Early Chapter Books for Kids {Series about Girls}

Continuing with my book list series of early chapter books, today I’m featuring our favorite early chapter book series with girl protagonists. Note that I do not say: “early chapter books for girls.” My 8 year old son has given the seal of approval to all of these books.

List of early chapter book series about girls

Great Early Chapter Book Series about Girls

Why Series? I know my kids start to think of favorite characters as friends. That encourages reading because when you have a friend you want to read all about her further adventures! So, be prepared to bring home stacks of books home from the library.

Please Remember: although these are all “early chapter books” and are generally recommended for ages 5-9, they are not all at the same reading level. They are best for children who have moved past easy readers, but are not yet ready for what are generally known as middle grade novels. You can read my parent tips if you need help finding early chapter books in the library or bookstore. And don’t forget to check out my list of Stand-Alone Early Chapter Books about GIRLS!

(Please note: Book titles and covers are affiliate links.)

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UPDATE: I’m adding Violet Mackerel to this list based on YOUR suggestion!

Violet Mackerel. Large font, loads of illustrations and a plucky British heroine will appeal to the earliest chapter book readers.


Anna Hibiscus. This is an absolutely wonderful series about a girl living with her extended family in Africa. It’s gotten loads of praise by all the critics, and deservedly so. It’s a lovely series to introduce your children to family life in another culture.


Clementine. Clementine might be my favorite 21sh century heroine. She’s super-spunky and determined to enjoy life despite constantly getting into scrapes. She’s been compared to Ramona many times, but I think I like her even better.


Ruby Lu, Brave and True. There aren’t a lot of children’s books featuring Asian-American heroines, so the ebullient Ruby Lu is a welcome addition to the field. Ruby Lu’s Chinese heritage is an important part of the stories, especially when her cousin, Flying Duck comes to stay. I love the fun little flip book built into the first book as well as Ruby’s unique way of describing the world around her. (Side note: Grace Lin’s trio of Pacy Lin books is another series for a just-ever-so-slightly-higher reading level of you’re looking for Asian-American heroines)


The Doll Shop Downstairs. Three sisters in early 20th century New York City live above their parent’s doll repair shop. This is a wonderful pair of books with an old-fashioned feel and charming illustrations. Author Yona Zeldis McDonough skillfully works in historical details about the effects of WWI on the family business and Jewish life in NYC’s Lower East Side.


Marty McGuire. This is an intelligent, relatively new early chapter book series that follows the adventures of a decidedly un-girly-girl heroine! Third-grader Marty doesn’t want to play the princess in the school play and she shreds her princess paper dolls for the recycling. I love these two books and if you’re trying to help your princess-loving girl find a little equilibrium in life, bring these home from the library.


Amber Brown. Moms who loved reading The Cat Ate My Gymsuit (That’s me. I’m older than you.) will be tickled to give their kids the Amber Brown series. Amber is one of my (and Kiddo’s) favorite characters on this list. She is truly irresistible, faces a variety of situations like dealing with missed friends and divorced parents.  Author Danziger is a real pro who makes reading about life as a kid entertaining and realistic.


Dyamonde Daniel. In this series, written by Nikki Grimes, a Coretta Scott King-award winning author, self-confident Dyamonde Daniel moves to a new apartment with her now-single mother. Dyamonde is a appealing heroine who continually demonstrates and acts upon her compassion for others.


Piper Reed. Piper has a lot to deal with, she’s the middle child of a Navy Chief who’s just announced the family is moving yet again! Piper also has dyslexia and worries about school, but fortunately she has a strong family bond with her parents and sisters. Author Kimberly Willis Holt is also a National Book Award Winner.


Cam Jansen. Cam Jansen is a perennial favorite and for good reason. I know I wish I had a photographic memory to help me solve mysteries! I learned via the official Cam Jansen website that the first book was inspired by a real like incident while the author was taking care of his infant son! There is also an easy reader series, Young Cam Jansen.


Penelope Crumb. In the first book, Penelope has to come to terms with her big nose (inherited from her grandfather). This is a touching, yet still amusing story about a strong girl who misses her deceased father. I look forward to reading the second installment, to be published later this month.


Beany (Not Beanhead). I like Beany; she’s a bit of a worrier and goes through a host of your standard issue kid experiences, but you’ll probably have to find her at your library rather than the bookstore.


Just Grace. Grace navigates her third grade existence with the help of her best friend Mimi, her eccentric French downstairs neighbor and with her superhero-strength powers of empathy. FYI, the first book is only $1 for Kindle(as of this writing – always check prices)!


The Trouble with Cats (series). When her mother remarries, Holly finds herself in a new school, a new apartment and taking care of four new cats. A wonderful, realistic series about a girl facing fears and problems common to children of this age.


Princess Posey. Confession time: I expected not to like this series for the simple reason that it has glitter on the cover. In my opinion, glitter on the cover is a book publishing marketing ploy based on a girly-girl culture for which I have a particular revulsion. However, never judge a book by the cover. In each book, first-grader Princess Posey, who has a “security tutu,” discovers the strength within her to face down her fears. I’ve found the age of the protagonist is a good indication of reading level, making this a good first chapter book after when transitioning out of  easy reader books.


Heidi Heckelbeck. Like Posey, above, Heidi comes complete with glitter. Oy. The large font and illustration-heavy pages make this series about a school-aged witch a good choice for emergent readers who want to feel like they are reading “real” chapter books but may still not be ready for some of the others on this list.


Judy Moody. Judy is a likeable character who has real feelings and moods that kids will readily recognize. Fortunately for readers, the imaginative, clever Judy finds creative and humorous ways to always make the best of her situations.


Dessert First. If your nickname is Dessert, you have 5 siblings and your parents run a restaurant, you might expect to have interesting adventures that involve things like homemade double-decker fudge bars. And you’d be right.


Frankly, Frannie. Frannie has lots of grown-up, career and entrepreneurial ambitions. She tries on lots of job hats and young readers who like to dream about who they will be when they grow up will find her to be a good reading buddy.


Daisy Dawson. When Daisy rescues a butterfly, the creature gives her the power to communicate with animals. Henceforth young Daisy becomes a Dr. Doolittle in miniature with a lively imagination and a love of nature.


Stella Batts. Stella wants to be a writer and so she decides to pen her own autobiography. Since her parents own a candy shop, she has a lot to write about.

BONUS 21st Book Series:


Gooney Bird Greene. I can’t believe I forgot to include lovely Miss Gooney written by superb author Lois Lowry. Do not miss one of our favorite heroines! (Although in my defense I have mentioned her in previous blog posts!)

Has your child read any of these? What series about girls would you add to the list? Leave a comment below and tell us! For a few more of my favorite early chapter book heroines, please visit my post, 50+ Chapter Books to Read Aloud to Preschoolers and 3 Year Olds to learn more about Nora, Lotta, Boo, and Lady Lollipop.

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Comments

  1. Another wonderful list! This one will be a big help to me as my girls get a bit older. I love the options. In the classroom I read some of the Daisy Dawson, Judy Moody, Princess Posey, and Cam Jansen books. I am looking forward to checking out some of the others.

  2. My 7-year-old has read most of these. We loved Princess Posey (which she has now outgrown) and she refuses to read almost any mysteries, including Cam Jansen. She was not a huge fan of the Just Grace books (nor was I). They have this rambling stream-of-consciousness quality that’s supposed to be cute but I found annoying. Strangely, Frankly Frannie has a similar voice but she liked that one. The ones we’ve missed that I will look into are: The Trouble With… series, Penelope Crumb and Beany, Heidi, and Marty McGuire. I wrote about some of these – and some others around this level of difficulty with male protagonists here: http://eveninaustraliakidlit.blogspot.com/2012/07/non-scary-realistic-fiction-for-seven.html and about some that are a little more advanced here: http://eveninaustraliakidlit.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-books-for-seven-year-old.html

  3. Oh, and how could I have forgotten to mention Katie Kazoo, which my daughter has been devouring?!?

  4. And Violet Mackerel! Too bad I can’t gather all my thoughts at once – please excuse the multiple comments as more books occur to me!

  5. I can’t believe you like Clementine better than Ramona! Heresy! :-)

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      I know. Shameful. I also don’t like Dr. Seuss so I get banned from a lot of book clubs.

    • Marie Sollitt says:

      I like Clementine better than Ramona too. Ramona comes off as a brat to me; Clementine comes off more as a kid to whom stuff happens.

  6. What a great list! I’m going to look for some of these at our library for my new eight year old.
    Some more beginning chapter books series (about girls) that have gotten mileage at our house are:
    *Harriet Bean series by Alexander McCall Smith (For mystery lovers.)
    *Violet Mackerel series by Anna Branford (Only the first two are available on the US market right now, but the next one is coming soon.)
    *Franny K. Stein series by Jim Benton. (For science-loving, non-girly-girls.)

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Thanks for the suggestion of Franny K Stein, I’m going to look into that it sounds great. I’ve read The Great Cake Mystery by McCall, but the Harriet Bean books are new to me. Must investigate!

      • Marie Sollitt says:

        I was charmed by the first Franny K Stein book, maybe particularly because I wasn’t expecting it to be much more than a filler series? There’s a lot of series books that I sample here and there but leave the bulk of the series to my daughter, but these I will definitely read more of.

        • Erica MomandKiddo says:

          We have Franny K. Stein out from the library now. I haven’t read it yet, though.

  7. Ooops, forgot one: Fancy Nancy has grown up and has her very own chapter book series now with the first two out: Nancy Clancy:Super Sleuth and Nancy Clancy: Secret Admirer.

  8. What a fun list! We’ll definitely look for these at our library. The only books my son has read on this list are the Clementine series. Our fave series with girl protagonists are the first 4 Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace.

  9. Great list! My daughter is just starting to read chapter books so we’ll definitely be checking these out! The only experience I have with early chapter books is with my son, and my daughter has a very different taste in reading!

  10. Great list! We’ll be cgecking those out! K loved Gooney Bird Green and Judy Moody. She’s also love Pippi Longstocking and Emily Windsnap.

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Pippi is a great choice, maybe not as easy reading as some of the others on this list. We haven’t read the Emily Windsnap books, thanks for the suggestion.

  11. FABULOUS LIST!!!! My daughter is just turning 7 and this is perfect for her. Sharing. Pinning! Using! Thank you!

  12. How much time do you spend on these posts?! It’s quite a gold mine at this house, especially with Claire’s book club gearing up for a new season. Thanks for doing all the leg work!!

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      I spend an embarrassingly long amount of time on them. Also with this one I worked on it and then lost half the draft when I was almost finished. AHHHHHHHH!

  13. I also wonder how long this took you. You’ll see my similar list omitted descriptions of the books. And how do you do your photos?!? Thanks.

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      I used to write what I called “micro-reviews” – just one liners about the books, but then I worried that it wasn’t enough for people. I make the photo collages with picmonkey, which I am completely addicted to.

  14. I do some micro-reviews too, in my Library Round-Up posts. I’ve never even heard of picmonkey – will have to check it out! My photography skills could use some work. [understatement of the year]

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Yeah, mine too. Picmonkey just started charging for some features but at $5 a month, it’s still pretty reasonable. You can still do a lot with their free features, though.

  15. I LOVED ‘The Cat ate my gymsuit’ – I think I must be older than you too (if you know what I mean)! Thanks for another great list – my boys like books about girls as long as there’s “not too much princesses in them” (in the words of my 3 year old). My 6 year old has been really enjoying the ‘Penny Dreadful’ series by Joanna Nadin – they are lots of fun!

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Oh, I want to read the Penny Dreadful series. I think series about girls are good for boys to read because I’ve noticed that in books about boys the girls are sometimes really annoying (I guess they seem that way to boys!).

  16. Oh, my! I can’t believe there is a Penny Dreadful series. There is a stand-alone novel of the same name by Laurel Snyder, which was published first, and which at first I thought you meant she had written a sequel to. I can’t believe some copyright/trademark attorney wasn’t all over that! (Need to ask patent attorney husband although patents are very different.)

  17. Thanks as always for another fabulous list! I’ve been putting lots of these on hold at the library!

  18. Mama Read Me a Story says:

    We love your lists, I put about ten books on hold with the library last night based on a few of your lists. Thanks for all the time you spend of this. It is greatly appreciated!

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Thank you! I make the lists to help other parents find good books, so I’m always glad to hear from moms like you.

  19. This list has many of my daugther’s favorites from a few years ago. She really loved the Clementine books, but just couldn’t get into the Just Grace books. She also really enjoyed the Thea Stilton books (Geronimo’s female cousin?). Those are ok. I’ve been curious about the Emily Windsnap ones as well, but I’m not sure those qualify as early chapter books – those are pretty lengthy. So what’s with the Ramona books? lol

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      I do like Ramona — I just like Clementine better. Also I think the Ramona books are better for kids ages 7/8+ in terms of reading level, so I didn’t include them here.

  20. What an outstanding list!!! I also like the Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant. 6 short and easy chapter books for girls. Such a sweet series! One of my very favorites and I think that Cynthia Rylant can not write book that is not outstanding!

  21. Renee C – sounds like you and I and our daughters have similar tastes!

  22. Wow, a great list. Ivy & Bean didn’t make it? I also liked Nora series, but the name of the author escapes me at the moment. I agree with you on Clementine, but Anna didn’t like the fact that the character was always in trouble.

  23. My daughter also likes The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes. Forgot that one. And Ivy and Bean, too.

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Ivy + Bean is going to be on another list (I love Ivy+ Bean!) but astute readers will notice that I forgot to remove the cover from my collage! :) I haven’t heard of Abby Hayes, thanks. I’m also glad you keep coming back to tell me of more titles. :)

  24. What a great list of books!! I will definitely be checking a lot of these out to read to my daughter!! Thanks for sharing! Popping by from No Time For Flashcards link-up! :)

  25. Okay, so after reading this list we were able to snag four Beany books and ten Cam Jansen books from the library. The Cam Jansen books were a no-go after the first couple of books: both my girls (nine and eight) weren’t happy with them. They pronounced them too predictable, but maybe they’re too old for them now. (I haven’t read them, so I’m only going on their reaction.)
    Karina liked the Beany books, but not enough to read all four that we borrowed. I think she only read two before she’d had enough of that character, too. Olivia (nine) didn’t even bother with Beany.
    We’ll try some of the other series. I’m finding that, sadly, my library doesn’t carry very many of them, or if they do, they only have the first book in the series. Vexing.

    • Mom and Kiddo says:

      Oh, so sorry they didn’t work out for you! But then your daughters have very sophisticated reading taste like their mom! :)

      • LOL! Sophisticated we are not. We are purely taste driven! ;) They just tried the first Gooney Bird book by Lois Lowry and loved it. And of course, they love Ivy & Bean, although Karina loves them more than Olivia. We own the Dollshop books, but I can’t get them to read them, despite their usual love of anything doll related. At nine, I’m seeing a definite shift in Olivia’s reading fare.

  26. thanks for the great list! perfect for my 7 year old-it’s tough to find books in the past early reader but not ready for a long chapter book. She loves the princess posey books-i hope there are more soon!

    • MomandKiddo says:

      One of the reasons I made these lists is that I found it a challenge for my son, too. He began reading at a very early age and he needed age appropriate books that were still at his reading level. I’m so glad you find the list helpful. We still have a few more coming!

  27. My 6 year old daughter isn’t quite ready for chapter books, but she’s close! I think we’ll have fun reading them together too. Thanks for taking the time to make these lists!

    • Erica MomandKiddo says:

      Thanks, Morgan. I admit, I’m a little obsessed with making book lists!

      • Marie Sollitt says:

        I’m glad that you are so obsessed. I make notes in my LibraryThing accounts (there is a separate one for the kids) but I never seem to flesh them out into actual reviews.

  28. This is a great list! I bought 2 Princess Posey books for my new 1st grader after reading this – and we both loved them! It was so relatable and easy to read. I’ve already ordered another, and have two on hold at the library! I grew up reading Amelia Bedelia, and Ramona- I can’t wait to introduce my daughter to them as well. I don’t see Junie B Jones on here – do you recommend them?

    • Erica MomandKiddo says:

      I’m so happy to hear you’ve found the list valuable, Laura! The only reason Junie B Jones is on this list is that, although I’ve read one of the books I never read them aloud to my son and he never read them himself! They weren’t my favorite books in the world and since I didn’t have my son’s opinion I left them off the list. However, I know a lot of kids love them, so it’s worth checking them out. After all, there is no risk getting them from the library!

  29. From one Erica to another…I recommend Cobble Street Cousins series – my daughter reads & rereads those (altho she is 10!), also the Noisy Village books.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says:

      Hi Erica! We do love Cobble Street Cousins, too! It’s on our list of early chapter books about friends and families. And I LOVE Noisy Village (on our list of chapter books to read aloud to preschoolers.) Great suggestions!!

  30. Samantha says:

    Something I read when I was in that age group and my ten year old sister enjoys is the Junie B. Jones series! Also the babysitters club little sister series. They’re 90s/early 2000s series but they were really enjoyable!

  31. Another great chapter for books for girls is ‘The Magical World of Sebella.’ Filled with magic and adventure.

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