Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

Home > Curriculum Topic Booklists > Literacy & Reading > First Chapter Books

First Chapter Books

first chapter books

Best First Chapter Books for Children

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. 

Invite early readers to delve into tried-and-tested short, illustrated chapter books with favourite characters like Isadora Moon and Claude, providing delightful and imaginative adventures that children can enjoy in a series to read through or collect. Some readers might opt for gentle animal stories like The Little Lost Kitten while others will prefer to embark on exciting fantasy escapades like the pirate-themed Molly Rogers to the Rescue.

This booklist serves as a resource for parents and teachers seeking engaging and developmentally appropriate first chapter books for newly independent readers.

SAVE 20% with Peters

Visit our booklists on Amazon

Support independent bookshops

Our Favourite First Chapter Books Series

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. These short, colour-illustrated chapter books are perfect for newly independent readers transitioning to chapter books.

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?
Alex Falase-Koya
 & Paula Bowles
Chapter book

We highly recommend the Marv series, about an ordinary boy who finds that his superhero skills are in very much in need!

The story starts with Marvin as an ordinary school boy. When he finds a superhero suit in the attic, he transforms and is required to put his new superhero powers to the test to stop a super-villain with a giant robot from causing destruction.

The book is packed full of illustrations that accompany the action and the story contains themes of friendship, forgiveness as well as endless determination. It also has humour and a real warmth in the characterisation.

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

These stories are perfect very first chapter books for young readers. The text is larger and wider spaced than most chapter books and the pages are fully colour-illustrated with a bright and bold palette.

Princess Minna is an adventurous, modern princess who is full of life and keen to use her resourcefulness to help whoever is in need along the way. From dealing with dragons to saving a prince in distress, Minna always has an adventure to tackle head on.

Not short of funny moments, this early chapter book series makes for a highly entertaining reading book for children ready to move on from picturebooks to something short and illustrated with multiple chapters.

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.

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

In this short, illustrated 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

Here is a fantastically imaginative addition to the growing bank of illustrated chapter books available to newly independent readers, perfect for fans of Alex T Smith’s Claude books and Harriet Muncaster’s Isadora Moon series.

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 is disappointed to see dirty floors, cracked windows, broken doors and layers of old cobwebs. Having been empty of guests for the last few years, the only employees left at the hotel are T Bear the doorman and Mr Lemmy, the lemur who runs the front desk.

A determined and optimistic protagonist, Anna decides to restore the hotel to its former glory and sets about the enormous task of cleaning, fixing, planning and hiring. Restoring the reputation of an old hotel is no easy challenge, and soon Anna and the team face a host of challenges, including rival hoteliers, strange dietary requirements from the animal guests and a visit from a hotel inspector. At every step, Anna keeps her focus on teamwork, inclusion and good old hard work and soon the hotel is celebrating the kind of success it deserves.

I enjoyed the delightful cast of characters, the positive values promoted by hotel owner Anna and Alex Milway’s appealing illustrations set in pinks and greys. I particularly loved the way that the hotel was ready to welcome creatures, like cockroaches, that other hotels in the area were unwilling to accept and there was a clear message that the hotel was a better place because of its warmth and diversity.

Imaginative, accessible and little bit wild, Hotel Flamingo is a fabulous early chapter book 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, Inventors & Pirates

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.
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!

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 chapter book contains three humorous short stories brought to life by Steven Lenton’s cheerful illustrations.

We love the fact that both picturebooks and illustrated short chapter books are available in this series, making it the perfect story series for children crossing the bridge into early chapter books.

Esi Merleh
 & Abeeha Tariq
Chapter book
A short, colour- illustrated chapter book series about magic face paints. Austin, Alanna, and sausage dog Ozzy have been transformed into pirates. Their mission is to find a golden treasure chest before their time in this world runs out.When two very suspicious pirates climb aboard the New Leaf ship and start snooping around, Austin and Alanna know they must help their crewmates, can they save the ship and complete their mission on time?

SAVE 20% with Peters

Visit our booklists on Amazon

Support independent bookshops

Booklists you might also like...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your Review

Stone Girl Bone Girl


Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Year group(s) the book is most suitable for:

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

Would you recommend the book for use in primary schools?


Curriculum links (if relevant)

Curriculum links (if relevant)

Any other comments

Any other comments