20 Chapter Books for Beginning Readers

Helping kids enjoy reading is so close to my heart. Sometimes teachers and parents focus too much on teaching kids to pronounce words, and not enough on enjoying stories. Chapter books are a great next step once your child starts to want longer stories. You can either read them to your kids or let them read on their own. I once read the entire Ralph S. Mouse book to a group of kids aged 6 to 13. It was a hit. That’s why it’s on this list.

Note: A chapter book or chapterbook is a story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age 7-10. Obviously, older kids and adults can read them, and younger kids can have chapter books read to them too.

This list includes 20 of the best chapter books, most of which I’ve read, and others which friends have rated highly. I’ve included both classic and contemporary picks, and many of these are series. I hope you find one you or a kiddo in your life will love.

Goodreads blurbs are in Italics.

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for Amazon and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support a blog(ger) you love.

The main character is autistic/neurodivergent

A Boy Called Bat (first in a series)

Such a sweet book with a sweet protagonist and excellently written family dynamics. Loved the author’s note at the end! Would recommend especially for animal lovers or anyone looking for books with an autistic protagonist. ❤

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

For your sensitive child, try:

Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split (first in a series)

A wonderfully sensitive chapter book about what happens when friendship turns sour and the importance of standing up for oneself. The writer excels at creating tension, and as a people-pleasing child (and adult TBH), this story made me so anxious for Anna.

Great resolution and I’m excited to read more in the series. Would recommend.

Anna has two favorite things: her best friend, Sadie, and her dog, Banana. She can’t wait to celebrate her birthday with both of them.

But Anna’s birthday party turns into a birthday disaster when Sadie starts a terrible fight that Anna never saw coming. Anna doesn’t know why her best friend is suddenly acting like her worst enemy, but she knows she’d do anything to fix it. She and Banana just need to come up with a plan.

Only, what if Sadie doesn’t want their friendship to be fixed?

To teach your kids about working or entrepreneurship, try:

Amelia Bedelia Means Business (first in a series)

I laughed so much reading this book! Incredibly funny, engaging, and is bound to teach kids a thing or two about working hard to earn income.

When Suzanne, the new girl in Amelia Bedelia’s class, arrives at school riding the most beautiful bicycle in the whole world, Amelia Bedelia decides she wants a new bike, too. But Amelia Bedelia’s mom says that a bike like Suzanne’s is so expensive it will cost an arm and a leg! What? Amelia Bedelia doesn’t want to give away one of her arms and one of her legs. She’ll need both arms to steer her new bike, and both legs to pedal it. Amelia Bedelia decides to get a job, so that she can earn the bike money instead. She tries:

1. Helping out at Pete’s Diner
2. Opening a lemonade stand
3. Entering a contest to win a prize
4. Baking treats and selling them

Will Amelia Bedelia ever get the bike of her dreams?

For a chapter book set in Nigeria, try:

Anna Hibiscus (first in a series)

I’m looking forward to reading this series, especially because it’s by a Nigerian author!

Anna Hibiscus lives in Nigeria with her mother, her father, her baby twin brothers, and lots and lots of her family. Join her as she splashes in the sea, prepares for a party, sells oranges, and hopes to see sweet, sweet snow.

For your adventurous thinker, try:

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker (first in a series)

Beatrice does her best thinking upside down.

Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!

Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?

For your STEM-interested kid, try:

Ellie, Engineer

Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can’t wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit’s birthday nears, Ellie doesn’t know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present—the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don’t get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet?

Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with how-tos, this is full of engineering fun!

For your sports-crazy kid, try:

Izzy Barr, Running Star (part of the Franklin School Friends series)

Izzy Barr is the star athlete of the third grade: she hits homeruns on her softball team and is one of the fastest runners in her class. But at home, her half-brother, Dustin, seems to be her father’s favorite athlete—why else would her dad go to all of his games and miss so many of hers? Izzy pretends that she doesn’t care, but as she, her friends Annika Riz and Kelsey Green, and the rest of their class are gearing up for class field day, she can’t help but hope her dad will be there to cheer her on in the big race against her rival, Skipper Tipton. Dad doesn’t make it to field day, but when he realizes how important it is to Izzy, he and all of her friends and family are there to watch her participate in the citywide 10K run.

For your science-obsessed kid, try:

Jada Jones, Rock Star (first in a series)

When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?

To teach your kid that they can do anything they put their minds to:

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (first in a series)

A wonderful chapter book with a dynamic, persevering protagonist. I’m excited to read more about Jasmine’s escapades.

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, is about yearning to be part of a fun family tradition, even if it’s not something girls typically do.

For kids adjusting to a parent’s remarriage:

Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas (part of the Juana and Lucas series)

ADORED this one! Juana is a spirited voice in the world of chapter books. BIG PROBLEMAS follows her as she adapts to her mother finding love again and remarrying. Excellent writing many children will enjoy. BIG PLUS: it’s set in Colombia! I’ll be reading the first one in the series after this! Thanks to Candlewick Press for a digital galley.

Juana’s life is just about perfect. She lives in the beautiful city of Bogot� with her two most favorite people in the world: her mami and her dog, Lucas. Lately, though, things have become a little less perfect. Mami has a new hairdo and a new amigo named Luis with whom she has been spending a LOT of time. He is kind and teaches Juana about things like photography and jazz music, but sometimes Juana can’t help wishing things would go back to the way they were before. When Mami announces that she and Luis are getting married and that they will all be moving to a new casa, Juana is quite distraught. Lucky for her, though, some things will never change — like how much Mami loves her.

For kids with a cherished pet:

King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats (first in a series)

Kayla made peanut butter treats for Jillian’s new puppy, Thor. But now the treats are missing.
What does Kayla know? There are three treats missing. King was in the kitchen. King’s breath doesn’t smell like peanut butter.
What does King know? There’s an intruder in the house.
How will they solve the mystery?

For your soccer-loving child:

Lola Levine Is Not Mean! (first in a series)

Lola loves writing in her diario and playing soccer with her team, the Orange Smoothies. But when a soccer game during recess gets “too competitive,” Lola accidentally hurts her classmate Juan Gomez. Now everyone is calling her Mean Lola Levine!

Lola feels horrible, but with the help of her family and her super best friend, Josh Blot, she learns how to navigate the second grade in true Lola fashion–with humor and the power of words.

For your identical (or not) twins:

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same (first in a series)

Ling and Ting are two adorable identical twins, and they stick together, whether they are making dumplings, getting their hair cut, or practicing magic tricks. But looks are deceiving–people can be very different, even if they look exactly the same.

For your big thinker:

Meet Yasmin! (first in a series)

Yasmin Ahmad is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers.

For all doodlers:

My Life in Pictures (first in the Bea Garcia series)

Bea Garcia is an artist. She draws anywhere and everywhere—but mostly in her own notebook.  When Bea’s first and only best friend Yvonne moves to Australia, not even drawing makes Bea feel better. And things only get worse when a loud, rambunctious boy moves in next door. He’s nothing at all like Yvonne! But with a little imagination and a whole lot of doodles, Bea Garcia might just make a new friend.

This first book in a brand-new chapter book series is a must-read for doodlers everywhere.

About a girl accepting & loving her unique name:

My Name is Maria Isabel

For María Isabel Salazar López, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn’t call her by her real name. “We already have two Marías in this class,” says her teacher. “Why don’t we call you Mary instead?”

But María Isabel has been named for her Papi’s mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she’s lost the most important part of herself?

For kids who’ll read about a mischief-making mouse:

Ralph S. Mouse (third in the Ralph S. Mouse series)

This was a hit with the kids I tutor; they were entranced by Ralph’s antics! Even the boys who said reading was boring wanted to know what Ralph would do next.

With his rowdy cousins constantly wearing out his motorcycle and the Mountain View Inn manager threatening to take care of the mouse infestation once and for all, Ralph decides it’s time to get away for a while. He convinces his human friend Ryan to take him along to school, where Ralph instantly becomes the center of attention. But when Ryan’s class decides to see how smart Ralph is by making him run a maze, the usually confident mouse starts to fret. What if he’s not as clever as he thought?

About a go-getter:

Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome (first in a series)

Sarai Gonzalez is AWESOME.

Fourth grader Sarai Gonzalez can do anything. She can bake, dance, and run her own cupcake business. But when Sarai’s grandparents are forced to move, even Sarai’s not sure what to do. So she hatches a super-awesome plan with her younger sisters and cousin to buy back the house. But houses are more expensive than she ever thought, her sisters won’t listen, and she’s running out of time. Will Sarai find a way to save the day?

A chapter book with an anti-bullying theme:

The Hundred Dresses

Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.”

For your action-loving kid:

The Princess in Black

Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret? 

I’d love to know which of these books caught your eye, and if you’ve read any already. If you enjoyed this or think anyone you know would love it, please share it with them!

Book lists are my thing: Check out this list of books about mental illness, this one about adoption, and this list of Black YA novels.  Happy reading!

a grid showing 20 chaper books for early readers
– Afoma


2 thoughts on “20 Chapter Books for Beginning Readers

  1. I loved this list!!!! I’ve read some of the books on your list too and i’d like to add a few:

    For some best friend fun (Ivy and Bean) for exemplary bad behaviour and lots of laughs (Junie B Jones) and for Fun and Facts for boys and girls (The Magic TreeHouse series), for four-legged protagonists (Geronimo Stilton)!!

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