The First Series My Kids Loved to Read on Their Own and Series That Hooked My Kids a Little Later

Jennie Nash

Author of Raising a Reader: A Mother’s Tale of Desperation and Delight

The First Series My Kids Loved to Read on Their Own

Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch by Cynthia Rylant

There are about a dozen Mr. Putter and Tabby titles and they’re all wonderful. Mr. Putter is the old man you’d pick to live next door, if you could, and Tabby is his old cat. They live next door to Mrs. Teaberry, who is the old woman you’d pick to live next door, if you could, and Zach is her old dog. The misadventures of these gentle folk are familiar and hilarious. Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch is our favorite because it’s the funniest — although Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears features underwear used as a slingshot, which is pretty nifty, too.

Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days
by Cynthia Rylant

Henry’s a boy, Mudge is his big dog, and in these early chapter books, they have every kind of adventure together, from thunderstorms to visiting cousins. My kids both loved these books, but Emily in particular latched onto them. She brought home five or six from the library each week for several months running, and I (almost!) never got tired of them.

Series That Hooked My Kids a Little Later

The Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary (Ramona the Pest, Beezus and Ramona, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, etc.)

Beverly Cleary is among the most beloved children’s authors because she really gets the kids right. You are right there, waiting to go to kindergarten, and right there on the first day of school, and right there in every grade thereafter. Kids love to hear that they are not the only ones who are desperate to be the teacher’s pet, who have been sent to the principal’s office, who have thrown up in class, or who know that there is no tougher job — or more wondrous job — than being a kid.

Even when I read these books to Emily, Carlyn will inch her way over to listen. If your kids don’t care for Ramona, try Cleary’s Ralph S. Mouse books.

The American Girl Series

These books abour girls throughout history are formulaic but fun for early and middle elementary school. The girls tackle some seriouss issues and learn some serious lessons, which kids love to hear about. The best part, however, are the bits and pieces about life during other times — the facts that there were no cars or that sugar was rationed.

Everything by Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches, The Twits, Matilda, etc.)

Though not technically a series, Dahl has such a distinct writing style that his books naturally go together. The craziness of the characters and the setups act like magnets to readers who are ready to take flight.

Everything by Judy Blume
Fudge-A-Mania, Super Fudge, Double Fudge, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, etc. Blume’s books introduce some slightly more complicated emotions and relationships, which kids begin to welcome when they can read this much text.

About Raising a Reader by Jennie Nash

Raising a Reader gives an inside look at what it’s really like in a home where kids are learning to read — and it’s not always pretty. If you’re in the business of passing on a love of books, this is the book for you! Read a chapter at

Raising a Reader is Jennie’s third book. She’s also written articles and essays for scores of national magazines. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their two girls and lots and lots of books!

From Raising a Reader © Jennie Nash 2003. Reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press and available wherever books are sold.