These short chapter book series are perfect for kids ages 6-9. They’re fun, engaging, and sure to have your kiddo begging for a trip to the library to get the next book!
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When I taught school, one of my best strategies to motivate reluctant readers to pick up a book was to get them hooked on a great series.
And book series aren’t just for struggling readers either!
As a kid, I was a devoted reader. In the summertime, I would devour an entire Boxcar Children book just about every day. And when I exhausted ALL of those (even the holiday specials), I moved on to The Babysitter’s Club…and Nancy Drew…and so on.
I was completely capable of reading more significant literary works than those fluffy series, but they were my comfort food (of sorts). Benny and Violet became my friends. Mary Anne was my kindred spirit. I gained confidence as I solved mysteries along with Nancy and her friends.
Sometimes as adults it’s easy to discard the value of those “easy reads,” but do you know what?
THOSE chapter book series helped make me a life-long reader.
Why do kids LOVE reading books in a series anyway?
There’s a lot of research about the appeal–and the value–of kids reading book series.
Reading multiple books in a series helps kids for several reasons:
- Increases comprehension. Reading a novel involves keeping track of A LOT of information: characters, setting, plot points, and more. But with a series, once kids have read the first book, they can carry over all the character and setting knowledge into all the other books in the series. They don’t have to build all the knowledge from scratch. That leaves their brains free to focus on higher-level thinking about what they are reading (like expanding their vocabulary, understanding themes, and developing deductive and inductive reasoning skills).
- Develops fluency. The more kids read, the better readers they become. And research shows that kids who read series tend to read more books. The more times a child interacts with any word, the more they will come to understand its meaning as well as how to use it themselves. (TIP: audiobooks are fabulous for building fluency too!)
- Builds confidence. When kids read a series, it’s really easy to keep track of how many books they are reading. They can literally count their accomplishment, and begin to see themselves as capable readers.
- It gets them hooked on reading! Book series are kind of like Pringles. Once you read one, you just can’t stop! We want to know what is going to happen next to these characters that we’ve come to know and love! And that’s exactly what we want where reading is concerned.
So, if you have elementary-aged kids who are required to do daily reading, but you’re struggling to find books to keep them motivated, try picking up one of our favorite short chapter book series!
PRO TIP: If you have a child who is having a hard time finding a reading groove, try reading the first book of a series to them. Then, if they enjoy it, set them loose to read the others on their own!
Note: These books are all around a hundred pages, and they often include some illustrations. They are perfect for kids ages 6-9, but feel free to enjoy them at any age! They’re a fabulous follow-up to these early-reader chapter books.
Short chapter book series for kids
Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale. I have been a big Shannon Hale ever since the days of The Goose Girl and The Princess Academy. This action-packed series is geared toward younger readers, and it has all the wit and clever storytelling of Hale’s other books. (And don’t hesitate to grab this one for your boys…mine loved it!)
Dragon Masters by Tracey West. This series is a perfect introduction to the fantasy genre. It’s got everything you would expect…an unlikely hero, a castle, a mysterious wizard, and of course…dragons! These are the books that really kindled my son’s love of reading. He’s read them all, but he still checks one out from the library occasionally to re-read because he loves them so much.
Kingdom of Wrenly by Jordan Quinn. This is another quintessential fantasy series for beginners full of trolls, fairies, dragons, and witches. I love that it has both a boy and a girl main character (Prince Lucas and his friend Clara), who go on quests all over their kingdom. These sweet stories are simple, fun, and have good morals.
Unicorn Rescue Society by Adam Gidwitz. When I found these books that are authored by the creator of the Grim, Grimmer, Grimmest podcast (one of our favorite story podcasts for kids), I knew I had to read them! Needless to say, they did not disappoint. Filled with humor, action, and lots of information about myths and legends, these books are just so much fun.
The Last Firehawk by Katrina Charman. My sister introduced me to these books after her twin boys flew through the whole series, and it was just as big a hit with my own kids. The main character, an owl named Tag, and his friend Skyla must try to save Perodia from a terrible darkness that is threatening the land. It’s another winner of a series from the Branches imprint of Scholastic.
Once Upon a Fairytale by Anna Staniszewski. If you have fairytale-loving kids at home, they will love these stories that offer twists on some of the classics. They’re part fairytale, part mystery, and part adventure. Not the most compelling series in the list, but they’re a sure win for kids who like the fantasy genre.
Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro. I wouldn’t have thought you could combine a fantasy novel with teaching the scientific method, but these books make it work brilliantly! In each book, Zoey (and her cat Sassafras) helps magical creatures by making observations, hypothesizing, conducting experiments, and analyzing the results. A perfect balance of fun & educational.
Questioneers by Andrea Beaty. Did you know that the much-loved characters Iggy Peck Architect, Ada Twist Scientist, and their friends now have their own chapter books?! They have the same quirky, charming writing style as the picture books but with more complex plots that help kids think critically and develop deductive reasoning skills. Great for kids who are interested in STEM…or who just like to laugh.
Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne. These bestselling books are well-known and well-loved for good reason. Bookish Jack and Adventurous Annie are two siblings that are easy to root for in these fun, time-traveling adventures. Best of all, the books are peppered with tons of facts about various times and places throughout history.
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis. If you have a child who is interested in history–or who loves a good adventure–they’ll love these action-packed stories based on real historical events. Sometimes history can seem so far removed from our modern lives, but these books help kids really picture what it would have been like to live through these important events…and learn from them.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. These are the books that kindled my own love of reading, so I had to include them. Plus, despite the fact that the first books were published 80 years ago, my kids have loved them just I like did as a kid. Squeaky clean, good morals, and fun mysteries. You just can’t mess with the classics.
Zac Power by H. I. Larry. Zac Power has 24 hours to save the world…and walk the dog. The plots of these James Bond-style spy stories are completely unrealistic, but I think that’s part of the appeal for kids. They love imagining themselves as the daring hero, and it has sparked all kinds of imaginative play for my boys…which may or may not involve a lot of poison. They’re perfect for kids who love science, mystery, and adventure.
Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin. This book series was perfect for my quirky, crazy, always-making-a-joke-and-coming-up-with-a-new-scheme child. It’s a ridiculous (and fun) story about four chicks who solve mysteries and fight crime…or at least try to. Written by the author of the best-selling children’s book Click, Clack, Moo (one of my favorites!).
The Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings. I was completely sold based on the title alone. I mean, really…who doesn’t want to read about a notebook of DOOM? (Or maybe I just appreciate dramatics). This series about a boy named Alexander who finds a notebook filled with top secret information about monsters–and then goes head to head with them–is perfect for kids who love to laugh.
Monster and Boy by Hannah Barnaby. This book is quirky, charming, and downright hilarious. Here’s the premise: Boy meets monster (under the bed, of course). Boy screams. Monster, who panics easily, accidentally…well…swallows him. And that is the beginning of their friendship. Really! You are guaranteed to enjoy this book at least as much as your kids do.
Who Would Win? by Jerry Pallotta. These books are a bit of a departure from the rest of the list, but my boys are totally hooked! They are non-fiction books that set up hypothetical battles between various animals and analyze who would win if they met in the wild. Maybe that’s a little grim, but it’s reality, too, and the books are FULL of interesting facts, charts, and text features to develop the skills needed for reading informational texts.
What are YOUR favorite short chapter books for this age group? Drop your recommendations in the comments!
Need book ideas that are one step easier? Try these easy-to-read chapter books that kids in the “early reader” stage will love.
Kids ready for a challenge? Try these fabulous chapter books to read-aloud to your kids.