One of the joys of working in the Youth Services Department is watching children and families grow. They grow in number, height, and, of course our favorite way… reading interests. My favorite part of any work day is hearing what kids are reading and what they want to try next.
Every family makes similar progression- the board books, picture books, early readers and magazines, youth chapter books and teen fiction. Eventually we send them off to our colleagues upstairs to do research or find the next best read. But of all the transitions, the one that feels the most like a rite of passage is the one from early readers to the “real” chapter book section. This is the transition that feels like “becoming a big kid”. It can feel a bit daunting scanning the shelves packed with books for everyone from Kindergarten to 5th grade. How do you know which ones are for you? Here are a few gems hiding on the “Big Kid” shelves. For more ideas stop by the Youth Services Desk. Making recommendation is one of our favorite parts of the job!
Gus and Grandpa by Claudia Mills (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1996)
This is a delightful story about an “almost seven” year old boy spending time with his “almost seventy” year old grandfather. They both have their mishaps but share a lot of fun and a lot of love along the way. Simple and heartwarming with universal appeal.
Dragon Masters series by Tracey West (Scholastic, 2014)
A fabulous adventure series for early grade readers. Drake and his friends are Dragon Masters who work for the king. They learn a lot, quickly, about caring for dragons but they also learn a lot about friendship along the way. These book move quickly and would be great for kids who enjoyed Harry Potter and How to Train Your Dragon movies but are not quite ready for the challenge of reading them.
Mrs. Noodlekugel by Daniel Pinkwater (Candlewick Press, 2012)
One of the most beloved authors of our time, Daniel Pinkwater works his magic again in Mrs. Noodlekugel! This is a quirky story that will tickle the funny bone of all kids, cats and blind mice. It has all the elements of a great read: bored siblings, a secret doorway, and a talking cat. With charming illustrations and fabulous antics young readers will be laughing out loud!
Ark in the Park by Wendy Orr (Holt, 2000)
Every night as she looks out from her apartment window over the park below pet store inside the park, Sophie makes three impossible wishes: to have a pet, to have cousins and to visit the ark shaped pet store! The problem is her family is too busy, her parents came from a country far away, and she’s not allowed to cross the street alone! In this heart-melting story, Sophie’s wishes DO come true in unexpected ways. Whimsical illustrations accompany a sweet growing up story.
Stuart’s Cape by Sara Pennypacker (Orchard Books, 2002)
Stuart is B.O.R.E.D. It is raining (still). He just moved so he doesn’t know anyone (and his toys got thrown out) and he wants an adventure! Of course, if he is going to be ready for adventure he needs a cape, right? Off he goes in his handmade cape on epic adventures. Simple language and a very relatable hero makes this a huge hit for early chapter book readers.
Daisy Dawson series by Steve Voake (Candlewick Press, 2007)
Daisy Dawson, like most kids, is a day dreamer. But the problem is that Daisy Dawson actually has a very unique skill- she can communicate with animals! It takes a long time to get to school when you have to chat with every squirrel, bird, cat and dog. It takes even longer when your animal friends need your help ASAP! Daisy Dawson is adventurous and lovable from start to finish!
Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon (Spotlight, 2013)
Henry isn’t really horrid but he sure is hysterical. These books are actually collections of short stories that are sometimes slimy, sometimes spooky but ALWAYS downright funny. For kids who love to laugh and like realistic fiction these are great early fiction books!
Submitted by Mollie Mulligan, Youth Services Library Assistant