When young readers are moving reading levels up to early chapter books, you need to engage their interest and keep them confident.  

Book series are perfect for young readers as they get to know and love the characters and quickly get hooked on reading. If your reader battles, move down a level and come back to the book when she’s ready. Reading down a level will ensure you grow happy and confident readers. Check out our reading level guide here if you’re not sure which stage she’s at.

11 Top Girl’s Early Chapter Book Series

We love these books for their strong and warmhearted female characters, diverse story lines, imaginative adventures and great writing.

1. The Anna Hibiscus series – written by Atinuke and illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Our favourite series about a diverse family living in Africa.  Anna lives with her Canadian mother, African father, grandmother, grandfather, uncles, aunts, cousins, and her twin brothers Double and Trouble all in one big happy house.  Busy adventures will enthral younger readers – from swimming in the sea, to selling oranges, longing for snow, singing for a President and looking after her brothers.  Anna is a lovable heroine and these books are a welcome depiction of a multiracial family living with one foot in traditional African ways and the other in typical suburban life.

2. Ivy & Bean Series – written by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall

From the moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn’t be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister, and quickly needs to hide, Ivy surprisingly comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people never meant to like each other.  The Ivy & Bean collection of 10 books has been delighting children for nearly two decades. Strong messages of friendship, empathy, and understanding make this a great series for girls age 6 – 10.

3. The Thoko Series and the Jamela series – written and illustrated by Niki Daly

The Thoko series, by much-loved, award-winning South African author, Niki Daly, is one of our absolute favourites for 5- 8 year olds. Thoko is a resourceful, fun and kind-hearted heroine who skips through life.  Living at home with her Mama and Gogo, she faces everyday obstacles and employs creative thinking to find solutions. She will become your new best friend!  (In the US, Thoko is called Lolo.)  Added bonus – the books are available in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and isiZulu. 

Also look out for Niki Daly’s series of books about Jamela, another spunky and lovable character for 3 – 6 year olds. 

4. The Ramona series – written by Beverly Cleary

This classic and much loved series is about a precocious four year old – who grows to age 10 through the series of eight books.  The antics of Ramona, her sister Beezus and the Quimby family will entertain and delight young readers.  The books are a wonderful celebration of an ordinary girl living her life in a time that seems far removed from today – from newspaper routes to children walking around the neighbourhood unsupervised, it is a welcome reminder of what being a child is really all about.  We adore these classics and your children will too.

5. The Junie B. Jones series – written by Barbara Park

Long before Charlie and Lola or Fancy Nancy, there was Junie B. Jones – a funny, impulsive, curious and big-hearted little girl who can’t help but be honest – even if it lands her in trouble! Similar to the Ramona series, you’ll fall in love with Junie B’s funny, spunky, outspoken personality. There have been claims that Junie B. seems to have a form of ADHD as she battles to contain her emotions and speaks out of turn. Note that words like dumb, silly, and stupid are used in the books, and there’s frequent use of incorrect grammar as we hear Junie B’s voice with all it’s age-appropriate mistakes.  Children love her!

 

6. Zooey and Sassafras series – written by Asia Citro and illustrated by Marion Lindsay

With magical animals, science, mystery, and adventure, Zoey and her cat Sassafras have something for everyone. Easy-to-read language and illustrations on nearly every page make this series perfect for a wide range of ages. Zooey is a strong and clever role model and in each story there’s a new magical animal with a problem that must be solved using science. Yay for keeping science journals!

7. The Katie Morag Series – Written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick.

Join Katie Morag McColl and her family in this charming and old-fashioned series of a young girl’s adventures on the Scottish Isle of Struay.  Katie is a feisty, red-headed little girl with two younger siblings and she always has an adventure on the island. Her parents and two grandmothers play a huge role in her life and the books are praised for the simple life they portray.  A CBeebies TV series set this series as a firm favourite for age 5 – 9 year olds. 

8. The Ottoline Series – Written and illustrated by Chris Riddell

Children love this series all about a quirky young girl who loves collecting odd shoes, writing notes about anything and everything and going on wild adventures. Ottoline is left largely alone because her parents travel around the world collecting things.  Together with her hairy, helpful friend Mr Munroe, she is always solving a mystery or going on a new adventure. This series is by the award-winning author Chris Riddell, author of Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse. 

9. The Dory Fantasmagorry series – written by Abby Hanlon

As the youngest member of her family, all Dory wants is to play with her older brother and sister, but they keep ignoring her. That’s not a problem though, because she has a wild imagination, untiring energy, and a whole host of imaginary friends.  With plenty of pictures bursting with charm and character, this hilarious series about an irresistible heroine is a firm favourite in the chapter book set.  Reading level is Grade 2 – 4. 

 

10. The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale.

Who says princesses can’t wear black? When trouble raises its blue monster head, Princess Magnolia ditches her flouncy dresses and becomes the Princess in Black. Stopping monsters is her perfect job and this is the perfect series of books for kids who like their princesses to be action heroes too. Books are around 100 pages with simple vocabulary and easy story lines. Easy reading for Grades 1 – 4.

11. The Katie Woo Series by Fran Manushkin

Katie Woo is a spunky and sassy, six-year-old Asian-American schoolgirl in this popular series.  The 43 books all follow daily little adventures in Katie’s life, from losing the school’s pet hamster at home, worrying about a sleepover, to battling the school bully and trying out gymnastics. Together with her best friends, Pedro and JoJo, she always finds a solution to her problems. Short chapters, a few sentences per page and easy storylines make this perfect for beginner readers aged 5-7.  Available from Loot and Takealot.

For more easy first chapter books, try these.

Tip: A great idea is to take the books out from your library or buy them to share with a book club so you can cut down on costs.

 

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