best easy chapter books, best beginning chapter books, best early chapter books, 1st grade books for kids, 2nd grade chapter books, 1st grade chapter books

Best Beginning Chapter Books for 2nd and 3rd Grade

Best Books for Beginning Readers

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 really good 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.

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: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, a Brave Buffalo, and a Brand New Someone Called Plastic 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 are now books in her popular Horrible Harry series which is now published in several languages. 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.

To view any book at Barnes and Noble, please click on image of book.

best easy chapter books, best beginning chapter books, best early chapter books, 1st grade books for kids, 2nd grade chapter books, 1st grade chapter books

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Captain underpants series definitely for the boys 2nd/3rd grade.

    Great suggestions as it is hard finding the books in between picture books and chapter books.

    I was at B&N and the sales associated was excellent. She recommended a new one out by Dr Suess. “The Bipolo Seed and other Lost Stories” It is not a chapter book but a collection of short stories. We are working through it right now. I would rate it 2nd grade level as it is relatively easy for my soon to be 3rd grader.

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  2. Ann

    These look great!

    We are reading My Father’s Dragon for the second time right now! My kids both liked The Bear on Hemlock Mountain – we just finished. My daughter really loves Magic Tree House series too.

    Want to start with Toys Come Home and Daisy Dawson at the Beach – I think both my kids would love those!
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  3. Bhumika

    These books are great, I have introduced Amelia Bedelia series to my second graders, and they are enjoying it.

    • Hi Bhumika,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I hope the book list helps your kids in 2nd grade find books they love. Amelia Bedelia was a favorite series of mine as a child and I’m so happy to see that kids today like it too.

  4. Artchoo!

    My daughter loved Ivy and Bean! These are so fun.
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  5. One of my favorite read aloud books for my new 3rd graders is Sideway Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. It is a silly story about a school that was built sideways – 30 stories with 1 class on each story. Each chapter is about a different student and the funny things that they do like standing on their head to count. After I read that book, the children run to the library to read the next 2 books in the series. It is more on the 3rd-4th grade reading level.
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    • Hi Tina,
      We used those books for our book club for girls in 3rd grade and maybe 4th grade too. I thought the books were quirky and a little out there but the girls LOVED them! Thanks for sharing your experience with his books!

  6. Awesome post lady! THANK YOU. My daughter starts 2nd grade next week and we’ve been looking for titles. 🙂
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    • Hi Zina,
      I’m so glad you like the book list! I always found it challenging to find great books for kids in 2nd grade. There are a lot of popular series but so many are mind numbingly boring with repetitive vocabulary and plots. I’m always trying to find books in this age category and my public library had a great list. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  7. Karyn

    I love the ‘Ricky Ricotta’ series for young readers.

  8. Hi Mia!

    I positively love your lists. You know that!

    Let me be a bit exotic here with my suggestion: Noddy Goes to Toyland! Irresistible for kids.

    If your kid loves it, then there are loads more books in the series that you can go through. The catch they are not be so easy to come by today. It took me 3 years to find my own copy of the first one! All of a sudden, one day it appeared on Amazon at a reasonable price!

    The kids NEVER get tired of it. There are 20+ more books in the series. I got my hands on around a dozen new ones (via Amazon UK). They have them stocked there usually.

    Where can you find the list of Noddy books – good question! The full list is available here:

    Read Aloud Dad
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  9. Hi! Thanks for this informative post. I can’t wait to check out some of these books for my daughter. She just turned 5 and is starting Kinder in the Fall. She’s an avid reader and devours chapter books. She currently loves the Rainbow Fairies and I was just curious why they’re not good, recommended books? My daughter is my oldest so this is my first go-around with school, chapter books, etc… Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Laura,
      My girls loved Rainbow fairies as well and devoured them but after I read, like 45!, of them alongside them, the repetitive plot and language started to make me crazy! It’s a wonderful series to get girls reading but I really can not take more than, say, 15 of those books. The bad guy is ALWAYS Jack Frost. They ALWAYS have 5 days to accomplish something. I wish the language were richer and more varied. If that was the case, I would be able to wholeheartedly recommend them but as a parent who read too many of them, it started to feel tortuous.
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    • Hi Laura,
      We love the Cobble Street Cousins series and they are probably the easiest on this list. I’d start with this 6 book series by Cynthia Rylant. I would also try the All of a Kind Family series. It really reads like short stories so it’s very managable. The American Girl doll Rebecca is based on this series.

      Clementine is the “new Ramona the Pest” and I’d try that after those two series. Let me know if I am on the right track for your daughter and I’d be happy to recommend more books.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Funny Picture Books About Summer CampMy Profile

  10. These look great!
    There are some truly fantastic Australian authors writing for this level as well. Here are some series that you might want to look up:
    Clementine Rose by Jaqueline Harvey
    Ghost Club by Deborah Abela
    Tashi by Anna Feinberg
    TooCool by Phil Kettle
    Zac Power by H.I Larry
    Wilderness Fairies by Jodie Wells-Slowgrove – me 🙂
    Our Australian Girl by various authors
    Billie B Brown by Sally Rippin
    Unicorn Riders by Aleesah Darlison
    Violet Mackerel by Anna Branford

  11. Lesley

    Hi, I’m a librarian and mom of a first grader, so I’ll chime in with our favorites. We have read all of the “Humphrey” series by Betty Birney. Very entertaining with a lot of good lessons on how to get along with other kids at school and empathize with creatures of all kinds. They are very appropriate for new readers, with no cattiness or subject matter that would be upsetting. We also love scientific anything, so I recently started bringing home from work the Phineas MacGuire series by Francis Dowell and the Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives series by Michele Torrey. These we read aloud, since they are a bit long for a seven-year-old. Thanks for your suggestions!

    • Hi Lesley,
      Thank you so much for your great suggestions. We’ve read The 7 Wonders of Sassafrass Spring by Betty Birney but that’s it. I’ll have to find her Humprey series! Thanks also for Phineas MacGuire series which is new to me and I think I have a two of the Doyle and Fossey series that I never read to my son! Will have to dig those up! He likes science and I’ll bet he will like them even though he’s a tad old for them.
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  12. Six

    Hi I’ve got a struggling 2 nd grade we found 2 great book series to read .
    Hey jack is the easiest chapter book and about life for kids – boys mainly . My daughter can read mostly billie b brown .- girls chapter book.!!
    Missing tooth – playground detective- second best friend- really relatable stuff. Go look for them. .

  13. Suz

    this is the website sally ripping writes both. Billie b brown – the pocket money blues . The secret . Etc . Are awesome .. For my kids confidence – actually they are still hard for her . BuT they are interesting so she carries on.

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