Chapter Books Suitable for Extra-Young Readers (Book Review – Part 1)

By , September 11, 2008 3:06 pm

My oldest daughter (now just turned 8) is a really good reader and has been reading at chapter book level for quite some time.

Since she started reading so well at a young age (6) and is also a somewhat sensitive child, I found it difficult at first to find books that were challenging enough, but not scary or upsetting. She was ready for upper level reading, but not for mature or even remotely suspenseful themes.

Of course everyone knows that the The Little House series is wonderful (although beware, there are a few scary episodes). Since I adored those books as a child (and I am a terminal packrat) I kept all my old Little House books and gave them to my daughter.

I also kept some other wonderful classic books from my childhood, but at the time, they were a bit beyond my daughter’s comfortable reading skill level: Heidi, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, the Anne of Green Gables series, the Emily books (my old copies are the ones my mother read and loved as a child in the 1930′s!), The Borrowers series…etc.

So once the Little House books were all read, what then? We only have one bookstore in town and as it is very small, the choices there are limited. I began looking online, and scouring the local thrift stores.

I had some great thrift store luck! My first find is the subject of today’s post:

The Cobble Street Cousins series by Cynthia Rylant

These are very easy first chapter books about nine year-old cousins Lily, who wants to be a poet, Tess, who wants to be a Broadway star, and Rosie, “who wants a little cottage with flowers by the door.” The girls share some happy, innocent adventures while spending a year sharing an attic bedroom in their Aunt Lucy’s house.

Cynthia Rylant immediately piques every young girl’s interest in the first page of each book by explaining that the cousins’ parents are all ballet dancers and are off on a world tour for a year.  What young girl wouldn’t want ballet dancing parents?  Your girl will most likely be hooked from then on!

The six books in the series are each only a bit over 50 pages long (except for Wedding Flowers which is a bit longer) and are quite suitable for beginning chapter book readers. The type-face is fairly large and the chapters (between 3 and 6 depending on the book) are each short enough to accommodate young attention spans.

My thrift store find was Some Good News, which is actually Book 4, but the books can really be read in any order.  It was a perfect choice for my then 1st grade daughter. Since she loved it so much, I ordered the other four online and she devoured them all.

The Cobble Street books would also make pleasant read-alouds for children not quite ready to read them on their own.

Here are all six titles in order:

Book 1: In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen
Book 2: A Little Shopping
Book 3: Special Gifts
Book 4: Some Good News
Book 5: Summer Party
Book 6: Wedding Flowers

Tip: These are currently part of Amazon’s 4-for-3 promotion, so if you like the series and want to order online, you could get 4 books for the price of 3!

Next week I’ll publish Part 2 of this post: another wonderful discovery of nice chapter books for girls.

UPDATE:  Here is the link to Part 2.

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17 Responses to “Chapter Books Suitable for Extra-Young Readers (Book Review – Part 1)”

  1. My daughter (who is five) has enjoyed having those books read to her. Right now she is very into the Magic Tree House series and the Rainbow Fairies books. She knows right where they are in the library and she flies to the shelf every time we go. She has also enjoyed listening to the Little House on the Prairie books and the Magic Tree House books on tape/cd in the car.

    craftydabblers last blog post..Yet another quote…

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  2. Cindy says:

    Hi there
    Just found your blog, so glad to see another TV-free family! We tossed ours out when our son was born 4 years ago and have been happily unplugged since.

    Here are some of our favorite chapter book series:

    My Father’s Dragon (a trilogy) by Ruth Stiles Gannett

    Magic Tree House (very popular series with young readers) by
    Mary Pope Osborne

    Swallows & Amazons series by Arthur Ransome

    The Lighthouse Family series by Cynthia Rylant

    Jenny Goes To Sea series by Esther Averill

    George’s Secret Key To The Universe by Stephen Hawking

    Geronimo Stilton series

    And we LOVE reading Shel Silverstein poetry around here too!
    http://zachaboard.blogspot.com/2008/07/what-we-did-tonight-instead-of-watching.html

    Cindys last blog post..Hawaii – Free Range Kid

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  3. Leah says:

    Your daughter sounds a lot like me when I was young! I have to second the Swallows and Amazons series, and also (dare I say it) I read a lot of Enid Blyton. I love the Faraway Tree books, and also Children of Cherry Tree Farm and Willow Farm. Then I got into the Famous Five and the Secret Seven (Secret Seven first, for slightly younger kids). Other than Enid Blyton, I also (a bit later) read Trixie Belden and what about Roald Dahl for a lot of humour? Particularly The BFG and George’s Marvellous Medicine. Oh the memories! I hope these ideas give you some more to look for!

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  4. Christin says:

    Wonderful! I am always excited with new book recommendations for my daughter. She is 6 but reads like an 8-9 year old. These are exactly the type of clean, wholesome stories we keep an eye out for, so thank you! I look forward to next week’s post!

    Christins last blog post..Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz; Oh What a Relief It Is!

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  5. Liz says:

    Thanks for this suggestion. I wonder if my 4YO boy would get into them. He loved Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, the Mouse and the Motorcycle, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. I love your ideas. Keep them coming.

    Lizs last blog post..September Floortime

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  6. Jane says:

    May I also suggest Jeanne Birdsall’s books about the Penderwick sisters. There are two so far about four sisters & their adventures. And the All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. At my library there are four or five books, some may be out of print. Amazon has the first one and a few others. Happy Reading!!

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  7. Candy Cook says:

    As you may know, you have a super cool blog. In keeping with all things “UN” I awarded you with an Unschool is Cool award. You may not “be” an unschooler, but your weekly challenges are always full of learning potential and I just like the fact that you encourage folks to turn off their TVs. If you choose to accept you can read about it here. http://raisingexplorers.wildchildreserve.com/?p=421

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  8. I love Cynthia Rylant’s picture books! I didn’t know she had such a sweet series of chapter books. Thanks for the great recommendation.

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  9. mel says:

    Oh lovely! I’m always on the lookout for recommendations, since my six-year-old daughter is in the same position of being a strong reader but not able to handle the mature content of more challenging books.

    She has enjoyed many of the series other commenters have mentioned. Here are three more series: The Littles, Flat Stanley, and Judy Moody.

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  10. warillever says:

    Thank you for this recommendation. My husband has been reading the Little House series to the Agents, but they are almost done. Time to find a new series.

    warillevers last blog post..Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

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  11. Daria says:

    I love the Mr. Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant, too. They are short but funny and sweet.

    We are almost through the Poppy stories by Avi and Brian Floca which are really good. I love the characters.

    Your website is great!

    Darias last blog post..What got into you, R2?

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  12. Tanya says:

    Hi – I just found your site! Bravo on raising your kids unplugged! I am a book lover and bookseller (and mom) and I just started a blog where I review children’s books with an emphasis on beginning readers and kids reading above their grade level. My daughter, now 15, and I LOVED the Cobble Street Cousins books. I have reviewed a few other books that are similar in nature to this series that your daughter might like. Hope you check them out and I’ll keep watching your blog now that I found it! Thanks!

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  13. [...] she somehow discovered Unplug Your Kids and left a comment on my first Chapter Books Suitable for Extra-Young Readers post.  That’s how I found her [...]

  14. [...] have a few suggestions.  If you have not yet read Parts 1 and 2 of this series, then please head on over for some other [...]

  15. Kate says:

    Thank you again! Adding these to my list. I hope my library has them. We are a commercial tv and video game free family too. We do own a tv, but it is only used once or twice a week (or not at all), and then it’s only for old classic movies or home videos. I’m loving all your book recommendations and adding you to my feedreader now.

    Kates last blog post..A naturally cheerful disposition

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  16. Teacup says:

    She might like the Catwings series too, when she’s a bit older. There is the nearly requisite peril involved in these.

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  17. Annette W says:

    I think you should check out Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Your library may not have them. The first book is about 5 yo Betsy…and age appropriate in reading level and content…the final book is about her wedding…good for teens! Please do read them, even if just for yourself!! I’m off to check out part 2. Thank you!!

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