Best Early Chapter Books

I love a good early chapter book, but can find them hard to find.  Part of the beauty of them is that you can start reading them to your kid at quite a young age and then enjoy them growing with the series, plus they’re far less expensive than picture books and much more easily portable, making them wonderful for waiting in doctor’s offices and the like.  The best part, I think, is how sweet the stories are and the way that they gently introduce your child to longer narratives.  I’ve made a list of our favorites is below I’m hoping you’ll share yours!

The gifted books are indicated and the links are all affiliate, so thank you for using them or for shopping your independent bookstore.

  • Poppy Green’s and Jennifer A. Bell’s Sophie Mouse
    • Our hands-down favorite. We’ve read all the books in the series over and over again.  This world and the characters in it are so sweet and wholesome, but not in a way that feels at all dull. Honestly, I think I’d want to read these even without kids.
  • Jill Barklem’s The Complete Brambly Hedge
    • More mice! This time British and with illustrations of detailed mouse homes in trees that you’re going to die over. I suppose this is technically a series of connected short stories, but, I mean, you’re not holding me to anything, right?
  • Cam Higgins’ and Ariel Landy’s Good Dog
    • Our daughter loves all things dog and this adorable series follows a puppy along on his farm adventures.
  • Atinuke’s and Lauren Tobia’s Anna Hibiscus
    • Thank you to Candlewick for our copy! Anna lives with her big family on a family compound in Nigeria and each chapter follows her on a new adventure. I loved how immersive the book felt into life in a country many children don’t get to read about as much and our daughter often references scenes from the book, eager to connect her own life with Anna’s.
  • Sarah Dillard’s Mouse Scouts
    • Wait a second…do we just like mice? Hah, mice do seem to be popular protagonists.  This series follows mice friends along their Scout adventures and feels both classic and fresh.
  • Matthew Cordell’s Cornbread and Poppy
    • Two…mouse…friends who are opposites in the vein of Frog and Toad.  If you’re paying any attention you’ve heard me raving about this heartwarming adventure again and again.  The second comes out in the summer.
  • Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano’s Polly Diamond
    • Thank you to Chronicle!  Polly, with a wonderfully quirky personality, has a magic notebook in which whatever she writes comes true, so you can imagine the types of hijinks that ensue.
  • Kelly Starling Lyon’s Jada Jones, Debbi Michiko Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi, Annie Barrow’s and Sophie Blackall’s Ivy & Bean series
    • I’m including these together because they all felt similar to me in that they can be a little too old for our daughter (3 1/2) subject-wise with sleepover and friendship troubles and sibling angst, but I still found all of them enjoyable, know that they’re well-loved, and think that they work well for the right kid.
  • Callie Barkley’s and Marsha Rita’s The Critter Club
    • Four best friends rescuing animals. Some of the books have a bit of the older drama like the above books, but it depends on which book of the many, so you can quickly get an idea from the blurbs.
  • Liz Kessler’s and Joanie Stone’s The World of Emily Windsnap: Emily’s Big Discovery
    • Thank you, Candlewick! This series is based on the best-selling middle grade series and, while in chapters, is very short, making it one that would work particularly well for anyone trying to shift their kids from picture books.  The first book carries Emily through her first discovery that she’s a mermaid.  Our daughter was very excited to make predictions about what was going to happen and immediately asked me to get more of the books from the library, so it clearly made an impression in her imagination.
  • Cynthia Rylant’s and Sucie Stevenson’s Henry and Mudge
    • I’m sure not all little kids love a big dog, but I’m guessing many of them do and Henry and Mudge are so darn loveable.
  • SJ King’s The Secret Explorers series
    • A combination of adventure and learning that’s so much fun for everyone.

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!


  • Emily Gardner says:

    Definitely looking up Anna Hibiscus and a couple others at the library! We loved Cornbread and Poppy thanks to your recommendation 🙂 We just recently found The Secret Explorers in addition to Bear Grylls Adventures. Not sure that Maeve would be in to those, but our James loves them.

    • Erin says:

      So happy to hear that! Of course our beloved Sophie is all thanks to you. Some of her friends watch the Bear Grylls show, so I’ll have to try those out!

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