Great news for the 4-9 year old page turners in your life: chapter books. The hubby discovered about a year ago that our now five year old daughter was ready and it’s made life a whole lot more entertaining for all. Reading a chapter and then continuing nightly has everyone excited to find out what will happen next. In my hunt to find more for them to enjoy, I once again crossed reference the New York Times Best Sellers, Amazon Best Sellers, Borders Top Sellers, Chronical Books and threw in a healthy dose of personal opinion to bring you the top five. All of the picks are great for new readers (and the pros!) or for children (like ours) who still need to be read to. And most of these come in a series so there’s even more to look forward to. Read on!
5. Ivy & Bean
by Annie Barrows
Seven-year-old Bean likes stomping in puddles, climbing fences into neighbors’ backyards, and playing tricks on her older sister, Nancy. She wears dresses as seldom as possible and avoids big books. Her new neighbor appears to be a quiet, orderly girl who sits on her front step day after day reading tomes. The two seem to have nothing in common, and Bean is not interested in getting to know Ivy, despite her mother’s prodding to make friends with the nice girl next door. Then Bean gets into trouble, and Ivy helps her out. She discovers that Ivy is practicing to be a witch, and when they decide to cast a spell on Nancy, their friendship is sealed. With echoes of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, this easy chapter book will appeal to children who are graduating from beginning readers. The occasional black-and-white illustrations highlight the text and provide visual clues. The characters are appealing, the friendship is well portrayed, and the pranks and adventures are very much on grade level.
For Amazon’s price of $5.99, click here to purchase to start with the first in the series.
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
by Jeff Kinney
Middle school student Greg Heffley takes readers through an academic year’s worth of drama. Greg’s mother forces him to keep a diary (“I know what it says on the cover, but when Mom went out to buy this thing I specifically told her to get one that didn’t say ‘diary’ on it”), and in it he loosely recounts each day’s events, interspersed with his comic illustrations. Kinney has a gift for believable preteen dialogue and narration (e.g., “Don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that”), and the illustrations serve as a hilarious counterpoint to Greg’s often deadpan voice. The hero’s utter obliviousness to his friends and family becomes a running joke. For instance, on Halloween, Greg and his best friend, Rowley, take refuge from some high school boys at Greg’s grandmother’s house; they taunt the bullies, who then T.P. her house. Greg’s journal entry reads, “I do feel a little bad, because it looked like it was gonna take a long time to clean up. But on the bright side, Gramma is retired, so she probably didn’t have anything planned for today anyway.” Kinney ably skewers familiar aspects of junior high life, from dealing with the mysteries of what makes someone popular to the trauma of a “wrestling unit” in gym class.
For Amazon’s price of $10.15 (vs. $12.95) click here to purchase to start with the first in the series.
3. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
by Richard Atwater
More than 60 years have not dated this wonderfully absurd tale–it still makes kids (and parents) laugh out loud. Poor Mr. Popper isn’t exactly unhappy; he just wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles, and spends his spare time between house-painting jobs reading all about polar explorations. Admiral Drake, in response to Mr. Popper’s fan letter, sends him a penguin; life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is never the same again. From one penguin living in the icebox, the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed. Thus is born “Popper’s Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole.” Their adventures while on tour are hilarious, with numerous slapstick moments as the penguins disrupt other acts and invade hotels. Classic chapter-a-night fun.
For Amazon’s price of $6.99, click here to purchase.
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis
They open a door and enter a world- Narnia … a land frozen in eternal winter … a country waiting to be set free. Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia — a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change … and a great sacrifice.
For Amazon’s price of $6.99, click here to purchase.
1. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus
by Barbara Park
Junie B., a feisty almost-six-year-old who is not at all happy about riding the bus on the first day of kindergarten. In fact, she doesn’t like a single thing about this vehicle: not the kids who get on it (“Loud kids. And some of them were the kind who look like meanies”); not the door (“If it closes on you by accident, it will cut you in half, and you will make a squishy sound”); and not the black smoke it emits (“It’s called bus breath, I think”). Other equally candid, on-target perceptions fill Junie B.’s first-person narrative, which is peppered with reader-involving questions (“Only guess what?”; ” ‘Cause guess why?”) that help to propel the story at a whiz-bang pace. When a classmate tells Junie B. that kids will pour chocolate milk on her head on the way home, the spunky child finds a way to avoid the dreaded bus.
For Amazon’s price of $9.99 click here to purchase to start with the first in the series.
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