Chapter Books for Early Readers

Parents often ask me for chapter book recommendations for their young children. Here is a list of our favorite early reader chapter books. These books are ideal for your newly independent readers. They are simple enough to give them a boost of confidence when reading on their own, yet still have interesting and engaging illustrations and story lines. Whatever your child’s reading level, I encourage parents to continue to read to children – yes, even to older children – because of the many benefits that have been linked with reading aloud to kids of all ages.

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Princess in Black, by Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham.
Looking for a new take on the typical princess tale? The Princess in Black series features a princess with a ninja alter-ego. The beautiful illustrations help young readers to remain engaged and the stories are sure to appeal to kids of all ages.

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Humphrey, by Betty G. Barney
Once you meet Humphrey, the classroom pet in Room 26, you will want to read about every one of this adorable hamster’s adventures! The series explores life from Humphrey’s perspective, as a tiny classroom pet with a BIG-BIG-BIG imagination.

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My Weird School, by Dan Gutman and illustrated by Jim Paillot
In the first book of this popular series, second-grade teacher Miss Daisy seems to be a little underprepared for school. She doesn’t even know how to add or subtract! But the kids have other things to be concerned about, namely winning Principal Klutz’s competition so they can turn the school into a video game arcade for the night – all they need to do is read a million pages in books!
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Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osbourne and illustrated by Sal Murdocca.
This is one of the most popular children’s book series, and for good reason. In the first book of the series, siblings Jack and Annie discover a mysterious tree house that whisks them to the prehistoric past. Will they be able to find their way back home… before the dinosaurs find them first?

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Nate the Great, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont.
Kids will love to play detective and help Nate the Great solve the mystery of the lost picture in this charming first book of the series. Can Nate help his friend Annie find her picture? Only if he gets all the facts, narrows the list of suspects and asks the right questions!

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The Haunted Library, by Dori Hillestad Butler.
Looking for a chapter book that is just the right balance of mystery, excitement and ghostly adventure? Kaz the ghost is separated from his ghost family, but when he and Claire (a real girl who lives above the town library) become friends, there’s nothing that can stop them from solving the town’s mysteries.

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Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon.
What’s a young girl with a big imagination to do when her older brother and sister don’t want to play with her? Find out in this series about Dory, aka Rascal, who uses her wild imagination and boundless energy to create adventures of her own.

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Geronimo Stilton
Geronimo and his sister Thea live in a busy city in a mousey world. Geronimo’s work as a journalist thrusts him into one wild adventure after another. His sister Thea, who has her own series of books, has her own glamorous escapades! The photos are engaging and the cheesy puns and colorful text are sure to draw in even the most reluctant readers.

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Zoey and Sassafras, by Asia Citro and illustrated by Marion Lindsay
We are big fans of author Asia Citro and this series does not disappoint. Children looking for books filled with magic, adventure, science, nature and animals will be hooked from the first page. Each story features a new magical animal with a problem that must be solved using science.

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Alvin Ho, by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Alvin Ho is scared of everything, especially school. He wishes that he can start second grade as his much braver superhero persona, Firecracker Man. This sweet series will resonate with kids as they cheer Alvin on to succeed.

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Narwhal and Jelly, by Ben Clanton
It is impossible to resist the touching friendship between narwhal and jellyfish in this sweet series. Young readers will learn that while sea creatures (and people) may be different, they can always find ways to be friends and work together.

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Ivy and Bean, by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Can Ivy and Bean be friends, even though their differences seem insurmountable? Of course they can! Especially when they realize they make a strong team when they are together.

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Dragon Masters, by Tracy West.
This action packed series is a favorite among young readers. We follow the adventures of young dragon masters, their incredible dragons, the wizards who help them and a king. What more could readers ask for? This is part of Scholastic’s wonderful Branches book series, for newly independent readers.

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Mercy Watson, by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
Mercy Watson is an adorable series about a beloved ‘porcine wonder’. Kids will love reading about Mercy’s amusing escapades and will be asking for the other books in the series (and perhaps some buttered toast too)!

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Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers series, by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts.
You and your little ones may already be familiar with Beaty’s best selling picture book series. Now join Rosie, Ada, Iggy and Sophia on their newest adventure in the follow-up chapter book series. Rosie’s is the first story in the installment and features her persistence, perseverance and the importance of teamwork.

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Secret Agent Jack Stalwart, by Elizabeth Singer Hunt.
Jack Stalwart, a nine-year-old boy who is an ordinary kid by day and a secret agent by night, travels the world fighting evil, collecting clues and searching for his missing brother, Max. The series features exciting travels, thrilling adventures and fascinating clues.
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Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown.
Flat Stanley is a great choice for children transitioning from beginner readers to their first independent chapter books. We love following Stanley Lambchop’s adventures, learning about how he became a only half an inch thick after a board fell on him, and joining him as he gets rolled up, mailed and even flown like a kite!

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Owl Diaries, by Rebecca Elliott.
Owl Diaries (another of the Scholastic Branches series) tells the stories of Eva Wingdale and her friends and is told in a diary format. The cute illustrations and fast-moving plots will keep young readers engaged from the very first page.

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The Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey
If your kids love Dog Man and Captain Underpants (as we do), they will adore The Bad Guys series of books by Day Pilkey. The illustrated series features some bad guys, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake and Mr. Shark, who may not be so bad after all… My kids can read these books over and over again and laugh along every time.

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Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot, by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Dan Santat.
This is another one of our favorite Dav Pilkey’s book series and it is perfect for newly independent readers. The adventure books tell the story of a young mouse, Ricky Ricotta, and his robotic friend, who must save the world from evil scientist Dr. Stinky. This series is a winner thanks to the exciting story, warm-hearted characters and colorful illustrations!

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