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20 Best Beginner Chapter Books for First Graders

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Beginning readers love to measure their success and for first graders choosing that first chapter book is a big deal. As parents and teachers, we want our child to be challenged but to also achieve success so picking the right chapter books is important. These 20 beginner chapter books cover many different interests to help get your first grader excited about reading.

Parent/Teacher Note: Each of these books(series) fall in the approximate 400L-600L Lexile range. This correlates to levels J-L in both the Learning A-Z Text Leveling System and the Fountas & Pinnell levels.

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Best Beginner Chapter Books for Early Readers

Boris on the Move by Andrew Joyner

Meet Boris! He lives with his mom and dad in Hogg Bay. Their home is a van that once traveled all over the world. Then one morning, Boris feels a jolt. Could it be? Is the van really moving? Is Boris on an adventure at last?

This is book #1 in a series that is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina.

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Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel

Frog and Toad are best friends—they do everything together. When Toad admires the flowers in Frog’s garden, Frog gives him seeds to grow a garden of his own. When Toad bakes cookies, Frog helps him eat them. And when both Frog and Toad are scared, they are brave together. 

Winner of the Newbery Honor award, Frog and Toad Together is a Level Two I Can Read book, geared for kids who read on their own but still need a little help. School Library Journal called this story collection from Arnold Lobel “a masterpiece of child-styled humor and sensitivity.”

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Henry And Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

This first book in the acclaimed Ready-to-Read series from Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant features Henry and his lovable 180-pound dog, Mudge. Henry, feeling lonely on a street without any other children, finds companionship and love in a big dog named Mudge.

This is a great early chapter book series for any reluctant reader, especially one who would love a new friend like Mudge.

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A Friend for Dragon by Dav Pilkey

This awesome series is part of Scholastic’s early reader line, Acorn, aimed at young kids who are learning to read. With easy-to-read text, a short-story format, plenty of humor, and full-color artwork on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and fluency. Acorn books plant a love of reading and help readers grow!

(Plus, Dav Pilkey is one of our super favorite authors, who wrote the Captain Underpants Books!)

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Iris and Walter by Elissa Haden Guest

There are four short chapters of easy reading pleasure in this Level 3 Green Light Reader edition of the first book in the award-winning friendship series. This story starts with Iris, a young girl who hates her new neighborhood in the country. Things begin to change when she discovers a treehouse…and maybe a new best friend.

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Katie Woo Collection by Fran Manushkin

Katie Woo knows how to make every day an adventure. Of course, a curious, creative girl like her sometimes finds herself in a bit of mischief, but don’t worry! Katie always manages to fix her mishaps, making her friends laugh along the way. Join Katie in this great series and have an adventure of your own.

This book contains 3 of the Katie Woo books: Katie Woo Rules the School, Katie Woo and Friends, and Katie Woo Celebrates.

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Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

Hold on to your hats! Two new pals have arrived on the scene: Cowgirl Kate and her stubborn, but devoted cowhorse, Cocoa. Together our main characters count the herd, ride the range, and, of course, argue till the cows come home–as only best friends can do.

This beginning chapter book has been selected as a Common Core Text Exemplar (Grades 2-3, Stories) and is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Book.

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Gus and Grandpa and the Two-Wheeled Bike by Claudia Mills

Gus is unimpressed when Ryan stops his fancy five-speed bike with the hand brake, but he’s shocked when Daddy buys him a bicycle like Ryan’s. Gus is too afraid to give up his training wheels, until Grandpa steps in and helps Gus overcome his hurdle.

This is book 5 in the classic series of Gus and Grandpa, and is a great choice for any young boy who needs a great read to hold his attention span.

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Fox and His Friends by Edward Marshall

In three separate episodes Fox wants to play with his friends, but duty, in one form or another, always interferes. This series of easy chapter books is great for a beginning reader who loves lots of illustrations and large text.

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Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Nate the Great has a new case! His friend Annie has lost a picture. She wants Nate to help her find it. Nate the Great must get all the facts, ask the right questions, and narrow the list of suspects so he can solve the mystery.

This popular series has some of our favorite chapter books that young children love! It's a good choice for kids who love a little mystery and problem solving (perfect for keeping their attention!).

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Don’t miss our top picks for the funniest books for kids!

Minnie and Moo: Wanted Dead or Alive by Denys Cazet

These early reader chapter books are so funny -- my students totally loved them! When Minnie and Moo are mistaken for bank robbers, will they escape the long arm of the law?

A Level Three I Can Read book, this funny story with full color illustrations will keep your kids giggling as they turn each page.

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Pedro, First-Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin

Spend some time with Pedro, Katie Woo’s fun-loving friend. From a buggy disaster to a run for class president, Pedro has what it takes to be the hero of first-grade. No matter what he’s doing, Pedro is always good for some laughs and adventure.

The three-chapter structure of these easy readers builds confidence, as beginning readers are excited to be reading a chapter book.

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Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik

Meet Little Bear, a friend to millions of children. And meet Mother Bear, who is there whenever Little Bear needs her. When it is cold and snowy outside, she finds just the right outfit for Little Bear to play in. When he goes to the moon, she has a hot lunch waiting for him on his return. And, of course, she never forgets his birthday.

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The Swimming Lesson (Cork and Fuzz) by Dori Chaconas

Cork is a short muskrat who likes to help out. Fuzz is a tall possum who likes to help himself. Cork is babysitting a porcupine, and he needs Fuzz’s help. Fuzz says he’s too busy. But when the porcupine goes missing, it is up to Fuzz to help find him! Young readers will love the sixth installment in the popular Cork and Fuzz series!

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Appleville Elementary: First Day Nancy E. Krulik

It’s the first day of first grade, and the kids who are going to be in Miss Popper’s class are really excited. Well, everyone except Carlos, that is! He’d rather stay in kindergarten. Carlos decides he’ll go to first grade for one day only, and he’ll never come back again. But when Miss Popper reveals that someone new will be arriving on the second day of school, Carlos can’t help but return. Who will the new arrival be?

If your child enjoys this first book in the series, be sure to read the second book too!

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George and Martha One Fine Day by James Marshall

George and Martha are a must on any early reader book list! This book includes five new episodes in the friendship of two hippos: “The Tight Rope,” “The Diary,” “The Icky Story,” “The Big Scare,” “The Amusement Park.”

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Check out our best multicultural picture books for kids here!

Young Cam Jansen and the Double Beach Mystery by David A. Adler

Cam Jansen has a great time looking for shells on the beach with her friend Eric and her aunt Molly. But when they’re done, Cam’s mother is nowhere in sight! She was just sitting under a red umbrella, so how could she have disappeared? With a click, Cam puts her photographic memory to work to find her mom.

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Horrible Harry Goes to the Moon by Suzy Kline

When Harry finds an ad in the paper for a used telescope, Miss Mackle suggests that the class raise money to buy it. The telescope will make their moon study unit even more exciting! Once they get the telescope, the class can have a nighttime moonwatch. But Harry wants to do more than watch the moon-he wants to go there! Can Harry really take a trip into outer space?

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The High-Rise Private Eyes #1: The Case of the Missing Monkey by Cynthia Rylant

When a glass monkey is stolen, High-Rise Private Eyes Bunny Brown and Jack Jones are on the job! But will this be one case that’s too tough to crack?

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Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant

Meet Poppleton. He lives in a sunny house. He has a friendly neighbor. He visits the library on Mondays. And he always helps his friends!

 This Acorn edition from Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant contains brand-new content, including story prompts and how-to-draw pages!

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best beginner chapter books for first graders
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As a mom of 4 kids (and the oldest of 4 kids herself), Amanda has over 30 years of parenting experience. A former special education teacher, Amanda has a Master’s degree in Special Education and a second M. Ed. in Educational Leadership.

When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, and long walks through Target.

You can find Amanda on all social media at @parentingnestblog and @amandaseghetti

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