After making two recent trips to the library to explore children's reading materials (and ease up on my Amazon.com spending), my oldest son (just turned 4 in Oct.) and I have given more early readers and chapter books a try, and I have a better sense of what he likes.
The most important observation is that at this time, he prefers books to have pictures on every page. He also grows impatient if there is a longer paragraph with only a small picture. I was wondering and possibly dreaming that my young-four-year-old could listen using only his imagination but we're not there yet. However, he is very much interested in longer stories (as long as we start early enough -- and we need to work on that and giving ourselves more time in the bedtime routine).
He enjoyed a Breyer Stablemates book called Snowflake -- although he urged me to skip the text-only pages, the illustrations held his interest well and we got a pretty good sense of the story anyway. (I love horses and although the story has all female characters, I think my son enjoyed it too!) Snowflake is a level 3 reader and now we'll be exploring more 2's and 3's before moving up. We did a level 4 last night that was much too much text and not enough images.
I was surprised that A did not enjoy the picture only books we've tried so far. He instructs me to read the words and seems disappointed there are none. We'll try again when he's a little older.
I've got my copy of The Read-Aloud Handbook
ready and hope to use it next time as a trusty guide for future library adventures.