10 Less-Twaddle Early Chapter Books Series

When kids are ready to make the transition from simple readers to being able to read chapter books independently, it’s a great day. I love reading aloud, and I had been reading more difficult books to my children early on. (I think my oldest were 5 and 6 the first time I read all the way through Chronicles of Narnia.) So they were obviously not only ingesting beginner reader books.

But even though it’s wonderful to expose kids to great books from early on by reading aloud, there’s a great sense of accomplishment when they can finally read chapter books. However, it can also be hard to find early chapter books that aren’t pure “twaddle.” As hard as I try to avoid these, I know that there are some twaddle-filled chapter book series that have made it into our house. It’s my goal, though, to find great first chapter book series that are less twaddle and more living books.

Early chapter book series

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In this post I’m sharing some of our favorite early chapter books series. I love finding a series so that the kids can read books by authors they have really enjoyed. I’m not going to say that all of these are perfect examples of classic living book literature. But they are books that are less along the lines of twaddle and more the kind of reading that I want the kids to consume.

The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne 

In this popular series, a brother and sister discover a treehouse filled with books. The magic comes in when they realize that they can actually be transported to the places and times they’re reading about. They have many adventures through the books they read in the treehouse. One really cool thing about these books is that there are also nonfiction companion books that give kids an opportunity to read even more about the places and time periods that Jack and Annie visit through their books.
Easy chapter books

Judy Moody by Megan McDonald

I won’t say that these rank up there with the classics. But my girls all enjoyed the spunky heroine- Judy Moody. She finds adventure wherever she goes. And, Judy, the main character, doesn’t seem to be as annoying as some children’s characters are often made out to be.
Easy readers

Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka

These books appealed even to Charles who really has to be persuaded to like a book. The main characters in the series are boys, another factor that is appealing to more reluctant boy readers. In these books, Joe and his two friends find a mysterious blue book from Joe’s uncle. The book takes them time traveling to all different time periods and places. They really turned out to be a good jumping off point for learning about different historical periods. You can find Time Warp Trio videos on YouTube as well.
Elementary readers

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

Ivy and Bean are two spunky best friends…even though they never would have thought they’d be. Adventures come to the two opposite friends. Although Bean is definitely a “tomboy”, both characters are girls, so this series was more appealing to my girls.
Kids' chapter books

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew by Carolyn Keene 

Because I was a Nancy Drew fan when I was younger, I enjoyed seeing this version of Nancy Drew books for younger readers. Nancy Drew is still in elementary school, and the mysteries that she and her fiends stumble into are much more tame- like finding a missing doll.
Kids' mysteries

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy

This early reader mystery series is another that may appeal to boy readers. Several of the main characters- the friends who go on all of the adventures are boys. Each title uses alliteration- The Absent Author, The Bald Bandit-thus the A to Z series.
Kids' chapter books

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat 

Nate and his dog Sludge are super sleuths out to solve crimes. This is another series that has a boy as the main character.
Easy readers

Nancy Clancy by Jane O’Connor 

Girls who loved the Fancy Nancy picture books may love watching her grow up in these chapter books where Nancy is older and is now on adventures and solving mysteries.
Mystery books for kids

Amelia Bedelia by Herman Parish

The Amelia Bedelia books are classics, and I read some of the original books aloud to my kids when they were younger. The original Amelia was a housekeeper who got into all kinds of scrapes because she took things literally. In the new books, there is a young Amelia who still gets a little mixed up and has all kinds of adventures and fun with idioms and wordplay thrown in. This newer version has an explanation of the idioms used in the book so that kids can better understand the humor.
Easy readers

Circle C Beginnings by Susan K. Marlow

These books are the first series featuring Andrea Carter, a young girl growing up on a ranch in California in the late 1800s. Andrea is a tomboy and usually goes by Andi. Horse lovers will especially like Andi because she’s also a horse lover, and the books feature horses and their ranch prominently. The author has other Andrea Carter series that feature Andi growing up. She also has a series of Goldtown Adventures with a boy as the main character.
Horse books for kids
Early chapter book series
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