Tuesday, January 12, 2016

10 Chapter Book Series for Beginning Readers (that are NOT Junie B. Jones!)

My 5.5-year-old really took off in her reading ability last spring (read some about it in this post). She went from phonics readers ("fat cat sat on a mat") to My First I Can Read books like Biscuit to harder I Can Read books in a matter of weeks.

(I've since discovered that it was because she became an expert at sight words - without us even trying - she would memorize all sorts of words instead of learning to sound them out. I now know that's why I can read so fast too...)

I began looking for really really simple chapter books ("big kid books" as she called them) for her to try, and surprisingly the search was difficult! There seems to be a gap between those leveled-readers (advertised as for ages 4-8, but so many even of the level 3's were too easy for her) and something like Magic Tree House or Judy Moody or Clementine (all advertised as for ages 6-10).

While I know Junie B. Jones would probably be perfect for this age and there are lots of them in the series, I have heard so many negative comments from parents about everything from bad grammar to rudeness and sassiness in them. No thanks...

Here is a list of some good book series that I DID find. Abby has read most of them, though a few series she wasn't interested in the subject (like Rainbow Fairies - for some reason she didn't seem to like the one we tried, but the level is appropriate. I'll probably get another one for her to try in a few months).

Recommended age: 4-7
Pages per book: 48
Chapters per book: 4
Read my full review here. These were the first true chapter books that Abby read after the I Can Read books. Highly, highly, highly recommended -- and not just because I sell them. They are PERFECT for this transition age.

Recommended age: 4-6 years
Pages per book: 64
Chapters per book: 8
These are actually shelved with the "level 3" I Can Read-type books at my library, though they're not advertised as such. Full color throughout.

Recommended age: 5-8 years
Pages per book: 96
Chapters per book: 10
Black and white illustrations are spread throughout these books, and the chapters are short.

Recommended age: 4-8 years
Pages per book: 96
Chapters per book: 10
I've heard these are the boy version of Junie B, and therefore some of the books have an occasional bad message in them (lying to parents, etc). But there are nearly 30 books in the series, and it's pretty easy to tell by looking at the ratings on Amazon which ones to avoid.

Recommended age: 4-10 years, depending on the series
Pages per book: 80
Chapters per book: 
If Abby ever gets hooked on these books, there will be enough for her to choose from to last her till middle school... There is the original "Rainbow Fairies" series (red, orange, yellow, etc), then additional series (night, ocean, party, sports, music, etc) with about 7 books each. According to Wikipedia, over 200 books have been published since 2003, with more coming out every year!

Recommended age: 6-9 years
Pages per book: 96
I tried to give Abby the first one in this series, Spooky House, last fall -- but 1) it was still a little too difficult for her and 2) so far she's not a big mystery reader, and I think the idea of a spooky house was a little scary. We tried the series again a couple weeks ago with Playground Detectives, and she read the whole thing. Then she discovered she'd read the books out of order and got mad at me... :-P

Next step: 
(books that are slightly longer, that I really want to get for Abby now to push her reading ability!)

Recommended age: 5-9 years
Pages per book: 128

Recommended age: 6-10 years
Pages per book: 96-128

The first 28 books in the MTH series have 80-96 pages and are recommended for ages 6-9. After those, the books become 144 pages long and are for ages 7-10. I tried the first few books with Abby last fall, and she only paged through to look at the pictures. I think it's about time to try them again!

What other beginning-independent-reader chapter books would you recommend?

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  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful selection of books. My boys loved Ready Freddy, Flat Stanley, and The Magic Tree House series.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! There are some great books out there for that age group, it just takes a little digging. :)

  2. THANK YOU! I can't stand Junie B. Jones books for the exact reasons you listed! My 6 year old loves reading but like you said, it's hard sometimes to find the next step books. My son hated to read until I got him into the Captain Underpants Series. He then went onto reading the entire series of How to Train Your Dragon and he just flourished from then on! It's so important to find the right books so this was like finding treasure! Thanks again!