20 Chapter Books for Early Readers
Finding chapter books that are age-appropriate and interesting to early readers can be a challenge. This collection of chapter books is a great set of suggestions for early readers from Kindergarten-first grade. Whether you are reading aloud to your child, or they’re reading independently, these books will be a hit!
CHAPTER BOOKS FOR 5-8 YEAR OLDS:
Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny This book is composed of short vignettes about Isabel (the “Bunjitsu Bunny) and her friends (who also study martial arts). Each clever and funny vignette conveys a zen like lesson about non-violence, friendship, compassion and self-discipline.
Space Taxi 8 year old Archie’s dad is an intergalactic space taxi driver! Archie is finally in on the family secret (which still has to be kept hush-hush from his younger sister) and gets to tag along on a “take your child to work day.” Along the way they pick up, and team up with Pockets, a talking extraterrestrial cat who also happens to be an Intergalactic Security Force officer. This is a wonderfully imaginative series and I know we will be picking up further installments as they are written.
Dory Fantasmagory Dory is a highly imaginative 6 year old. Her older brother and sister invent the Mrs. Gobble Gracker in order to scare Dory into “not behaving like a baby,” but Dory grabs onto the idea and her imagination runs away. It’s hard to describe the whole intricate plot here, but the way Dory’s imaginary world and real world overlap is hilarious. A real winner and I can’t wait to read Abby Hanlon’s next book!
The Miniature World of Marvin and James If I were to recommend a book about two beetles jumping into a pile of pencil shavings inside an electric pencil sharpener, you might look at me a little askew. Actually the book is about how the beetle, Marvin, spends his time while his best friend (and human), James, is at the beach. Elise Broach’s middle grade book Masterpiece, introduced the duo to the world, and this new early chapter book is a charmer.
My Happy Life and My Heart Is Laughing The narration of these Swedish imports is gentle and thoughtful, allowing the protagonist to experience both the small happy moments of life (making friends, finding a place in school) and the sadness (friends moving away, losing one’s mother — years before the action of the story). The overarching feeling of the books is one of balance, but also that children have deep, complex emotional lives.
Sophia Martinez is the star of a new series by the author of Zapato Power. This series is at a slightly easier reading level than Zapato Power, with color illustrations and very large type with lots of white space. Some words are Spanish (there is a glossary, but their meaning is easily gleaned from the text). Sophie is an appealingly clever girl who likes to enjoy life, help others and make a statement.
Lulu’s Mysterious Mission is the third book in the Lulu series by the author of Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Lulu’s parents have finally decided to go on a much needed vacation without their somewhat spoiled child. Lula and Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky clash until Ms. S reveals her secret identity and Lulu begs her to be allowed to undergo spy training.
Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week Jasper John is really excited to finally be the star of the week. He has been planning for this special event for what seems like forever! He is taken aback, however, when things don’t go quite his way. The class isn’t fascinated with his lint collection, his family tree contains an imaginary member and his friend’s baby sister seems to be stealing the show. Kids will easily relate to Jasper’s insecurities as well as his desire to be memorable.
Flat Stanley If you’ve ever had to participate in a Flat Stanley project, then you are very familiar with the story. Stanley is a little boy who was accidentally smashed flat and decides to see the world by mailing himself everywhere and you can read all about his amazing adventures in this series.
Babysitter’s Little Sister This series is a spin off of the Babysitter’s Club books that I read as a kid. The series follows Karen, who is the younger sister of original Babysitter’s Club member Kristy Thomas. There are 122 books in this series, so you can keep your child reading for a long time!
The Kids in Ms. Colman’s Class This series is a spin off of Babysitter’s Little Sister (yes, a prolific author!). There are 12 of these books, and they center around the events in Ms. Colman’s classroom at Stoneybook Academy.
Cam Jansen Cam is a little sleuth who solves many mysteries. I love that the author has a website devoted to Cam and kids can find study guides, quizzes, and other fun Cam activities. To go to the website click here: Cam Jansen Website.
Amber Brown Amber Brown’s name sounds like it might be a crayon color. She has to deal with things like her parents divorcing and her best friend moving across the country. I like the way these stories help kids learn to process big emotions in a way that isn’t too heavy.
A to Z Mysteries This series follows 9-year-old detectives Dink, Josh, and Ruth as they solve many mysteries. 26 of them, to be precise. One for every letter in the alphabet.
Arthur Who doesn’t love Arthur? It’s nice to have a few options like this for kids to read about familiar characters they already know from TV or movies.
Ready, Freddy! These are fun, relatable stories about Freddy and the goings-on in his life at school and at home.
Clementine Like most of these books, the Clementine series centers around a character and her adventures. Clementine has to deal with things like a talent show at school for which she has nothing to perform, feeling like her parents love her little brother best, and navigating her relationship with her best friend, Margaret.
Judy Moody Judy Moody is a little girl who has lots of moods. She has a mood for anything life throws at her. Sometimes it’s a bad mood and sometimes it’s a medical mood and sometimes it’s a fancy mood, but she always has a mood. Judy Moody also always has a fun website full of “way-not-boring stuff to do” and other fun Judy Moody activities. To go to the website click here: Judy Moody website.
Ivy and Bean Ivy and Bean are two little troublemakers who are always getting themselves into, well, trouble! This author also has a fun website dedicated to all things Ivy and Bean, including crafts and ideas about how to bug your sister. To go to the website click here: Ivy and Bean website.
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew: A cute series about a young Nancy Drew for a younger audience.