Great New Chapter Books for Kids

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I’ve been trying to read more children’s book lately to catch up on my pile so I’ve taken to carting around a small pile of books everywhere I go and reading a little here and a little there until the book draws me in such that I am forced to read to the end. Some books are like that. If they have that power for me, I’m hoping they will for your child too.

As the school year is nearing the close, things are heating up. Are they for you too? You might not be needing new chapter books for kids yet for summer reading but I hope some of these will work for you!

What are your kids reading and recommending? Please share! It doesn’t have to be a newly published book either!


If You Read One Book This Summer …

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

This is not a newly published book but it’s a perfect gem of a chapter book for spring. Told from the point of view of disparate neighbors in a rough part of town in Cleveland, a young Korean girl digs out a space in a rundown lot to plant lima bean seeds which starts a chain of reaction towards positive change.

PickyKidPix did a school project on this book for 5th grade and recommended it to me. She wasn’t allowed to read two of the stories (one is about a pregnant teenager who hates her unborn baby and the other about a boy who wants to grow marijuana) so she had me check out the book at the library so she could read them.

This is a really beautiful multicultural chapter book that is also a fast read. The power of gardening is such that it creates a community that wasn’t there before. And this community ends up changing lives. Does life really work like this? I think it does.


Easy Chapter Books for 1st Grade and 2nd Grade

Danger in the Deep Blue Sea by Debbie Dadey

You might know Debbie Dadey from her popular Bailey Street Kids series. If that doesn’t ring a bell, then these titles will: Angels Don’t Know Karate, Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots, and Mermaids Don’t Run Track. I think every kid seems to find their way to this series in elementary school!

Her latest series is perfect for little girls who like mermaids and mysteries set in a boarding school environment, Trident Academy. Girls who like The Rainbow Fairy series will like this series too.

Poseidon and the Sea of Fury by Joan Holub and Suzanne Wiliams

My son likes this Percy Jackson-lite version of Greek Mythology meets Greek gods as kids. The mythology isn’t always accurate but my son doesn’t seem to care. The cast of characters is pretty much the same and this series sets the reader right up to graduate to Percy Jackson. The first three books in the series have the young Big 3 gods — Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades — discovering their emblematic weapons.

Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Steinberg

Julie Steinberg must have read my mind because my moms weekend at my daughter’s camp was EXACTLY like young Eleanor’s as she head out to her first sleepaway camp. Steinberg captures a nervous camper in a pitch perfect way, penning a sweet, sensitive and entertaining story of Eleanor as she adjusts to a new environment.


Action Adventure Chapter Books for Summer Reading

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett Krosoczka

Hot off the presses, my son and I are reading this now, Krosoczka’s first chapter book I believe. We like the atypical animal characters. Why can’t platypuses be cops? The bad guy seems to be a panda.

In this animal detective caper, someone is selling artificial fish that is making the citizens sick. Rookie cops Rick Zengo and his veteran police partner Corey O’Malley want to get to the bottom of this, but it’s a sticky political situation since the culprit appears to be Frank Pandini Jr., Kalamazoo’s first son and its most powerful, well-respected businessman. And how did a beloved high school teacher get involved in this crime? We also like his charming pen and ink illustrations.  

Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan by R. A. Spratt, illustrated by Dan Santat

Think Mary Poppins meets the snarky adult inept absurdity of The Willoughbys or A Series of Unfortunate Events and then make the nanny a pig which no human seems to notice! It’s farcical fun!  

Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian

Ignore the unappealing cover and the head-scratching title of this chapter book. Instead, think about this: how does one train to be  007? You’d have to start as a kid, right? I mean, how else can you learn all the cool stuff that 007 knows? This is that book!

Young Colt Shore is a secret agent who studies and trains at school that develops 007 types. He comes from secret agent stock, though this is a big discovery for him in the book, and he gets called into action. Apparently, they need secret agent kids because sometimes adult agents are out of place. The domino reference is the number of events that seemed to fall on each other causing Colt to be in the predicament he’s in at the start of the book, trapped with a young pop star and a bevy of young girls in chadors who need rescuing.

Honestly, this is a riveting action-adventure read that I highly recommend!

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

I do happen to love public libraries so this chapter book which is Charlie and The Chocolate Factory set in a public library pushes all the right buttons for me. Like Charlie, there is a contest to get in, and then a competition with the other kids for the big prize. The public library, Mr. Lemoncello’s, is probably even more fantastical than The Chocolate Factory.

And the mix of kids competing is an even better mix than the kids who won golden tickets. There are more of them, for one,  and they have to work a team because it’s just too hard to win going solo though there is an obnoxious kid who will try. The Charlie character is Kyle Keeley and he’s the kind of kid you root for. Available June 2013.

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

If you like a jaded view of superheroes, then this is the chapter book for you. Andrew Bean is in secret H.E.R.O. training at school, taking special training classes to serve as a sidekick to a superhero. He seems to have be assigned to a dud superhero though. His, The Sensationalist, is having a major mid-life crisis and is drowning his sorrows at a local bar. Andrew’s sidekick classmate Jenna has a better superhero, The Fox, but all is not what it appears.

Available July 2013.


Books for Kids Who Like Newbery Books

It was fun to see Clare Vanderpool and Jerry Spinelli together. Talk about literary firepower! Each have won Newbery Awards for their books and their latest chapter books are getting rave reviews with more buzz being generated for next year’s Newbery awards.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

PickyKidPix likes both special needs characters and Newbery quality books so I think this will be one of my summer reading picks for her. Vanderpool weaves another complex tapestry of a story and somehow ties the number pi, two unlikely friends from a boarding school in Maine, a bear hunt, and a dead high school hero together. Only Vanderpool can pull this off!

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

I’m just starting this chapter book now but I didn’t want to leave it off the list.

Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli has written a dizzingly inventive fable of growing up and letting go, of leaving childhood and its imagination play behind for the more dazzling adventures of adolescence, and of learning to accept not only the sunny part of day, but the unwelcome arrival of night, as well.  

The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arntson

My 7th grader read it off my pile of books to review and returned it to me, dog-eared.

“You have to read this. RIGHT NOW!”, she told me. So I did.

Think The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak minus the Nazi thing with a Catholic twist. Add in magical realism with a girl who is given one week to live via a letter from her Death — supernatural creatures who take 1% of all deaths through Departures.

What does she do to “Wrap-Up” her life? A series of first kisses for herself and her friends. She’s barely 16. And if she can figure out her Death’s Noble Weakness, she can get a pardon which means she can return to her life.

Arntson has chosen every word so perfectly with no extraneous words while capturing the life of a high school girl.

Here’s a sample:

“Being in the band must be weird. You’re simultaneously respected and mocked for it. And Sarena is like that too — a cool dork.” 

New Chapter Books for Kids Giveaway

I’m giving away 3 books to 3 winners! Please tell me which book you want in a comment via the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Please click on image of book to view more closely at Amazon.

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p.s. Related posts:

Summer Reading Lists for Kids By Grade

My Son’s 7th Grade Recommended Reading List

My Son’s 4th Grade Reading List

Summer Chapter Book Reading List (part 2 of 2)

Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up

Summer Reading Lists and Programs for Kids

Summer Reading List for Kids (mine!) ages 8 through 13

Rising Kindergarten Summer Reading List

Rising First Grade Summer Reading List

Rising 2nd Grade Summer Reading List

Rising 3rd Grade Summer Reading List

Rising 4th Grade Summer Reading List

Rising 5th Grade Summer Reading List

7th Grade Reading List

Summer Reading List: New Books for Kids and Book Reviews for B&N

Summer Reading Lists for Middle School Kids

My books:

BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.

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