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First Chapter Books

first chapter books

Booklist: First Chapter Books 

Finding the right books is essential in helping young readers successfully make the leap into their first chapter books. On this booklist, we have picked a selection of short, illustrated chapter books that are perfect for children launching into independent reading. This collection of early reader books – with colour illustrations, shorter length and clear formatting – has been picked with those readers in mind who need something to bridge the gap between reading scheme books and lengthier chapter books. Here are our top picks of the best first chapter books for children.

First Chapter Books with a Series to Collect

Harriet Muncaster
Chapter book

This is part of a series responsible for turning many young children into independent readers. Isadora Moon is half fairy, half-vampire and each book in the series follows her adventures with friends and family. In this book, Isadora has reached school age and has an important decision to make. Her mum wants her to attend fairy school and her dad wants to send her to vampire school. Isadora tries out each school, with their very different priorities and curriculums, and in the process answers some important questions about her own heritage and identity. This is a humorous chapter book, with attractive black-and-pink illustrations and a high appeal to modern young readers.

Alex T. Smith
Chapter book
This is part of an award-winning and hugely popular series about a loveable dog called Claude and his hapless companion Sir Bobblysock. In this story, Claude stumbles across a circus and cannot help but inadvertently become the star of the show. This entertaining series is full of slapstick humour and amusing illustrations that hold a high appeal to new readers aged 6-8 looking for a fun, accessible read. Highly recommended!
Paula Harrison
 & Jenny Løvlie
Chapter book

There’s a new superhero in town and her name is Kitty! This series features a girl called Kitty and her crew of felines as they embark upon brave rooftop adventures in the moonlight. Illustrated in cool blacks and oranges, these fun-filled mystery adventures with talking cats are likely to be a purrrfectly popular independent reading choice among ages 6-8.

Sophy Henn
Chapter book
The third book in the wickedly funny series for ages six and up from the creator of Where Bear?, Pass It On and the Pom Pom series, with colour illustrations throughout. Hi! I’m Jeanie – still 7 ¾ years old, and back for another adventure with my BRILLIANT grandma BAD NANA.There’s a local winter talent show, and the whole town is SO excited. Especially as the SPECTACULAR Bobby Trulove is in charge. He’s an old friend of BAD NANA’s and he’s quite, erm, dramatic!The day before the show, a freak weather storm hits, and leaves the town snowed in. Can BAD NANA save the show?

Short Illustrated Chapter Books about Animals

Holly Webb
 & Abigail Hookham
Chapter book
Lucy and her dad are still feeling sad about the loss of their lovely cat Patch, who had been part of their family for such a long time. So when a little lost kitten turns up in their garden, Lucy doesn’t want to tell her dad in case it upsets him. But she grows to love the little kitten and he doesn’t seem to have a home, so Lucy is really upset when he disappears and finally she has to tell her dad the truth. Will her dad be able to help Lucy find the little kitten and can they offer him a new home?
Michael Morpurgo
 & Sam Usher
The frogs always beat the toads at long jump but the toads don't mind - anything for a quiet life. But then the children and Mutt the dog come in search of some good jumpers, and the toads see an opportunity to get their own back. Soon the poor frogs have been gathered up and put in an ice-cream tub, and they're hopping mad! Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 5+
Ross Montgomery
 & Marisa Morea
Chapter book
A thwarted thespian must use his talents to save his flock from a woolly situation in this hilarious gem from bestselling children’s author Ross Montgomery.William the lamb just can’t stand still. His feet are always tapping, ready to dance, and he loves nothing more than bursting into song. But his talents aren’t always appreciated at Sheep School. Cast out of the flock, he wanders miserably away only to witness the rest of the sheep being captured by the Big Bad Wolf. Can William find a way to put his artistic skills to use to save the day?
Philip Reeve
 & Sarah McIntyre
Chapter book

Pedro is an endearing main character. His longing to have an adventure, and the obstacles to achieving that, will strike a chord with many KS1 children. They will be cheering him on, through danger and disappointment, to his enrolment as a fully signed-up member of the Adventuremice team.

Teachers will enjoy sharing this gentle tale in a classroom setting and children will miss out if they cannot clearly see the bright and breezy illustrations. For this reason, perhaps it’s best recommended as a library book which children – and their parents – can read at home or even on holiday. It’s a book to inspire (day-)dreams and great ambition. A small book (a little over 100 pages) with a big heart that carries a message about humans looking after the marine environment, and about what courage and kindness look like in practice. Either, or both, could be the starting point for some interesting discussions.

The final pages – a map of The Mouse Islands, ‘How to Draw Pedro’ and ‘About the Authors’ – are a great addition to this latest book from the talented Reeve-McIntyre duo, which reflect their humour and their generosity.

Alex Milway
Chapter book

Anna Dupont arrives at the dilapidated Hotel Flamingo after inheriting it from her Great Aunt Mathilda, who left it to her in her will. Shocked at the state of the “sunniest hotel in town”, Anna decides to restore the hotel to its former glory and sets about the enormous task of cleaning it up alongside a team of animal staff. Imaginative, accessible and little bit wild, Hotel Flamingo is a fabulous early chapter book with fun illustrations set in pinks and greys. This is the first title in a growing series that will appeal to readers aged 5-8.

Nick Sharratt
Chapter book

This story from well-loved author-illustrator Nick Sharrat is full of warmth and humour. After a fire at the castle, the King and his cat move to 37, Castle Close where life is very different. Normal tasks like shopping and setting the table for dinner are unfamiliar to someone used to having servants at their beck and call. Fortunately, the king’s loyal cat is close by to lend a hand. A funny book with a wide appeal, especially written for emergent readers.

Short story collection
Bear didn’t really like the painting. I mean, look at it. But he liked Bird a lot, and it would remind him of her…Bear and Bird are best friends! And while they don’t always understand each other, they both agree: all they want is to make the other happy. So, when Bear forgets to pack for a picnic (but pretends that he didn’t), Bird doesn’t let on that she knew all along. And when Bird discovers that Bear has more of a certain talent than she does, well, Bear finds a touching way to make her feel better...Full of funny mix-ups and comic misunderstandings, as well as genuine warmth and affection, these four stories are the start of an irresistibly charming new chapter book series from award-winning creator Jarvis.

First Chapter Books about Superheroes, Aliens & Pirates

Alex Falase-Koya
 & Paula Bowles
Chapter book
Marvin is an ordinary boy who loves spending time with Grandpa, reading comics, and making science experiments with his best friend Joe. But everything changes when he discovers a mysterious superhero suit hidden in the attic . . . to his amazement, Marvin learns that he is next in a long line of superheroes. Now the time has come to meet his destiny! When the Science Fair is thrown into chaos by super-villain Mastermind and her giant robot, Marvin is the only one who can stop them. Will Marvin be brave enough to step into his power-and into his superhero suit-to become the great and marvellous superhero Marv? The first book in a powerful series of one boy's journey to unlock the superhero within.
Eoin Colfer
 & Katy Halford
Chapter book

This story from Eoin Colfer and Katy Halford is part of Barrington Stoke’s ‘super-readable’ Little Gems series, which are short, illustrated chapter books specifically designed for readers just taking off with independent reading. This one is bags of fun and tells the tale of young Mariella, whose imaginative story champions girls engaging and leading in STEM. Mariella has a passion for inventing and a head brimming full of creative ideas to solve everyday problems, but the only remaining problem is that there are not enough hours in the day and Mariella wishes that she did not have to go to sleep!

Phil Earle
 & Steve May
Chapter book
It's not easy having a dad who is the greatest superhero in the world. For six days a week, Stanley 's dad works hard at saving the planet from disasters and supervillains, but Friday is his day off and that means father-and-son time. But one Friday, Stanley finds himself caught up in some superhero adventures of his own. This exciting adventure story makes a brilliant first chapter book for children who love superheroes!
Cornelia Funke
 & Kasia Matyjaszek
Chapter book
Captain Firebeard has been destroying beautiful Monkey Skull Island and its inhabitants in his search for lost treasure. Molly Rogers - daughter of the famously fearsome pirate Barbarous Bertha - is not going to stand for Firebeard's antics any longer and soon embarks upon a pirate rescue mission of her own. A fun, swashbuckling adventure with vibrant illustrations.
Tracey Corderoy
 & Steven Lenton
Chapter book
Shifty and Sam have exchanged their life of crime as burglars (and not very good ones at that) for a new venture selling homemade cupcakes. Their criminal know-how soon comes into its own when they take it upon themselves to solve mysteries and catch crooks. This book contains three humorous short stories brought to life by Steven Lenton's cheerful illustrations.

Short Chapter Books about Princesses, Ballerinas & Magical Creatures

Swapna Reddy
 & Binny Talib
Chapter book
Learning to ballet dance is harder than Millie expected. The other dancers in the class aren't very nice to her either. But just when she's thinking that maybe ballet isn't for her after all, Millie meets the ballet bunnies! They live hidden in the ballet school, using what they find to make their home-ballet shoes for beds, upside down cups for tables-and secretly take the ballet classes with the humans. Maybe the ballet bunnies can help Millie master some news ballet skills after all!
Kirsty Applebaum
 & Sahar Haghgoo
Chapter book
Princess Minna loves to sort out mix-ups and mishaps in the kingdom! In this full-colour, illustrated chapter book, join her on a funny, exciting adventure to wake a sleeping prince and much more - all in time for tea.Princess Minna lives in Castle Tall-Towers with the King and Queen, Raymond the Wizard and her best dragon friend, Lorenzo. There are often mix-ups and mishaps in the kingdom and Princess Minna loves to sort them out!She can tame unicorns, kiss frogs and fight dragons (apart from Lorenzo) and she is very good at fixing things before it's time for bed.In The Enchanted Forest, Princess Minna has to wake a sleeping prince before nightfall. But along the way, she finds a swan, an old lady and a very fluffy sheep - all of them in a fix! Can she help them and still reach the prince before sundown?Full of colourful illustrations, these short, funny stories are perfect for readers just moving on from picture books and visual readers.
Hannah Shaw
Chapter book

One for fans of Harriet Muncaster’s Isadora Moon and Sarah MacIntyre’s Grumpycorn, this is the first story in a series of illustrated short chapter books about Princess Pea and her rather un-royal palace pet – Unipiggle! A madcap and muddy adventure with high-energy design in full colour and tips to draw your own Unipiggle too.

Pippa Curnick
Chapter book
Enter the colourful world of Indigo Wilde and the magical creatures who live at Jellybean Crescent. When a highly dangerous new arrival goes missing, the race is on to catch it before disaster strikes ... A wonderfully wild new series for readers of 7+ and fans of Pippi Longstocking and Amelia Fang. *Winner of the Alligator's Mouth Award!*Discovered in the Unknown Wilderness when she was just a baby, Indigo Wilde was adopted by World-Famous Explorers, Philomena and Bertram, who are always off adventuring.Home for Indigo and her little brother, Quigley, is 47 Jellybean Crescent, a crazy and colourful house full of magical creatures that her parents have taken in over the years. There's Fishkins, a purrmaid - half-cat, half-fish, and ALWAYS grumpy; Graham, a llama-corn with a particular taste for tinsel; Olli and Umpf - bright pink and blue yetis who can't blend in to the snow, and that's to name just a few of the creatures.And now Indigo's parents have sent another Monster Mail delivery to Indigo and Quigley. But this time, the box is empty, and the escaped creature is running rampage around the house. The race is on to catch the creature before it's too late ...First in a new series by Pippa Curnick, this is gorgeously illustrated in full colour throughout.

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