Top picks of first chapter books


Picture books will always have a place on a child’s bookshelf, regardless of age, as they are written to challenge thinking and develop inference skills in a way that classic print texts can’t.


However, an exciting but often tricky stage is when a child is ready to move from reading books from a scheme or picture books to reading longer, more developed narratives, with more words and fewer pictures.

Choosing the right book needs careful consideration to excite your child and make them feel like independent and capable readers.

Four things to consider when choosing the right book:
  • A balance of print and pictures; too many words to start off with will be overwhelming.

  • Print size may need to be the same size or a bit bigger than the reading scheme or picture books they have been reading.

  • Short chapters, as children need to build up reading stamina over time, and it is important they experience being able to finish a chapter before putting the book down.

  • Asking the question is it a book my child will enjoy? If they like funny books, then it needs to be funny, if they love animals, then they need to be in the story. Just being a simple chapter book is not enough if we want our children not just to learn to read, but to learn to love reading.

First chapter books for the animal lover:
  1. Fabio and the missing hippos by Laura James,

  2. Cowboy Pug by Laura James

  3. Rabbit and Bear series by Julian Gough ( https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2016/mar/24/julian-gough-i-wanted-to-mash-up-winnie-the-pooh-and-david-attenborough)

  4. Claude Series by Alex T Smith

  5. Squishy McFluff by Pip Jones

First chapter books for the detective adventurer:
  1. Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (American, but it doesn’t have many Americanisms, they are brilliantly written series with fact files at the end of the book and recipes to do together)

  1. The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope. Once you have read one of these together, the characters, language and format of the story remains the same making it a great first chapter book.

  2. Foxy Tales by Caryl Hart.

First chapter books for those who love pirate tales:
  1. Pirate Blunderbeard series by Amy Sparks and Ben Cort.

  2. Captain Pug by Laura James.

  3. The Legend of Captain Crow’s teeth by Eoin Colfer


First chapter books for those who love to laugh:

All of the above have some humour and will entertain, but some books are written to make you and your child laugh out loud.

  1. The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey Series.

  2. The Adventures of Dogman – A hilarious graphic novel that has lots of kudos with older kids, as it is wonderfully written and it looks and feels like a big chapter book.

  3. Rabbit and Bear by Julian Gough.

If you have any first chapter books you can recommend or if there are any other categories, you want to find some first chapter books for please ask in the comments.