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Awesome, Girl-Friendly Early Chapter Books

Book List Time! Here’s a list of books for the kid who is making the transition from early readers (few words on each page, lots of engaging pictures) to early chapter books (more words on each page, fewer pictures). These are books that my girls especially liked, and many have girl heroines or central characters. They are also more rad and less insipid, in case you may still be reading part or all of them aloud to your kids, or you would like to plant a few choice books in amongst the piles of Rainbow Fairies and Magical Unicorns on your independent reader’s bookshelf.

rapunzel's revenge

Rapunzel’s Revenge

A super kick-ass graphic novel that retells the Rapunzel fairy tale. It may be a little over the reading level of a kid just transitioning out of early readers like Elephant and Piggie, but both of my girls spent many hours poring over the pictures, reading bubbles that they were able to read independently, and listening to it read aloud, all at varying stages in their reading journey. It is so enticing that it may prompt kids to stretch their skills and try to read more than they would have attempted in another book. Rapunzel’s Revenge

mercy watson

Mercy Watson

Hilarious stories about the antics of a suburban pig, her family and her neighbours. These the perfect books to follow on from Elephant and Piggie, reading level and style wise. Just as with Mo Willems, there is so much hilarious action that the kids forget they are practising their reading. One risk though: you may suddenly have uncontrollable cravings for hot buttered toast. Mercy Watson to the Rescue



Dark and beautiful, the Ottoline stories are about a rich girl who goes away to a magical school where she can practice esoteric skills and have adventures. The illustrations are gorgeous and the stories are interesting and wacky. More advanced reading level than Mercy Watson, but easy enough for a highly motivated early reader. These books feel a little like a hybrid between a novel and a graphic novel. Ottoline Goes to School

worst witch

The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch series is reminiscent of the early Harry Potter books, except is set at an all-girls school, and lacks the dark, violent aspects of the later Harry Potter books. These are firmly in the “novel” category, even though there are still some pictures. The Worst Witch

smuggler's cave

Smuggler’s Cave

A west-coast adventure story about some kids who take a rowboat and go exploring on their own, running into some trouble as they go. Early chapter book style, more words on each page but printed in large text and not too phonetically challenging. Smuggler’s Cave

tintin destination moon


Potentially controversial, but highly motivating and compelling for many kids. Like with Rapunzel’s Revenge, my girls would pore over these books for hours when their reading skills were emerging. They would read the speech bubbles they were able to read, and gloss over the ones they couldn’t read by examining the detailed drawings. There are some good reasons why many parents choose not to expose their kids to TinTin, but in our family Bea learned to read by taking TinTin comics to bed with a flashlight each night for a whole winter. Tintin Destination Moon



Girl space pirate! Wacky superheroes and evil villains! Each Sardine book is broken down into several shorter stories, all told in graphic novel style. The reading level is easier than Rapunzel’s Revenge but harder than Mercy Watson. Not just for girls, but definitely in the kick-ass girl category. Sardine in Outer Space


Which books have your kids loved in this tentative, in-between stage of reading?  This time between early readers and children’s literature proper feels so much like hanging on the cusp of something so much more amazing, yet there are some fantastic choices for kids reading early chapter books too.

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  • Kirsten August 30, 2015, 12:14 am

    Thanks again for this list! Now with cover photos! I’ll make sure we get these into the library. Hope you folks are all well!

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