The List of the Best Early Chapter Books
Looking for the first chapter books? Here is our list of simple early chapter books. We recommend to these books to be read to kids between 4 and 7 years old. Many of these books are available in audio-book form on CDs for the car and illustrated form for a younger audience who needs pictures in their books.
- Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne. The Geek loves sci-fi and fantasy. So, we were excited to try out the Magic Tree House Series with our little guy. The stories have a great diversity of settings, since the characters (a brother and sister) travel through time and space. Our son was particularity happy with the prehistoric land of dinosaurs and the world of Camelot. The books have good illustrations and the chapters are the perfect length to fill up bedtime storytime. Or, if you use the audio books, a short to medium-length drive. See Amazon reviews on Magic Tree House chapter books series here.
- The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum. We read a copy of this classic story that included stunning illustrations by Charles Santore. It was also lightly edited and was a good story for a younger aged listener. Because very young children like repetition, we read each chapter at night and then listened to the same chapter in the car on the way to school. The adventure and silliness kept our son all ears. His favorite character was the Cowardly Lion, he worried about him the most! See the Amazon reviews on The Wizard of OZ here.
- The Pest in the Nest by Julian Gough. It is not the chapter book but this book is long enough that you can divide it into multiple parts. It is perfect for the 4-7-year-old age group because each page has amazing illustrations that keep the kids focused on the characters of the book. The Pest in the Nest book received a Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Award and the Children’s Book of the Year in the Irish Book Awards. The book is very different from the children’s books we normally read with shallow silly characters. One of the main characters, Rabbit, clearly has anxiety. He is annoyed by everybody and everything. His best friend bear helps him to struggle with it and finally, Rabbit starts looking at the things at a different, more positive angle. Even though Rabbit is a frustrating character for adults, kids love him and probably recognize traits in him that they have seen in other people. Needless to say, the content of the book gives parents a lot to talk to their kids about. If you like this book, check other Julian Gough’s Rabbit & Bear series.
- The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh. The beautiful, classic, chapter book, that so many generations of kids have love loved is so inexpensive and provides so much entertainment that it should be a crime not to own a copy. It is a perfect book to introduce kids to the idea of the chapter book. The characters are stable and consistent, but each story is different, much like kids television programming. There many Winnie-the-Pooh books you can try. The one we recommend is The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne with decorations by Ernest H Shepard. It is a deluxe edition contains the complete illustrated texts of both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner along with full-color decorative-illustrations on nearly every page. Here the Amazon review on this book.
- Mercy Watson chapter books by Kate DiCamillo. These books were recommended to us by so many people! You can get a text or recorded versions and most libraries. My son just loves listening to Mercy Watson books in the car as having them read to him before he goes to bed. The books are perfect early chapter books. They have short chapters, humorous plots, and have illustrations on every page. They are also short enough that you can finish on in a single session, even though they are broken up into chapters. Here are other readers’ reviews of Mercy Watson’s chapter books.
- Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro. The main character of these books series is Zoey. Zoey loves solving problems with science. Every book also features different magical animals. So if your kid loves science and mysteries, then this is a perfect book. This book is targeted to kindergarten age but it would fit a little bit younger ages as well. See the reviews on Zoey and Sassafras chapter books series here.
- Frog and Toad. This classic series is mostly dialog between the two main characters, a cheerful frog and a pessimistic toad. The tales are reminiscent of Winnie-the-Pooh only they feature easier language and are shorter. The edition we read contains wonderful green-shaded illustrations. See the reviews on Frog and Toad series here.
- My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett. This classic fantasy trilogy of Elmer Elevator and the flying baby dragon has delighted children and their parents for generations. The narrative mode of these books is unusual; the narrator refers to the protagonist only as “my father”, giving the impression that this is a true story that happened long ago. The story is very whimsical and easy to understand. But, maybe more appropriate for a 7-year-old than a 4-year-old since there are few images and more descriptive passages. See the reviews on My Father’s Dragon here.
- Miss Mallard Mysteries Collection by Robert Quackenbush. If you are a fan of mysteries and what to introduce them to your child, these books are great. They are fun and engaging and include some peril, but are not scary. Our son’s favorite book of the series is Taxi to Intrigue. This case takes place in London when Miss Mallard (a Miss Marple for the duck-universe) is mysteriously handed a boxed cake by a duck who is running from the police. Kids love following the clues and finding out: “Who was the duck? Why the cake? etc”. The series would work well for 5-year-old kids and up. In the typical 1980’s children’s books fashion, there are vocabulary lists and comprehension questions in the back of each book. We have had a little trouble getting these books from the libraries in California, there are only a few copies in the entire system. So, it might be better to just buy copies as a gift. Here is Amazon reviews on Miss Mallard Mysteries chapter books series.
- Marvin & James series by Elise Broach. These chapter books are about the friendship between a young boy named James and his best friend Marvin, a beetle. While the premise is fantastic in nature and the stories are fun adventures, there are some more serious topics covered at the same time. James has real problems and concerns. His parents are divorced have moved on from each other while still caring very much for James. The books are a great way to subtly introduce the idea that there are many different types of families to children who are only familiar with the details of their own family. Here are Amazon reviews on Marvin & James chapter books series.
- Odd Gods by David Slavin. Our son picked up this book at our local book store and (despite not being able to read it) turned the pages one by one for 10 minutes. This is a tribute to the hilarious comic-illustrations on nearly every page. We got a copy thinking that it might be a little too advanced for him because it contained a lot of humor that benefits from a knowledge of the Greek Gods. But, he still enjoyed the plot of the story and thought the characters were the funniest thing ever. We recommend this book to a family who has siblings of a range of ages between 4 and 12 years old. You can read them this book all at once. With luck, there will be sequels. More reviews on Odd Gods book here.
Posted on November 18, 2019 then Updated November 27, 2019By Sweetie