In about the second grade, kids typically are ready to start reading chapter books themselves. Today, I’m sharing our favorite chapter books for young readers (around 2nd and 3rd grade). Some of these are my favorite chapter books from childhood, some are ones I used often as a reading tutor, and others are ones we’ve discovered and enjoyed in our home. Some fit all three categories. 🙂
In this book list, you will find fiction chapter books. If you are looking for nonfiction texts, you may want to check out my Nonfiction Books Series, where I’ve included a few chapter books. If you have older readers, visit our Favorite Chapter Books for 4th and 5th grades.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Benefits of Using Chapter Books Series
Have you ever found an author you just love? You love the author’s writing style and amazing story lines? His or her books just draw you in. That’s what we also want for kids. All kids benefit from book series, but especially struggling readers. Why? I think there are two main reasons:
1. When kids are familiar with the author’s style, the author’s organization, and the characters, it makes frees the mind of the struggling reader to focus on comprehension of the text.
2. Struggling readers often times become reluctant or even resistant readers. This happens primarily because they are asked to read texts that are too difficult for them; or we ask them to read books that are of no interest to them (hence the need for “just right” books.) Interest is a huge motivator for any learner. HUGE. Did I mention huge? And when struggling readers, who are accustomed to reading texts of no interest or that are too difficult for them, hook into a series of high interest AND on their reading level, it is a BIG DEAL. I seriously celebrate with the reader when this happens.
Favorite Chapter Books & Series for 2nd & 3rd grades
Henry and Mudge is a great place to start with early chapter books. As a matter of fact, some readers may be ready for them in the 1st grade. The lovable characters of Henry and Mudge combined with their adventures is a great combination.
Frog and Toad books are another great resource for kids in late 1st grade, early 2nd grade. I wouldn’t necessarily call them “chapter books” in the true sense because each “chapter” is a different story. Kids do enjoy the charming stories of Frog and Toad.
Fox books by James Marshall fit right in there with Frog and Toad books as not always being true “chapter books”, but kids still do enjoy these at an early age.
Just like you have Henry and Mudge, you also have Mr. Putter & Tabby. Another perfect chapter book series for kids who are ready for them. Note that 1st graders may also be ready for this series.
The Cam Jansen series is the perfect introduction to mysteries. Cam (“The Camera”) has a photographic mind and uses it to solve crimes and problems. I personally love that the characters are in the 5th grade, yet the text in on a 2nd grade level. Because of this, older struggling readers tend to be more accepting of reading these texts. For readers who aren’t ready to read the Cam Jansen series, there’s also a Young Cam Jansen series.
The Magic Tree House series is one of those well-known favorites for many kids. Around the middle of 2nd grade, kids are typically ready to read them with independence. I started reading them aloud to my kids when they were in Kindergarten. You will want to read these in order, especially at first, as it takes a few books before all the important characters are fully explained. The chapters are well written and created little cliff hangers so kids with WANT to keep reading.
The Ivy + Bean books are a great series about two best friends who team up together and solve problems and accomplish great things together. Is there anything Ivy and Bean can’t do? Obviously, girls would probably be most drawn to this series.
Encyclopedia Brown has been around for quite a few years. I remember reading a few as a child. I think that mysteries are such a fantastic way to get kids thinking and problem solving as they work alongside Encyclopedia Brown to solve the mysteries.
June B. Jones is such a hilariously funny character that you can’t help but fall in love with. No matter where I’ve read her texts, I’m always greeted with, “Read more. Don’t stop.” She does use words like hate and stupid, but I typically skip over those when reading aloud to younger students. Many kids can relate to the way she words things and the trouble she gets in.
If you were a fan of Nancy Drew when you were younger, you may just want to try Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew. Carolyn Keene has come back with a newer version, with many of the same characters that your kids are sure to be drawn to as they solve mysteries together.
My 3rd grade son is in the middle of an A to Z Mysteries book right now. Follow the three main characters as they solve mysteries. Are you seeing a pattern here with all these mysteries? Mysteries are a GREAT way to help kids see how fiction stories are constructed (a.k.a. text structure.)
I would say that Freddy is kind of like the male version of Junie B. Jones. Kids will relate to this lighthearted and fun character who is always getting himself in trouble and saying things he wished he hadn’t said.
The Judy Moody books are the perfect step up from the Junie B. Jones books. Judy Moody books have a great story line, are engaging, and funny. I think it is important, however, to make sure kids understand that just because Judy Moody behaves a certain way or talks to her family in a disrespectful way at times, that doesn’t make it okay for our kids to do this.
Stink is the shortest kid that ever lived, at least he feels like it, especially with all the teasing his older sister, Judy Moody, does to him. But Stink is a character kids will LOVE. Kids will also love the illustrations with extras, like comic strips, tucked into these books. If your kids like Stink and Freddy books, they may also like these chapter book series: George Brown, Captain Awesome, Roscoe Riley, & Galaxy Zack.
What are some of your favorite Chapter Books for Kids in the 2nd/3rd grades?
More Reading Resources
See all our favorites books in this series.
Want MORE Free Teaching Resources?
Join thousands of other subscribers to get hands-on activities and printables delivered right to your inbox!