The 13 Best First Chapter Books for Kids

Teacher and librarian recommended — parent and kid approved.

several of the best chapter books for kids are displayed on a pastel backdrop

The other night as we were starting our bedtime routine, my soon-to-be 4-year-old surprised me. Instead of picking out the same picture books that have been in her bedtime rotation for years, she reached in the back for a kids’ chapter book with a funny-looking fox on the cover. Were we about to read my kids’ first chapter book? Like diapers and high chairs, a child’s first transition to big kid books rarely happens on a fixed timeline. It’s thought to say when a child is ready for their first chapter book, but it’s

up to us as parents to give them plenty of options so that as soon as they’re ready, they have the tools they need to move forward.firstI reached out to librarians, teachers, educational experts, and other parents for their recommendations of the best books to encourage beginner readers with varying attention spans and big imaginations. The following list has everything you need for your own bookshelf, so that when your young reader is ready for that next milestone — the chapter book — she can just reach out and grab it.

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.”