As I Promised, My Favorite First Chapter Books and Readers

Nothing makes me happier than finding  books for someone just starting to read and seeing him or her light up. The transition from learning to read to  loving to read  is a huge step.  Series like  Fly Guy; Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie , Fancy Nancy and Magic Tree House can make the progression painless and fun.

Here are a few of my favorite readers and early chapter books:

frog1Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel

Frog is cheery; toad thinks the worst. Frog likes adventure; toad would rather stay in bed. But no matter what the season,  Frog and Toad have each others’ backs. Confession: whenever anyone in my family is down we repeat: “Blah, says toad.” and it never fails to help.

Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble by Cynthia Rylantmudge

I love all the Henry and Mudge books but there is something quite touching about Henry’s desire for the Snow Glory and Mudge’s affection  for the neighbor’s kittens in this book. Easy-going Mudge gets to be a hero when the kittens are threatened. And, once again, dad  proves he’s a kid at heart.

Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time by James Howe

catina_2The snow is softly falling and Catina’s in a tizzy. She had planned to spend the day getting ready for the concert this evening. Houndsley convinces her to enjoy quiet things like writing poetry and baking cookies. When the concert goes on at the gazebo, after all, it has a surprising, happily quiet ending.

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannettdragon1

Elmer Elevator dreams of  flying on a dragon. So when a cat he rescues tells him about a baby dragon being held captive on an island, Elmer sets out to free her. Luckily, he packs all the right things to make it past a tough group of animals determined to keep the dragon for themselves.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

ramona Again, I love all the Ramona books; it’s possible some more than this one. But here Ramona meets Yard Ape and Mrs. Whaley, cracks an egg on her head and “can’t believe” she “read the whole thing.” As much as things always seem to go wrong for Ramona, they usually end up to her satisfaction. This book is no exception.  You’ll easily “read the whole thing.”

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything by Lenore Look

rubyEverything went great, at first, to Ruby Lu when her cousin, Flying Duck, emigrated from China. Her family threw parties and Flying Duck knew sign language, even  Chinese sign language. Before long,  adjustments must be made.  Ruby Lu’s parents are busy helping Flying Duck’s parents find jobs. And  Flying Duck does annoying things like always eating with chopsticks and leaving the toilet seat up.

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald

shrink The truth: I like Stink, Judy Moody’s younger brother, more than Judy Moody. She’s just too…moody. But, sssh! Don’t tell her. Here Stink thinks he’s shrinking and he’s already the shortest boy in second grade. He copes by drawing comic strips and reporting on James Madison, the shortest president.  But Judy Moody is as bossy as ever. Did you expect anything else?


About Tina Zubak

I've been a librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for about 12 years, first at the Beechview branch and now at Children's. I've written some books myself, but alas, no publications. Among my favorite books are BFG, Houndsley and Catrina and the Quiet Time, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Nation and Rose Daughter.
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