wonder of the tail end of fall and beginning of winter. A little girl observes animals preparing for winter in the wild as she sketches in her nature journal.

Affiliate link: Winter Is Coming

37486256. sx318

Who doesn’t love Margaret Wise Brown’s rhythmic text in A Home in the Barn? Jerry Pinkney’s detailed illustrations capture the warmth of the farm animals hunkered down for the cold season.

Affiliate link: A Home in the Barn

The Little Fir Tree is another Margaret Wise Brown illustrated beautifully by Jim LaMarche. This touching story captures the love of a father who digs up a live tree for his bedridden son to bring Christmas magic indoors.

Affiliate link: The Little Fir Tree

This sweet and simple story captures a father and daughter’s special sled ride On a Wintry Morning.

Affiliate link: On a Wintry Morning

A very curious child goes exploring with his parents to discover what happens to all his animal friends When Winter Comes.

Affiliate link: When Winter Comes

An adorable red fox wanders through the forest asking the other animals how to get ready for winter in Winter Dance.

Affiliate link: Winter Dance

Read these fun acrostics with your child as you explore the winter wonderland in the pages.

Affiliate link: Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic

In The Tomten, beloved Swedish author Astrid Lindgren gives children a charming little story about a Tomten who whispers to the farm animals that winter will pass and spring will come again.

Affiliate link: The Tomten

Who doesn’t love Jan Brett’s gorgeous detailed illustrations? We love her hedgehog stories, all set in winter: The Snowy Nap, The Hat, and Hedgie’s Surprise.

Brett has many more charming stories with dazzling winter artwork such as: The Mitten, Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, Cozy, The Three Snow Bears, Annie and the Wild Animals, Trouble with Trolls, and Christmas Trolls.

A little boy and his family take a moonlight hike to decorate a Christmas tree with snacks for the wild animals in Night Tree.

Affiliate link: Night Tree

Snow tells children about the different types of snow with a lyrical flow and beautiful snowflake close ups.

Affiliate link: Snow

Kevin Henkes’ simple picture book portrays kids and animals enjoying old-fashioned snow play.

Affiliate link: Winter Is Here

I hope you enjoy these beautiful wintery picture books! If you are looking for Christmas-specific picture books, check out my list Good Christmas Books for Catholic Kids.

abstract arachnid close up cobweb

Review of “The Spider Who Saved Christmas”

the spider who saved christmas cover

An Eastern European Christmas Legend

In The Spider Who Saved Christmas, Raymond Arroyo brings a popular Eastern European Christmas legend to life. This gorgeous book tells the story of the Golden Orb Weaver spider who protected the Christ child.

An Unusual Christmas Ornament

In Poland and Ukraine, spider ornaments are commonly placed on Christmas trees. According to a legend little-known in America, a spider made a web to camouflage the cave where the Holy Family hid while fleeing Herod’ slaughter of the innocents. While the Holy Family slept, the spider spun a web across the opening of the cave which saved the Christ child’s life.

Beautiful Illustrations for a Beautiful Story

My favorite part of this book is Rand Gallegos’ luminous illustrations! The light seems to emanate from the Christ Child’s peaceful face in a way that fascinated my children and charmed me. To scroll through a full preview of these amazing pictures, check out the sales page from publisher Sophia Press.

Not for the Littlest Ones

This is a beautiful and unique Christmas picture book which older kids will enjoy, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the littlest children. My 3 year old (who’s a bit sensitive) was upset by the references to Herod slaughtering the innocent baby boys. The actual slaughtering isn’t described, of course, but there are descriptions of the wails and shrieks of dying babies, which may be upsetting to very young or sensitive children.

Great Present for 5-7 year olds

This beautiful book makes a great St. Nicholas Day or Christmas present for Catholic children 5+. Even your non-Catholic friends will enjoy this unique Christmas legend! We’ll be adding it to our Christmas book basket books this Advent.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Spider Who Saved Christmas

Or through my Bookshop affiliate link: The Spider Who Saved Christmas

the spider who saved christmas cover

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Spider Who Saved Christmas” from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

brown christmas ceramic figurines

Review of “The Grumpy Old Ox”

The Grumpy Old Ox book cover

Just in time for Christmas shopping, here’s an original new Christmas story from Anthony DeStefano and Sophia Institute Press. In The Grumpy Old Ox, a blind and curmudgeonly ox lives with an equally crabby innkeeper in Bethlehem. When the innkeeper grudgingly allows a man and his pregnant wife to sleep in his stable, the ox encounters the miracle of Christ’s birth. His life will never be the same.

A Unique Theme

The Grumpy Old Ox is a simple rhythmic story on the surface, but as is typical for DeStefano’s books, there’s a profound theme lurking beneath the surface. The grumpy ox’s blindness is a physical symbol of his spiritual pride and selfishness: a form of spiritual blindness. When the ox opens his soul to welcome the Christ Child with simple gifts, his spiritual and physical blindness are healed. With this story for children, DeStefano foreshadows the many examples in Jesus’ life where pride and blindness intersect to prevent people from recognizing him as the Messiah. But in this hopeful story, the grumpy ox has a change of heart and is healed.

One for the Christmas Basket

If you’re like me, you love collecting special books for the Advent and Christmas Season. I wrap all our Christmas books into bundles and my children take turns opening one a day until Christmas. I’m excited to add this new book to our basket this Advent. I know my kids will love the bright illustrations and rhythmic story!

Buy The Grumpy Old Ox through my Amazon Affiliate link: The Grumpy Old Ox.

Wondering what other books are in our Christmas basket this year? Check out my Christmas Picture Book List!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Grumpy Old Ox from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

white clouds and blue sky

Review of “Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children”

They say never judge a book by its cover, but…

As soon as I saw the luminous cover of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children I knew I was going to love this book!

Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, book cover

This book fills an important need for a young child oriented Marian Consecration.

My family had recently completed a more traditional adult-oriented Marian Consecration and I was feeling let down. While it was a moving experience for me, I felt like most of the teaching went right over my little kiddos heads. In fact, there was a lot of wiggling and complaining from my littles.

So when Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children arrived in the mail, I knew I needed to try again with my littles with this brand-new child-centric consecration. And sure enough, I found Colleen Pressprich’s book makes a Consecration with young children doable and even enjoyable!

Gorgeous artwork and simple guidance make this book perfect for use with little children.

First, you and your children take in the sublime artwork for each day. I loved how talented illustrator Rebecca Gorzynska chose to portray Mary in a diverse variety of ethnicities! My kids are obsessed with the beautiful images of Mary, and I am thrilled that they are experiencing the many ways Mary is envisioned around the world.

Then, you read a short paragraph about Mary and Marian devotion. Finally, Colleen provides conversation starters: simple questions to inspire your children to think about Mary and engage in discussion. For example:

Have you done any tracing? Was it easier or harder for you to draw a picture of the thing you traced?

What do you think it means for God to trace Mary’s love in our hearts?

Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children

It’s only 5 Minutes a Day, and even the littlest children can benefit!

Colleen Pressprich’s evident devotion to Mary and experience as a mother brings an authentic spirituality and natural flow to this guide to consecration for young children. When I say “young children” you may be wondering how young? I think children as young as 2 will benefit from completing this consecration. My 3-7 year olds are all enjoying it. This book will certainly help your little ones draw closer to Mary as a mother, queen, and guide.

Do you have 5 extra minutes a day and young children at home? Then this is the perfect addition to your day!

To buy Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children through my affiliate link, click here: Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a small fee for qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

To check out Colleen Pressprich’s blog and preview more of the gorgeous artwork, go here: Elevator to Heaven.

To see my favorite Catholic books for young children, check out my book list: Good Catholic Books for Young Children.

For a Marian Consecration for children over the age of 7 check out my Review of “Family Consecration to Jesus Through Mary”.