Friday, June 13th, 2014...10:13 pm

Awesome Chapter Books For Beginning Readers

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Summer is for reading. Sure it’s for the beach or the pool and a break from school and ice cream and lemonade, but really, to me summer just means time to read. Time  I can’t come by as much as I’d like during the school year.

Summers in my childhood meant books. Stacks of books. Reading books in cozy places, in the back seat of the car on road trips, on the beach, on the top bunk in my brother’s room.

So as I planned my daughter’s first official summer break, I knew that books had to be a big part of it. And thankfully she loves to read, so she and I have already accumulated quite a pile for her.

She’s a beginning reader – a first-grader who reads above grade-level, but who still is just learning. She likes to read chapter books most of all since they are what she knows I read, they seem more grown-up to her and we’ve managed to find some pretty loveable characters in our first year of venturing into chapter books for her. We’ve found books that are just below her level, just at her level and some that are a bit of a stretch.

Here are our favorites (in order from easiest, independent read to more challenging, might need assistance):

beginning chapter books


First off, Princess Posey. The books in this series are absolutely perfect for a beginning reader who wants to jump to chapter books. The chapters are exceptionally short, the words all at an accessible level, and somehow the story still manages to be engaging. My daughter read these books multiple times this year as she grew as a reader and she loved the character and the ease with which she could get through a real chapter book.


Princess Posey is cute and well-written. The next on the list is not really. My first-grader, like most first-graders, LOVES Junie B. Jones. I don’t. As an English teacher, her incorrect grammar just rubs me the wrong way. She uses words like stupid and dumb, words Nora’s kindergarten teacher rightly told the class aren’t nice words. But, nonetheless, I let Nora read these books because she finds them HILARIOUS. She will run out of her room or stop in the middle of a page just to tell me the silly plot twist or the crazy things Junie B. just said. I’m not one to censor books, so we keep Junie B. around. These are also really accessible in style and word choice for a beginning reader.

“Click,” says Cam Jansen every time she wants to take a mental image of the scene she’s experiencing. She is a kid with a photographic memory who uses her ability to solve mysteries. I love these books so much and Nora does too. All kids seem to love mysteries –  and it’s a great way to draw a young reader into a book. Cam and her best friend (a boy) are quite likeable and, unlike Junie B., speak in correctly conjugated sentences and don’t call anyone dumb or stupid. We just bought two more of these books to take on vacation with us.

Another favorite has always been Magic Tree House series. I’ve been reading these aloud to Nora for a while now, but this year she started to be able to read them on her own. They are about the same level as Cam Jansen and, though the chapters are sometimes a bit on the longer side, they are accessible in their storytelling. I also love how these books use Jack and Annie to teach the reader about some really cool time in history or a really popular legend. These stories have so many layers and they are great read-together or read-independently books for kids just beginning their reading lives.


Next is another series of books that is definitely on the more girly side (Cam Jansen and Magic Treehouse are definitely for anyone). The Rainbow Fairies are great books for kids who love magic and fantasy. We love fairies around here, so these books were a big hit. There are multiple series within the series – color fairies, candy fairies, music fairies – so if your child likes these, the reading possibilities are really endless.



These last two are slightly more difficult to read but they are Nora’s favorite. We’ve read all 11 of the Ivy & Beanbooks together and she’s reread many of them on her own, at least in part. Ivy and Bean are wonderful characters – just mischievous and creative enough to be funny and endearing to a six year old without the language issues I have with Junie B. These books remind me of an updated Ramona ( I can’t wait for her to be able to read those on her own!). Ivy and Bean search for fossils in their back yard, start their own detective company, participate in a spooky ballet, hunt for ghosts and cause their teacher just a bit of trouble. These books are just awesome.


And lastly is Stella Batts, a second grader who aspires to be a writer. As if that alone didn’t sell me, she also is the daughter of a candy-store owner and someone who manages all sorts of crazy social situations that I know kids (and adults too…) can identify with. Stella Batts is just above Nora’s reading level so we read it mostly together, though she does try to read some of it on her own. Stella Batts and her sister are candy testers, pet sitters and good friends. We really like this series.


We are always looking for new books to read! What are your favorite chapter books for beginning readers? What did I miss here? And since these are pretty girl-centric since I have a daughter who likes to read this stuff, what are the great beginning series for boys? I’ll need those one day too!

Want more suggestions – especially some that are maybe more boy friendly? Check out this awesome list from Michelle at So Wonderful, So Marvelous! 

**All links are affiliate links. I have to support my book habit somehow!**

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  • Thanks for this list! We ended up w/ a couple of Junie B Jones books and i also did NOT like them… but Maple loved them. I think she also liked the more developed story of the chapter books… so, I was going to look for another series… She is a less than advanced reader 🙂 So, i was hoping to find something to motivate her to want to read on her own…

  • Ivy and Bean is awesome, Holly, for you and Maple to read together. She would love the stories! And Princess Posey is the place to start when she’s ready on her own. Happy summer reading!

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