Mainstream Chapter Books – to use or not to use

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  • luxiii

    We are beginning homeschooling our 2nd grader this year.  He is advanced in reading, but not too excited about it.  However, we as a family read alot and I think he is ready for chapter books for his pleasure reading.  We also live in a great area for yard sales where I can get books for 25 – 50 cents.  I was wondering if any of you who have solid CM education experience with your children have found any mainstream chapter books that fit within the “no twaddle” concept.  I am still trying to find my way to turning our home library into one that will complement our homeschool library and I’m not very good at cutting out the twaddle.




    It depends on which chapter books you are looking at, but most are trash. Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid pale in comparison to The Hardy Boys or the Burgess books (adventures of “…….”). I did end up letting my early reader read the Magic Treehouse books though. Good luck! This is a hard stage to find “non-twaddle” for!



    Don’t know about finding them at yard sales, but books by Clyde Robert Bulla are some of the best for early chapter books readers and have turned many a reluctant reader boys into voracious readers.   The Sword in the Tree and Viking Adventure are not to be missed.  My boys, as well as boys in my library, absolutely love these.  They also devour the Dan Frontier series.  These are graduated readers and the last few would be perfect for the stage your son is in.  There’s also the Cowboy Sam and Jim Forest series.  Again, probably not to be found at yard sales…but you never know.  Keep your eyes open and check your library..


    Thanks for the recommendation of the Bulla books, Robin.  That kind of book is just what I have been looking for!


    I have been dealing with the same thing so I appreciate the question AND the response!


    The Bulla books are a favorite around here, too. You could check the Sonlight catalog for grades 1 – 3 titles. We like Arnold Lobel titles like Frog and Toad if he is not too advanced for them. I would like to find more for him. I had found that he does enjoy science and history titles in the levels 3 and 4 of the Step into Reading series and Ready-to-Read series.


    There have been a couple of threads with ideas for good books.  Check out the ‘living books’ section of the forum and browse through the last 3 or 4 pages.

    One thing that has motivated my kids (DD7 and DS5) to read more of the living books that I want them to develop a taste for, is that I’ll read the first few chapters of a book, just one chapter a day.  After a few days, I find they are taking turns sneaking the book into their room to read it for themselves.  This works especially well with my son, who often turns down books that I suggest until I’ve read a few chapters.  I’ve done this with books like Trumpet of the Swan, Wizard of Oz, Follow My Leader, the Boxcar Children, and several of the Thornton Burgess stories, all of which he protested even listening to until the 3rd or 4th chapter, and then started reading on his own because he couldn’t wait for the next chapter.

    I do allow them to pick out books at the library, which sometimes includes things that might not qualify as high quality ‘living books’, as long as I have read a couple of books of the series and am comfortable with the content.   The current favourite series are “Magic Treehouse”, “The Puppy Place” and “Kitty Korner” (about families who foster dogs and cats and find them good homes.)  These are just fun, quick reads that both kids love and reread over and over again until they are due at the library.

    Other than the SCM literature suggestions, one resource I really like for ideas is:




    These suggestions are really helpful.  I never thought of just reading through a few chapters and seeing if he will be more interested in reading.  He seems to be intimidated by long books, but I think we will try it and see.



    My sons both liked the My Father’s Dragon trilogy.


    You can find some excellent chapter book suggestions on Sonlights website. You can request their free catalog and then refer to it when you’re at the library or used book sale. We’ve done this many a times

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