We've been reading "chapter books" in our house for a while now. It's hard to find ones that are age appropriate though, since most chapter books are written for kids who can, well, read. It started with the Rainbow Fairies books but frankly they are a little formulaic. When I read the first one I was thrilled that I could be interested in the mystery too-- but then I realized that they basically all followed the same pattern.
Most of the books I want to read with Talia are too old for her-- like Charlotte's Web. It's one thing to watch the movie for two hours and another to listen to it for nights on end. The Little House books are filled with scenarios that she can not comprehend at this time. "The olden days" is a concept too far from her reach. She can hardly understand that we didn't have Tivo when I was little. Or Target. I just don't think she has the ability to imagine very much from Laura's life. I'm pretty sure I read them for the first time when I was in third grade-- and I certainly don't want to spoil it for her. If you want to try to read a book you thought perfectly acceptable for a 4 year old, try Amelia Bedelia. Actually, now that T is 4 she's starting to get that one. But we got it last year and it made no sense to her, as it is all play-on-words. Or Curious George-- the original one, where they STEAL him from his native land in Africa and force him on a ship to America. While that book is ok for kids it's NOT ok for adults.
So imagine my excitement when I discovered that there is a series called "My First Little House Books!" They are picture books that follow one simple story from the big books. Talia likes them but I like them more, of course. I have also found longer versions of Angelina Ballerina books.
More recently we have been reading the "Betsy" books by Carolyn Haywood. I actually remember taking them out of the library when I was a kid. I loved them and apparently I still do. They have pictures on ALMOST every page which is perfect. Now T can start getting used to listening to the story without pictures for some pages and get to look at the pictures (line drawings) on the others.
We read together every single night. Bedtime is taking longer and longer since two books has turned into two chapters (Ok, 3). It's pretty much my favorite time together (which is suspiciously close to my least favorite time together, when she gives me a fight about me leaving her room at bedtime each night-- I mean, doesn't it get old sometimes?) I'm so happy to read her stories that have substance!