10 Great Chapter Books to Use When Teaching Kids the Plot Elements of a Story...and a FREE Printable Plot Chart

When you first begin to use longer chapter books as read alouds, it is a good time to discuss the elements of a story's plot with kids. Some kids' chapter books are more rambling and a little more difficult to use to pick out the plot elements. Here I'm sharing ten good chapter books to use for discussing plot. You can also pick up a free printable plot chart.

Kids' chapter books to use when discussing plot elements

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Socks by Beverly Cleary

Socks is the story of a cat. He's adopted by a couple that love and spoil him. But when a new baby comes into the family, Socks has competition.



Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater

Mr. Popper is a huge fane of penguins and the South Pole. But he's shocked when he receives an actual penguin from an explorer. Soon he and his family have not one penguin but many.



Stuart Little by E.B. White

Stuart is an unusual mouse. He was born to a family of humans in New York City. Stuart is an adventure lover, and he strikes out on a big adventure when his best friend- Margalo the bird- disappears from her nest.



The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Borrowers are tiny people who live inside the floor of an English country house. They live there without the knowledge of the big people in the house. When one of the them is spotted, the whole family may have to move.



Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is very popular with all of the children in town. She lives in an upside down house and was once married to a pirate. Without scolding or punishing she seems to have an answer for the behavior problems of any child, and all of the moms call her for answers. (A note about this book: Each chapter is almost a separate story of its own, so if you use the story chart, you could do a separate plot chart for each chapter.)



Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

This is the classic story of young Charlie who wins a golden ticket to tour the famed chocolate factory of Mr. Willie Wonka. Four other children have also won these tickets. Each child's story becomes a subplot of its own, but there is still a main story line to use with the plot chart.



The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Despereaux is a tiny mouse who never really fits in with his family or the other mice who all live in a castle together. He's a mouse who dreams big dreams. And he loves the princess who lives in the castle where the mice family lives. Despereaux's adventures begin when the other mice find out he's been talking to the princess.



Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Anna and Caleb live with their Papa on the prairie. Anna remembers their mother who died when Caleb was born, but Caleb has no memory of her. When Papa sends to Maine for a mail order bride, both children hope that Sarah- who has answered the call- will stay and be a wife for Papa and a Mama for them.



Poppy by Avi

Poppy is a daring young mouse. She and her friend Ragweed are dancing in the moonlight when Ragweed is caught by Mr. Orax, the cruel owl that keeps all of the mice under his thumb. Poppy comes face to face with Mr. Orax again when she has to go with her father to ask his permission for the mice to move because they are outgrowing the old farmhouse in which they live.



Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi is a girl who lives with her horse and monkey in the old rambling house of Villa Villekulla. Her neighbors, Tommy and Annika soon discover that she's unlike any other girls they've known. (Pippi Longstocking is another book that has a separate story in just about every chapter.)




Click here to pick up a FREE printable plot chart. Use this chart to teach kids the elements of a story.

  • Exposition: Describe the setting and list the characters.
  • Conflict: Is the conflict between two people? Between a person and natural surroundings (such as a survival story)? Between man and God? Between man and himself (such as struggling with belief in oneself)
  • Rising action: Describe some of the events that are building in the story.
  • Climax: What is the climax of the events that have been building, the central event?
  • Falling action: Describe how the problem is being resolved.
  • Conclusion: Tell about the final events. How has the conflict finally been resolved?
Plot chart with story elements




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