Summer Reading: Early Chapter Books to Hook ‘Em
Last week, in her first post about summer reading, local children’s book expert Melissa LaSalle shared some of her favorite new picture books for kids. Today she’s back with recommendations for early chapter books.
Here are my favorite new additions to early chapter books, all suitable for independent readers with various levels of confidence and all heavily peppered with entertaining graphics. They make great read alouds for younger children, too.
Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, by John Himmelman (Ages 6-10)
If your child has been pestering you about the sequel to The Princess in Black (which, cue squeals of excitement, will come out in October), you might have luck tiding her over with John Himmelman’s witty and wise Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny.
In a series of succinct stories, we follow the adventures of Isabel, a young bunny who’s equal parts Female Warrior and Zen Master. Despite being the best “hitter,” “kicker,” and “thrower” in her martial arts school, Isabel prefers to rely on her brain power, out-smarting her foes and skirting various pickles with both cleverness and kindness.
The lessons of The Bunjitsu Code at the end of the book might help you ward off a riot when you break it to your child that this book’s sequel doesn’t come out until October either.
Dory and the Real True Friend, by Abby Hanlon (Ages 7-10)
Nothing—I repeat, nothing—makes my daughter happier than listening to Dory Fantasmagory, one of the most original, spirited, and wildly imaginative heroines to grace the early chapter book world.
Dory (nicknamed Rascal by her family) is the misunderstood youngest of three. She’s on speaking terms with seven imaginary monsters who live in her house, and she has a gnome named Mr. Nuggy for a fairy godmother. Oh, and she’s often on the run from a 507-year-old “robber” named Mrs. Gobble Gracker.
This July, the sequel comes out, and my daughter and I agree (we have dogeared our pre-release copy) that it is every bit as delightful as the first. In Dory and the Real True Friend, all the usual suspects are back—the real and the imaginary—only this time the action centers on Dory’s transition to kindergarten. What should she wear on her first day? Will anyone play with her at recess? Will the teachers appreciate her outlandish stories? Most importantly, will she find anyone with an imagination equal to her own (a real true friend)?
The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken, by Doreen Cronin (Ages 7-10)
If you hear uproarious laughter from the other room, your child has most certainly stumbled upon a bunch of misguided chickens such that only Doreen Cronin can dream up.
The two books so far in Cronin’s series, The Chicken Squad and The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken, are some of the only books that my seven-year-old son has voluntarily read aloud to me (as in, “Mommy, you have to listen to this!”). These detective chickens may think that they are hot on the trail of crime, but they are about as helpful as the paranoid animals that they’re investigating. We can’t be too hard on them, though: lots of things in the backyard look really strange when seen through the eyes of a chicken.
Pop Goes the Circus! by Kate Klise & M. Sarah Klise (Ages 8-12)
The fourth book was just released in the positively infectious Three Ring Rascals series, about the misadventures of a lovable circus troupe of eccentric humans and talking animals.
Cleverly written (puns abound) and broken up with animated speech bubbles, Pop Goes the Circus and its three predecessors offer a refreshingly G-rated but still sufficiently sophisticated choice for a wide range of ages. Physical comedy? Check. Suspense? Check. A bit of magic? Check. Dysfunctional family drama? Check. Heroic acts of compassion? Check. Reading has never been more theatrical!
As always, check out my blog for weekly updates on what we are enjoying reading in our house. I’ll be posting all summer long!