Do you have a child who is not quite ready for 6 Must-Read Middle Grade Series but is too old for picture books? Check out these 5 Amazing Chapter Book Series to get them plugged into reading.
How to Define a Chapter Book?
Chapter-books and middle-grade books are difficult for me to pin down with a definitive age-range because so many children are at different levels during this time. This collection of five chapter-book series has a range of reading levels included, but the most important distinction in my opinion is content.
These chapter-books introduce age-appropriate dilemmas and challenges. They are not without some drama or excitement, but they do not veer into scary or overtly romantic for their protagonists.
A further distinction is whether a series contains illustrations or not. A couple of these series have illustrations, most of them do not.
Hopefully, you can find a good fit for your growing reader. The five chapter-book series listed below cover a range of topics and interests and reading levels. We have loved all of these in the past few years, and I hope you find a new favorite one (or two!) as well!
Don’t Miss These Five Chapter Book Series
Zoey & Sassafrass by Asia Citro
I introduced this series to my girls early on in our read-aloud time. It is a great series for science-minded little ones with a healthy appreciation for fantasy. Plus, the periodic illustrations and moderate text make any book in this series a great transition from picture books to chapter books.
Zoey can hear magical animals asking for help. When magical creatures appear, a different species in each book, it’s up to her to help them. Her cat, Sassafrass, is a fun “side-kick.”
This series does a great job of introducing, using, and repeating the scientific method. In order to help the animals, Zoey often has to conduct an experiment to isolate the problem. To do so, she runs through the scientific method.
They have an amazing website for this series, too. It has printables and information about the content and other activities for young readers to engage with further.
Audrey of the Outback by Christine Harris
Our family met Audrey when I spent some time looking for books with my youngest daughter’s name in them. I found these books right about the same time that she was in an “Australia-phase” (mostly because she loved cassowaries). Combining her name and her favorite continent was sheer luck and brilliant success.
Obviously, it takes more than a happy coincidence to make books worth reading. This series follows a girl, Audrey, who lives in the Outback of Australia in the 1930’s. Readers will delight in her imaginary friend, her squabbles with siblings, and her observations about the world around her. Plus, if you are not Australian-based, you’ll get to learn some Australian lingo.
Little Legends by Tom Percival
This series combines various fairy tale characters encountering their problems in the dynamic place of Tale Town. Find all your favorite characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales living in one place.
In the first book of the series, The Spell Thief, everything is going just fine until a new kid moves into town. Jack sees the new kid talking to a troll and assumes the worst. Convinced that Tale Town is in trouble, Jack decides he’ll stop at nothing to prove that he’s right.
Tree Street Kids by Amanda Cleary Eastep
This series is a relatively recent release. Jack vs. the Tornado starts with a young boy who has been forced to move from a farmhouse that he loves very much to the suburbs of Chicago. The first book centers on him trying to get back the farmhouse. In the process he encounters a range of challenges, not the least of which is a tornado.
Eastep’s style is humorous and quirky. My daughter loved the fact inserts about bugs and wildlife, and she laughed out loud on multiple occasions. The Finch family relies on their Christian faith to understand their world and situations but not in a didactic way.
Castle Glower Series by Jessica Day George
Of the series on this list, the Castle Glower series is probably the one most likely to be a good pick for transitioning from chapter books to middle grade.
The protagonist, Celie, is the youngest princess of a royal family. Her contribution to her family is that she knows Castle Glower the best. Castle Glower is a magic castle. It changes rooms and hallways according to its whims. It provides poor accommodations to those that it does not like and sumptuous living quarters to visitors that it does like. And, in the first book, Tuesdays at the Castle, the Castle is definitely trying to tell the siblings something. Can Celie and her siblings, with the help of the castle, undermine some nefarious plotters and rescue their family and the castle?
This is a great start to the series with suitable action and suspense and a great range of characters, including new friends for the Glower children. In terms of content, this series does eventually develop a romantic relationship between Celie’s older sister and one of their new friends, but the situation is not overly dramatized or emphasized (until the wedding in a last book!).
Positive family dynamics. Likable and spunky protagonist. Strong friendship examples.
Chapter Book Series Feedback
How do you draw a distinction between chapter books and middle grade novels? What kind of content distinction do you look for between lower and upper elementary ages? Any other series suggestions that you’d add to this list?