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Transitioning from Early Readers to Chapter Books

Early Reader Transition Books


If they are reading on grade level, most readers are ready to transition to chapter books by the end of first grade. They can move up from Dr. Seuss and Elephant and Piggie, but for some the change might be hard. Luckily, there are a variety of great books that help ease the transition from Easy Readers to Chapter Books.

Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo are a great start.  These books are a little bit longer and divided into chapters.  However, there are still plenty of pictures to keep the young reader’s interest while challenging their reading ability.  The best part about Mercy Watson is the stories of this silly pig and her adopted family are rather hilarious.  If you are a parent required to listen to a budding reader, you will still be entertained.


The Poppleton Series, Henry and Mudge, and Mr. Putter and Tabby books by Cynthia Rylant are some other great transition series. Poppleton is another charming and hilarious pig. Mr. Putter and his cat Tabby are also highly entertaining. Also, most young readers can relate to Henry and his giant dog Mudge. These books also have chapters, but plenty of pictures and not an overwhelming amount of words on the page.


For young readers who long to be included in the graphic novel/comic book crowd, the Ricky Ricotta and his Mighty Robot series by Dav Pilkey is a great place to start. Ricky is a mouse with a robot for a best friend.  Together, they battle various villains from outer space. The illustrations by Dan Santat are excellent and give young readers a sense of reading a comic book.


The Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale is another set of books that artfully combines illustrations and a more lengthy story. Princess Magnolia is a prim princess at times, but she also likes to wear a black mask and sneak out to fight monsters. Her stories are simple, but entertaining for young readers and their parents.


The Lulu books by Judith Viorst are one step closer to actual chapter books. The spunky Lulu has many adventures and learning experiences that will keep you laughing. The Lulu books even have some pages with no pictures, but the text is large and not too overwhelming.

Beginning Chapter Books


After some success with the transition books, new readers are ready for some beginning chapter books.  There are new beginning chapter books coming out all the time, but these are some that are favorites in my library.


The Dragon Masters series by Tracey West is a perfect chapter book starting place.  There are a lot of pictures, but also much more text on each page. The stories are entertaining for young readers, but the vocabulary isn’t too difficult. Also, there are a variety of characters that appeal to both boys and girls--and who doesn’t love dragons? The writing remains simple in these books, but not so simple that young readers won’t feel a great sense of accomplishment when finished.


The Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osborne are some classic early chapter books that have been around for a long time. Jack and Annie travel through the magic treehouse to a variety of places and times where they have to solve mysteries and fix problems.  There are a LOT of these books.  They don’t necessarily have to be read in order, but you do want to start readers near the beginning because the books get more difficult as you reach the higher numbers.


The Hardy Boys, the Secret Files by Frank Dixon is a modernized and simplified version of the original Hardy boys. There are still great mysteries to be solved, but the technology is more up to date.  Also, there are pictures, simpler vocabulary, and shorter stories.


Mystery lovers might also enjoy the A to Z mystery series by Ron Roy. Three best friends solve a series of neighborhood mysteries with cases ranging from A to Z. This series has fewer pictures, but the stories are easy to follow.


The Ivy and Bean books by Annie Barrows are another series of favorite beginning chapter books. Ivy and Bean are two best friends who are very different, but their differences help each other as they get into all kinds of mischief. Fun, relatable stories that are easy to read.

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