We are always on the lookout for new series to recommend and share with our early readers friends. Chapter books are especially welcome; these texts have the benefit of connecting a longer story through chapter segments that retain the same characters and keep the reader engaged. Even with stories that are written for kids to read on their own without adult help, the best of this genre retains well-written prose and imaginative and appealing illustrations. Here are a few contemporary series that we have found delight early readers–and are also great read-alouds for the slightly younger set. Enjoy!
Rabbit and Robot, The Sleepover by Cece Bell
There’s something appealing about odd couple friends: think Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggy. There’s a new pair of friends for your reading pleasure: super-logical Robot and fussy compulsive Rabbit. But friends they are, and rabbit couldn’t be more excited about their first sleep-over! And he has it perfectly planned, with a detailed list of activities: make pizza, watch TV, play Go Fish, go to bed. But Rabbit didn’t take into account that Robot prefers nuts and bolts on his pizza. There are several other mishaps and not quite connections in their sleepover, but friendship prevails. Bell is a terrific cartoonist, and her illustrations are just right for the humor and engagement of the story. Expect numerous calls for re-readings! And luckily, there are more in the series: checkout Rabbit and Ribit and Robot for the follow-up adventure, and be on the lookout for book number#3 soon.
Juana and Lucas by Juana Medine
Juana is a delightful new heroine who hails from Bogota, Columbia. Her dog Lucas is the best amigo a girl can have, and joins her in many adventures. I love the Spanish words used throughout the tale, as well as Juana’s account of learning English for her special trip to Florida. The way illustrations help make the meanings clear is masterfully done. Full spreads are delightful, in which Juana uses words and pictures to tell us us why, for example, she strongly dislikes her school uniform or why Mami is the most important person in her life. Magical! It’s only been out for a few months, but more in the series are in the works. Stay tuned!
Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon
Dory is a little firecracker who gets into trouble in the tradition of Junie B. Jones or Ramona. Her family’s nickname for her is Rascal; can you guess why? Dory is blessed ( her older siblings would say cursed) with a very active imagination, which helps her keep track of the menagerie of monsters in her house as well as the evil Mrs. Gobble Gracker, who steals baby girls. Luckily, she always has her banana at the ready to make calls for help to her Fairy Godmother Mr. Nuggy. This series is both charming and funny, for adult readers as well as the children it’s written for. The illustrations make it an almost graphic novel, with loads of pictures and word bubbles to pore over on each spread. Three books in the series so far, and we can’t wait for more!