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They usually have LOTS of illustrations (often full-color), short chapters, and fairly large text. An adult could probably read them aloud in 20-40 minutes and they’re generally under 100 pages.
To be honest, the line between the two is fuzzy – some could swing toward more easy reader books, while others might be more on the chapter book side.
The books on this list are generally a step more advanced in terms of storyline and reading ability.
I’ve tried really hard NOT to include ones that are super text-heavy or more than a hundred pages.
These really are books for those readers just moving past the easy reader books and ready to dip their toes into full chapter books, but that still have large text and illustrations (usually full-color) on every page.
20+ Excellent Beginner Chapter Books
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
This is possibly the most well-known beginner chapter book series and for good reason. It’s just hard to beat these hilariously silly books about Mercy Watson, a pig adopted by an older couple with no children of their own. No matter what mischief Mercy gets into, the Watsons are convinced she is a porcine wonder. We own the first six books in the series and they’ve been loved beyond belief by all four of our children. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 6 books in the series)
Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly
These books each have four delightful stories about Yasmin, a spunky Pakistani American girl who loves spending time with her family and creating and building (after we read the first one, my girls all wanted to make their own maps of the neighborhood). One extra fun thing about this book is that, after the four chapters, there is a little glossary, plus craft and recipe ideas. Some of the books are published with just one story, while there are also 3 books with 4 stories each, so if you’re ordering them online keep an eye on the page numbers to see if you’re ordering a single story or the 4 chapter collections (the full ones will be around 96 pages instead of 32). (Full color illustrations // 96 pages // 3 books in the series)
Hello Hedgehog! by Norm Feuti
This beginner chapter book series is definitely on the shorter side with under 50 pages and has more of a graphic novel series. It follows the adventures of a guinea pig and a hedgehog and their little adventures together. (Full color illustrations // 48 pages // 3 books in the series)
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Most of the time, she’s Princess Magnolia, prim and proper. But when her Monster Alarm rings, she transforms into the Princess in Black and no monster will get the better of her! (Full color illustrations // 96 pages // 7 books in the series)
King & Kayla by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
These beginning mystery books are perfect for a child who loves cracking the case. Told from the perspective of King, the dog, each story has 5 chapters as King and his human, Kayla, try to find clues and solve the mystery together. (Full color illustrations // 48 pages // 4 books in the series)
Diary of a Pug by Kyla May
There is something inherently amusing about a pug and these books are no exception. Baron von Bubbles is (he is certain) the cutest pug in the world and this diary-style book is the place for him to share all the adventures he has with his human, Bella. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 4 books in the series)
Boris by Andrew Joyner
Boris is a young warthog (to be honest, I originally thought he was a zombie warthog because he’s so gray/green in the illustrations. Spoiler: he’s not a zombie warthog) and his parents used to travel the world in a van, but now they’ve settled down in Hogg Bay. But the adventures aren’t over yet. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 4 books in the series)
Arnold and Louise by Erica S. Perl
Arnold and Louise are a classic odd couple – Arnold is a large bear while Louise is a tiny chipmunk. And their personalities are just as different, with Arnold patient and calm, while Louise is bubbling with harebrained ideas. (Three color illustrations // 64 pages // 4 books in the series)
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont
Some books stick around for decades for good reason. The Nate the Great series was originally published in the 70s and it’s just as popular today. How can you resist Nate as he solves mysteries (and demonstrates lots of problem-solving skills!). (Full color illustrations // 68 pages // 26 books in the series)
Press Start! by Thomas Flintham
Animal Town is home to Super Rabbit Boy who is super fast and brave and also? Is a video game character. Which means that when things get dicey, he needs to save the day. But only if the player, Sunny, can manage to stop losing each level. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 10 books in the series)
Unicorn and Yeti by Heather Ayris Burnell, illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla
Unicorn and Yeti are an unlikely pair, but they’re also best friends. Each book has three stories in an almost graphic-novel format and my unicorn-loving girls couldn’t get enough of these delightful books. (Full color illustrations // 64 pages // 5 books in the series)
Kung Pow Chicken! by Cyndi Marko
A superhero chicken? You BET! With lots of humor, plenty of speech bubbles and full color spreads, this series is perfect for readers who want something fast paced. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 5 books in the series)
Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe by Susan Nees
Missy is super duper royal deluxe and she brings her free-spirited charm to everything she does, whether it’s picture day or a field trip. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 4 books in the series)
Agnes and Clarabelle by Adele Griffin and Courtney Sheinmel, illustrated by Sara Palacios
We discovered this series this year and Ani and I have loved reading it together. While lots of these beginner chapter books feature animals, you don’t see a lot of farm animals in them. But this one has a chicken and a pig who enjoy all sorts of shenanigans from holidays to birthday parties. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 2 books in the series)
Bumble and Bee by Ross Burach
Bumble and Bee are BURSTING with energy and excitement. Their friend Froggy? Just wants some peace and quiet. He also doesn’t mind lending his voice when he knows an answer that his friends don’t. These are laugh-out-loud funny. (Full color illustrations // 48 pages // 3 books in the series)
Mouse and Mole by Wong Herbert Yee
I’ve been reading these beginner chapter books for a decade and I’m still delighted every time a new one is released. I love these sweet forest friends and I also like that there are some holiday editions. (Full color illustrations // 48 pages // 7 books in the series)
The Adventures of Caveboy by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Eric Wight
Caveboy is just like any other boy except. . . he lives a LONG time ago. But just like any child, what he really wants is a friend. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 3 books in the series)
Barkus by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Marc Boutavant
If your favorite uncle came to visit and brought you a large dog as a surprise, you’d probably be THRILLED! (Your parents? Not so thrilled). Nicky and Barkus have all sorts of adventures together and I’m crossing my fingers for more books in this series. (Full color illustrations // 56 pages // 2 books in the series)
Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Brian Floca
Cora is a princess and she’s so tired of being bossed around. Every minute of her day is scheduled with activities she DOESN’T want to do. Until her fairy godmother grants her wish by sending a crocodile. Who is VERY hard to boss around. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 1 book in the series)
Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliott
Who wouldn’t want to be an owl and live in a treehouse and keep a diary of all the fun you have at school and with your friends? If 12 books in the series is any indication, EVERYONE wants to be an owl! I especially love that it’s made to look like it’s written on lined-paper. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 12 books in the series)
Wallace and Grace by Heather Alexander, illustrated by Laura Zarrin
For young mystery lovers, this is the perfect introductory series that follows two owlets as they try to crack cases together from a rabbit who thinks he saw a ghost to a lost puppy. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 3 books in the series)
Unicorn Diaries by Rebecca Elliott
If your child is a fan of the Owl Diaries series, they’ll love these new early chapter books by the same author. These are the stories of the unicorns that attend Sparklegrove School, a school for unicorns that each have a magical power. (Full color illustrations // 80 pages // 4 books in the series)
And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!
Any other favorite beginner chapter books I missed? Please let me know in the comments – it helps make these posts more useful for other families!
If you liked this post about beginner chapter books, you might also like these posts:
- Tips for a child who only wants to read the same books
- My best tricks for successful read alouds
- My favorite chapter books to read to preschoolers
Photos by Heather Mildenstein