By Brooke Thompson
Reading is an important skill in life. While it may not be everyone’s favorite hobby, it is imperative that your children know how to read and comprehend books. It is one thing to know how to read, but it is entirely another to know and understand what the text actually said.
By encouraging your kids to read, you are setting them up for future success in life and potentially fostering a lifelong love of reading.
If you are a parent with a young child who is starting to learn how to read or trying to get them off technology for a couple of hours, try introducing these books to them. These five book series for 1st-3rd graders have been popular for decades and are beloved by children and educators everywhere.
Here are five book series for 1st-3rd graders that will enamor your 6-8-year-olds with reading.
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1) The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
When I was in the first grade and beginning to read, The Boxcar Children was one of the first book series my mother bought me. I lost count of how many times I re-read the series growing up. I enjoyed reading the adventures of the Alden children where they go from orphans living in an abandoned boxcar to staying with their wealthy grandfather and solving mysteries wherever they visit.
The first 19 books of the series were published between the 1940s-1970s by Chandler Gertrude Warner. After her death, several authors took over writing the series, adding 136 more titles (157 in total).
While the original series takes place during the 20s-30s, more recent titles take place in modern times. These books are a great introduction to a child reading a book series as they are easy to read, short (average page length is 160 pages), and even have a few illustrations.
In addition to giving a child a glimpse of what life was like in the 1920s-30s, the books encourage children to be curious and teach really good lessons. These include: helping others in need, don’t judge books by their covers, and not being afraid to speak up.
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2) Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne
My first introduction to this series was when my mom bought these books for me to read on a long road trip. I got lost in the first book Dinosaurs Before Dark and was hooked ever since. I scoured libraries and my teachers’ classroom bookshelves to read Jack and Annie’s next adventure.
The Magic Tree House Series was originally published in the 1990s and has been ongoing for the last 30 years. The series is split up into two parts: the Magic Tree House series and the Magic Tree House: Merlin Missions.
The first half has 26 books and is about an enchantress named Morgan Le Fay that sends two kids, Jack and his sister Annie, on adventures via a magic tree house. These adventures consist of Jack and Annie going to foreign lands and exotic locations all throughout time and history, either retrieving magic items or rescuing people.
The second half of the series consists of 27 books and has the same premise, but instead of Morgan sending them on adventures, the wizard Merlin gives them missions to complete.
Like The Boxcar Children, these books are a great introduction to a child reading a book series as they are easy to read, short (average page length ranges from 80 to 150 pages), and even include a few illustrations. The books teach children about different cultures, history, and animals while also instilling essential life skills, like solving problems and teamwork.
3) Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
When I was in the second grade, my teacher recommended this series to me after I asked for “longer books”. I accidentally started in the middle of the series with Junie B. Jones Is A Party Animal and fell in love with these books. What is great about the series is that you can start anywhere in it and still be able to follow what is happening in the story.
The Junie B. Jones series consists of 28 books. As mentioned prior, the series is divided into two sections. The first 17 books are about her adventures in kindergarten, whereas the last 11 are about her in the first grade. The series follows the titular Junie B. Jones – an excitable, imaginative five year old as she navigates her way through kindergarten and (later in the series) the first grade.
Even as a second-grader reading about a “little kid,” I found Junie B. Jones’s character very endearing. Her outlook on the world is humorous and, at times, over the top (as most young children’s are) yet still very relatable. Despite the books’ silly nature, they do teach children about how to handle real life situations, like friendships ending, not getting invited to events, or facing your fears.
4) Henry Huggins & Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Out of all the books Beverly Cleary has written, these two series were my absolute favorites. I was introduced to these two series when my third grade teacher had assigned these books as reading projects.
The first series Henry Huggins is about a boy getting into a slew of misadventures with his dog Ribsy. For example, he accidentally loses his friend’s football, so he earns money by collecting over 1000 earthworms. Or later, he wins a dog show by mistakenly giving Ribsy pink spots. Henry’s shenanigans make these books an entertaining read for children.
The Ramona Quimby series is just as entertaining. Ramona and her older sister Beezus were originally background characters in the Henry Huggins series, but reading them as the main characters gave them more dimension.
Like Junie B. Jones, Ramona is a boisterous little girl who is navigating her way through pre-school and, by the end of the series, the fifth grade. While she doesn’t go on misadventures like Henry, she does find herself in sticky situations.
For example, in Ramona the Pest, she gets stuck in the mud after jumping into a large puddle, or, in Ramona Quimby, Age 8, she gets egg yolk all over her face after her mother mistakenly puts an uncooked egg in her lunch, instead of a hard boiled one.
The Henry Huggins series contains six books while the Ramona Quimby series has eight books. Each of these books average about 150 pages and teach children about responsibility, the importance of family, being grateful, and how to make the most of bad situations.
5) Fudge series by Judy Blume
After P.E. class, my third grade teacher had a ritual where she would read us a chapter from a book. One of the books she had chosen was Fudge-A-Mania by Judy Blume. From what I remember, the story is a wild ride from page one.
It’s about a boy named Peter Hatcher whose family goes on vacation with his arch rival Sheila’s family. His five-year-old little brother (the titular Fudge) wants to marry Sheila because he is scared of monsters and believes that if he married her, she would scare the monsters away. The madness only progresses from there.
Despite Fudge-A-Mania being the third book out of the series, it served as a great introduction to Blume’s Fudge series, as well as her other books. As I mentioned in my section about Junie B. Jones, Blume’s books are the type that you can start anywhere and still have an idea of what is happening in the story.
The Fudge series consists of five books, ranging between 140-240 pages. While Peter is the main character, his little brother Fudge basically drives the plot. From trying to get rid of his baby sister Tootsie to swallowing Peter’s pet turtle, the chaos is sure to keep children invested in the series. However, from these chaotic reads, children learn how to deal with problematic siblings and handle bullying.
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Not only will these book series for 1st-3rd graders keep your children entertained for hours but also can potentially get them to fall in love with reading. The Magic Tree House and The Boxcar Children series is an excellent choice for children that love history and solving mysteries. The Junie B. Jones, Ramona Quimby, and Henry Huggins books are great reads for kids with huge imaginations and a penchant for mischief. Lastly, the Fudge series are a good option for children that enjoy comedies and have crazy siblings.