I often receive requests from young patrons wanting to find Junie B. Jones books. Young readers seem to really enjoy reading her series. She has a spunky personality that kids find hilarious. Not all grown-ups seem to love her though (she is pretty sassy)! I have some alternative series recommendations from our children’s library for Junie B. Jones fans (or for those needing a break from her) that will appeal to new readers just starting to read chapter books. These are all shorter chapter books with illustrations and relatable characters that are appealing to kids building up their reading stamina. Whether you share the love for the popular Junie B. or not, we have many options your new readers will enjoy.
Ivy + Bean series by Annie Barrows
Second graders, Ivy and Bean, are a likeable pair of best friends. They have very different personalities and at first, didn’t even want to be friends with each other! They discover that their differences actually complement each other to make them a dynamic duo. You will enjoy their creative problem solving and humorous adventures, which don’t always go as planned – despite their good intentions. The large font, short chapters, and humorous illustrations will appeal to early readers of this series.
JoJo Makoons series by Dawn Quigley
This is a new series that takes place on a fictional Native American Ojibwe reservation. The first book in this series follows JoJo, a seven-year-old girl, as she tries to make sense of the world and navigate friendships. Readers will adore this charming character and her perspective through her misadventures, as well gain some insight into Ojibwe culture. Short chapters and fun illustrations add to the appeal of this series for young readers.
Dory Fantasmagory series by Abby Hanlon
Six-year-old Dory, also known as Rascal, lives an imaginative life. She sees monsters everywhere and has an imaginary friend. Her older siblings find her babyish and won’t play with her. They even try to scare her into acting older by telling her she will be snatched up by Mrs. Gobble Gracker for acting like a baby. Instead of feeling inspired to act older, Dory is determined to go on a mission to defeat Mrs. Gobble Gracker. Amusing illustrations accompany this hilarious series that readers will enjoy.
Mindy Kim series by Lyla Lee
This series follows Mindy Kim, a seven-year-old Asian American girl, after she moves across the country from California to Florida with her dad. Her mom has recently passed away, and Mindy begins attending a school where she immediately doesn’t feel like she fits in. In spite of the challenges life has thrown her way, Mindy manages to make friends and have fun in this sweet and amusing series that shows readers they can embrace their differences and include those who are different from themselves. Short chapters and adorable illustrations make this book a great option for early chapter book reading.
Heidi Heckelbeck series by Wanda Coven
Heidi is an eight-year-old girl with a secret. She is a witch in disguise! She lives a normal life, with the exception of having magical powers. When challenging situations arise, Heidi has the option to use her spell book to assist. Of course things don’t always go as planned though, as Heidi learns to balance living a normal life with having special powers. This lovely series has large font and illustrations on each page that will engage readers on their transition into longer chapter books.
Princess Posey series by Stephanie Greene
This sweet series follows six-year-old Posey through her relatable life experiences navigating family, school, and friendships. She finds comfort and an extra boost of bravery through wearing her special tutu, and is a thoughtful character as she works through appropriate actions to situations. The large text, short chapters, and charming illustrations add further appeal for new readers.
Sofia Martinez series by Jacqueline Jules
Sofia is a seven-year-old girl, growing up in a large Hispanic family. She has a bold personality and feels like she must fight for attention. Sofia’s mischievous methods for problem-solving will amuse readers. This series is a great option for reluctant readers, and those transitioning into reading their first chapter books. Large fonts and bold, colorful illustrations on each page will appeal to new readers building up their reading stamina. Readers will also have the opportunity to learn some Spanish, as there is Spanish language included throughout the text. The Spanish words are typed in pink, with definitions provided in the glossary at the end of the book. There are also discussion questions and writing prompts included at the end of each story.