A quick guide to first chapter books.

Updated: Jan 10


I think picture books should always have a place on a child’s bookshelf, regardless of age, as with the right questions they can 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 reading scheme or picture books to reading longer, more developed narratives, with more words and fewer pictures. Choosing the right book needs careful consideration to motivate your child and make them feel like independent and capable readers. Five things to consider when choosing the right book:

  • Make sure the balance of print and pictures is right, as too many words to start off with will be overwhelming.

  • The 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 are a must, 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 – 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.

  • Look out for a good series as children get confidence from reading about characters they already know and love.

Have a look at the recommendations below.

Here are some of my favourite first chapter books:

  • The Invincibles - Caryl Hart

  • Magic Tree house - Mary Pope Osborne

  • The Princess Black series - Shannon and Dean Hale

  • Tom Gates Series

  • 13th Storey Tree House collection - Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

  • Mr Majeika - Henry Carpenter

  • Mango and Bambang Superstar Tapir - Polly Faber

  • Flamingo Hotel series - Alex Milway

  • Bad Guys Series - Aaron Balbey

  • Wigglesbottom Primary Series - Pamala Butchart.

  • Claude Series - Alex.T.Smith

  • Dixie O'Day series - Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy

  • Bad Nana - Sophy Henn

  • Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam - T Corderoy & S Lenton

  • Rabbit and Bear series - J Gough

  • Captain Pug - Laura James

  • Squishy McFluff - Pip Jones

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