Tag Archives: first chapter books

2020 Favorite First Chapter Books

It’s book list season! I’ve read a lot this year, and I am excited to highlight my favorite releases of 2020. I’m thrilled to share my 2020 Favorite First Chapter Books.

For me and my library, first chapter books are designed for kids moving on from beginning readers but not quite ready for middle grade chapter books. These books are often part of a series with familiar characters and situations, lots of humor, and repetition from book to book. Some contain illustrations that reflect the story being told, while others are all text. Most of the time, these books are around 80-100 pages. These include popular series such as Magic Tree House, Geronimo Stilton, Mercy Watson, My Weird School, Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol, and more.

These lists are personal. The first chapter books that stand out for me may not be your favorites–and that is okay! We each have our own reading preferences. Also, I very well may have missed some great titles that were released over the last year–so make sure to check out all of the great lists all over the internet, and please share your favorites in the comments!

2020 Favorite First Chapter Books

Amazon.com: 13th Street #1: Battle of the Bad-Breath Bats (HarperChapters)  (9780062947796): Bowles, David, Clester, Shane: Books

13th Street: Battle of the Bad-Breath Bats

by David Bowles and illustrated by Shane Clester
Cousins Malia, Ivan, and Dante make a wrong turn on their way to a local water park, and they end up on the spooky, never-ending 13th Street. How will they make it home? A fun new series filled with mystery and giving just enough of a scare for lower elementary students.

The Perfect Pet (Ana & Andrew): Platt, Christine: 9781644942635:  Amazon.com: Books

Ana & Andrew: The Perfect Pet
by Christine Platt and illustrated by Junissa Bianda
Ana and Andrew get to pick out their very own pet! But first, they need to do the research to find the best pet for them and then pick out the best name! The Ana & Andrew books are fantastic, everyday adventures of a pair of African American siblings living near Washington, D.C. While the specific activities in each book are things familiar to many kids growing up, author Christine Platt does a wonderful job of highlighting elements of the African American experience.

Amazon.com: The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane (9781515844648): Smith, Nikki  Shannon, Lobo, Mari: Books

The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane
by Nikki Shannon Smith and illustrated by Mari Lobo
Azaleah can’t wait to make a diorama of her favorite animal habitat after a class field trip to the National Zoo. But when she gets home, her little sister insists Azaleah needs to help her find her missing stuffed animal. When the mystery drags on, Azaleah isn’t sure she will have time for her project. The Azaleah series features colorful illustrations, inquisitive Azaleah, and a wonderful family. Check out this title and the sequels.

Astrid and Apollo and the Starry Campout: Bidania, V.T., Lee, Dara Lashia:  9781515861225: Amazon.com: Books

Astrid and Apollo
by V.T. Bidania and illustrated by Dara Lashia Lee
Meet Astrid and Apollo, members of a Hmong family living in Minnesota. They love to have fun, and have various everyday adventures across the first four books in their series. Check these out for delicious food recommendations, an encouraging and nurturing family, and some maybe-new-to-you Hmong vocabulary.

The Best of Iggy: Barrows, Annie, Ricks, Sam: 9781984813305: Amazon.com:  Books

The Best of Iggy
by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sam Ricks
Iggy isn’t a bad kid–he has just done some bad things (which he is mostly, sometimes sorry for). Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances to consider when bad decisions are made…and sometimes poor decisions are just poor decisions. This was surprisingly delightful! I meant to just read a few chapters but instead quickly read the whole book in one sitting. Lots of laughs in this one!

Dave the Unicorn: Welcome to Unicorn School (Dave the Unicorn, 1): Bird,  Pip, O'Connell, David: 9781250256348: Amazon.com: Books

Dave the Unicorn: Welcome to Unicorn School
by Pip Bird and illustrated by David O’Connell
Mira is SO EXCITED to start Unicorn School, but instead of being paired with a regal unicorn, her new unicorn BFF is smelly, doughnut-loving, constantly-farting Dave. Don’t think too hard about the logistics of the magical unicorn school–instead focus on the humor and school drama that will appeal to kids starting to transition from first chapter books to longer titles.

Amazon.com: Escape from the Roller Ghoster (11) (Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol)  (9781534464902): Miedoso, Andres, Rivas, Victor: Books

Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: Escape from the Roller Ghoster
by Andres Miedoso and illustrated by Victor Rivas
Desmond and Andres are invited to the cool new amusement park–but all isn’t as it seems. The park is haunted, and its up to the Ghost Patrol to figure out how to make the rides fun for everyone. If you haven’t read Desmond Cole yet, go pick up the first book immediately! These are fun, just spooky-enough reads for grades K-2.

Amazon.com: Paws for a Cause: A Branches Book (Diary of a Pug #3)  (9781338530094): May, Kyla, May, Kyla: Books

Diary of a Pug: Paws for a Cause
by Kyla May
The local animal shelter can’t afford new toys, so Bub and his owner Bella raise money with a pet wash. But Bub is absolutely NOT a fan of water. This cute series is visually similar to Owl Diaries, but Bub brings his own spunk to his stories (particularly his rivalry with the local squirrel).

Slush Puppy Love (Diary of an Ice Princess #5) - Kindle edition by  Soontornvat, Christina. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Diary of an Ice Princess: Slush Puppy Love
by Christina Soontornvat
Lina wants to get the perfect present for her best friend’s birthday. Claudia really wants a dog, and Lina can use her magic to bring a hypoallergenic dog to life! But the snow puppy turns out to be a bit more trouble than the girls imagined. I can not stop praising this series–there are so few magical series featuring diverse characters, and these are filled with snow, magic, and friendship.

Isadora Moon Has a Sleepover: Muncaster, Harriet: 9780593126202:  Amazon.com: Books

Isadora Moon Has a Sleepover
by Harriet Muncaster
At her first sleepover, Isadora makes a cake with her best friend for their school baking competition. Isadora uses her magic to make the cake extra special, but Isadora starts to doubt if it is really fair to submit their magical cake at their human school. Another great Isadora Moon book that explorers an ethical question in an age-appropriate way. (Plus lots of vampire-fairy fun.)

Amazon.com: The Newest Princess (Itty Bitty Princess Kitty Book 1) eBook:  Mews, Melody, Stubbings, Ellen: Kindle Store

Itty Bitty Princess Kitty: The Newest Princess
by Melody Mews and illustrated by Ellen Stubbings
Itty Bitty Kitty is about to become the new princess of Lollyland! Everything seems wonderful, until Itty Bitty learns about all the things that might change now that she is a princess. Maybe Itty isn’t the right person for this job. So much cuteness in one series, and a lovely message about kindness and friendship in each book too.

The Magnificent Makers #1: How to Test a Friendship: Griffith, Theanne,  Brown, Reggie: 9780593122983: Amazon.com: Books

Magnificent Makers: How to Test a Friendship
by Theanne Griffith and illustrated by Reggie Brown
Best friends Violet and Pablo discover a riddles that pulls them and new classmate Deepak into the Maker Maze. They need to work together to solve science puzzles, so they have a chance to return again. A great mixture of STEM, diversity, and friendship in this new series. I appreciate that they add a new friend to their group with each book.

Amazon.com: Mia Mayhem and the Super Family Field Day (9) (9781534477209):  West, Kara, Hernandez, Leeza: Books

Mia Mayhem and the Super Family Field Day
by Kara West and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez
Mia Mayhem finally gets to see her superhero parents in action when her Program for In Training Superheroes (the PITS) hosts a family field day. Mia knows everything is for fun, but she really would like to win that trophy. I adore the Mia Mayhem series so much–not only do they feature a diverse (super) lead, but her superhero friends are a vibrant cast too.

Amazon.com: Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business (1) (9781534440098):  Lee, Lyla, Ho, Dung: Books

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business
by Lyla Lee and illustrated by Dung Ho
Mindy Kim wants to fit in at her new school. Her seaweed snacks win over her classmates, and soon Mindy and new friend Sally start selling the snacks to raise money for a new pet. Mindy Kim may be my favorite new first chapter series of the year! Mindy is adorable, and the books follow her everyday adventures while sprinkling in her Korean heritage.

Kingston the Great Dane (My Furry Foster Family): Florence, Debbi Michiko,  Demmer, Melanie: 9781515870920: Amazon.com: Books

My Furry Foster Family: Kingston the Great Dane
by Debbi Michiko Florence and illustrated by Melanie Demmer
The Takano house has a new (GIANT) foster pet: Great Dane Kingston! Kingston looks a bit more like a cow than a dog, and he definitely doesn’t realize how big he is. Will the Takano family be able to find the perfect home for such a large dog? Kaita and her family’s foster pet adventures are so much fun! Make sure to check out the full series to meet all kinds of amazing animals.

Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us: Castillo, Lauren: 9781524766719:  Amazon.com: Books

Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us

by Lauren Castillo
Hedgehog lives with his best friend, Mutty, on a tiny island. Everything is swell, until a storm comes and blows poor Mutty away. Hedgehog is distraught, but determined to do what she can to find her friend including setting off on an adventure filled with new friends. This is a gentle, lyrical story of friendship and courage in a magical wood filled with new friends ready for small, but grand, adventures.

Sadiq and the Perfect Play: Nuurali, Siman, Sarkar, Anjan: 9781515872870:  Amazon.com: Books

Sadiq and the Perfect Play
by Siman Nuurali and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Sadiq can’t wait to put on a play with his friends–but Sadiq isn’t the best at sharing responsibility. After Sadiq makes a few too many decisions on his own, everyone is annoyed and no one wants to perform anymore. Another wonderful Sadiq adventure, filled with a great conversation on friendship and being a leader.

Amazon.com: Sasha and Puck and the Brew for Brainwash (The Elixir Fixers)  (9780807572573): Nayeri, Daniel, Lourenço, Estrela: Books

Sasha and Puck and the Brew for Brainwash
by Daniel Nayeri and illustrated by Estrella Lourenco
Sasha does her best to make sure their town believes her father’s “magical” potions really work. But when one of his potions leads to them losing their shop, Sasha knows that she must pull out all of the stops to save the day. Check out this wonderful series blending science, magic, and fantasy–and quite a few laughs.

Amazon.com: Sparkleton #1: The Magic Day (HarperChapters) (9780062947918):  Glass, Calliope, Mengert, Hollie: Books

Sparkleton: The Magic Day
by Calliope Glass
Unicorn Sparketon can’t wait for his magical powers–he is convinced he will get wish-granting powers like the rest of his family. His big sister agrees to use her powers to give Sparkleton wish-granting powers for just a day–but all of Sparkleton’s wishes turn out all wrong! Lots of humor, colorful illustrations, and so much unicorn magic!

I know there are always books that I miss each year, and some of the 2020 first chapter books I’m excited to explore soon are below!

Amazon.com: Hand-Me-Down Magic #1: Stoop Sale Treasure (9780062878250):  Haydu, Corey Ann, Uribe, Luisa: Books