My youngest child started Kindergarten this week — sniff — and he’s learning to read so quickly. I’m thrilled to find out he loves books, and I’ve been scouring our bookshelves and grilling our librarian for some great beginner chapter book series. Of course, there are the classic favorites like Junie B. Jones, Magic Treehouse, Ruby and the Booker Boys, and Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo. But I was excited to find a few new options too, and all of these series have just added new volumes to their collection over the last few months.
So, whether you’re trying to find age-appropriate books for your young readers, or want a great story that will motivate your just-learning reader to keep on practicing, these series are a great place to start.
My kids have read many of them multiple times — they’re really that good!
Find all these books at our affiliate Amazon, your library, or your local independent bookseller.
1. Jaden Toussaint series, by Marti Dumas
The brand new Jaden Toussaint series just came out last summer, and my Amazon cart is filled with the collection of all three already. Book one is Jaden Toussaint, The Greatest: Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time by Marti Dumas and illustrated by Marie Muravski, which is all about a very funny, ninja dancing, smart-smart kid who wants to convince his parents he needs more screentime. (Sounds very familiar.) But despite his love for electronics, his intellect is the star, and the series’ hashtag #SmartIsTheNewCool gets two thumbs up from us.
2. The Princess in Black series, by Shannon and Dean Hale
Moms of boys, don’t discount the Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale. They have been a favorite, both for my daughter and my son, thanks to the clever princess’ ninja alter-ego. She fights monsters, protects her princessdom, and also enjoys a frilly tea every once in a while. They are really fast reads with awesome illustrations by the amazing LeUyen Pham. Book 4, in which the princess takes a vacation, comes out this fall (whoo!) and my kids are already asking for it.
3. Tales from Decawoo Drive series, by Kate DiCamillo
The Tales from Decawoo Drive series by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen are great books for kids who have learned to read early but still need sweet, gentle stories. These books are set in the world of Mercy Watson and each volume tells the story of a different character there. They’re silly, fun, and just long enough for kids who are ready to master a “real” chapter book. The third book — Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? — just hit stores this month.
4. The Alvin Ho series, by Lenore Look
I can’t wait to read the hilarious Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look, which is all about a slightly neurotic 2nd grader who is afraid of everything. In Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions he has to travel with his family to China to introduce their new baby to relatives there, which is a huge challenge as he has to overcome his anxieties and appreciate cultural differences. Kids who deal with fear will relate with Alvin, and those who don’t will find him hysterical. And one more awesome bonus: these books are all illustrated by LeUyen Pham, one of my favorite illustrators.
5. The Dory series, by Abby Hanlon
This super cute series by Abby Hanlon, about a girl with a wild imagination, has captivated my kids so much it’s become one of those can’t-put-it-down series. Their favorite has been Dory Phantasmagory: The Real True Friend, which came out this past spring, in which Dory finally gets a real friend and learns to leave her imaginary friend at home.
6. The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series, by Poppy Green
I love The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series by Poppy Green for very young readers, because I love the lesson it teaches about being kind to friends and not judging others by the way they look. Plus, there’s absolutely nothing in here that will worry or scare young children when they’re reading right before bedtime. If your kids love animals, this is a great series for them to start reading. And since Book 8, A Surprise Visitor, just came out this month, kids will have plenty of books to get through before they’re asking for a new series.
7. The Jedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown
If you have kids who are solid readers but might need a little pop-culture motivation to get them to pick up a book instead of a tablet, I’d suggest the Jedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown. It takes place in the Star Wars world, of course, with the main characters all experiencing the joys and trials of middle school in a galaxy far, far away. This summer’s release, A New Class, also has a new author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka. It’s getting mixed reviews on Amazon, but our kids will tell you the first three (at least) are books they’d read again and again. And if it’s a Star Wars-themed comic that gets a kid reading? Well, as Levar Burton told Kristen and Liz on Spawned, that’s just terrific.
8. The Olive and Beatrix series by Amy Marie Stadelman
Olive and Beatrix are twin sisters, but they’re very different from one another. One sister is a witch, and the other loves science. They generally end up making some kind of mess — giant spiders and a moldy blob — as a result of their combined interests, then they have to work together to fix the problem, which is a great lesson in itself. This series by Amy Marie Stadelmann is clever and fun, feels more up-to-date than some of the more classic book series for early readers, and I think it’s a terrific pick for kids who show an interest in the sciences.
9. The Clubhouse Mysteries series, by Sharon M. Draper
If you enjoy a whodunit, try the clever Clubhouse Mysteries series by Sharon M. Draper. The mysteries are easy to follow, making them perfect for early elementary age kids. You’ll have some good, fun conversation if you read together, trying to solve the mystery before the kids in the book do. Get through them all, and then your kids can move onto another favorite book series for kids, Encyclopedia Brown.