June’s Favorite Books: Kindergarten and 1st Grade Series

26 June 2023

If you have a voracious reader at home, you know at this age it can practically be a part-time job to keep him or her in books: chatting with friends about recommendations, scanning book lists, vetting new titles, making requests at the library (or sometimes putting in a materials request!), picking up holds, returning piles of completed books, oh my. It can be a lot to keep up with, but as a lifelong reader who hopes to kindle the same in her kids, it’s also a true joy.

To hopefully make one part of the process a bit easier for you, I present to you 12 book series for kindergartners and first graders that June has loved. (I’m planning to do another post in the future on her favorite individual books at this age, but series are an excellent time saver so we’re starting here!) Where I could, I’m sharing a picture of the interior pages – hopefully that will make it easier to see if a particular title is the right fit for your little reader.


These are all series that June read independently and loved in kindergarten. She still reads and enjoys most of them now, having just completed first grade!

The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne | A brother-sister pair travel back in time to ancient Egypt, the Civil War, Pompeii, Imperial China, and just about everywhere else in time and space. This is apparently the number one bestselling chapter book series of all time, and with 38 titles to choose from, there’s lots to explore.

The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale | Perfectly-pink Princess Magnolia has a secret, monster-defeating alter ego. Funny, action-packed, and with colorful illustrations throughout, there are 10 books to enjoy.

Magic Treehouse on the left and Princess in Black on the right

The Puppy Place series by Ellen Miles | This was the first chapter book series June latched on to, and she’s read most of them (there are currently 67!). These are formulaic, a la The Babysitter’s Club of yore; in each book, a brother-sister pair foster a puppy and ultimately find it a home. Prepare to hear about lots of different dog breeds :)

The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series by Poppy Green | Sweet and gentle, Sophie Mouse is the perfect beginning chapter book series: big type, short chapters, and illustrations on almost every page. These are cheerful little stories about Sophie and her animal friends’ kindness and everyday adventures. 20 books in this one!

The Critter Club series by Callie Barkley | Another great beginning chapter book series (26 currently) that’s very similar to Sophie Mouse. Four friends have pet-centric adventures as they care for all kinds of animals. June blew through three of these in an hour last week.

Puppy Place on the left and Critter Club on the right

The Lighthouse Family series by Cynthia Rylant | In a lighthouse by the ocean, Seabold, a dog, and Pandora, a cat, live with their three little mice children. Most of the 8 books in this series by a Newberry Medalist author find the family helping some creature that’s washed ashore. Sweet, peaceful, and perfect for ocean lovers.

The Tales from Deckawoo Drive series by Kate DiCamillo | Fans of Mercy Watson (or illustrator Chris Van Dusen!) will love this funny and heartfelt spin-off series focusing on a different character on the street in each title. 7 books!

Boxcar Children on the left and Anne on the right


These are all books June read for the first time in first grade, but depending on your reader, some could definitely be good for a kindergartner (or a second grader!), too!

The Anne series by Kallie George | As an Anne with an E lover myself, I was delighted to see these charming early-reader adaptations. Plucking episodes from the original books and combining them with vintage-esque illustrations, they’re the perfect introduction to Green Gables and a great prelude to reading the real thing. There are five books in the series so far!

The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler | With 164 books to dive into, the original Boxcar Children books seemingly never end on the shelf. I adored these four siblings and their adventures when I was younger and love that June is enjoying them, too. Like many parents before me, I love that Henry, Jessie, Benny, and Violet show love, resourcefulness, and kindness as they work together and care for each other.

Heartwood Hotel on the left and Craftily Ever After on the right

The Craftily Ever After series by Martha Maker | A diverse cast of four friends crafts its way through elementary school while surmounting your typical 8-year-old challenges. The eight books in the series have lots of illustrations, easy-to-understand language, and sweet resolutions. Very similar to Critter Club!

The Heartwood Hotel series by Kallie George | If June was challenged to choose a favorite series from this list, I think it would be this one – there are four books so far, and she’s desperate for Kallie to write more. “Courage, kindness, and adventure abounds” in these books with details that delight (acorn souffles, moss-lined beds). These are a step up in difficulty from the early-reader picks but still very approachable.

The Missy Piggle-Wiggle series by Ann M. Martin | While June has panned the original Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books (for now!), she loves this spin-off series featuring her niece. Missy has inventive cures for all sorts of childhood misbehavior that had June laughing out loud. There are three books so far.

This should take care of your resident early-elementary-schooler’s summer reading, right? :) I’d love to hear what books the kids in your life are loving these days, or if you’re also a fan of any of the books I’ve rounded up here!

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June 26, 2023 8:08 am

I love to see kids still loving The Magic Treehouse series! It was my absolute favorite!

Kelly Strawberry
June 26, 2023 10:03 am

I’m gonna try Critter Club and Craftily Ever after. Cam is going to 2nd grade and has yet to read independently and/or read any chapter books. Thanks for the suggestions and the images are helpful!

June 26, 2023 11:09 am

Tons of Magic Treehouse happening in my house. My rising 2nd grader also enjoys the Hardy Boys Clue Books (Frank and Joe reimagined as elementary age, with more age-appropriate mysteries to solve), Dragon Masters, and Ricky Ricotta for series books. And, sigh, some Minecraft-related things. Which we try to only get 1 book of at a time.
100% agree with the effort involved in fostering a reader and that it’s a joy but the chatting, scanning, vetting, placing hold process is a lot. Especially hard early on was the different difficulty scales that different publishers use and trying to figure out what level was appropriate for my little guy. My mom, his grandma, suggested I reach out to the librarians and WOWZA were they great. Our library has an “ask a librarian” email box and I wrote in with a few books that were big hits and a few that were big misses and we got a list back of 10 to try, with many successes. During early pandemic, when the library was closed except for hold pick-up, knowing that I wasn’t flying blind with the holds was a huge help and I think it helped my new-reader 4yo become into the bookworm 7yo he is now. Friends, ask a librarian!

Kristen M
June 26, 2023 11:34 am

My first grader loves the Magic Tree House books! She is a bit advanced for them now but we also read every one of the Elephant and Piggie books which were still a huge hit in K.
The Puppy Place series and Craftily Ever After sound like ones my daughter would love – I’ll have to grab a book from each from the library next time!

June 26, 2023 5:22 pm

Thanks for the recs! My oldest brought home a lot of Rainbow Magic Fairies from the school library last year (kindergarten). Not my favorite! But towards the end of the year, she found Princess in Black and we’re both happy with that choice! I think Magic Treehouse looks fun but might still be me reading aloud to her. Critter Club and Sophie Mouse look like they could be winners, will explore at our library this week!

June 27, 2023 8:55 am

Love these posts! The kids ran out of books on vacation and we got the first book of the Heartwood Hotel and they both loved it so much! We’re about to pick up the next two books of the series at the library today!
Some of the books/series my daughter loved in K/1st, my son is not too interested in. But the Heartwood Hotel is a winner for both. They also both got into the Geronimo Stilton books. Not my personal favorites, but nothing bad either. My son (June‘s age) also likes the Henry Heckelbeck book series and the Timmy Tobson books.

June 28, 2023 8:41 am

Some of our favorites are the Boxcar Children. We also love Mercy Watson, the Ballpark Mysteries and anything Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins or Mouse and the Motorcycle. Also can’t forget the Little House series!

July 5, 2023 7:15 am

You are so right that it feels like a part-time job keeping up with books for my voracious readers! These are great recommendations and added a few new ones to our list. Our favorite from your list (so far!) is the Craftily Ever After series. I’m snagging the first Critter Club for my rising 1st grader! A recent big hit is the Nancy Drew Clue Book series – it’s so fun to see one of my favorite series adapted for early readers!