5 Chapter Books for Young Readers

I remember my first chapter book. It was Sleepy Dog by Harriet Ziefert. Now it wasn’t actually a chapter book. Not in the traditional sense. But it was an early reader, with its small collection of words and story broken up into “chapters.” And as an emerging reader – I. Ate. It. Up.


I loved that book. I was so proud of myself for being able to read something with chapters – whoa! – but I also loved the story. So much, that I literally wore a hole into the cover. And then “patched” it by taping blue construction paper over it. (I mean…I tried, right?) But the point is: chapter books present a new level of reading literacy – and an entirely new world – for any young reader.

On today’s list, I’ve included five great chapter books for young readers to enjoy!

Note - these are actual, full chapter books; not emerging readers like Sleepy Dog. Depending on the child’s reading level, I’d recommend the books on this list for students ranging from roughly 2nd – 5th grade. (But I still highly recommend Sleepy Dog to any level reader who loves a cute, short story about a sleepy pup. 😉)

1.       The BFG by Roald Dahl (Author), Quentin Blake (Illustrator) [Bonus - Check out my Activity Packet for The BFG here.]

2.       Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (Author), Julie Brinckloe (Author), Adam McCauley (Illustrator)

3.       Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

4.       The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

5.       The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Want more? Well, you’re in luck! I have my very own children’s chapter book!

My Friend Shtumpy

Now available on Amazon!

10 Classic Books You’ll Love at Every Age

Books are a thing. An item, a material. Composed of a cover, binding, and pages. Simple. But the stories held among the pages? Anything but. In fact, what’s held on the inside - the magic inside books - in my opinion, remains absolutely priceless. Below, I’ve listed some of my lifelong-favorite reads, including the books I come back to year after year!

1.       The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

2.       Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

3.       The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Author), Richard Howard (Translator)

4.       The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [Bonus - Check out my Activity Packet for The Alchemist here.]

5.       Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

6.       Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie

7.       Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (Author), Ernest H. Shepard (Illustrator)

8.       The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (Author), Robert Lawson (Illustrator)

9.       The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (Author), William Nicholson (Illustrator)

10.   Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Author), Quentin Blake (Illustrator)

Whether you have these strewn across your floor, dog-eared and heavily read – or if you’re looking to add to your collection, the above stories will delight and inspire a wide range of readers.

Some of these also make very special, personal gifts! Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is often recommended as a gift for graduates. Inscribe a small note on the inside cover to truly make a lasting impression. 😊

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6 Thought-Provoking Books for Middle-Grades and Early Teens

It’s hard being a kid. But you know what’s even harder? Being a middle-school aged kid. Or an early teen. I mean, those years are rough. Thankfully, some of the books I remember most from my upbringing are the ones I read during these years. Ones that I loved and cherished and remember to this day.

Maybe that has something to do with how often stories written for this age really relate to the reader; hopefully making them feel a little more secure with themselves, despite the pressures of growing up and fitting in. Or maybe it’s just coincidence. Either way, here’s a list compiled of some of my favorite reads and recommendations for middle-grade and early teen readers. (The first half of the list includes a few of my favorites from when I was in middle school. The second half the list consists of new, great reads for this age range.)

1.       The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Author), Alton Raible (Illustrator)

2.       The Giver by Lois Lowry

3.       Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

4.       Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

5.       The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Author) and Ellen Forney (Illustrator)

6.       The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Young Reader's Edition by William Kamkwamba (Author), Bryan Mealer (Author), Anna Hymas (Illustrator)

Now, I know there are classics missing from this list! (I mean, the major elephant not on the list – the inimitable Harry Potter. For one, anyways.) But, it’s only a list 6-deep. And when I create reading recommendations, my goal is to mix things up a bit and maybe throw some content out there that you (and your child) haven’t seen before. At least sometimes. 😉

There will be plenty more lists to come. (Sci-fi or dystopian-specific lists, anyone?!) So, if you have any books you feel need to be included on a middle-grade or early teen list, or if you simply want to share what your middle-grade or early teen reader is enjoying these days, always feel free to holler at me here: jennifernicely@jennifernicely.com

4 YA/Adult Books I’ve Read This Year (And You Should, Too)

Alright, adults. All you this time. Well, young adults, too, but you follow. Today’s list is all about the young adult/new adult reader and some great books you might not have heard of (yet) but would love. And maybe one or two you have heard of, but should consider giving another look, or even reading again!

We’re going to go about this in a “choose your own adventure style.” Because, I mean, that’s fun. Here we go!

Reading List YA-A image.JPG

Ready to dig in? Grab any of the books above here:

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