Early Chapter Books For Beginning Readers

February 24, 2016


In my last post, I wrote about some of the new chapter books in Some New and Noteworthy Chapter Books and I wrote about some of my favorite chapter books in my post, Children’s Books for Christmas: Chapter Books.  Those books are usually written on the third grade level and higher. But what about the kids who are not quite ready for these, but are eager to feel the pride in reading chapter books? That is when I would lead them to the colorful displays of the early chapter books in the library. The displays made it easy for the kids to choose their own book, once they were familiar with the series.

And about this time of year, those displays contained very few early chapter books, because the kindergarten and first graders had discovered them. So many times, those beginning readers would come in and ask for a book with chapters. They might still be reading on the first grade level, but they wanted to have the thrill of moving on to reading chapter books. This meant the books needed to have a table of contents containing a list of the chapters and the page numbers. The book might have only three chapters, but that didn’t matter, because it was a chapter book!

Then the next step would be finding that series that would draw them in and make them eager to read another one. My assistant and I would spend what seemed like endless hours working with all of our kids to help them find the perfect book, because we knew if we could hook them on a series, most likely we would create a real book lover.

Recently, I saw a blog post about early chapter books that I was very much in agreement with. Sarah Mackensie wrote about early chapter books on her blog, Amongst Lovely Things, titled Series Books that Will Turn Your Struggling Reader into a Voracious Reader. I was very excited to read her thoughts, because her ideas and methods were so similar to what we tried to do in our elementary library. In addition, Sarah has excellent step by step instructions to help make your child into a reader who is eager to read every book in a series! She also includes a list of many chapter books that will entice your child. When I saw this post, I was already planning to write about early chapter books, so I was excited to read Sarah’s ideas and wanted to share her post with you. I would encourage you to give her ideas a try, if the child in your life needs a little extra support and guidance to make them into a lifelong reader.

cynthia rylant early chapter books

Once the kids began chapter books they had many favorites. And I was constantly searching for new series, to make sure they could find a perfect book when they were ready to move on to a new one. To introduce early chapter books, I would read the first few chapters of some early chapter books during my weekly storytimes with the kindergarten and first grade classes. I always started with Cynthia Rylant’s Henry and Mudge and High Rise Private Eyes series.

High Rise Private Eyes Early Chapter Books
High Rise Private Eyes Early Chapter Book Series by Cynthia Rylant









Henry and Mudge Early Chapter Books
Henry and Mudge Early Chapter Books
Mr. Putter and Tabby Early Chapter Book Series
Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant

When the kids wanted to try another series (or all of Henry and Mudge and High Rise Private Eyes are checked out), I would suggest another series by Cynthia Rylant, Mr. Putter and Tabby.  

These are all well loved early chapter books that give the kids a real sense of accomplishment.

national geographic readers

National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids Readers

For the children who would rather read a nonfiction book, National Geographic Readers are a great choice. They range from second grade through fourth grade reading level, Lexile 220 – 650, AR 1.9 – 4.2. Due to this wide range of levels, you might want to check on each book on the Lexile site and the AR BookFinder site to find the right book for your child.

Katie Woo and Max and Zoe

Katie Woo and Max and Zoe
Max and Zoe and Katie Woo

Two extremely popular early chapter book series for the kids, once they are ready to move on from the Cynthia Rylant books are Max and Zoe, and Katie WooKatie is a sassy, spunky, curious and funny Chinese American girl who is great at getting into trouble. The character was inspired by the great niece of the author, Fran Manushkin. Max and Zoe feature Max and his best friend Zoe as they explore different places and meet new people. 

BILLIE B. BROWN and HEY JACK by sally rippin

Billie B. Brown is a girl and her best friend Jack lives next door. The Billie B. early chapter book series describes her quirky adventures from her point of view. Hey Jack gives her next door neighbor a chance to be heard. At first it was hard to convince our early readers that they should read both series, even though there might be a girl or a boy on the cover (horrors!), but once we convinced them to give it a try, they loved both series.

star wars and lego chapter books

lego chapter books
Lego Early Chapter Books
Star Wars
Star Wars Chapter Books


Finally, two more favorites are the Star Wars and the Lego early chapter books. These books were loved by kindergarteners through third or fourth grade, no matter their reading level. In fact, one little guy would come in almost every day and want a new Star Wars books. I tried to convince him to try something else, and sometimes I would succeed, but often he was adamant that he wanted a Star Wars book. He told me that he and his dad would read them together and read them over and over. I soon realized that the books might be above his reading level, but they were providing some special family time. Since the new Star Wars movie was released in December, I would guess these are even more popular now!

Finally, for Lego lovers, there is a series of Lego early chapter books. They range from first grade through fifth grade reading level. These books describe adventures of lots of different characters and include many about Star Wars, making them extra popular!

This is just a short list of some of my favorite early chapter books. There are so many more! Look for a list of these books to be added to my website within the next few weeks. I’ll let you know when that happens! And please remember, that although the links from the book titles direct you to Amazon, most of these books can be found in your public library.

Which early chapter books series are your favorites? Please let me know in the comments below!

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More about Susan

Hi! I'm Susan, a wife, a mom and a recently retired elementary school librarian with 22 years of experience. One of my greatest joys is to connect kids with a perfect book, which then leads them to a lifelong love of learning. Through my blog, I'm hoping to reach parents, their children and teachers to help them find those special books. I’m also hoping to offer some tips and techniques to use with your children as you read aloud.

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