Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chapter book series our 2nd, 3rd & 4th graders love! (ages 7 - 10)

I always want kids to find books they like to read, but it's also so important for them to find books that are "just right books" for them. As kids develop their reading skills, they need to think about what books they can read smoothly and understand the story.

Transitional chapter books fit in between early readers and regular fiction. Magic Tree House is a classic example, as are the Rainbow Fairy books. Students love reading series at this stage in their reading development, getting to know the characters, enjoying the comfort of predictable plots but enjoying the anticipation of what might change. For the 2011-2012 school year, the most popular chapter book series were:

1. Bad Kitty series, by Nick Bruel
Humor is a real draw for readers at this age. Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty series makes me laugh out loud, with its blend of Garfield the cat grouchiness, big and bold line drawings, and wacky nonfiction tidbits. Kids know just how Bad Kitty feels with the indignation of having to share their home with a little brother or sister. In Bad Kitty Meets the Baby, Kitty must figure out just what this thing is that her people have brought home! It's a stinking, drooling mess - and Kitty is sure it's a dog. Until she realizes it must be a baby... Our kids also adored Bad Kitty Takes a Bath, the first in this hilarious series.

2. Ivy and Bean series, by Annie Barrows
These books make kids laugh, love reading and feel like there are kids out there as goofy as they feel so much of the time. These best friends are as different as can be, and yet they love spending time together, getting into all sorts of mischief and just having fun. My students love, love this series - coming back to it again and again. Did you know that Ivy and Bean go to Emerson School, just like my students? True fact, true fact. We're so excited for a new Ivy and Bean to come out this fall: Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9).

3. Stink series, by Megan McDonald
We have great debates about which books are better - the Judy Moody books, or those about her younger brother Stink. Clearly, Stink has won the day at our library! Kids love the snappy dialog, the light humor and Stink's outlook on life. The book design makes the Stink books really accessible to kids, with the large print and plentiful illustrations. This year, kids loved Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker, as Stink becomes obsessed with getting free stuff in the mail. Definitely a crowd-pleaser!

4. Beast Quest series, by Adam Blade
Our 3rd and 4th graders love the action, adventure and fantasy in the Beast Quest series. This year, Ferno: the Fire Dragon, the first book in the Beast Quest series, was one of our most popular chapter books. From the British Beast Quest website: "An evil wizard has enchanted the magical beasts of Avantia - only a true hero can free the beasts and stop them from destroying the land. Is Tom the hero Avantia has been waiting for?"

5. Underwhere series, by Bruce Hale
This half-comic book, half-chapter book series combines humor, action and fantasy in a perfect blend. Whenever twins Stephanie and Zeke are sucked into the underworld, the story switches to comic book panels. Kids love the adventure, wacky characters, and plentiful puns. Here's my review of the first in the series: The Prince of Underwhere.

Other series that our kids have loved include the Rainbow Magic fairy books, Jon Scieszka's Spaceheadz series, Ruby and the Booker Boys, and the Clementine series.

What chapter books are popular with your kids? Check out what was popular at our school last year in this post: Great chapter books, 2010-2011.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


  1. My second grader loves Jack Stalwart series, and has just started. New series called Zac Power. He tore through the My Weird School books too. I'll order Pirates of Underwhere and Beast Quest from your list. Thanks!

  2. The Ready Freddy series by Abby Klein is a fun series for a reader who is transitioning from picture books to chapter books. The illustrator has taken the main character's favorite topic, sharks, and hidden the word FIN in each of the illustrations. It gives the reader a break after a couple of pages to do the word hunt. And they are tricky... very clever use of illustrations!

    Kids in our library also love the Zapato Power series and the Zack Files books.