chapter books review and activities to match

Chapter books are so much fun especially when you can help bring them to life with a little extra effort.  Earlier I shared “Quick Reader Chapter Books that we love”, now it’s time to tell you about the books that take a little bit more of a time commitment.  Trust me chapter books are well worth the time and offer some great learning benefits.

The Tale of Despereaux
by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux was the first “big” book we read and all three of us fell in love with it immediately.  We couldn’t wait to pick it up again and again.  The books description is “The Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread.”  Doesn’t that set you up for a wonderful conversation about what might happen in the story?  The book is filled with unique and complex characters that all have a dream that seems impossible.  As the story unfolds their journeys weave together.

For some reason I don’t have any notes on the activities we did to accompany this one.  Weird!  I know we watched the movie and made comparisons between the book and the movie.  (I would space the movie and book out a bit… the movie is nowhere near as good as the book.  I was so bummed.)   For some ideas of great activities to accompany The Tale of Despereaux visit celebrating good books over  at Not Just Cute.  She has some awesome activities that are easy to put together (and we love easy!)

The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis

I don’t know how it’s possible but I had never read The Lion, the Which and the Wardrobe.  When we embarked on this adventure it was new to all of us and what a fantastic adventure it was.   The story is about four siblings who find themselves far from home in a strange place.  While playing an innocent game of hide and seek one of the kids uncovers a magical world.  One of my favorite things about this book is the way C.S. Lewis uses imagination to explore such big topics.  The kids learn courage, forgiveness, trust and teamwork as they navigate through Narnia.

While we were reading The Lion, the Which and the Wardrobe, Little  M built a castle out of magnets.  I innocently (or maybe not so innocently 😉 ) told her that it reminded me of the White Witch’s castle.  When I checked on her a bit later she was in full character with an elaborate Narnia scene unfolding before her.  What a fun way to connect with the story!

I asked M and M to draw the wardrobe as they pictured it in their mind.  Then I cut around 3 edges leaving one attached to the paper so it opened like the door to the wardrobe.   On a piece of white paper  I asked them to draw Narnia.  (Make sure to trace the door so they only color in the space that will be seen.)  All that was left was to attach both pieces.  I glued around the edges (make sure to leave the door flap clean) and pressed the pieces together.  It was so neat to be able to see the story through their eyes.

For The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe I recommend you watch the movie.  It was AWESOME!  One of the very few times I like the movie as much as the book.  Some of the parts were so closely mimicked that Little M was able to say the line along with the character.  I still think you should read the book first!

by Avi

Oh Poppy.  I think this one might have been my favorite.  (Did I say that for all of them?  Hee hee.)  Poppy is the story of a little mouse who takes on an owl in order to save her family.  Poppy is brave, strong and smart.  Her adventure is captivating and left us dying to know what happens next.  (That is why we will be reading Poppy Returns first thing this summer.)

An old friend and I were exchanging book reviews (I can’t wait to dive into his list!)  and I recommended Poppy.  That handsome guy holding Poppy and a map is my friends son, S.  In the beginning of Poppy there is a map.  That map shows all of the places Poppy will explore through her adventure.  S and his dad printed the map onto a paper bag, crumpled it and burnt the edges to give it an old look.  Imagine all the fun they will have following Poppy through the story. Thanks for sharing Jason!

Phew, that was a long one!  Which book are you going to start with?

Even more reading ideas

Storytelling Activity using Crayon Names
Sight Word Boxes
Printable Book Report Templates


  1. Thanks for this great list. We just started reading The Magic Treehouse to our 4 and 2 year old and they are a big hit in this house.

  2. Charlotte’s Web teaches about what it takes to be a good friend and I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland if the Movies haven’t ruined the element of surprise.

  3. Read the first Magic Tree House book after seeing your original post. Read it twice, in fact (quicker read than I thought), and so we’re going to look for the second one. For myself, anything with a talking mouse is reading gold! I’m still hopeful about getting my 5-year-old into, say, “Stuart Little.” But the fact that “Despereaux” involves a princess might break the ice a little…

  4. Another great list! I have actually seen the Narnia movie, but not read the book. I can tell it would be a great read. I have never heard of Poppy, but the premise seems like it would be great for Reagan – as would Despereaux – seeing as how she loves animals and princesses.

      1. I was doing some much needed catching up on my reading last night – sorry for cluttering your inbox! 😉

    1. YES! I think my youngest was between 3 – 5 when I read all of them. Her brother is only a year and half older. They both loved all of them. I am thinking of rereading them when they get a bit older though because we loved them so much and they were so little.

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