Did you know that beloved author Beverly Cleary turns 100 this month! It’s hard to express how much joy I’ve gotten from her books, both as a kid, and reading her chapter books to my boys. Before writing this book list for kids who like Beverly Cleary, I had to double check how many of her books I’d read. I’m pleased to say, I’ve read almost every single one of her books! If that’s not the case for you, I know you will want to check out more of her works before getting to the titles on this list!
However, if you do want more books in the vein of the old fashioned fun shared by Henry, Ramona, Beezus, Ribsy, Socks, Maggie, Ellen, Otis, Ralph, Emily… (should I go on?) I know you will enjoy these chapter books, too!
Extra Credit: Did you know that April 12, D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) Day is Beverly Cleary’s birthday? D.E.A.R. appeared in the Ramona books and has been inspiring readers ever since! (Note: books and titles are affiliate links.)
The Year of Billy Miller. I bet you didn’t know the author of Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse also wrote chapter books. The Year of Billy Miller is a pitch-perfect account of the year in the life of a second grader. Billy has a stay-at-home dad (not something you usually see in books, but it just so happens Bobby the Brave also has a SAHD — see below), school projects that present problems, sibling rivalry — in short all the typical family and social situations that children must learn to navigate as they grow up. Henkes (and Billy) handle it all with aplomb and good humor. There’s something very gentle and “old-fashioned” but timeless about this book and I think your kids will enjoy it.
The Enormous Egg. Both kids loved this book from the 1950s in which a chicken’s egg hatches to reveal a baby triceratops. Nate Twitchell names his new pet Uncle Beazley. Caring for Uncle Beazley is not without its ups and down. The dino can’t help but get into trouble until one day its time to take him to the National Museum in Washington, D.C. If you have a child who you think is ready to listen to chapter book and he or she loves dinosaurs, try this charming, funny book on for size.
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little. (series) We listened to this (and the sequel) on audiobook and my 7 year old spent much of the time laughing, especially during the periodic one word chapters. Moxy is supposed to read Stuart Little for her summer reading assignment, but she spends more time avoiding — and justifying that avoidance — than she does reading. Hilarious, and the text edition includes a very clever use of photographs to highlight Moxy’s creative procrastination skills.
MORE: Some of these books can be found on my list of 100 of the best funny chapter books for kids.
Julian, Secret Agent. When I first brought this book home from the library, Kiddo informed me that his 2nd grade teacher told the class these were some of her favorite books. I haven’t read them all but I can see why. Imaginative Julian gets into mischief with his tall tales, but fortunately he has a loving, forgiving family.
The Children of Noisy Village. These books are often overlooked for the more well known Pippi Longstocking by the same author. The chapters can also function as stand alone stories about a charming group a children and neighbors in Sweden’s farmland. You might also it as an alternative to the Little House books. (See more: Books for kids who like Little House on the Prairie)
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. Clementine might be my favorite 21st century heroine. She’s super-spunky and determined to enjoy life despite constantly getting into scrapes. She’s been compared to Ramona many times, and you will most likely fall in love with her just as much as you did with Ramona.
Bobby the Brave (Sometimes). Bobby Ellis-Chan struggles the fact that he is not interested in football even though his dad is a retired professional. “The Freezer”, as his dad is known, is now a stay-at-home dad and while the siblings have their usual back-and-forths, it is a functional, loving family. Bobby’s family is bi-racial and his friends come from different ethnic backgrounds but it is not a focus of the book at all. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking it reflected my own sons’ diverse classrooms. This is a funny, charming book with non-stock characters and I’m looking forward to reading more books in the series.
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy has all the charm of books like Betsy-Tacy or Anne of Green Gables. The Penderwicks rent a house for summer vacation and have such splendid adventures with the musically talented boy who lives in the “big house” you’d be hard pressed to remember they exist in the same world as cell phones and Wiis.
Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society A diverse group of dogs from all over the globe gather together practice their doggie storytelling skills. Or if you prefer felines, try the companion book, Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society.
The Betsy-Tacy Books.(series) Not just for girls! I read the first book to my son when he was home sick from school and he enjoyed these old fashioned tales of kids having screen-free adventures. Maud Hart Lovelace’s books were some of my favorites as a kid, so of course I loved reading them aloud to my son.
Alvin Ho. (series) I love Alvin Ho and cannot resist encouraging you (yet again) to pick up one of these books for your child. Alvin suffers from anxiety over many things and this leads him to become mute at school. Nevertheless, his family life, antics and tales of how he navigates “scary things” never fail to charm.
Emil and the Great Escape.(series) Here’s a kid your kids will love. The author of Pippi Longstocking also wrote several books about Emil, a young boy who lives on a farm with his parents, baby sister, a farm hand and housemaid. Much to the delight of my 6 year old, who loves books about well-meaning troublemakers, Emil’s grand sense of adventure and his natural goodwill gets him into all sorts of sorts of scrapes, but it is impossible to think badly of a boy who wants to help others so much. There are three books and they are well worth hunting down. Other books: Emil and the Clever Pig, Emil and the Sneaky Rat. Ages 4 and up.
The Moffats. (series) I read Ginger Pye and Pinky Pye to my then-6 year old (He loved them, by the way.) and a mention of the Moffat family prompted me to pick this book up again. If you are looking for a gentle, humorous classic read aloud book, this is a good choice. The Moffat family lives in the town of Cranberry and the Moffat children do things like get stuck in bread boxes, hop on trains and enjoy life around them without the aid of an ipad. There are several books in the series: The Middle Moffat, Rufus M., The Moffat Museum.
Owls in the Family is a short chapter book about boys growing up in Saskatchewan in the 1950s. One of the boys adopts a pair of great horned owls. The owls, added to the family dogs, the pen of rabbits and gophers (in which the owls miraculously co-habit) bring hilarious chaos to the boys’ lives. We have read this book aloud
3 times now 4 times 5 times and I expect we will read it again. (Note: includes some racial stereotyping. Please discuss this with your children.)
Turtle in Paradise. 11 year old Turtle moves in with her extended family in this lovely gem of a book set in 1930s Florida Keys. Turtle’s time running around the neighborhood, meeting new people and having pirate adventures with her boy cousins make for a charming and funny story with old-fashioned overtones.
Homer Priceand Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price. (1943) Like the Besty-Tacy books, Homer and his pals are a fun way to read about kids having good old fashioned fun without the help of cell phones and ipads. Best of all, these stories are quite funny. Also: donuts! (Note: includes some racial stereotyping. Please discuss this with your children.)
Ruby Lu. (series) 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.
Dog Days: The Carver Chronicles.(series) This is the first and just-published book in a brand-new series about third-grader Gavin, who is starting a new school. When he and his friends get into trouble his punishment is to take care of his aunt’s annoying little Pomeranian. The bow-bedecked dog is seriously interfering with his attempt to prove himself “cool”! I think a lot of kids will relate to Gavin. I liked this realistic book and look forward to more in the series.
Want to find Beverly Cleary’s books on our lists? Try these:
- 5o chapter books to read aloud to preschoolers and 4 year olds
- Chapter books that teach chapter books
- Funny read aloud books
- 8 books for 8 year olds
- Books like Anne of Green Gables
- Books for Hanukkah: 8 is Enough
- First chapter books starring girls: stand alone novels
- Fall read alouds the whole family will love
Be the best read parent on the block! Find our more than 100 book lists for kids on our master list!