Ten Early Readers and Transitional Chapter Books Not to Be Overlooked by Alyson Beecher and Michele Knott

As the start of the school year quickly approaches, I have been finding ways to book talk as many books as I can to teachers. Recently, I shared picture books, early readers and chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, and nonfiction for children with a group of K-12 teachers. Yes, a little of everything because the audience spanned a wide-range of grade levels. After the session, teachers came over to browse the various titles. There was lots of oohs and ahhs over the picture books. People asked about specific middle grade titles and YA books for their own children. However, I noticed that the early reader and chapter book section were a bit neglected.


Michele Knott, educator and blogger, and I like to talk books. Over the past two years, we have been searching out more and more early readers and early chapter books to share with students and teachers. We talk about the challenges readers in first to third grade face and how to best provide lots of book options and choice. Sometimes these titles are a little more challenging to track down. Certain titles get more attention and others may be overlooked as teachers rely on popular series.


When pulling together this list of books,I reached out to Michele for some recommendations for titles that she and her students enjoy. These ten titles from 2018 represent a mix of titles or series that we both enjoy.



Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake by Jeff Mack (Simon & Schuster, July 2018) – Both Michele and I are absolutely in love with this new series by Jeff Mack and hope that there are many, many more. Mr. Monkey and his silly antics will draw students in and keep them reading.



Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal & Jelly Book) by Ben Clanton (Tundra Books, March 2018) – I have loved every Narwhal and Jelly book but I think this maybe my favorite so far. Narwhal gets a bit obsessed with peanut butter, which has some very funny results. Jelly, of course, tries to support her friend but offer a sensible approach to the whole thing.



King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth by Dori Hillestad Butler; Illustrated by Nancy Meyers (Peachtree Publishers, March 2018) – Young readers love mysteries. Kayla and her crime-solving pup are back and this time must find Kayla’s lost tooth before the tooth fairy visits.



Infamous Ratsos: Project Fluffy by Kara LaRue; Illustrated by Matt Myers (Candlewick Press, October 16, 2018) – The Ratso brothers are back and similar to previous titles there are lots of good intentions but something is guaranteed to go wrong. Louie attempts to help his friend Charles to get Fluffy’s attention and Ralphie is missing his brother. Lots of fun and lots of lessons to learn.



Meet Yasmin by Saadi Faruqi; Illustrated by Hatem Aly (Picture Window Books, August 1, 2018) – Only a couple of years ago, there was very little diversity present in Early Readers and Chapter books. I am loving the growth in titles representing diverse stories. In Meet Yasmin, readers get to know this new character and her multi-generational Pakistani Family, over a series of 4 short stories.



Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper by Debbi Michiko Florence; Illustrated by (Farrar Straus Giroux, July 2018) – Debbie Michiko Florence incorporates Japanese American culture and heritage into her Jasmine Toguchi books. I wish these had been out a few years ago when my friend’s daughters, who are Japanese American, were reading early chapter books. They would have loved to see themselves on the pages of a book.



Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: Surf’s Up, Creepy Stuff! By Andres Miedoso; Illustrated by Victor Rivas (Little Simon, May 2018) – Desmond and Andres are back with another supernatural problem to handle. In this installment, the friends must deal with bullies who also happen to be creepy monsters. Lots of fun without lots of fright.



Aliens vs.The Bad Guys (The Bad Guys, Book #6) by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Books, March 2018) – Sometimes, I have trouble keeping up with series. There are so many books to read. However, I can’t pass up a new book in this series. I love how kids and adult are drawn to these book if they are on display. As the series grows, the characters have grown and now face a crisis of massive proportions.



Battle of the Boss-Monster (The Notebook of Doom #13) by Troy Cummings (Scholastic Press, December 2017) – This illustrated transitional chapter book series is a popular book with a wide range of readers. The Super Secret Monster Patrol must battle a monster army. It appears this series maybe coming to an end but with 13 titles, new readers to the series will have a lot to enjoy.



Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers Book #1 by Andrea Beaty; Illustrated by David Roberts (Amulet Books, October 2, 2018) – This new series comes out in October and is a spin-off of the Rosie Revere, Engineer picture book. Rosie and her classmates combine imagination, teamwork, and perseverance to solve a problem.



Alyson Beecher is an educator in Southern California.  She has a serious book addiction and hosts the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge on Wednesdays and #Road2Reading Challenge with Michele Knott on Thursdays. She celebrates books as part of the Nerdy Book Club.   You can find her on Twitter as @alybee930 and on her blog: Kid Lit Frenzy

Michele Knott is an educator and literacy coach in Illinois. You can find her on Twitter as @knott_michele and on her blog: Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook