Reader: Impossible

We’re starting a new feature on the blog called Reader: Impossible. This column was inspired by conversations with moms, looking for books for their kids. YOU are an important part of this feature; if you accept this mission of helping kids connect with books, chime in with your suggestions for Reader: Impossible or write in about your own reader! This post will self-destruct in five…four…okay, not really.

Dear Reader: Impossible,
My first grader is leaving easy readers behind, but she’s not quite reader for full-blown middle-grade books. I know there’s the Magic Treehouse series, but what other books are out there?
Moving On Up


Dear MOU,

First, let’s congratulate your first grader for moving on to chapter books. It’s such an exciting time, and we definitely want to keep up the enthusiasm with great, just-the-right-length stories. Luckily, there are some really fantastic choices out there!

We are HUGE Ivy and Bean fans in this house. Author Annie Barrows manages to hit the 6-8 year-old sensibility right on the head, with big ideas (do we look like ants to somebody else?) and great humor. Fans of humor will also flock to Dan Gutman’s MY WEIRD SCHOOL series (look for an interview with Dan next month!).

ivy and bean

Fans of quieter books will enjoy the Lighthouse Family series by Cynthia Rylant. Pandora is a lonely lighthouse keeper cat until Seabold the dog washes up on her shores, and she nurses him back to health. They have many adventures together, and the beautiful illustrations will keep readers engaged.

There are also some great graphic novels out there for the younger set. My kids love Sardine in Outer Space and Ariol, both by Emmanuel Guibert. Frankie Pickle by Eric Wright features, a pint-sized protagonist with an outsized imagination. There are also some great hybrid novels, which combine traditional text and graphic storytelling. The Zapato Series by Jacqueline Jules fills the bill with readers following the adventures of Freddie Ramos and his amazing shoes.  This book won the CYBILS award in the short chapter books category.

There are also some wonderful non-fiction books for young readers. Pivotal moments in history come to life in graphic novel form in The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive and The Prairie Adventure of Sarah and Annie, Blizzard Survivors, both by Marty Rhodes Figley. Cooking can also be a fun way to encourage reading comprehension and motivation! There are some wonderfully illustrated cookbooks that will engage a young reader, such as Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook by Nicola Graimes.

Good luck! And please, readers, add your suggestions below.

  1. Here are our favorites for moving up to easy chapter books:

  2. Yes to Clementine and the Nancy Drew’s Clue Crew series. Geronimo Stilton is silly and bright, too. I adore the Ivy+Bean series, so smart and fun. The Dragon Slayer Academy is hilarious. The Disney Fairies series has great story and you could read Gail Carson Levine’s novel length contributions to the series together. And you may want to look into Klise’s 43 Cemetery Road books.
    Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl may be a good graphic novel to try. and Jellaby by Kean Soo.

  3. For graphic novels, my kids have enjoyed Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm.

  4. I second Clementine, but also Just Grace series, Katie Kazoo Switcheroo, Haley Twitch series, Marty Maguire, and Nancy Drew series reboot for young readers (my first grader is obsessed with these). Her whole class LOVES Bad Kitty series.

  5. One word: Clementine! (by Sarah Pennypacker)

  6. I think it was about this time when my daughter loved anything and everything that had to do with The Boxcar Children series. HTH!