This reader challenge makes me so happy. It’s a father trying to find happy chapter books for his young daughters. He likes the idea of chapter books from a cost-per-page perspective and he intends to read them aloud to his girls. What’s not to love about that?
I started this blog for the same reason. Chapter books for younger kids can be tricky. A book that LOOKS appropriate if you judge by type size and page length and even happy cover art can have deceptive dark themes. Sometimes, you don’t even figure it out until the end of the book. Oops, the puppy dies. Sorry kids! Ugh! I hate that!
My guide for the book selections is the wonderful first grade teacher we’ve had now, 3 times. I remembered some of the books that she read aloud in class. She has really excellent taste in books and she also likes rich vocabulary. I also searched my bookshelves for what I read with my daughters who are just a tad older. I got such a flood of warm memories reading with my girls as we enjoyed these wonderful chapter books that this is a trip down memory lane for me.
Sorry to bother you with this but I need help and I’m trying everything I can think of, including emailing you to solve this problem. I have 2 kids, both girls, ages 5 and 6. I’m looking for a book to read to them. Appropriate to their age and relatively long so I can read a little bit each night to them and they will look forward to hearing what happens next each night. I’m looking for one big book, not a series (to save money) hopefully a couple of hundred pages, with or without pictures, something with no violence. I have noticed that most kids’ classic books, Disney and mother goose stuff included, is actually quite violent and sad, I want something positive and fun with no sad or violent stuff, they get enough of that in the real world. Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it.
Happy Chapter Books for Young Girls
1. I am on a personal mission to get the All of the Kind Family series back in print. Currently, only the first book is available. This is rubbish because the other 4 books are wonderful AND Rebecca Rubin, the American Girl doll is based on this series. Another reason to reprint. While the books are all available at the library, be sure to reserve. There was a waitlist at our library!
All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
This series is set in Lower Eastside Manhattan, NYC, at the turn of the century. The All of a Kind Family is the perfect read-aloud bedtime book because it’s actually a series of short stories rather than a plot-based story.
Meet the All-of-a-Kind Family — Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie — who live with their parents in New York City at the turn of the century.
Together they share adventures that find them searching for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor and visiting with the peddlers in Papa’s shop on rainy days. The girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises.
But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!
- All-of-a-Kind Family
- All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown
- More All-of-a-Kind Family
- All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown
- Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family
2. The My Father’s Dragon series is a classic 1st grade read aloud that younger kids will also enjoy. It’s a very sweet fantasy series about a boy and his young dragon.
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Gannet Stiles
The classic fantasy trilogy of Elmer Elevator and the flying baby dragon has delighted children and their parents for generations. Now, on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary, Random House is proud to bring the three timeless tales together in one beautiful commemorative edition, complete with the original delightful illustrations. A Newbery Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, My Father’s Dragon is followed by Elmer and the Dragon (“rich, humorous, and thoroughly satisfying”*) and The Dragons of Blueland (“ingenious and plausible, the fantasy well-sustained”*). Each story stands alone, but read in succession, they are an unforgettable experience.*Library Journal, starred review
The most cost effective way is to buy the trilogy here as one big book.
3. This is one of the few books, Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant, that PickyKidPix ever read more than once. Her teacher read it to her class and I love it for its great vocabulary. It’s a dog story too by one of my all-time very favorite authors, Cynthia Rylant.
Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant
When Kona, a Labrador retriever, meets Stumpy, a squirrel in Gooseberry Park, they’re best friends at first sight. But after Stumpy’s babies are born, disaster strikes in the form of a violent ice storm. Kona is not a fair-weather friend; he’s worried sick! How will Stumpy and her babies survive? With the help of Murray, a hilarious bat, and Gwendolyn, a wise hermit crab, Kona shows just how true–and heroic–a friend can be.
4. A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
PickyKidPix also recommends this book. We used it as book club and it got rave reviews by all her friends too.
Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he’d seen it all. But he’s never met a cricket before, which really isn’t surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City—the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He’d be there still if he hadn’t followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone’s picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides—and friends—than Tucker and Harry. The trio has many adventures—from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire.
Chester makes a third friend, too. It is a boy, Mario, who rescues Chester from a dusty corner of the subway station and brings him to live in the safety of his parents’ newsstand. He hopes at first to keep Chester as a pet, but Mario soon understands that cricket is more than that. Because Chester has a hidden talent and no one—not even Chester himself—realizes that the little country cricket may just be able to teach even the toughest New Yorkers a thing or two.
The Cricket in Times Square is a 1961 Newbery Honor Book.
5. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater
I don’t despise the movie but the book is VERY different from the movie. It’s, not surprisingly, less glib and much better. It’s a very old-fashioned story that all my kids recommend.
A classic of American humor, the adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations. “Here is a book to read aloud in groups of all ages. There is not an extra or misplaced word in the whole story.”–“The Horn Book.” Newbery Honor Book.
For more anthropomorphic animal stories, here are two very sweet chapter books. Toon’s books always seem to win best children’s books in translation.
6. Thimbleberry Stories by Cynthia Rylant
Nigel Chipmunk lives in a cozy little cottage on Thimbleberry Lane, and he has wonderful neighbors who are always up for a visit or an adventure. With heartwarming illustrations and old-fashioned charm, this oh-so-gentle storybook is perfect for a snuggly read-aloud and to be shared with the dearest of friends!
7. The Squirrel’s Birthday and Other Parties by Toon Tellegen
This charming little book is as delicious as a piece of cake—which just happens to be Squirrel’s favorite food!
Young readers are invited to Squirrel’s birthday party—and into a magical world of the imagination. Brief, evocative, thought-provoking, and unlike anything else ever written Toon Tellegen’s extraordinary tales are rich in unforgettable, even surrealistic images. A squirrel and an ant discover a mysterious feast with an invisible host in the depths of a forest. A whale and a seagull dance silently on a moon-drenched beach. A grasshopper pays a fortune for a speck of dust.
Perfectly complemented by Jessica Ahlberg’s delicate illustrations, this collection is intelligent, moving, and funny.
Thank you to Jacquie for her book suggestions!
Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgrin
Toys Go Out series by Emily Jenkins
Half Magic series by Edward Eager
p.s. Related posts:
Book Lists for Advanced Young Readers
20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Boy
20 Gentle Chapter Books for a Young Girl
Choosing Books for Advanced Young Readers
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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.
4 thoughts on “Reader Challenge: Happy Chapter Books for Little Girls”
This is an amazing list for kids in that age group! I absolutely loved “All of a Kind Family” (put me on your petition to get the rest published) and “Gooseberry Park” is a favorite recommendation of mine also (the bat just makes me laugh every time we read it!). We also loved the “Toys Go Out” books when our kids were 5 & 6 because the toys have these adventures that younger kids can really identify with, and kids are so attached to some of their ‘love objects’ at that age.
I agree with Timothy’s comment about violence and other issues is so many books. I try to refer parents back to older books (by authors like E. Nesbit, Eleanor Estes, Edward Eager) for kids under age 9 as they tend to have the adventure included without all the questionable material. I think ‘Pippi’ might also be a nice choice at that age.
Thank you for all your wonderful suggestions. Love them all and will update the list!
Great post! I can’t wait to read The All of a Kind Family! We read My Father’s Dragon on your recommendation and my kids loved it. Thanks!!!
I LOVE All of a Kind Family. I hope your kids enjoy it too! And I’m so glad your kids liked My Father’s Dragon. That makes me SOOO happy!