30 First Chapter Books for Kids: Series About Boys

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First chapter books, or what I also like to call, “early chapter books” are books for kids ages 6-10. This is a tricky age to target because it is also the age when kids are first learning to read. So one 6 year old may be ready for chapter books, but his classmate may not yet be reading at all. Both scenarios are absolutely normal. In fact I had one of each!

This list of first chapter books in my series of book lists aimed at this reading level features boy protagonists. But note to parents: these are not books for boys, they are about boys, girls will enjoy them, too! I am simply using the protagonist as a useful sorting tool for my themed book lists. At the end of this post you will find links to all sorts of other early chapter book lists, including books about girls! These first chapter books about boys cover a variety of reading levels. If you are looking for a specific Lexile level you can use this handy dandy tool.

Note: Book covers and titles are affiliate links.

Pedro First Grade Hero (series) by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Tammie Lyon. This is a great series for the youngest readers, Kindergarteners through 2nd grade who are ready for chapter books. Pedro’s friend Katie Woo has long had her own series but now Pedro steps into the spotlight as he plays sports, looks for bugs and runs for class president. This is a sweet series and I like the way the illustrations set the stage for each chapter’s action.

Danny’s Doodles by David A. Adler. If your child desperately wants to read The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but you realize (rightly) that is not a series for 2nd graders I will steer you to Danny’s Doodles. Danny and his quirky friend, Calvin Waffle have equally quirky adventures, accompanied by — you guessed it — doodles. By the author of the much loved Cam Jansen books.

Sam Krupnik by Lois Lowry. Anastasia Krupnik’s little brother gets his own series! Lowry’s body of work amazes me and you will enjoy this series just as much as her other works. In this book, we read all about Sam from his birth through toddlerdom and preschool-hood with lots of laughs. I also recommend this as a read aloud! Originally written in the 1980s, the series has a new look. (Shout out to a commenter who turned me on to this series!)

The No 1 Car Spotter by Atinuke is set in Modern Africa and written by the author of Anna Hibiscus. Oluwalase Babatunde Benson has been nicknamed the No. 1 Car Spotter because he likes to watch cars as they drive by the village. He has other talents, too, including his quick thinking inventiveness which helps his neighbors and family in tricky situations. I really loved this series and highly recommend it.

The Miniature World of Marvin and James by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy. If I were to recommend a book about two beetles jumping into a pile of pencil shavings inside an electric pencil sharpener, you might look at me a little askew. Actually the book is about how the beetle, Marvin, spends his time while his best friend (and human), James, is at the beach. Elise Broach’s middle grade book Masterpiece, introduced the duo to the world, and this new early chapter book is a charmer. I also found the text extremely appropriate for early readers. There is a lot of good repetition of vocabulary without being annoying, an interesting and funny story to carry the reader along, as well as good emotional content to help kids connect the story to their own experience. The pencil sharpener incident is simply the most memorable part of the story and the one that my son wanted me to read to him again and again.

Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Waylon is the star of a new series by the author of Clementine.  Waylon is a super charming 4th grader who saves his money to buy a special notebook in which to record all his ideas for inventions. But at school the “cool kid” is dividing the class into teams. How will this affect his friendships? And what about that Bully? And his sister is acting so weird! I adored this book and can’t wait to read more. Suitable for kids ages 7 and up.

SuperDuper Teddy by Johanna Hurwitz, illustrated by Debbie Tilley. This is part of the Riverside Kids series – some of which also have girl protagonists. Teddy is a four year old who gets his first job feeding the neighbor’s cats. All of the kids live in the same apartment building in NYC. Many of the Riverside Kids series are out of print, but are often readily available at your library. They are also available as ebooks, however.

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. As far as I’m concerned, this classic trilogy is a must read for every child. Even if you’ve read it out loud, don’t let that stop you from offering it up as an independent read.

The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron. When I first brought this book home from the library, my son informed me that his 2nd grade teacher told the class these were some of her favorite books. I haven’t read them all (yet) but I can see why. I was tempted to judge the book by its cover (I am not a fan of photo-covers) but am glad I gave these well-written books a chance. Imaginative Julian gets into mischief with his tall tales, but fortunately he has a loving, forgiving family.

Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan by Frances O’Roark Dowell, illustrated by Amy June Bates. In the spirit of Henry Huggins, an independent-minded, 7 year old boy wants to earn some money. Along the way he acquires a chicken and befriends his cranky old neighbor. A wonderful book full of old-fashioned fun and humor.

Zapato Power by Jacquline Jules. I have a great love for Freddy Ramos. After all, he and his mom love to read together. It’s also nice to see a Latino superhero, do you know many of those? One day Freddy receives a mysterious pair of shoes which turn out to have magical powers and Freddy, being the kind of boy he is, uses their power for good. This series was also on my list of Superhero Picture and Chapter Books.

Roscoe Riley Rules by Katherine Applegate. Roscoe Riley was one of my son’s when he first began reading chapter books. I think sometimes parents write off books (esp. those about boys) that have cartoon-like covers and silly subtitles such as “Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs” as fluff. But this is a serious mistake; Roscoe is a charming, well-intentioned kid, who just happens to have a lot to learn about solving problems. And don’t we all?

Alvin Ho by Leonore Look. Alvin has an anxiety complex: he’s afraid of everything and he’s so afraid of school he doesn’t even talk. This may seem like a dubious premise for young readers, but my 8 year old really enjoys this series. Alvin is a highly intelligent boy; his Chinese heritage, love of Henry David Thoreau (yes, you read that right), attempts to be a gentleman and loving family make for some great reading. There are loads of cultural references (my favorite is is dad’s penchant for Shakespearean curses) which are defined in a humorous glossary. We listened to a stellar audiobook version on a long car trip which kept us giggling.

The Amazing World Of Stuart by Sara Pennypacker. There are two books, Stuart’s Cape and Stuart Goes to School in this double edition. Fans of Sara Pennypacker’s more famous heroine, Clementine, will want to read these earlier books about Stuart, an 8 year old who fashions himself a cape by stapling 100 ties together. This awesome cape turns out to have quite a bit of magical influence over the quirky, funny and highly lovable Stuart.

Stink by Megan McDonald. The younger brother of popular series girl, Judy Moody, has an unfortunate nickname. He’s also short and tired of being bossed around by his older sister. My son’s favorite installment was #4: Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express; while he read it he could not stop laughing. A kid who finds reading fun is a kid who will read more.

The One and Only Stuey Lewis by Jane Schoenberg. Imaginative second grader, Stuey Lewis has trouble with reading, a bit of a rivalry with his older brother. Each chapter is its own story, and sometimes things go a bit wrong for Stuey, but his creativity and a few friends help him overcome the hurdles.

Invisible Inkling by Emily Jenkins. Somehow, an invisible (not imaginary) bandapat from the Peruvian Woods of Mystery has made it to Brooklyn, where he is now dragging  Hank in all sorts of adventures.  One of the more advanced series on this list, though still considered an early chapter book. Emily Jenkins is one of my favorite authors (readers of this blog may recall the numerous times I have professed my love for another early chapter book series, Toys Go Out).

Andy Shane by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. The Andy Shane books are great choices for kids who have just barely moved beyond easy readers. Andy Shane is being raised by his Granny Webb (quite a character, herself) and navigating his friendship with the very extroverted Dolores.

Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon. This is another series I thought I wouldn’t like based on the name and I always cringe at the idea that “reluctant readers” need a book about kids doing silly things in order to read. But after reading so many (oh, so many) books for these lists I have really relaxed my snobbishness and look beyond the cover. Each chapter is a self-contained story and the vocabulary and short sentences and laugh-out-loud (yup, just like it says on the cover!) humor make this series an excellent choice for the earliest chapter book readers.

Horrible Harry by Suzy Kline. (See my literary commentary above!) Harry’s best friend, Doug, narrates these fun stories. Most of the action centers around school life and although Harry does get into a bit of mischief, he is a good friend and is very likable. There is also a spin off series about Song Lee, the “nicest girl in Room 2B.”

EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner. Vertically-challenged EllRay takes note that he is one of the few non-whites at his suburban school. This first book deals with bullying; others address EllRay’s attempts at sports, making new friends and his relationship with his little sister.

Calvin Coconut by Graham Salisbury. Quick, name all the books you know set in Hawaii: go! … Yeah, I thought so. These books are realistic stories about a 4th grader living with his single, working mom and little sister in Paradise. Your kids can imagine themselves having adventures on the Hawaiian shores while they get to know Calvin. Calvin tries to do everything right, but can’t seem to keep out of trouble. As you can imagine, hijinks ensue.

The Knights’ Tales by Gerald Morris. I quite like these quirky books with their bumbling characters who are heroes in spite of themselves, but the tongue in cheek humor may go over the heads of younger readers. That’s okay because there is a big need for early chapter books which are sophisticated enough to appeal older readers who still need books at an early level. If you kid likes to listen to tales of yore, try these books out.

7 x 9 = Trouble! and Fractions = Trouble! by Claudia Mills. Wilson struggles with math and feels embarrassed to have a tutor. Claudia Mills is one of those authors that you may not have heard of, but you should always check out what she’s writing. These books are good for the older end of the early chapter book age range (i.e. kids should understand what multiplication and fractions are) and I’m hoping there will be a third book!

Dog Days: The Carver Chronicles by Karen English. This is the first title in 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.

Mostly Monty. Johanna Hurwitz, author of one my favorite early chapter books series, The Riverside Kids, has also written a series about first-grader Monty, a shy, smart book lover who worries about his asthma.

Marvin Redpost. Louis Sachar, the award winning author of Holes, first published this 8 book series beginning in 1992. Like many of the other series here, the story lines follow the trials of an imaginative boy who needs to problem-solve. Luckily these are written in Sachar’s slightly absurdist trademark style.

Jake Drake. Andrew Clements, author of Frindle, wrote 4 books about the school-yard adventures of Jake Drake. Clements employs an unusual narrative device — 4th grader Jake narrates these stories about what happened to him in 2nd grade. Jake reflects on the character-building lessons he learned in an appealing, realistic voice.

Melvin Beederman Superhero by Greg Trine. Some superheroes are weakened by Kryptonite, some by bologna. Such is the fate of Melvin, a graduate of Superhero Academy. Melvin and his partner, Candace, battle against the McNasty Brothers.  For kids who like superheroes, silly puns, and who think Los Angeles is i need of a good crime-fighting duo, these are the books to read.

Captain Awesome by Stan Kirby is not the most sophisticated series but it’s useful for kids who are just moving past easy readers or kids who may be late readers and want to read chapter books “like their friends.” Short chapters, lots of illustrations, large fonts and silly situations increase its attractiveness to early readers. There are also a bazillion books in the series, to keep your kids reading reading reading.

Many of you will probably leave me a comment telling me I forgot about Nate the Great, but I didn’t forget, you’ll see him soon. I hope this list gets you started.

For MORE ideas for early chapter books, check out all the lists in this series:

  • Early Chapter Books about Boys {Stand Alone Novels}
  • Early Chapter Books about Animals
  • Early Chapter Books about Girls {Series}
  • Early Chapter Books about Girls {Stand-Alones}
  • Early Chapter Books about Friends and Families
  • Playful Early Chapter Books About Sports
  • Early Chapter Books about School
  • Diverse Early Chapter books
  • Science Themed Early Chapter Books
  • Adventure Early Chapter Books
  • Magic Early Chapter Books

Don’t forget to visit this link –> Master Index of all my book lists.

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