If you read my previous post on The Reluctant Reader, you’ll know that we struggled a bit to find books that my daughter was not only interested in reading, but that she could read. Making the transition from easy readers to chapter books put us on the hunt for books to help bridge the gap. I’ve compiled a list of books that we found. We looked for books that looked like chapter books to help promote confidence in reading, books that had a lot of white space and bigger fonts to make the act of reading not a strain on the eye, and books that were in a series to help promote repetition and familiarity. This list is purely based on what we found successful for us, to bridge the gap of easy readers to chapter books.
Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is a talented author and illustrator, also known for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! There are twenty-five books in this series and they do not need to be read in order – bonus! The illustrations are basic and the words are in conversation bubbles. Piggie and Gerald (the elephant) get into humorous situations, usually learn a lesson, and promote friendship. We were already familiar with Mo Willems when my daughter found one at the school library. She repeatedly checked these out to read independently in school.
Hey Jack! and Billie B. Brown series by Sally Rippin
These books were perfect. Running just over forty pages in length with three to four chapters each, these two series have an illustration or word art on every other page and approximately fifty words per page. Billie B. Brown is a brilliant, young girl who is easy to relate to for new readers. The true-to-life situations depicted in the books, cover family relationships and basic problem-solving with a positive tilt. Her best friend, Jack, is funny and faces similar challenges in his own series. There are fifteen books in each series. They work great as stand-alone books and, for the most part, can be read in any order. My son enjoyed the Hey Jack! books, my daughter enjoys the Billie B. Brown books, and my youngest daughter loves both. They are sold through Usborne and not all public libraries carry them. Hands down, these books transitioned my kids the best.
Wallace and Grace by Heather Alexander
Currently, there are three books in this series. Wallace and Grace are two young owl detectives who follow clues to solve simple mysteries. The books are roughly eighty pages in length with plenty of white space, readable font, and feature adorable full-color illustrations throughout. In addition, they are part of the Read & Bloom line which aims specifically at transitioning kids to independent, lifelong readers. If cute owls aren’t your child’s thing, check out other books from the Read & Bloom line such as The Adventures of Caveboy (about a little boy, his unusual best friend, and the search for the perfect club), Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog (a boy-friendly series about a pup who gets rescued by smelly pirate dogs), and Agnes and Clarabelle (the unusual friendship between a pig and a chicken).
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
This series is about a princess who plays a dual role; the flouncy-dressed princess and the monster-stopping superhero. This series is humorous and action-packed. There are currently five books with a sixth in the making. My daughter likes her princesses prim and proper and was reluctant to pick up this series. Once she did, she burned through them in no-time.
Bird and Squirrel by James Burks
This series is written comic book-style. Some readers like this approach, some don’t. Bird is fearless and always positive, whereas Squirrel is afraid of nearly everything. This duo is entirely quirky, a riot to read, and offers many laugh-out-loud moments. I actually recommend this series for all ages, not just the newly independent reader.
Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Kate DiCamillo is another fantastic author with several award-winning books that span all readership levels. Bink and Gollie are two precocious girls that are utterly irresistible in their mini-adventures that orbit their remarkable friendship. There are three mini-stories in each book and three books in the series. The text is spot-on for emerging readers and the illustrations enhance the stories. If your child is not interested in female protagonists, check out DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson (six books about a well-natured pet pig who loves buttered toast) and Tales from Deckawoo Drive (four companion books about other happenings on the street where Mercy Watson lives).
What books would you add to this list? Let us know!