Reel Girl Recs: First Chapter Books

First grade is amazing. My six year old daughter, Alice, began this school year slowly sounding out words in picture books. Now, she saves those to read aloud to her enraptured little sister and then reads Harry Potter to herself.


That said, after spending her entire life in picture books, Alice was tentative to make the transition to chapter books. It wasn’t about skill but familiarity. Here’s the good and the bad history in books of how she did it:

Rainbow Magic Series  ***S***

This was the first chapter book my daughter picked up. I thought I purged the house after my older one grew out of this series, but apparently I did not.


There are so many damn books in this series that I missed about 10. How did my older daughter acquire so many? All I can say is it happened before I knew better. Generally, I don’t forbid books. I may roll my eyes at a selection. I did refuse to let my eight year old read Twilight but mostly, I “highly encourage” books that I think would be great for them, and they would love and try to ignore the rest. So what did my six year old daughter do when I told her for one too many times she was ready to start chapter books? She picked up Lucy, the Diamond Fairy and brought it to be, beaming, knowing I would cringe. I caved. She read.

To learn more about how and why I hate this series and a few things that are OK about it, read here.

Junie B. Jones  ***HH***

I’m not a fan of Junie B. either. She is super annoying and talks baby talk. I hate baby talk.


But the print is big, the stories are simple, and my daughter felt accomplished finishing the book. Parts of it are funny. Alice liked it okay. And, I’d rather her read about a brat than a navel baring Fairy who goes on about her outfit for pages. My daughter got through three of this series and then she went on to…

Judy Moody ***HH***

Judy Moody has a similar lay out of print size, book length, and illustration as Junie B.


I like Judy more than Junie. Thankfully, so does my daughter. I was kind of bored by these books, I like more drama. Alice also read a couple and then moved on to…

Magic Tree House ***HH***

If your new reader likes Magic Tree House, you’re in luck. There are so many of these books, and the kids always travel to a different place and time.


There is a lot of history woven into the stories, and of course, magic. I like these books a lot, though being me, it does bum me out that it is always “Jack and Annie” and never “Annie and Jack.” I mean, we’re talking hundreds of stories, can’t the girl come first at least half the time? When my older daughter got into this series, I was overjoyed and blogged about it here.

Ramona the Pest ***HHH***

I love Ramona.


The writing is great and the characters are awesome. This series is a jump from the previous 4: smaller print, longer, and more complex, IMO.

I think the only think I don’t like about this series is that Ramona thinks her brown hair and brown eyes are boring. If this was one book of many that had that theme, I wouldn’t have an issue, but dark haired girls don’t fare well in children’s media, from Rapunzel who literally loses her magic and power when her hair turns brown, to Ramona. Alice has two blue-eyed, blonde sisters, so its even more of a bummer to read about how Ramona is obsessed with other peoples hair. And no, it’s not something my daughter relates to, because she’s never felt like there is anything less good about brown hair. So that’s my tirade about hair. Otherwise, great series, read what I wrote about it here.

The Magic Half **HHH***

After Ramona, my daughter made the jump to The Magic Half.


This is a full on next level book and she plowed through it. I did not read it, but here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Miri is the non-twin child in a family with two sets of them–older brothers and younger sisters. The family has just moved to an old farmhouse in a new town, where the only good thing seems to be Miri’s ten-sided attic bedroom. But when Miri gets sent to her room after accidentally bashing her big brother on the head with a shovel, she finds herself in the same room . . . only not quite.
Without meaning to, she has found a way to travel back in time to 1935 where she discovers Molly, a girl her own age very much in need of a loving family. A highly satisfying classic-in-the-making full of spine-tingling moments, this is a delightful time-travel novel for the whole family.
Based on the rec of Alice and Lucy, I rated it 3 Hs
And that brings us to…
Harry Potter, the Sorcerer’s Stone ***H***
YAY. If you want to know how I feel about the series, begin here. My daughter loves the book so far, especially the way Hagrid talks.