Best Books for 1st Grade and 2nd Grade (when kids start reading independently)
I find that there is a void for newly independent readers. You know, the readers that have graduated from Henry and Mudge and insist on chapter books, but not ready for Newbery Award books. While there are a plethora of chapter books, the quality of many series books is low with a repetitive and tiresome storyline and limited vocabulary.
These chapter book suggestions come from mom friends as well the Between the Lions Book for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn How to Read by Linda K. Rath, Louis Kennedy, and Christopher Cerf, an excellent reference book.
Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows. A mom friend just recommended this and my daughter loved it. The first book is about how Ivy and Bean became friends. [ages 6-9]
Beast Quest series by Adam Blade. A great series for a newly independent reader about beasts who threaten a kingdom and a boy who can save them. Here are a few of them. [ages 6-9]
No Flying in the House by Betty Brock. Finally, a great fairy book without a plot that is recycled throughout an entire series. This is about a half-blood fairy who is raised by her guardian, a 3-inch talking dog. Lots of interesting twists and turns and highly recommended by the 7-year-old set. [ages 7-10]
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh. A true story about Sarah Noble, a brave 8-year-old pioneer child, who must leave her mother and siblings to accompany her father to the wilds of Connecticut while he builds a house for their family. Can Sarah keep her courage up when faced with Indians? With large type and short chapters, this Newbery Honor book is perfect for younger readers. [ages 6-10]
Pinky and Rex series by James Howe and Melissa Sweet. Rex, a girl, loves dinosaurs. Pinky, a boy, is her best friend whose favorite color is pink. Perfect for kids who buck trends. [ages 6-9]
My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett. A little boy rescues a young dragon and his adventures with his new friend. [ages 6-9]
Go Girl! series by Thalia Kalkipsakis and Ash Oswald. A new series a mom friend just recommended this series because it is about situations your child can relate to. [ages 6-9]
Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look. [ages 6-9]
Lulu’s Hat by Susan Meddaugh. Susan Meddaugh, the author of the popular Martha Speaks series and tv show, has a chapter book written in her same picture book style that combines humor, wit, and quick-thinking heroines. In this case, her heroine is an aspiring magician. [ages 6-9]
Clementine (series) by Sara Pennypacker. [ages 7-10]
The Littles series by John Peterson. Meet the Little family. They are just like humans but much smaller with tails and live secretly among humans. [ages 6-10]
Cobble Street Cousins series (6 books) by Cynthia Rylant and Wendy Anderson Halperin. Wonderfully sweet and beautifully illustrated. Perfect for girls graduating from Henry and Mudge. [ages 5-7]
Mr. Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant. Retired Mr. Putter and his old cat Tabby have sweet little adventures together despite their doddering age. If you are ready to move beyond Henry and Mudge, this is the perfect next move up. [ages 5-8].
Thimbleberry Stories by Cynthia Rylant. I do confess that I love this author. In this book, Cynthia Rylant channels Beatrix Potter writing sweet short stories about meadow animals. [ages 6-8]
Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant. My second grader loved this book so much that she checked it out from the library after hearing her teacher read it aloud to her class. She highly recommends this to ANYONE! She needs a little bit of help as there are lots of SAT vocabulary words on every page. [ages 6-10]
A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden. This is my midde daughter’s all-time favorite book for 2nd grade. It was a little difficult for her to read on her own, so we spent the summer prior to 2nd grade reading it together. She keeps asking her teacher for a book like this and her teacher, sorry, no other books as good as this one. We also read Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride and it’s ok, it’s basically a short story about one evening when Chester Cricket makes a new pigeon friend and gets a ride above NYC. But after trying to finish Chester Cricket’s New Home, my daughter decided to just find a new series because the sequels were disappointing. Oh well, she’s been reading puppy stories…more on that later!
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.