This week I am sharing some wonderful stand-alone early and first chapter books with girl protagonists. Last week I shared my favorite early chapter book series about girls. However, as you read down the list, you will see that as I was making this list I discovered many of these books will no longer be stand-alones! Nevertheless, I forged ahead ….
Now, please remember I have not read every book in the library (although I think the librarians are going to dedicate an entire hold shelf to me soon) so of course if you have titles to add, please leave a comment! You lovely readers always have great suggestions and I even added one to last week’s list!
In general, most of these books are best for readers ages 5-10: kids who are ready for chapter books but not up to reading middle grade novels. Don’t forget: this list covers a range of reading levels. Read my parent tips for finding early chapter books if you need a little extra help.
Bramble and Maggie. I’m embarrassed to say that the very first book will no longer be a stand-alone book as of April! That’s good news, however, because after reading the story of how Maggie and Bramble came to be friends, your child will want to read more of their adventures together. This book includes full color illustrations which (generally) indicates an easier reading level. Many children stillchoosing books from the easy reader section will be able to read this book.
Sadie and Ratz.This is a droll little book about Hannah who has has named her hands Sadie and Ratz. Sadie and Ratz get blamed for a lot of things and Hannah must come to terms with having a little brother. Like Bramble and Maggie, this book is perfect for beginners.
Lavender. Award-winning author, Karen Hesse, penned this beginning chapter book about a girl who eagerly awaits the arrival of her cousin by making him a quilt. The relationship between Codie and her favorite aunt is touching. This book is only 48 pages so it’s good for kids who like to finish a book “in one go.”
Roxie and the Hooligans. The bullies at school tease Roxie mercilessly, but when they are all trapped on a desert island with some cut-throat criminals, Roxie draws upon the survival skills knowledge she learned from Lord Thistlebottom’s Book of Pitfalls and How to Survive Them. A very clever book with well-rounded characters (i.e. the bullies turn out not to be stereotypes), a bit of comedy and a lot of adventure.
Rickshaw Girl. In Bangladesh, Naimi feels frustrated that as a girl she is constantly told she cannot work to earn money for her family. When she accidentally ruins her father’s rickshaw she disguises herself as a boy and meets someone who will change her life. The book includes a glossary and an author’s note about micro-finance. This is one of my favorites on the list and has earned a number of honors.
The Great Cake Mystery. Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency book series for grown-ups solved her very first case in Botswana when she was just a girl. When her friends’ lunchtime treats go missing Precious is on the job and when she discovers the thief a nice chuckle is had by all. This book is nice way of exposing young readers to other cultures and includes a reading guide, glossary, activity ideas and a recipe!
Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. Having your favorite babysitter move away is just like pickle juice on a cookie. Not so good. Fortunately Eleanor has a supportive new babysitter, neighbors and loving parents who let her work through her sadness on her own time. Lovely. (P.S. since creating this list I have learned that Eleanor is now a series girl: Like Bug Juice on a Burger will be available in April.)
The Year of the Book. Bookworm Anna Wang struggles with social drama at school, identifying with her Chinese heritage and embarrassment over her parents. A touching and compassionate story. Highly recommended. (Update: no longer a stand alone as of May when The Year of the Baby is to be published!)
Muggie Maggie. Beverly Cleary’s ability to create lovable characters is evident by her legions of fans. If your child is just about ready for Ramona, introduce them to Maggie, a 3rd grader who does not want to learn cursive!
Sophie Simon Solves Them All. I adore this “humorously brusque” heroine who is a genius in spite of her parents who aren’t quite sure why she would want to learn about calculus at the tender age of eight. Sophie, on the other hand, is still learning all about what it means to have friends. A wonderful book.
Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream. After Clara Lee’s grandfather tells her that her bad dream means she will have good luck, this charming Korean-American girl looks at the rest of her day and her participation in the Little Miss Apple Pie contest in a positive light.
The Hundred Dresses. Eleanor Estes’ 1945 book deals with bullying, poverty and courage. A classic, moving story that should be on everyone’s shelves.
The Dream Stealer. When a strange, bird-like creature starts stealing her good dreams, Susana insists he get them back. This imaginative story is set in Mexico and Peter Sís’s illustrations are wonderful.
Earwig and the Witch. I found Diana Wynne Jones’ final book fairly odd, but then so is the main character (you might expect the same from a girl named “Earwig”). Earwig is adopted by a very bizarre, but very magical couple. Earwig hopes to learn magic, but is treated as a servant instead. However, the clever Earwig and a talking cat are soon able to outwit their guardians. This is for kids who love pure fantasy with odd-ball humor.
Bonus Book I was going to include until I found out while making this list that it is actually a series:
Cinderella Smith. Cinderella received her nickname due to her propensity for losing one of her shoes. This becomes a problem when she loses a dance shoe before the big recital. She needs to find her shoe as well as help her friend Erin determine whether or not her new stepsister will be “wicked.” Lucky for the reader, she does it all with flair. Plus, the Kindle version is only $3!
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