Book Hooks: Illustrated Chapter Series

get kids readingWelcome to the third installment of our Book Hook series … a “series” about how book series can get – and keep! – young readers interested in reading just for fun. So far, we’ve shared some of our favorite board books, picture books, and easy readers. Today, we move into chapter books.

What I especially love about illustrated chapter books (also called short chapter, early chapter, and beginning chapter) is that they are SO versatile.

  • First, they are a great choice for readers who are building their own stamina.
  • Second, the cast members are likely about your child’s age, so they can relate to the characters, as well as the way they think and behave.
  • Third, the stories are usually “wholesome” making them suitable for reading with a mixed-age audience.

When you are ready to introduce longer stories – even if your child isn’t ready to read them –  consider illustrated chapter books!  The books combine more storytelling but also help younger kids visualize what they hear.

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Book titles, book covers, and series titles listed below link to

Platypus Police Squad by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Platypus or not, these are fun, funny stories. The mystery is somewhat predictable (you know things will turn out okay in the end), but that doesn’t mean that you always know what’s going to happen next. Highly recommended as a read aloud. Sample selected:

ostrich conspiracy krososczkaThe Ostrich Conspiracy (Book 2)

Zengo is an “every platypus” character – clever, unsure of himself, and prone to jump to conclusions. The mystery is well presented. There is just enough suspense to keep you reading, but it isn’t scary or predictable. Reading Tub review here.

You might want to read these in order, but it isn’t critical to enjoying the series.

Click here to see all the titles in this 5-book series.

Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows

Everyone can enjoy these stories about two friends, two sisters, and their adventures. Our daughter loves reading – and laughing – about their adventures and perspectives on life. Once you meet them, Ivy and Bean are destined to become a young reader’s treasured friends. Sample selected:

Ivy Bean Annie BarrowsIvy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9)

Whether you’ve never met Ivy and Bean or you are a long-time friend, there is plenty to enjoy in this summer camp saga. “Camp Flaming Arrow” is such a àpropos camp name for Bean and Ivy … plenty of visual, plenty of irony. Reading Tub review here.

You don’t need to read these in order.

Click here to see all the titles in this 11-book series.

Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules

Freddie Ramos receives a mysterious gift: a pair of shoes that give him super powers. The author presents the idea of helping others in ways that appeal to children. These are books you can initially read aloud with your child.  Then, as your child becomes a stronger reader, s/he might like to read it on their own. Sample selected:

zapato power jacqueline julesFreddie Ramos Takes Off (Book 1)

This story subtly brings attention to hard topics like the death of parent, single parenting, and military parents. It doesn’t overdo them but it does recognize different family situations that will broaden the appeal. Reading Tub review here.

Read these books in order.

Click here to see all the titles in this 7-book series.

Sam Wu Is Not Afraid by Katie Tsang and Kevin Tsang

Sam Wu is like every kid who sees themselves as brave, even when they don’t feel that way. He also thinks his family is embarrassing – which every kid can relate to! Young readers will find humor at every turn in this adventure where Sam proclaims all the things he is NOT afraid of. Sample selected:

Sam Wu not afraid tsangSam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts (Book 1)

Sam has never invited friends to his house, so deciding to let his friends Zoe and Bernard was a big step.  What Sam saw as being a disastrous event turned out to be a great experience for his friends. It helped ground what is a fun, silly adventure into a story with some substance.  Reading Tub review here.

Read these books in order.

Click here to see all the titles in this 4-book series.

Lulu by Hilary McKay

Lulu loves animals. She collects them. Lulu has never met an animal that wasn’t meant to be a pet. Animal lovers (boys and girls) will see themselves in Lulu. Humor and realism combine in these fun stories that keep readers turning the page to see how everything turns out.  Selected sample:

lulu  hilary mckayLulu and the Dog From the Sea

Lulu and Mellie are more than just cousins. They are inseparable friends. We love Mellie’s resourcefulness in making a kite from the broken kit. There is a wholesomeness that is refreshing, but also a bit predictable … at least to adults. Reading Tub review here.

You don’t need to read the books in order, but it is helpful.

Link to all the titles in this 6-book series here.

Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy by Jane O’Connor

Kids who loved Fancy Nancy picture books (yes, boys, too) will enjoy that Nancy is growing up just like them! Each illustrated chapter book is a mystery as only Nancy can experience. These are the kinds of mysteries that kids can relate to: the situations are common in their lives, and the culprits are not hardened criminals. Selected sample:

nancy clancy jane o'connorNancy Clancy: Super Sleuth

I wasn’t sure how Fancy Nancy would “translate” into chapter stories, but I shouldn’t have worried.  This is a cute story that moves quickly, and I liked the lessons about judging others. Reading Tub review here.

You don’t need to read these books in order.

Click here to see all the titles in this 8-book series.

We have plenty more book ideas, including Judy Moody, Roscoe Riley Rules, and others. See the full list here.