Favorite Books for Early Readers (that aren’t Dog Man)

List time again! I thought I’d post some of our favorites for early readers – kids who are just starting to read on their own, and want something more than picture books and easy readers, but aren’t ready for full-fledged juvenile fiction chapter books.

(And, nothing against Dog Man at all. We’ve read it. I just think it’s funny that every parent who asks me for recs for this group always adds ‘…but not Dog Man.’)

This is a tricky group of readers because kids can vary so greatly in age at this stage in the game…some kids are reading longer books comfortably by 5, others not until they’re 9. And that is OK. I am learning that it’s important to not get caught up in ‘level’ but to look more at what your kids will be comfortable reading (ability) and what they’ll enjoy reading (affinity).

Even these suggestions are all over the map in terms of what may fit your kid(s), so I highly recommend taking a look at them in the library first.

Zita the Spacegirl Trilogy, by Ben Hatke

For kids that really love a graphic novel series (ahem, Dog Man). I like this one because we love all things outer space and a strong heroine. Type is kind of small (and more like handwriting), just so you know.

The Bad Guys
, by Aaron Blabey

Fun fun fun. Another quality graphic novel series. Highly engaging and I’ve gotten great feedback on these when I’ve recommended them to friends.

Narwhal and Jelly
(series), by Ben Clanton

These are simple and sweet with great humor. There are four total in the series now and I love all of them! They make me laugh.

Princess in Black
, by Shannon and Dean Hale

We’ve checked ALL of these out at the library, and at first I kind of rolled my eyes at a blonde princess with a unicorn named “Frimplepants,” but now I totally get it. They’re fun for early readers, boys and girls alike, but my three year old daughter really enjoys them read aloud by her brother. And the boys get a kick out of the subtle humor (“Twinkle, twinkle, little — SMASH!”).

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot
(series), by Dav Pilkey

Well, it’s not Dog Man, but this is the one series by Dav Pilkey on this list. I’m not even sure how many there are of the Mighty Robot series now (at least nine? we’ve only gone through #4). So here’s an option to keep those Dog Man lovers busy. These are ‘easier’ than Dog Man (and much shorter).


Dory Fantasmagory (series), by Abby Hanlon

These are longer books but still manageable, and highly enjoyable! if your child is ready for them.

Zoey and Sassafras
, by Asia Citro

Here’s a neat series that I had never heard of until a couple of weeks ago. An awesome heroine who is not white, tons of scientific elements, and really positive messages.

Dragon Masters
, by Tracey West

An enormous series (are there 14 of these? 15?) of short simple books about a dragon, a king, a wizard and an 8 year-old boy named Drake. From Scholastic’s Branches collection. We are really into dragons at our house right now!

There are so many more that I feel like could be on this list – I could just keep adding to it! There are also so many that I’ve heard a lot about and just haven’t read yet (Ivy and Bean, The Infamous Ratsos, Kung Pow Chicken, etc.). Seems like I’ll need to do a follow up to this as we keep reading more and more at our house (we’ve just started).


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