Beginning Chapter Books

The Next Step in Becoming a Fluent Reader.
Beginning Chapter Books
Chapter books can be rather daunting to a beginning reader, let alone someone who doesn’t really enjoy reading. The trick is to find the right book that will spark their interest enough to light the fire. The subject matter and characters make all the difference when it comes to staying interested in a story. These books have stayed with me since my childhood and I hope they will inspire your young readers as well. I’ve picked the books with the most memorable characters and stories that are page-turners. (Fancy bookmarks also make chapter books more fun!)

   Maniac Magee is the story of an unsual boy who loves to run, untie knots, and make people happy. After his parents died in a trolley accident he ran away from his unhappy aunt and uncle to find a better home in a town 200 miles away. The people he meets and the the friends he makes along the way are unique and interesting. The characters have quirky things about them as well as flaws, which make them more realistic and personable.
   The Boxcar Children is a timeless story about four orphans survivng on their own in an abandoned boxcar. Their hand crafted comforts and creativity will mesmorize readers and capture their interest immediately. This is the perfect first chapter book to read or listen to.
   The Call of the Wild is a heart string pulling story about a pet dog that’s kidnapped and sold to become a sled dog during the Alaskan gold rush. Buck goes from master to master and is treated worse by each man. Finally, he defies tameness to embrace his wild nature and becomes the leader of a wolf pack in the Alaskan wilderness.
   The Borrowers are little people the size of mice that live unseen among the "human beans" and borrow from them to survive. The Clock family lives under the floorboards of an English cottage and all is well until one of the girls is seen by the human boy that moves into the cottage. Borrowers must never be seen! All kinds of trouble ensues for the little family. 
   My Side of the Mountain is the story of a boy who runs away to live in the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains. He makes his home in a huge hollow tree and becomes friends with a weasel and a falcon. With a small survival kit and his wits he scrapes a living off of the land and grows up a little, too.
   Where the Red Fern Grows is a children’s classic and definitely holds a reader’s attention. Billy and his two coonhounds spend their days trying to "tree" the elusive ghost racoon. Suspense and excitement are the backbone of this book with a smattering of tragedy. Emotions run deep in this timeless story about a boy and his dogs.
   The Twits are probably the most disgusting couple in children’s literature, but they are certainly some of the funniest. Mr. and Mrs. Twit try to out-prank one another with each prank getting more and more outrageous.
   Diary of a Wimpy Kid is Greg’s hilarious personal account of his life complete with cartoon illustrations. His quest to become popular is foiled by girls, parents, nerdy friends, and his obliviousness to his own faults. Ironically, all of these things make him more real and middle-schoolers will love the 7th grader’s daily adventures.
   Poppy is a golden mouse living in a barn with the rest of her family. The tyrant, Mr. Ocax, is a great horned owl that "protects" the mice from the evil porcupines. When Poppy’s boyfriend is eaten for speaking his mind she goes on an adventure to seek the truth about the owl and returns with the knowledge she gained. In spite of the allegory this book is not preachy and the characters are very believable as well as charming.
   Redwall has riddles, mystery, battles, and adventure. The awkward little mouse, Matthias, is quickly tangled up in a mission to recover the sword of the abby’s founder to save his home from evil Cluny the Scourge, a one-eyed warlord. I’ve read this so many times the cover of my paperback copy fell off. It has everything an epic adventure story should have, and then some.

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