Kids Books

The 13 Best First Chapter Books for Kids

Teacher and librarian recommended — parent and kid approved.

by Tess Gionet
Originally Published: 
Back to school! Happy cute industrious child standing on the tower of books on background of sunset ...
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Although parents should and do think hard about what the best picture books are to read to their young ones, it’s not actually that hard to make a decision about picture books. But, picking great chapter books, is a much bigger challenge. How do you get a kid excited about something that’s going to also be a bigger commitment?

If you’re hoping your kid gets closer to wanting to read chapter books, here are some great ones to try, and some series these emerging readers will love.

Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborne.

Blastoff! Readers by various authors, a Scholastic imprint

Owl Diaries Series by Rebecca Elliott

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Zoey and Sassafras series by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Road Dahl

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Pedro, First Grade Hero, by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Tammie Lyon

Jasmine Toguchi series by Debbie Michiko, Illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic

Mr. Putter and Tabby, by Cynthia Rylant, Illustrated by Arthur L. Howard

Baby Monkey, Private Eye, by Brian Selznik and David Serlin

Ivy and Bean, by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

So that’s our ‘best first chapter books for kids’ list! (For now!) Pick a few or all of these for your shelf– just make sure that when it comes time to introduce your beginner reader to the chapter book genre, you give her a variety. Mix up nonfiction with fiction, graphic chapter books with text-only, easy storylines with slightly more advanced ones. “Let your child choose whether they need something a bit more challenging or easier,” says Irene Stanhope, a teacher and curriculum specialist for grades K-12. “The important part is to make it fun, keep them interested, and build their confidence in reading.”

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