Monday, July 07, 2014

12 Easy Chapter Book Series for Early Readers

These easy-to-read chapter book series are perfect for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade kids who are ready for bigger books.

This post is part of an ongoing Summer Reading for Kids series. Click HERE to find ideas for reading activities, reading lists, and reading incentives...and keep checking back for more!

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My youngest daughter, Sophia, was reading really well by the end of First Grade, but she was terrified of chapter books. She claimed they were too hard for her to read and she was much too little. I couldn't even get her to open up Junie B. Jones, which were my eldest daughter's go-to books as a first grader.

When I was trying to decide what to put in her summer reading bin last year, I decided to turn to my all-knowing Facebook friends for ideas on easy chapter books that she might be interested in reading.

Many suggestions were made, but Bria's former 5th grade teacher took it one step further and handed me a huge pile of books to borrow.

That one act made Sophia feel so special that she was determined to read them all. And she found out that chapter books aren't scary at all. Phewsh!

The books my friend gave me were mostly books from various series, and there were a lot of really great ones included—many of them I had never heard of before. Plus, I also happen have a lot of books at our house, and we had a few more good series for early readers, as well.

12 Easy Chapter Book Series

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Flat Stanley  If you've ever had to participate in a Flat Stanley project, then you are very familiar with the story. And if you've never had to do a Flat Stanley project, I'd say to count your blessings (just kidding, they're pretty fun).

Stanley is a little boy who was accidentally smashed flat and decides to see the world by mailing himself everywhere and you can read all about his amazing adventures in this series.

Babysitter's Little Sister This series is a spin off of the Babysitter's Club books that I read as a kid. The series follows Karen, who is the younger sister of original Babysitter's Club member Kristy Thomas.

There are 122 books in this series, so you can keep your child reading for a long time!

The Kids in Ms. Colman's Class This series is a spin off of Babysitter's Little Sister (yes, a prolific author!). There are 12 of these books, and they center around the events in Ms. Colman's classroom at Stoneybook Academy.

Cam Jansen Cam is a little sleuth who solves many mysteries. I love that the author has a website devoted to Cam and kids can find study guides, quizzes, and other fun Cam activities. To go to the website click here: Cam Jansen Website.

Amber Brown Amber Brown's name sounds like it might be a crayon color. She has to deal with things like her parents divorcing and her best friend moving across the country.

My eldest daughter really liked these books when she was younger, and I like the way they help kids learn to process big emotions in a way that isn't too heavy.

A to Z Mysteries This series follows 9-year-old detectives Dink, Josh, and Ruth as they solve many mysteries. 26 of them, to be precise. One for every letter in the alphabet.

Arthur Sophia really liked these books because she likes the television show. It's nice to have a few options like this for kids to read about familiar characters they already know from TV or movies.

Ready, Freddy! My two older daughters also liked Freddy and his adventures. They are fun, relatable stories about Freddy and the goings-on in his life at school and at home.

Clementine Like most of these books, the Clementine series centers around a character and her adventures. Clementine has to deal with things like a talent show at school for which she has nothing to perform, feeling like her parents love her little brother best, and navigating her relationship with her best friend, Margaret.

Judy Moody Judy Moody is a little girl who has lots of moods. She has a mood for anything life throws at her. Sometimes it's a bad mood and sometimes it's a medical mood and sometimes it's a fancy mood, but she always has a mood.

Judy Moody also always has a fun website full of "way-not-boring stuff to do" and other fun Judy Moody activities. To go to the website click here: Judy Moody website.

Ivy and Bean Ivy and Bean are two little troublemakers who are always getting themselves into, well, trouble! Sophia loves this series--probably because she relates so well to these girls.

This author also has a fun website dedicated to all things Ivy and Bean, including crafts and ideas about how to bug your sister. To go to the website click here: Ivy and Bean website.

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew: I was thrilled to pieces to find these books. My daughter Chloe was actually into them for a time, too, but Sophia truly loves them and I think in another year or so will be ready to move on to Nancy Drew proper.

I LOVED Nancy Drew as a child and I devoured those books. I have found a few here and there and re-read them even as an adult, so it makes me happy that there is a cute little series about a younger Nancy Drew for a younger audience.

Is your child ready to take on some easier chapter books? Here is a great list of some series for readers in first, second, and third grades that you may not have heard of before.

Keep in mind that we are a household of girls. I know many of these series would also be great for boys, and I don't see why they couldn't read all of them, but I am also not familiar with what boys like to read. I do know Sophia enjoyed all of these books quite a lot, but if she had to pick a favorite series it would most likely be Ivy and Bean.

I am a big fan of the series that also have fun websites. It gets the kids super excited to read the books so that they can understand the games and other activities. Don't be afraid to incorporate technology into reading because that is the way our world is now. Embrace it.

But my favorite thing is that these books got Sophia to love chapter books. This summer, her bin is full of much bigger chapter books that she is having no trouble with at all. Still, she will often be found reading a Judy Moody or Ready, Freddy! book—she still loves all of these characters.

Which easy chapter books have your children loved?

You might also like:

35 Diary Style Book Series for Kids Who Love Dork Diaries
10 Read Aloud Books Your Kids Will Love
10 Favorite Picture Books
4 Fantasy Series Tween Girls Will Love
Summer Book Club: Wonder
Choosing Summer Reading
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Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. None of ours were upside down, but that would have been funny! I am always amazed at the things they can do with fireworks! Every year there's something new and different!

  2. Great list. We're actually reading The Hardy Boys right now. My boys are going into 3rd grade and they love the Origami Yoda Series and the Notebook of Doom (not as scary as it sounds. pretty ridiculous actually) and as you mentioned...Flat Stanley :) Oh! The Magic Tree House Series is fantastic too

  3. Sophia, my youngest, is also entering 3rd grade. :) I haven't heard of the Origami Yoda or Notebook of Doom books--they sound like lots of fun! And yes, lots of Magic Tree House love at our house, too!

  4. We're enjoying Nate the Great. Not technically a chapter book, but my struggling first grade reader is loving them and can read them without too much help.

  5. Nancy Drew books were my absolute favorite as a kid. My mom's best friend gave me her entire collection from when she was little, and they were my most prized possession for years! It is great that your girls are readers, with a hobby like that it's nearly impossible to be bored!

  6. Made From PinterestFri Jul 11, 01:05:00 AM

    Great list! I work at a library and my favorite early chapter series to recommend is an older but wonderful little trilogy! It's the "My Father's Dragon" series by Ruth Stiles Gannett. The books were written a long time ago but they're still in print and kids still love them! They are short and the illustrations are darling and the story is so clever! You really need to check them out for your daughter if she hasn't read them! They're really fun to read aloud as a family, too!

  7. I loved Nancy Drew books when I was growing up! I'm glad to see they're still around! (But wait, does that make me sound old? Ha!)

  8. We have also enjoyed the Geronimo Stilton series. They are short chapter books but with lots of pictures and fun fonts. Not quite a graphic novel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) but still engaging visually on every page like a picture book.

  9. Pearlie series by wendy harmer is popular with Australian girls

  10. Add the Mercy Watson series by Katie DiCamillo. FANTASTIC!

  11. This is a great list! My sons favorite is the A to Z Mysteries!

  12. My son is going into 2nd grade & has loved the "Jack Stalwart" series about a 9-year-old boy who is a spy. He travels to different countries & solves crimes. It's been a great way to learn about other cultures & my son loves all of the cool gadgets Jack gets to use. The books are a little more challenging than the "Magic Tree House" Series to read. The library also had CD's of the books. There is a Jack Stalwart website with a few basic activities.

  13. These sound really fun! I haven't heard of them, but I think my kids will like them. Thanks!

  14. Only as old as me. But they've been around a long time, those Nancy Drew books! My mom loved them too. They're awesome!

  15. Thank you! That sounds like a great book! I will check for them next time we go to the library.

  16. I still love Nancy Drew. My youngest got one of the old ones as her free book from summer reading at the library, and I'm itching to read it myself. :)

  17. My daughter has read some of those, too. She really enjoyed them.

  18. I'll have to look those up, thank you!

  19. We love Kate DiCamillo--but I haven't heard of this series. Thanks!

  20. They are really fun books, those A-Z Mysteries!

  21. Thanks! I will look those up too, it sounds like a fun way to learn about other countries.

  22. My daughter cut her teeth on "Hopscotch Hill School" books which are an older American girl series about present day kids who are at a school and face problems such as sharing, handwriting issues, etc. They only have about 3 chapters each book, but she thought it was so awesome she was reading a chapter book. Then she moved on to the rainbow faries series, although I was not impressed with the repetitive plot lines, it is a great series for them to just blow through a ton of pages in order to grow as a reader.

    She read all of Judy Moody series. Then her next favorite series was Jeranimo Stilton, who also has a cousin named Thea Stilton who has her own books as well. These were great for growing vocabulary as some of the longer words were actually illustrated to show their meaning. The word "freezing" for example might be covered with icicles. She has read a ton of books now at the age of 9, she is a gifted reader so already reads mostly middle school level literature or higher now.

    If you want to see much of what she read I have been keeping a pinterest page of some of the books,(Because it is hard to keep up with all she reads) with reviews from her/myself and our two boys who's favorites are on the page as well.

  23. Hi Kara,
    Thanks for the book recommendations. I hadn't heard of Hopscotch Hill. My kids have liked the Rainbow Fairy books, too--and you're right, they are great for just cutting your teeth on chapter books. It's my opinion that it doesn't matter what they're reading as long as they are reading SOMETHING! :) That's what will give them the love of reading I want them to have.

    Thanks for the Pinterest board link...I'm now following that board. :)

  24. My daughters love Stilton! and honestly I find the stories really engaging and fun to read for story times and such as well. They are very fun mysteries with pages of actual facts in them. We first started reading them in history with marco polo, then niagra falls.

  25. Jocelyn (@ReadingRes)Tue Feb 03, 01:43:00 PM

    We're just starting on Mrs Pepperpot, which I remember fondly from my childhood, too. Lovely little stories

  26. The same author has also written the Calendar Mysteries and Capital Mysteries!

  27. I will have to look at those. Thank you!

  28. If you cannot find it at your library, there is a complete My Father's Dragon through that I have ordered and gifted to many children. It is a slightly higher reading level then the series you are mentioning above so it might be good for a slightly older reader that has overcome the fear. It is however a great read-a-loud from parent to children. We read it to our boys at age 4 and several times after. I don't think they ever read it alone. I love your listing above and will share this with some friends.

  29. I realize you posted this last year but it only applies to my "littles" this year. I had pinned it and am so glad I had. We are headed to the library tomorrow so we will look for some of these great chapter books. Thanks so much!