Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Top 10 "First" Chapter Books

I haven't done a Top 10 book post in awhile. Since "A" is starting to become a more emergent reader the question is what are some of the first chapter books he (or any child) may enjoy. I have compiled a list that is not exhaustive. As I was thinking about which books to include I can think of at least 18 books to include. I have whittled it down by 1)  books that were at the reading level of an emergent/early fluent reader, 2) books that are not only at the appropriate reading level but the content is appropriate for the age range of 6-8, and 3) books that are in a series. The reason I chose books in a series is because if your child finds a book they like they will most definitely keep reading from the series, and at this age we want children to not only get use to reading frequently but love it as well. So hopefully you can find a series that works for you and your child.

1) Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown: This book has been around for 40 years (gasp). The original story is about a boy who gets flattened by his bulletin board and stays flat. He has many adventures (being a kite, stopping robbers, and mailing himself). New books keep being made and there is a whole new series called Flat Stanley Worldwide Adventures.
Another important note about Flat Stanley books is the Flat Stanley project. Typically in 2nd grade, students read the first book at school and then make a Flat Stanley character. They then mail him off to people around the world, hoping the person returns it with a picture of themselves and the character. It is very common to see our soldiers holding Flat Stanley, and even Presidents of the US. If kiddos are super lucky they get a special care package back with goodies from their Flat Stanley's adventures. My sister recently moved to Okinawa, Japan, where her husband is stationed. She made a book of Flat ("A") and his adventures in Okinawa. Probably the coolest gift she has ever done. Here are some pics from the book:
My sister and brother-in-law with the Flat "A"
Flat "A" holding Japanese Yen
Flat "A" posing with some cool Japanese girls
Flat "A" using a squatty potty
Flat "A" with a Koji statue (I think that is right)
2. Weird School Series by Dan Gutman: This is a funny series about AJ (a boy who hates school) and his friends at Ella Mentry School. This series takes place in 2nd grade and all the grown-ups are weird. It has great titles like Mr Klutz is Nuts and Mrs. Cooney is Looney. The following year in 3rd grade begins the Weird School Daze series. This is a great series for kiddos that are hesitant to read and for boys who aren't interested in books.
3.) Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park: This is another series that takes place mostly at school. We follow a adorable girl through Kindergarten and 1st grade. This is one of the first "big girl" books a girl can read, but I have caught many boys reading them too. Junie B. is just such a likable character, and you won't be able to wait to read of her next antics. One of students favorites is the Batman Smells book in the series.
4.) Clementine by Sara PennyPacker: I can't mention Junie B. without then mentioning Clementine. Clementine is a newer series and very much in the same style of Junie B. She is an eccentric 3rd grader (all though I think she acts a wee younger) who innocently gets into all sorts of mishaps. I think Junie B. was the newer version of Ramona and Clementine is the newer version of Junie B.
5). Alvin Ho books by Lenore Look: This is a newer series and I am in love with them. Alvin Ho is Chinese-American boy who is afraid of everything. This 2nd grader has so much anxiety that he can't even talk at school (at home he is fine). These books are HILARIOUS and you will just fall in love with Alvin and his neurosis. These books are very much like Junie B. Jones books but the protaganist is a BOY (no way!)

6.) Dinosaur Cove series by Rex Stone: This is a great series for those dino lovers out there. It is similar to MagicTree House in that the protagonist are magically transported back into time. Tom & Jamie live on east coast near a lighthouse. On the beach, they find a cave that by walking through they go to Prehistoric times. Each book highlights a different dinosaur. There are a few black and white illustrations. One thing I did was buy a copy to keep and then "A" colored all the illustrations. It was a fun way to make the book his own and keep him engaged. Both the characters are boys so it may be more geared to that sex but if your girl really likes dinosaurs she may love these adventures. Also if your kiddo loves dinos make sure to read my post for all my dino learning picks.
7) A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy: This is our newest favorite series in our house. I think we are up to letter N in the series. This is a fabulous way to introduce the genre of mysteries. The story is of Josh, Dink, and Rose (three best friends) who solve mysteries in their small town. Each mystery is from a different letter of the alphabet (Absent Author, Bald Bandit, Haunted Hotel, etc). I love the books as a mother because the characters are really good kids. They listen to their mother, help people in the neighborhood out, and are overall do-gooders. In one book they win a large sum of money for solving a crime and they give to a friend for college money. The mysteries aren't overly scary either!
8) Stink series by Meg McDonald: Stink is the smart & funny younger brother to Judy Moody. I love these books and the Meg McDonald's use of language. I actually prefer Judy Moody over Junie B. and Clementine but they are a little higher reading level (why I didn't include them in the list). Stink books are just as funny as Judy Moody (and we still get to hear about her), but these books are about Stink's adventures. He is inventive and proactive. I remember one book where he wrote to the jawbreaker company and complained that it didn't last as long as advertised. When he got gifts from the company in return he wrote to letters of all the toy companies he could think of to get free loot. Pretty clever! Also the Judy Moody (with Stink) movie came out recently on DVD and is live streaming right now on Netflix (just saying)!
9) Rainbow Magic Fairy books by Daisy Meadows: This is a series most likely only for the girl readers. If your daughter loves fairies (and Tinkerbell) this is the series for you. They are easier to read then the Tinkerbell Disney fairy series that came out and there are TONS to choose from. The themes are endless: fairies named after colors, jewels, flowers, weather/seasons, and even some with pets. 

10)  Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne: This is the number one books for beginning chapter readers. They appeal to both boys and girls with a sense of adventure! Jack and Annie find a Magic Tree House in their backyard and realize by opening a book they can wish to go to the setting of the story. The books take them to the rainforest, moon, ice age, Camelot, Revolutionary War, etc. There is a great deal of fantasy and adventure, but it is a great way to introduce history as well. There is a fun computer game to play and a passport book online as well. You can read a blog I wrote about it here.

Well there it is, my choices.  There was a lot more I could include (especially classics) but it's called Top 10 ;0). If you did want more suggestions just ask. Encouraging a love of reading at this stage is so vital to creating a life-long reader. My next Top 10 post will be on Fairy Tale spoofs-can't wait!!!


  1. Great list, Sarah!! My son LOVES Dinosaur Cove too(sure wish Scholastic would hurry up and publish the rest of the series!). My son is also just getting into the Ready Freddy books, which hooked him because there's a secret word to find in every pencil drawing illustration. Can't wait for your next Top 10!!

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