Finding the right book is essential to help ignite young readers and set them up for a life-long love of literature. We want to guide them successfully as they make the leap into their first chapter books. On this book list, we have picked a selection of short, illustrated books that were our family favorites and are perfect for children launching into independent reading.
This collection of early reader books – with colorful illustrations, shorter length and clear formatting – has been picked with those readers in mind who need something to bridge the gap between reading board books and lengthier chapter books.
Some of these titles might be too much for your new reader. Reading skill development will vary from child to child. For those titles, we encourage you to read those selections to your child. Reading rich stories to your children is proven to enrich their vocabulary and instill a lifelong love for literature. We have enjoyed all of these stories with our own children. Feel free to share reading time by alternating pages or have them read one page per chapter. Whatever works for you! If they are resistant, they may not be ready and just want to cuddle up and enjoy the story and that is perfectly ok too! Also, if you are struggling with a new reader and new to teaching your child to read, be sure to check out Episode 015. How Do You Teach Your Child To Read? where we give a lot of tips and tricks to set your child up for success!
This is an awesome book for young readers. It is masterful at showing relationships that can be very abstract to little ones—in and out, up and down, over and under. The car goes on green and stops on red. Dogs play and dogs work. “It’s a dog party!
Our family loves outdoors and camping! This book helps illustrate the concept of opposites and is great for children learning to read as well as toddlers that enjoy being read to. The word choices draw in their attention and gets them to rhyming and learning sounds and colors. Teach your child about sharing in camping and outdoor activities. An absolute favorite in our house!
“Like the sun, I am here to shine”. This is such a beautiful book – from the beautiful black princess on the cover, to all the beautiful and colorful pictures inside. Grace Byers did an awesome job telling a story of being proud of who you are, respectful of others, and loving others as they are, and acceptance. Your budding reader will love the illustrations too!
Another adorable Fred and Ted book for new readers. I got this for my kids right before their first time to travel on an airplane. It was really cute, and we read it over and over again getting them ready for their big trip in the sky!
Fantastically detailed drawings & answers to many a child’s questions to how the world works. From building roads & houses, how trains and planes and the postal service works, electricity, paper-making, farming, and baking bread. It does have stereotyped gender roles, but it ignited conversations with my children about that topic. These are teaching moments!
Shel Silverstein is one of those rare and gifted children’s book authors who truly understands the odd, amazing and ever-so-fleeting world that children inhabit. His writing speaks directly to children with incredible wit, hilarity, wisdom and absurdity. You can’t go wrong with any of Silverstein’s books -his poems are so funny and entertaining for the entire family!
This series is absolutely delightful! These stories are full of adventures with Jack and Annie, two siblings and likeable characters that kids can relate to. These books really ignited my children’s love of literature. They are also fun to read aloud with lots of description and dialogue. These are wonderful stories with real facts and bits of history woven into each one. Your children will learn about of all the places they visit and you can even get the non-fiction companion books to read more on each topic and make it a unit study. Mary Pope Osborne does a phenomenal job at keeping every book educational and yet magical!
Fun read and keeps their attention and gets their thinkers thinking! This was a favorite in our house and always made us laugh. Who can forget the funny, “And you don’t have to stop. You can think about SCHLOPP. Schlopp. Schlopp. Beautiful schlopp. Beautiful schlopp with a cherry on top.”
This is a classic heartwarming tale of finding your place, being broken and getting fixed, finding love and comfort. The story is adorable and filled with a little mystery and a very happy ending. The illustrations look vintage and beautiful which definitely add to the reading experience. Everyone in your family will fall in love with this sweet little bear!
Wonderful story of a little boy who wakes up on a snow day and makes his first encounters with the snow, by creating different traces on the ground and keeping a snowball in his pocket to play with the next day.
This is such a precious book! Full of adventure, humor, and lovely language. Not only is the story classic and wonderful, but this particular copy is also wonderful as a reprint first edition – just adorable. Winnie the Pooh is such a great classic piece of child-like innocence and sweet humor in literature. It isn’t just for young children to enjoy!
Excellent stories with simple but powerful life lessons. Frog and Toad books are simple, gentle stories with just enough everyday mayhem to make kids laugh. Everyone will fall in love with these two silly characters. You cannot beat the simplistic friendship of Frog and Toad!
My children and I absolutely love this book! It’s fun and sends a powerful message to children about trusting your heart and not letting fear get in the way of doing things you know in your heart you can do. The imagery is cute, the wording and length makes for perfect book for a new reader. We hope you and your family love Buzzy as much as we did!
All Sandra Boynton books are so silly, cute and fun to read. These books aren’t just for babies, new readers will love to read them on their own. They are clever and adorably illustrated. Follow along as this shy hippo observes spirited animals cavort in a bog, try on new hats, and go for a jog, all while longing to join in the fun.
This beautiful pictorial book is based on a Ukrainian folktale. It is a wondrous winter tale, and the story with delights your young reader. The text is written with almost a poetic cadence with lovely sounding words and the illustrations are so sweet. The story tickles the imaginations and offers a grand platform for talking about animals who might or might not fit into a mitten. My kids love to read this story during the cold winter days!
This is a very sweet story about the power of imagination and childhood. The children in this story find endless uses for what most people would call trash – and the story is told in such a way as to excite children to use their imaginations with the things they find lying around. I loved watching my kids mimicking the story while playing outside with their friends!
It’s a great story good for lots of laughs! Even though this is a story about going to school, we really enjoyed it in our homeschool. Teaches a great lesson but the main character Lilly maintains her strong personality throughout the highs and the lows. Lilly receives a purple plastic purse containing her many treasures from her grandmother and brings it to school to share with her teacher and her friends. It’s really adorable!
Chrysanthemum is a sweet and unforgettable story about mouse with, according to her parents, an absolutely perfect name. When she starts school however, she is teased about her long name. This book teaches kids about kindness and embracing everyone’s unique differences. Another one that the character goes to school but we still adored this book in our homeschool.
Little Bear’s adventures with his various family members and friends are great fun and teach important lessons without being preachy. The stories are simple, easy to understand, and creatively illustrated. We have loved every single Little Bear book and your young reader will too!
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love Henry and Mudge. Henry is a sweet kid from a nice family, and he has the kinds of interests and adventures you hope any kid might have. Mudge is his adorable 180lb English Mastiff dog. They do everything together – walking to school, exploring, and even sleeping.
These books are so cute! Cynthia Rylant is a genius with these “easy reader” books—the words are relatively simple and few, but she weaves them in such a way that you are still completely drawn into the story. The accompanying illustrations are so charming, sweet and humorous–a perfect match to the text! Mr. Putter and Tabby the cat have great adventures together that will make you fall in love with them.
Geronimo, the mouse and newspaper reporter will have you giggling alongside your child. The Geronimo Stilton Series have fun illustrations, and the added graphic kick applied to the text throughout makes this a good choice for those transitioning from early chapter books to more advanced ones. The entire book series is full of tongue-in-cheek cheese humor with all the mouse and cheese puns!
Every week, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. It finds beauty in unexpected places, explores the difference between what’s fleeting and what lasts, acknowledges inequality, and testifies to the love shared a little boy and his grandmother.
These are adorable simple first chapter books with dialogue and a few sentences per page. The gorgeous illustrations bring this series to life and add to the storyline. They are so sweet with simple enough dialogue for a budding reader. Your child will fall in love with these kind characters and be so proud for reading a real chapter book!
A childhood classic that is fun to read and lets children know that not every day is going to be a perfect day. This is an excellent book that can be used as a springboard for discussions. This is a great book. Alexander definitely is NOT having a good day. It helps kids learn to laugh at misfortune, to know they’re not alone in feeling misunderstood and unfairly treated sometimes, and that running away from their problems to magical far-off places probably won’t solve anything, and sometimes you just have to get through the bad stuff and hope tomorrow will be better. It’s a cute, funny book!
This creative series follows Flat Stanley — a boy who was flattened when his bulletin board fell on him. In the set of four books, children will learn more about Stanley and read about his adventures with becoming invisible, catching bank robbers, traveling to space, and more.
Narwhal and Jelly books introduce children to the fun and friendly characters as they go through various adventures under the sea. The books are laid out like a simple graphic novel, with multiple images and text boxes on each page. Your kids will be laughing at this one!
Diary of the Pug series follows Bub, formally known as Baron von Bubbles. The chapters were short, making it a good book for that in-between stage of being too old for picture books but not ready to read most chapter books alone yet. I love it because it is funny and also recommended for dog lovers!
Drake, an 8-year-old boy is taken from his home and trained to be a Dragon Master. During his training, he must learn about training his dragon and discovering his special powers! The chapters are a manageable size and there isn’t too much text on each page so isn’t too intimidating for children who haven’t read a chapter book before. The story manages to be really engaging without using vocabulary that is beyond a 5-year old’s understanding. Let the adventure begin!
Join the world’s greatest detective, Nate the Great, as he solves the mystery of the lost picture! Perfect for beginning readers and the Common Core, this long-running chapter book series will encourage children to problem-solve with Nate, using logical thinking to solve mysteries! This is the first in this wonderful series.
I grew up reading these books – everyone loves the Berenstain Bears! In this treasure, your children can learn more about various scientific concepts. The collection includes an almanac, nature guide, story about the science fair, and more. It’s a great introduction to many science topics with a lot of good pictures.
In retelling her migration story, the Yuyi Morales celebrates the gifts immigrants bring to America and the wonder of public libraries. It’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own strengths wherever we roam. Such a beautiful book and a great conversation starter for children.
This is a beautiful book and story. Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. A welcome celebration of girls of color, an important lesson for all kids (and grownups), and a necessary message for any child who has been made to feel unworthy of love on account of their looks. It’s so heart felt and perfect for any new reader but especially those who can truly relate to the story.
The appeal of Beverly Cleary’s stories about the wonderful, blunderful Ramona Quimby has never faded. Ramona has a unique way of looking at the world as she tries to adjust to new teachers, feels jealous about Susan’s curls, and is secretly pleased by Yard Ape’s teasing. These books are funny and heartwarming, and sometimes embarrassing. No matter what, Ramona’s lively, curious spirit shines through!
With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand-new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. This is an inspiring story about identity, visibility, and confidence. This book warmed our hearts!
Little ones who love Milne’s classic stories will be enchanted by this heartening account of the bear’s real-life origins. The story is full of wonderful Lighthouse facts as discussed briefly in the informative afterward. This book inspired me and my children to learn more about the history of lighthouses.
This is a heartwarming series about four siblings that are orphaned but looking for their grandfather. They are always loving and caring for each other and have a lot of adventures. They are perfect for children who are just beginning to show interest in reading chapter books, or for younger children who are being read toThere are a few topics within the books that may be culturally outdated, but that is a great opportunity to discuss these things with your kids. They are a very simple read but have more of a story than a typical level 1 or 2 books. My 6-year-old loved that he could read these almost independently!
We love this series with the four children discovering the magic in the various places they find themselves, and then figuring out how to use it as they face various challenges. Fun and imaginative. A laugh a loud funny story that we all loved. The chapters are a bit long so it may be a good book to share reading with your young new reader.
It’s a wonderful story about a little brown Mouse taking a walk through a deep dark wood and not getting eaten by bigger animals by convincing them of the existence of a terrible creature, the Gruffalo. All is going well for our Mouse, until he meets the Gruffalo face to face! Then he has to convince the Gruffalo that he’s actually a big scary creature. We love this book because of the repetitive rhyming scheme and it’s easy to jump in words at the end of sentences for even your youngest pre-readers.
Great illustrations and a funny take on the somewhat familiar story of an animal or animals who for some reason do not make the sounds they are supposed to make. So cleverly comical. A genuinely funny story that will have everyone if your family laughing out loud!
The fun book series about 2 girls that are best friends and appeals to curious, adventurous, and imaginative spirits. This is not like other “girl-oriented” chapter books that focus on fairy bunnies, or the mystery of the disappearing dolls, or other really girly plotlines. Short chapters with simple illustrations. Let the adventure begin!
The Magic School Bus books are filled with fun science facts inserted throughout the fictional stories. The details are great for kids that love science. Miss Frizz takes her class on a lot of adventures on the Magic School Bus. They are loaded with facts and information worked into an entertaining format. They often let to us learning more about the topic in each book. Every homeschooler needs these for budding scientists!
This is the #1 book that we have loved and adored in our home. It was the first book that my preschooler read to the baby after he was born and unfortunately it is out of print. You can find used copies by clicking the picture. Having two children that were really into science, the toy magic rocket that grows and grows taking Felix on an adventure when his dog is captured by aliens is a fun adventure book that your new reader will love as much as we did!
We laughed through all of Amelia’s taking life literally. She is an endearing character and creates love and laughter everywhere she goes. They are perfect books for beginner readers. You may start to hear chuckling from the other room when your child gets a hold of these books!
The book has a rich storyline, and an uncle instructs her that it is important to do something to make the world a better place. She sows lupine seeds as she walks and her flowers dot the countryside. We need more stories about sweet, older people like Miss Rumphius. We love books that have a deeper meaning and something can be learned from them along side a beautiful (and true) story with lovely illustrations.
The stories are simple but have developed and likable characters doing fun things together. The illustrations help tell the story and have their own humor. This Collector’s Set is a wonderful addition to your homeschool library! It comes in a sturdy, magnetic securing, container to help keep the collection together and organized! We all love this collection!
t is a wonderful charming little tale that is quirky and fun. Strega Nona has a magic pot that makes pasta. It starts with the magic words only she knows and it stops making pasta when she says the ending magic words. A favorite line is, “The pasta will cover our town!” Tomie DePaolo has the warmest and most charming illustrations to accompany this wonderful story. We highly recommend this book!
50. The New Kid on the Block
Jack Prelutsky is one of the best children’s poets out there. Teach your child in the joys of reading poetry. This poetry collection centers around problems children encounter, with a twist. Prelutsky writes amusing poems that still acknowledges how these issues can really affect kids’ lives. The poems vary in length and vocabulary, so your new reader will love to find the ones at their level!