Not too many years ago, it seemed that there weren't many choices for kids who had outgrown picture books, but who weren't quite ready for, say, The Chronicles of Narnia. This is no longer the case. There is a whole new crop of books to help your kids make the leap from picture books to chapter books.
If your kids love girly books, try Ivy and Bean. Books like Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy have themes of the importance of being true to yourself. These are natural lead-ins to the Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows. There are currently eight of these books that tell the story of an unlikely friendship between loud, goofy Bean and quiet, introspective Ivy.
If your kids love Laura Numeroff's "If You Give A ..." books, try Mercy Watson. The silliness of If You Give A Pig a Pancake and its sister books is carried through into the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo. These six books tell the adventures and mishaps of a pet pig named Mercy. In addition to the funny stories by DiCamillo (the award-winning author of Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux), this series has great color illustrations by Chris Van Dusen, who has a pretty fantastic bibliography of his own. If you aren't familiar with his books, you should be!
If your kids love to read about troublemakers, try Captain Underpants or Bad Kitty. David Shannon's David books are the perfect springboard into Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants books. The twelve books in this series have a similar naughty humor that parents don't always understand. Or at least that's what they want their kids to think. Nick Bruel's series of four chapter books and two picture books tell the story of Bad Kitty, a mischievous cat who never seems to outsmart the stupid dog. These books have a lot of asides that make it even more fun for adults to read with their kids.
If your kids love Jon Scieszka, try...Jon Scieszka. Jon Scieszka is probably best known for his silly, creative, imaginative picture books like Cowboy & Octopus, Math Curse, and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs or his early reader Trucktown books. However Scieszka also wrote the fantastic Time Warp Trio, a series of early chapter books that tell the story of three boys who get their hands on a strange book that allows them to travel through time. Each book focuses on a different time and, though your kids might not realize it, teaches quite a bit about that period in true Scieszka style.
If you loved to read as a kid, try Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, or The Baby-Sitters Club. Many of the characters we (and even our parents!) grew up with are still going strong in new or revamped series for kids today. Nancy Drew and The Clue Crew is a series of more than 30 books (and counting) for young readers that tell the stories of the popular girl detective. Similarly, The Hardy Boys: Secret Files bring back the mystery-solving brothers in an all-new series. Finally, everyone's favorite baby-sitters have found a new life in graphic novel format. The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix are re-releases of these classic books (no new stories here).
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