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.
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! (Titles and covers are affiliate links.)
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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