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Growing Reader

10 Buzz-Worthy Chapter Book Series for 6- to 8-Year-Olds

by Kari Ness Riedel

Photography by Seana Williamson

When you ask a kid what kind of books they read, you can see the beam of pride when they answer “chapter books.” They’ve graduated from “leveled readers” and now have a whole new world of mystery, humor, adventure, and friendship stories open to them.

This transition, which often happens between ages six and eight, is crucial in a child’s independent reading life. It is essential to pick books that allow them to experience reading as a pleasure, not a chore. Series abound for this age group, and getting them hooked on one good book can lead to hours, days, and even weeks of fully engaged reading awesomeness.

You might be familiar with well-loved chapter book series like Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Stink, and The Boxcar Children. If you need some new ideas, check out these ten “kid-approved” series that feature characters from diverse races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. They all come highly recommended by young readers – and their parents and educators – on, an online community where kids share reviews of favorite books.

  • Alvin Ho

    by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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    Second-grader Alvin is afraid of everything. Alvin is loud and boisterous at home, but at school, fear takes over, and he doesn’t say a word. Full of humor, wild antics, and silly situations, this is an excellent pick for young readers who enjoy books like Big Nate or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Mrs. M., an elementary school teacher, recommends it to her students, “I was cracking up. Alvin is funny and quite dramatic. Kids will laugh out loud.”

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  • Ballpark Mysteries

    by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers

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    Cousins Kate and Mike are hardcore baseball fans and travel to different ballparks with Kate’s sports reporter mom. They discover (and unravel) a new mystery in each park, such as who stole the Red Sox slugger’s favorite bat. As the title implies, this is a perfect choice for fans of sleuthing stories and all things baseball. Victorino, 10, sums it up nicely: “This book is a home run out of the park.”

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  • EllRay Jakes

    by Sally Warner, illustrated by Brian Biggs

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    Most kids can relate to third-grader EllRay as he navigates the ups and downs of school, family, and friendships — things like feeling bullied as the shortest kid in school, being a good brother, or comparing himself to others. This series is an excellent pick for fans of realistic stories filled with heart and humor. Bryce, 9, really liked that “EllRay is a striving kid” and can solve any problem he puts his mind to.

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  • Here's Hank

    Here's Hank

    by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, illustrated by Scott Garrett

    In this prequel to the Hank Zipzer series, readers get to know Hank as a second-grader before he gets diagnosed with learning differences. He is the classic class clown, and although he sometimes struggles with school, he loves learning and is a fantastic friend, son, and dog owner. A splendid choice for fans of realistic, humorous stories. According to many young readers, including Georgia, 8, “It’s really funny and interesting.”

  • Jada Jones

    by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nneka Myers

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    Fourth-grader Jade is brave, confident, and loves science. But she still must overcome issues like being nervous about giving public speeches, making new friends, and learning how to dance. This book is perfect for kids interested in STEM and fans of stories with relatable kid drama like Ivy and Bean. As one parent reviewer shared, “My kid can’t stop reading these stories!”

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  • Mercy Watson

    by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

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    This series centers on a charming, buttered toast-loving pig, Mercy, and her human owners, Mr. and Mrs. Watson. Silly escapades and good-natured characters make this chapter book series wildly appealing for kids and parents. As Michelle, 8, says, “Try these books if you want a good laugh.” Leana, 7, adds, “The Mercy books are so good, I can’t wait to read them all.”

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  • Phoebe G. Green

    by Veera Hiranandani, illustrated by Christine Almeda

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    This chapter book series is a must-read for young foodies. Phoebe’s adventures with cooking serve as the perfect background to showcase how this independent and lovable girl tackles relatable issues like making new friends, trying new things, and telling the truth. If you need more of a reason to read this book by the Newbery Honor-winning author, Veera Hiranandani, Sarah, 8, provides this endorsement, “These books made me hungry.”

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  • Princess in Black

    by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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    In this excellent twist on the traditional princess story, Princess Magnolia goes undercover to fight monsters and save the day — no prince required. It is a fun, girl empowerment story filled with humor, kindness, and page-turning adventures. Allison, 8, officially gives it five out of five stars but exclaims, “If I could give it 6 stars, I would!”

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  • Timmy Failure

    by Stephan Pastis

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    Hilarity abounds in this highly bingeable series that chronicles the adventures of Timmy, a young investigator who creates a global detective agency, Total Failure, Inc. With his sidekick, an imaginary polar bear named Total, he can solve any mystery. While the story is laugh-out-loud funny and Timmy is self-confident, clever, and charmingly clueless, he also deals with challenges like making friends, depression, and being raised by a single mom who lives paycheck to paycheck. Kavy, 9, summarizes this paradox well, “This book has a lot of adventures and disappointments. It's a happy and sad book, but it surprises you in a funny way.”

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  • Unicorn Academy

    by Julie Sykes, illustrated by Lucy Truman

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    If going to a school where you get a magical unicorn sounds perfect, this book is for you! Each book in this series follows a different girl’s adventures with her unicorn as they work through issues like fear of trying new things and friendship drama. Alessandra, age 8, recommends it as “the perfect book for early readers who love magical stories.”

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2022.