If you've visited here pretty much ever (lol) you probably know that I teach first grade. And I can tell you that there are only two times during the day when first graders stop talking: snack and chapter book time.
I read lots of picture books to my class, usually at least two on any given day, but we also always have a running chapter book going on for discussions about characters and setting, predicting, thinking aloud, vocabulary, retelling, you name it. The kids get very invested in whatever book we are reading and can't wait each day until it is time to read the next chapter.
Now... I've been teaching first grade for thirteen years. Yep. Thirteen. So believe me when I say that there are some books that you just get sick of reading out loud. And everyone's tolerance is different. For example, I groan to myself every year when I pull out Charlotte's Web in the springtime, because it has 22 chapters and takes forever, and there is soooo much to explain to my sweet-but-completely-unfamiliar-with-farming-life children. But as soon as I start it, I love it. (We happen to be surrounded by farms, but many of my kids are new to the country and haven't experienced them yet. We read it before we go to a farm each May.) I can't tolerate Trumpet of the Swan. Ditto Mr. Popper's Penguins, which some teachers love. I also dislike The Boxcar Children (the latter two mainly because the language is very dated - or, in Mr. Popper's case, dated and British - and my class is comprised completely of children who do not speak English at home. They are learning basic English vocab, so throwing in language like that is very tough). I don't like Junie B. Jones, because my kids are just learning English grammar and she does not exactly model that (lol). I'm not a stick in the mud, I know she is silly. But there is also a lot of name-calling, which we don't allow, so she's not my character of choice.
I know, I know. I'm not reading them for me. But our curriculum does not specify which chapter books to read, it simply states the skills we should be working on during Read Alouds and lets us pick the books, so I try to pick books that I am really enthsiastic about because I know that the kids can tell. Oh yes. They know.
So. Which chapter books do I love reading to my kids? My Father's Dragon, The Hundred Dresses, Donovan's Word Jar, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, 26 Fairmount Avenue, The Stories Julian Tells. I also have a chaptery version of The Nutcracker that I love.
There are a bunch I think are ok and I read off and on different years - The Littles, Flat Stanley (I do read this every year, it's ok, but the Flat Stanley Project is awesome!), The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Meet Me at the Cucumbers, Ivy and Bean, Freckle Juice.
Early on in the year, I also read lots of beginning books from series that they will be reading independently by the end of the year, like Frog and Toad, Henry and Mudge, Iris and Walter, Mr. Putter and Tabby (lol, notice a theme here?), Poppleton, Nate the Great, Cam Jansen, etc.
So... I've read these books over and over and over and over and I am looking for some new ideas. Right now Tootsie Roll and I are reading a delightful new book called The Magical Ms. Plum by Bonny Becker, which sort of reminds me of a newer version of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in that each child in Ms. Plum's class has his or her own personality (not all good, lol). Ms. Plum sends each of them to the supply closet at some point in the year and they return with an animal that ends up teaching them a lesson or rewarding them somehow based on their behavior. It's very cute and when we finish I may take it in to read to my class.