My pubic library creates a great list for summer reading and this is the list I need for my rising 2nd grader. My library doesn’t like Scholastic beginning chapter book series like Ninjago, Rainbow Fairies, Hiro Quest, or My Weird School. My kids’ first grade teacher does not love them either. Finding great easy chapter book is tough which is probably why this list is so short. It’s culled from mostly newly published books.
As your child works up to chapter books, a great author for 3rd grade and up is Roald Dahl. It seemed like PickyKidPix‘s entire 3nd grade class was happily immersed in Roald Dahl that year. The BFG, Mathilda and George’s Marvelous Medicine were favorites of theirs.
What are your favorite easy chapter books? Please share and I’ll add to this list.
p.s. I have another list here with some classics that still endure like the My Father’s Dragon series.
Best Books for Beginning Readers
Ivy + Bean: No News is Good News by Annie Barrows
Ivy and Bean try to make money editing a newspaper about Pancake Court but neighbors are unhappy reading about themselves.
I really like the Ivy + Bean series that gently presents issues of friendship mixed with sweet little adventures that appeal to little girls. We read these when PickyKidPix was in 2nd grade and 3rd grade.
No Room for Dessert by Hallie Durand
Eight-year-old Donahue “Dessert” Schneider is feeling completely ignored and unloved at home, but she is certain that will change when her invention wins the Thomas Edison Contest at school.
Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dreams by Jenny Han
Korean American fourth-grader Clara Lee longs to be Little Miss Apple Pie, and when her luck seems suddenly to change for the better, she overcomes her fear of public speaking and enters the competition.
Because my kids are 1/2 Korean American (and 1/4 Chinese American and 1/4 Japanese American), I am especially excited to find books that reflect their ethnic heritage. Clara Lee’s Korean ethnicity is a subtle point which I like because I think it’s a realistic one. (Does ethnicity matter that much anymore if you live in a place that promotes diversity and understanding our differences?) For Clara, the hurdle to winning the title lies in her own ability to conquer her fears.
Andy Shane: Hero at Last! by Jennifer Jacobson
Andy wants two things very much, to win the contest for the best-decorated bicycle in the “Home Sweet Home parade” and to be a hero, but his best friend Dolores stands in the way of at least one goal. This book skews a little younger and is great for grades 1-3.
Toys Come Home by Emily Jenkins
When a little girl gets a plush stingray for her birthday, it befriends her other toys as they experience the world of real people.
Horrible Harry series by Suzy Kline
Teacher-turned-author Suzy Kline uses her years in the classroom as the basis for her Horrible Harry series. Song Lee is an actual student that she adored. Other characters including Horrible Harry (who isn’t that bad of a kid) are compilations of kids she taught.
As an author who visits schools, Suzy talks about story seeds, a word or a two that she jots down in an ever-present notebook that become the basis of her books. Pencil stub, yellow scarf, purple hanger, June Box are all actual story seeds that became books in her popular Horrible Harry series. See if you can discover each of her story seeds as you read her books.
Gooney Bird on the Map series by Lois Lowry
When her second-grade classmates are envious of the three students who are going away on winter vacation, the creative and ingenious Gooney Bird Greene thinks of a geography activity to cheer them all up.
The Secret Dinosaur series by NS Blackman
My son spent a preschool year obsessed with dinosaurs and we read nothing by dinosaur books for an entire year. His interests eventually switched to Pokémon, but he’s always been fond of dinosaurs. This series is perfect for him for first grade when he started to read independently. Mechanical dinosaurs come to life in this easy chapter book action-adventure series! [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Wolf Pie by Brenda Seabrooke
When Wilfong the wolf fails to blow down the house of the Pygg brothers, he stays outside their door all winter learning their games and listening to their jokes and stories, but although he claims to be reformed, the pigs are reluctant to offer friendship.
Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg
When Eleanor’s babysitter moves away to care for her sick father, Eleanor spends the summer adjusting to a new babysitter while mourning the loss of her old one.
Any child who has had a beloved babysitter or nanny can relate to Eleanor, who misses her old babysitter. Her new babysitter is equally wonderful and helps her to understand that you can still accept and even love your new one. The cartoon illustrations help to break up the text which makes this especially appealing to reluctant readers.
Daisy Dawson at the Beach by Steve Voake
Spending the whole summer at the beach, Daisy, who can communicate with animals, and her new friends, a dancing crab, and two baby rabbits join forces to help a dolphin in distress.
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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.