15 Easy First Grade Chapter Books for Beginning Readers

Updated March 3, 2020
Girl reading chapter book
    yellow circles girl reading book on bed
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    Used under Getty Images license

First grade is a great time for young readers to move from picture books to chapter books. But large blocks of text can be intimidating to beginners who are just starting to put sentences together. Check out these easy first-grade chapter book series that include pictures, familiar characters, and high-interest content.

Illustrated Chapter Books for First Graders

There are several chapter book series that use pictures to engage readers and break up text. They make great first chapter books for six-year-olds or for readers who are ready for the next level. Check out these books that can boost a first grader’s reading confidence.

The Bad Guys Series by Aaron Blabey

A funny and fun way to start independent reading, The Bad Guys stars the antagonists from famous fairy tales and stories. Each page features large pictures and little text, helping readers to get comfortable with the process of reading chapter books.


Alien in My Pocket Series by Nathan Ball

First graders who love science fiction will adore Amp’s pint-sized adventures in Nathan Ball’s Alien in My Pocket. Human Zack McGee and his science-minded buddies find innovative ways to keep Amp a secret – despite Amp’s best efforts! Each book features a do-it-yourself science project to foster first graders’ STEM skills.

Nate the Great Series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Solve some intriguing mysteries with Nate the Great. These books follow a straightforward whodunnit? structure that keeps readers engaged and actively predicting what might come next.

Princess Pulverizer Series by Nancy Krulik

You don’t have to be a boy to be a knight in shining armor! The Princess Pulverizer fantasy series is full of magic spells, evil witches, and acts of bravery. It’s enjoyable for kids who love adventure but aren’t quite ready for non-illustrated books yet.


Graphic Novels for First Graders

Comic books have been a favorite with young readers for generations. The format is a great way to teach and reinforce story sequencing. Dialogue-heavy storylines help readers learn about characterization in short sentences.

Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey

Mischievous friends George and Harold and their principal, Mr. Krupp, are the main characters in Dav Pilkey’s entertaining novel series. Set up in a comic book format, the dialogue and plot (and many potty-humor jokes!) are easy for readers to follow.

Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants book signing

Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants book signing

    Dav Pilkey signing Captain Underpants book
    Ben Gabbe / Stringer / Getty Images Entertainment
    Used under Getty Images editorial license

Dog Man Series by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man is the action-filled follow-up to Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants. When Officer Knight and his dog Greg are involved in a terrible accident, they undergo surgery to become Dog Man: a police officer with a dog head and dog senses! First graders will love the familiar humor and the diabolical cat, Petey.


Narwhal and Jelly Series by Ben Clanton

First graders will love the friendship, ocean adventures, and waffles in the Narwhal and Jelly series! The books are sweet, funny, and informative about life in the ocean ecosystem.

Diary-Style Chapter Books for First Graders

It is around this age that children can really get into journal writing exercises, as they provide an opportunity to reflect on their feelings and experiences. Reading fictional diaries can serve as terrific inspiration for diaries of their own.

Owl Diaries Series by Rebecca Elliott

Eva the Owl describes the events of her life, her friends, and her goals in a series of colorful diaries. Readers can relate to Eva’s conflicts and accomplishments, which she includes in a scrapbook setup with fun illustrations and short text blurbs.


The Notebook of Doom Series by Troy Cummings

First graders who love spooky stories about monsters can’t get enough of the Notebook of Doom series. The series has a good combination of notebook pages and illustrations, making it appealing for readers of all levels.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney’s popular series about Greg Heffley is a great fit for students who like to follow the daily lives of a book’s characters. Although the story is set in middle school, the reading level of Diary of a Wimpy Kid is lower-elementary.

Author Jeff Kinney - Copyright Carol/Puresugar on Flickr

Author Jeff Kinney - Copyright Carol/Puresugar on Flickr

    Jeff Kinney / Copyright Carol - Puresugar / Flickr

Text-Based Chapter Books for First Graders

First graders who are ready to move past illustrated pages may enjoy these books. The pages have more text than pictures, although there are often pictures throughout the chapters to keep interest level high.


Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary

Ramona Quimby is a spirited and opinionated girl – and readers have loved her for generations. Her adventures in kindergarten and elementary school are relatable and entertaining for readers of the same age.

Screenshot of Ramona on BeverlyCleary.com

Screenshot of Ramona on BeverlyCleary.com

    Screenshot of Ramona on beverlycleary.com
    Under fair use / Screenshot taken by Lindy Gaskill for YourDictionary

The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

Ever wish you could travel back in time? Jack and Annie can – with the help of their magic treehouse and Merlin the wizard! In this engaging series, readers learn about important historical events in a fantastical way.

Jada Jones Series by Kelly Starling Lyons

Jada Jones loves her friends, her family, and science. Girls and boys alike will love reading about Jada’s experiments and projects with inspiring storylines and two-color illustrations.


Flat Stanley Series by Jeff Brown

If young readers love Flat Stanley’s early reader books, they’ll enjoy traveling around the world with him in longer chapter books! This book series makes a strong connection between social studies and language arts for learners who want to see where Stanley will go next.

Nikki and Deja Series by Karen English

Nikki and Deja focuses on friendship, cliques, and social-emotional learning. Younger readers will like the shorter sentences and easy-to-understand scenes, while more advanced readers can follow the books’ deeper meanings and relatable themes.

More Early Reading Resources

Bring more first-grade reading materials to the early reader in your life. Check out a list of great read-aloud chapter books that first graders are sure to love. You can also take a look at a more extensive collection of books for first graders of all reading levels.