It’s easy to overlook them, but the stakes could not be higher with early readers and chapter books. These simple books are charged with nothing less than enticing kids to fall in love with reading. If young readers can find the right book, a character that feels completely relatable, a little wonder, or just a cozy moment alone on the couch they can’t get any other way, they might join us in becoming life-long readers. Those high stakes make it so heartening to see talented writers and illustrators bringing new life to this genre. The books on this list are titles we hope will inspire a life-long love of reading!
Frank and Bean, by Jamie Michalak
There’s a new odd couple in town. Get to know Frank and Bean over four short chapters. The text is simple but manages to do a lot with a little. The dialogue is top notch. The characters are memorable and silly in the most endearing ways. The illustrations add funny details and meaning. Best of all, as you help your children read independently, both kids and grownups will appreciate the humor.
My First Day of School, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Some kids are drawn to gorgeous illustrations; others prefer photographs that capture real-life content. This book combines a fictional story with charismatic photos that celebrate the best parts of school, including singing, learning, and making friends. A nonfiction section in the back includes kid-friendly tips and advice to help new students feel successful at school.
The Jack Books, by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli
Each book in this series features Jack, a very naughty rabbit. A knowing narrator adds humor. There’s also a dog, an old lady, and a not-so-innocent tube of lipstick. Across the series, short, simple chapters build a fully imagined universe—there are aliens too! Barnett is keenly aware of the value these books can bring to kids, and reading about Jack’s adventures will have kids feeling like they’re getting away with something instead of being forced to read.
School of Fish, by Jane Yolen
Master Jane Yolen brings her talents to an early reader that’s a fun take on the classic back-to-school story. Word play, repetition, and rhyme encourage new readers to feel confident and enjoy reading a sweet story about finding your way. A few more books at this level, and soon your little one will be reading swimmingly!
Noodleheads: Fortress of Doom, by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss
This Geisel award-winning series of simple chapter books is deeply silly, but there’s also an impressive amount of thought and expertise behind each story. Kids will love the brainless noodle antics. Adults will notice these foolish stories also include some subtle lessons about logic, truth, and friendship.
Hardcover $14.39 | $15.99
Judy Moody: Book Quiz Whiz, by Megan McDonald
What’s better than a book battle? A book battle with Judy Moody and her brother, Stink, where each one is determined to WIN! The latest book in the series features a whirlwind of speed reading, late nights, and suspenseful quizzes. When your little one is ready for a true chapter book, this ever-popular series is filled with heart, wit, and wordplay that will have your kids longing to be readers—and writers!
What early readers make you long for first grade?