People will sometimes say, “Any book is a good book as long as it gets kids reading.” There is only one reading level this is true of: the potentially torturous stage of beginner chapter books. Let’s be honest, this genre often does not exemplify our finest literary moments. Sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover.
At this stage, they have out grown the safety and parental regulation (I mean “guidance”) of picture books. You may find your attempts to introduce them to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe met with the roll of an eye and the horror of a dust covered book. At this point, you are left with no option but to let them choose whatever will get them to actually read, even if it is Bunnicula.
Here are a few series that your children will actively read without causing you to inwardly cringe:
Frog and Toad (Arnold Lobel)- For the beginner chapter book reader there is no better place to start than Frog and Toad. Their adventures are hilarious and heartwarming.
Magic Tree House (Mary Pope Osborne)- This series is an exciting introduction to historical fiction that dabbles in geography, biology, and of course, magic. While there are a few books in the series that can be scary, your kids will love following the wild and magical events of this brother/sister duo.
My Weird School (Dan Gutman)- These books will satisfy your elementary school student’s appetite for silliness. The teachers are out of this world (literally and figuratively), the students are wild and smart, and the entire school is a chaotic joy.
Ready Freddy (Abby Klein)- Again, in the vein of silliness and elementary school humor while still maintaining some sense of dignity (well, that might be a stretch), these stories are funny and consistently enjoyable.
Geronimo Stilton (Geronimo Stilton)– Everything about the Geronimo Stilton books appeals to young readers, the pictures, the different uses of fonts for emphasis, and the stories themselves. And should your child somehow ever read all the Geronimo Stilton books, don’t worry, there is a whole spin off series with his sister, Thea Stilton.
Boxcar Children (Gertrude Chandler Warner)– The Boxcar Children are a little longer and are a good bridge between the beginning chapter books and the longer chapter books. They will also work well for your advanced reader who is still a bit young for the content of the longer chapter books. This is a classic series for a reason.
Good luck navigating the turbulent waters of the beginning chapter books section.