Parents review the best chapter books for 1st graders that helped their kids transition to reading longer books.
These favorite first chapter books are easy enough for 1st graders to read on their own, thanks to simple text, unique formats, playful illustrations and engaging storylines that make reading fun. Depending on your child's reading level, you can find more great picks on our beginning reader and second grade book lists.
Add your family's favorite 1st grade chapter books below to help fellow parents find the perfect picks for their kids!
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Magic Tree House Series
Katie G.: Mary Pope Osborne's extensive Magic Treehouse series, about the adventures of sibling team Jack and Annie, has some of the best chapter books for 1st and 2nd grade. Each book begins with the siblings going to their "magic treehouse," where they are transported to the past, the future and other novel settings to solve a mystery. The fictional stories contain plenty of non-fiction nuggets to teach kids about animals, historical figures or important events in history, and a familiar format in each story makes them easy to follow. Each book is a separate adventure so they can be read out of order.
My Weird School Series
Kelly R.: Check out these chapter books for 1st graders who sometimes have trouble finishing books...they were a hit with both of my kids! The zany characters and school setting are both familiar and funny to kids, and continue with a few other related series by Dan Gutman.
Narwhal and Jelly Series
Kelly R.: The Narwhal and Jelly books are fun early graphic novels for kids. My daughter loved them! Each book contains stories about adorable friends narwhal and jellyfish, fun facts about ocean life, and comics. The stories are simple and easy for first graders to read independently, but are filled with enough silliness and cute illustrations to give them a lot of repeat readability.
Princess in Black Series
Erynn: These books are favorites in our house, from preschool up to 2nd grade! Engaging stories with fun vocabulary (and some zany monster-fighting adventures) make these ideal early chapter books for sparking their imaginations! There's plenty of action to keep my boys entertained- and keep these books on our short list of favorites to re-read.
Nate the Great Series
Kelly R.: Kids will love solving mysteries alongside Nate the Great in this favorite easy chapter book series perfect for beginning readers.
Geronimo Stilton Series
Kelly R.: It may have enough cheese puns to give you indigestion, but the Geronimo Stilton series is filled with fun stories about an adventure-loving mouse that my first grader really enjoys. The text is sprinkled with cool graphics and fonts that make it more interesting to read.
Hey Jack! Series
Shila: These easy chapter books contain fun adventures starring a young, down-to-earth boy. Each paperback is short in length, contains large font and simple illustrations. More importantly, the age-appropriate and super relatable storylines make these great chapter books for 1st graders to read on their own and understand. Follow Jack as he takes on new friends, playground problems, camping, sleepovers, and more.
Puppy Pirates Series
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Kids use their imagination reading these books where puppies are real pirates!
Billie B. Brown Series
Shila: Billie B. Brown is a collection of easy chapter books for beginner readers. The books are short and include larger font size and simple illustrations. The overall format of these stories divides the chapters into easy-to-understand concepts. Relatable situations like learning to swim, having sleepovers and playing soccer make these some of the best chapter books for 1st graders.
Owl Diaries Series
Kelly R.: Scholastic offers a variety of "Branches" book series for kids who are new to chapter book reading. My first grader's favorite is the Owl Diaries series, written in an easily-digestible diary format with plenty of colorful pictures.
Kristy Pepping: Made by American Girl, WellieWishers books are great books for first graders. They have easier vocabulary, but are still in a chapter format for that next step up in reading. Every book has a great lesson about sharing, helping and other life lessons.
Unicorn Diaries Series
Sarah Calamita: This series is by the same author as Owl Diaries. Same concept but with unicorns. Any 5-7 year old girl will love it.
Lisa R: This is a great series for kids who are just learning to read longer books on her own. Yasmin is a spunky second grader solving typical second grade problems. The books are relatively short and engaging. Yasmin's family is Pakistani, so little details about Pakistani and Muslim culture are woven through the stories, like that fact that her mom wears a hijab and her family speaks Urdu. The focus, however, is always on Yasmin and her adventures. As a grown-up sometimes reading these books with my daughter, I really enjoy all of the cultural details and that my daughter has asked to try new foods that she read about in the books.
Mercy Watson Series
Kelly R.: My daughter was a big fan of Kate DiCamillo's fun Mercy Watson series, which follows the silly adventures and antics of the Watson family's pet pig. These are high quality chapter books for 1st graders transitioning into reading longer stories, with an engaging plot and wonderful illustrations that are often hard to find in early readers.
Mermaids to the Rescue Series
Sarah Calamita: Adventures of mermaids under the sea that any 5-8 year old girl will love!
Junie B. Jones Series
Michael Farina: Junie B. Jones is a kindergartner who means well, but has a little trouble with self-control (I can relate, and so can both of my kids). The books are short, sweet, laugh-out-loud, and carry positive messages, as Junie B. always (eventually) does the right thing to clean up her messes.
Press Start! Series
Kelly R.: The Press Start! series has great books for 1st graders transitioning into chapter books, especially kids who enjoy video games! The books center around Super Rabbit Boy, a video game hero who must compete in a variety of challenges. Easy reading and plenty of color illustrations make this a lot of fun for kids!
A to Z Mysteries Series
Let's Dress Up NYC: A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy. They are amazing, my daughter has read them all. They follow 3 best friends (a girl and 2 boys) on adventures where they solve mysteries. Fun for parents as well.
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