One of my goals this year was to read more books directed towards young readers grades 1st to 3rd. The challenge is to find books that appeal to an audience that is very diverse in their reading abilities. In a first grade, a teacher may have children that are barely reading common sight words to others who are reading sizeable chapter books. Parents and teachers will always need to match the right book to the right reader, but here are some of the books that I have been reading lately that might engage a child in this transitional period.
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Series by Erica Silverman
This first chapter book series is centered around a friendship between a small girl named Kate and her best horse, Cocoa. Divided into a small chapters with limited vocabulary, Silverman develops stories with humor and lessons that teach without feeling preachy. Each book has about 44 pages and pictures every few pages. If I counted correctly, there are currently 6 books in the series.
At this age, girls and boys tend to prefer reading about characters that are the same gender as they are. So if your developing reader is a boy and not interested in being a Cowgirl, then Fly Guy might be the way to go. Buzz has a buggy best pal - Fly Guy. Similar to Cowgirl Kate, the books have small chapters, fixed vocabulary, and about 32 pages. There are lots of books in this series.
Perfect for boys or girls, the Down Girl And Sit Series by Lucy Nolan is a step up from the previous two series. Each chapter book is about 60 pages long and have more text and less pictures. Stories are more developed and vocabulary more diverse. I am not a huge dog or cat fan, but these books made me chuckle. They are centered around two dog pals and seeing the world from their perspective can be really funny. The series has about 4 books in it and they are quite enjoyable.
Franny is not your usual little girl. She is a mad scientist and has a pet dog named Igor. She lives in this typical suburban home with very normal appearing parents; however, she is definitely her own person. Each book features Franny in some stage of experimentation which is usually applied to some issue she is facing at school. I love Franny. And I have quite a few 1st grade boys who like Franny as well.
This series is by far the longest of the four listed in this post clocking in around 100 pages.
If you are looking for a replacement for all those Junie B. Jones or Magic Treehouse books, check out one of the series above.