First Novels

Ready to start reading novels?

Here are some great chapter books for 7 and 8 year olds!

Nate the Great

Adler, David A. Cam Jansen and the Joke House Mystery. New York: Viking, 2014.

“While Cam’s Aunt Molly is competing in a comedy contest, the expensive plate the winner will receive disappears and Cam and Eric set out to find it before the contest is over.” – CIP.  There are dozens of Cam Jansen mysteries in this easy-to-read series from a prolific author of fiction and nonfiction children’s books. 

Timberwolf Chase

Brouwer, Sigmund. Timberwolf Chase. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 2006.
This is the first in a series of seven hockey novels for readers 7 to 9-years-old.  Full of action and humour, these novels are especially appealing to reluctant readers who would rather do something than sit around reading a book. The author has written many sports novels for older readers, as well.  [Hockey; Teamwork; Teasing]

Flat Stanley

Brown, Jeff. Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure! New York : HarperTrophy, 2009, c1992.

“After a bulletin board falls on Stanley while he is sleeping, he finds that being flat has its advantages.” – CIP. This is the first in a series of 10 amusing novels written in a style reminiscent of Bernard Waber’s Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile and H.A. Rey’s Curious George

Sword in the Tree

Bulla, Clyde Robert. The Sword in the Tree. New York: HarperCollins 2000.

A story of King Arthur by a master storyteller, a great first novel for readers who want a story that challenges their imagination and inspires interest in the vastness of time. 

Beans on the Roof

Byars, Betsy. Beans on the Roof. New York: Yearling 1990.

“George Bean always wants to play on the roof of his apartment building. But only his older sister Anna can sit there, because she’s writing a roof poem. Anna may be the first Bean to be in a book if the poem wins a contest at school.George decides to write a roof poem too. Soon all the Beans are on the roof writing the roof poems. All except George. He needs some inspiration. How will he get it?” – from the publisher.  A humorous novel by an outstanding author. While some of her stories are now rather dated, this one will still be enjoyed by young readers. 

The Stories Julian Tells

Cameron, Ann. The Stories Julian Tells. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 1989.

A classic story of a boy who makes up stories that fool his younger brother and get him into trouble.  Hilarious and perfect for sharing, this easy-to-read novel is part of a series about the irrepressible Julian, who is a younger 20th-century version of Tom Sawyer. [African Americans; Brothers; Family life; Imagination]

Chicken Feathers

Cowley, Joy. Chicken Feathers. New York : Philomel Books, 2008.

Josh spends the summer with his pet chicken Semolina while his mother is hospitalized until the birth of his sister. A touching story, comparable to Arthur, for the Very First Time by  Patricia MacLachlan. Both novels are by master storytellers, but this one is for younger readers. [Chickens; Family life; Farm life; Pets]

Snake and Lizard

Cowley, Joy. Snake and Lizard. La Jolla, Calif.: Kane/Miller, 2007.

This story of two friends who like helping others comes from New Zealand and will be much enjoyed by readers who are fond of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel and George and Martha by James Marshall. 


Cowley, Joy. Friends: Snake and Lizard. Wellington, N.Z. : Gecko Press, 2011, c2009.

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Dadey, Debbie. This Side of Magic. New York : Starscape, 2009.

Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones have written many books for young readers. While their stories are not especially memorable, they are full of action and adventure and are easy to read. 

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

DiCamillo, Kate. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2014.

“Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots, but no horse, until he meets Maybelline and it is love at first sight, until Leroy forgets the third rule of caring for Maybelline.” – CIP. A heart-warming story that will make readers laugh and cry. Highly recommended for all ages. [Friendship; Horses; Human- Animal relationship; Humorous stories; Love]

Phineas L.

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Phineas L. MacGuire Erupts!  New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2007, c2006.

“Fourth-grade science whiz Phineas MacGuire is forced to team up with the new boy in class on a science fair project, but the boy’s quirky personality causes Phineas to wonder if they have any chance of winning.” – CIP. Large print and widely-spaced lines makes this an easy-to-read novel. But the lively humour by this outstanding writer makes this novel appealing for anyone who wants to relax and laugh for awhile. [Schools; Science projects; Friendship]

Dodsworth in New York

Egan, Tim. Dodsworth in New York. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Dodsworth is a duck on the move!  In this short chapter book, similar in style to the Frog and Toad books, Dodsworth visits famous sites in New York City.  Even eighth grade students enjoy reading about real places in this adventurous series about a spunky duck. Other books include London, Paris, Rome and Tokyo.

Picture 7

 Gay, Marie-Louise. On the Road Again!: More Travels with My Family. Toronto : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2008. 

Charlie, his younger brother Max and their parents are off to live in the south of France for a year. Life in the village brings new adventures. Life on a road trip through Spain brings more adventures. Hilarious and full of joy, this short novel by a Canadian author will appeal to readers aged 7 through 11. [Adventure and adventurers; Brothers; Family life; France; Moving (Household); Spain; Vacations; Voyages and travels] 

Say What?

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Say What? New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.

“When their parents begin saying the wrong thing every time six-year-old Sukie and her older brothers misbehave, the children discover that it is a plot and fight back with their own wrong phrases.” – CIP. A great story that will introduce readers to a popular and prolific author of many novels for middle school students. [Humorous stories; Parenting]

Billy MIner

Henkes, Kevin. The Year of Billy Miller. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2013.
“Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a bump on his head and a lot of worries, but by the end of the year he has developed good relationships with his teacher, his little sister, and his parents and learned many important lessons.” – CIP A joyous story and a Newbery Honor Book by an accomplished author. [Families; Humorous stories; Schools; Wisconsin]

Henkes, Kevin. Billy Miller Makes a Wish. New York: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2021.
Billy makes a wish on his eighth birthday. Will it come true?  Set in the summer before grade three, this story of everyday family life is told from Billy’s perspective. The worries of life. The irritations. The questions. The reassurances from loving parents. All are charmingly depicted in this beginner’s novel highly recommended for readers 7 to 9 years old. 

Howe, James. Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster. Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2018.
Houndsley enthusiastically welcomes his adventurous cousin Wagster. But his feelings start to deflate when his best friend Catina turns her attentions to fun-loving Wagster. What will happen? Will Wagster ruin everything? This heart-warming story illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay is sure to appeal to readers 4 to 8 years old

Busybody Nora

Hurwitz, Johanna. Busybody Nora. New York: Middle Grade, 2000.

Six-year-old Nora and her younger brother get into all sorts of adventures in this classic novel for 7 to 9-year-olds.

Amazing Monty

Hurwitz, Johanna. Amazing Monty. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2010.

“First grader Montgomery Gerald Morris enjoys an exciting year as his class acquires a pair of parakeets as pets, he loses his first tooth, and he becomes a big brother.” – CIP. The author’s sentences flow so smoothly that it never feels like the story is an ‘easy reader’.  Mostly Monty and Mighty Monty are the first two titles in this highly recommended series. [Babies; Family life; Pets; Schools]

Kelly, Jacqueline. Skunked! New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2016.
Eleven-year-old Travis adopts two baby skunks in this historical novel for young readers. Set in a small Texan town in 1901, this easy-to-read story focuses on the younger brother of Callie, the main character in two previous novels for older readers: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. While this new novel still features Callie as narrator, the action centres on Travis and his escapades with two wild creatures. A great story for readers 7 to 11 years old. [Country life; historical fiction; naturalists; pets; skunks; Texas]

The Nine Lives

King-Smith, Dick. The Nine Lives of Aristotle. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2003. 

“Aristotle, a little white kitten, goes to live with a witch in an old cottage, where he finds so many opportunities for risky adventures that he soon has only one life left.” – CIP. An heart-warming story for animal lovers. 

Sophie Hits Six

King-Smith, Dick. Sophie Hits Six. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 1993, c1991.

In this sequel to Sophie’s Snail and Sophie’s Tom,  “Sophie turns six, she sees her cat give birth to kittens, gets a pet rabbit from her Aunt Al, and pursues her dream of acquiring a dog.” – CIP.  The whole trilogy by this acclaimed British author will be a delight for readers who enjoy animals and the outdoors. [Farm life; Pets]

Horrible Harry

Kline, Suzy. Horrible Harry in Room 2B. New York: Penguin, 1990, c1988.

“Doug discovers that though being Harry’s best friend in Miss Mackle’s second grade class isn’t always easy, as Harry likes to do horrible things, it is often a lot of fun.” – CIP. The first in a series of more than 30 amusing novels.

Lagrecrantz, Rose. My Happy Life. Wellington, N.Z.: Gecko Press, 2014, c2013.
Want to teach young readers how to recognize theme in novels? Want to use a novel to start philosophical discussions with 7-year-olds? Read this novel aloud and watch for true-to-life sentences.

Lagercrantz, Rose. My Heart is Laughing. Wellington, New Zealand: Gecko Press, 2014.
Dani is always happy. Except when she is unhappy. But she does not count those times. This cheerful story about the little adventures of life is filled with quiet wisdom: Don’t give up, even when things seem hopeless. Try to think about something fun when you’re upset. Forgive people. Originally published in Sweden in 2012, this short novel with large print and wide margins is perfect for readers 7 to 10 years old.

Some stories have an intriguing plot line. Some have finely drawn characters. But very few flow beautifully. Lyrically. And that last quality is what turns a novel into a work of art. Rose Lagercrantz’s story – translated into English by Julia Marshall and illustrated by Eva Eriksson – is a true example of writing as art.

Lagercrantz, Rose. See You When I See You. Wellington, N.Z.: Gecko Press, 2017.
This novel continues the Dani series. Although not as full of profound truths about life, it is still greatly entertaining.

Frog and Toad Treasury

Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury. New York: Harper, 2014.  

Contains all four of the famous Frog and Toad books. An excellent introduction to novels of friendship and loyalty.

Fly Away

MacLachlan, Patricia. Fly Away. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014.

“While in North Dakota helping her Aunt Frankie prepare for a possible flood, Lucy finds her voice as a poet with the help of her two-year-old brother Teddy, the rest of their family, and a few cows.” – CIP. A beautifully lyrical story highly recommended for imaginative readers of all readers. 

MacLachlan, Patricia. Just Dance. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017.
Ten-year-old Sylvie and eight-year-old Nate live on a farm in Wyoming with their father – a cowboy with a love of poetry- and their mother – a former opera singer who now sings in the shower. Sylvie worries. Does her mother miss her glamorous life travelling the world? Might she leave them all and return to life on the stage?  Sylvie worries and thinks about love and writes poems about local events. And finally realizes that what seems ordinary is precious. An easy-to-read reflective novel that will encourage conversation. Highly recommended for readers 7 years old and up.

MacLachlan, Patricia. My Life Begins! New York: Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2022.
Nine-year-old Jacob wants a dog. Instead, he gets a sibling. Three siblings. Triplets! How do you take care of three babies? How do you tell them apart? Jacob decides to make those babies his school research project. What will he learn? What will he report? This easy-to-read 119-page novel is warmly recommended for readers 7 to 10 years old.

Patricia MacLachlan died in 2022. This was her last novel published for children. She is perhaps most famous for Sarah, Plain and Tall, a story that won the Newbery Medal in 1986, but she wrote over 60 books in her life. Everything she wrote was full of beauty and grace, hope and encouragement, humour and – ultimately – peace. 

Waiting for the Magic

MacLachlan, Patricia. Waiting for the Magic. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011.

“When Papa goes away for a little while, his family tries to cope with the separation by adopting four dogs and a cat.” – CIP. [Cats; Dogs; Human-animal communication; Separation (Psychology)]

The Hundred Penny Box

Mathis, Sharon Bell. The Hundred Penny Box. New York: Puffin, 2006.

“Michael’s love for his great-great aunt who lives with them leads him to intercede with his mother who wants to toss out all her old things.” – CIP. This 1976 Newbery Honor Book will be appreciated by readers of many ages.

The Boy with the Helium Head
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. The Boy with the Helium Head. New York: Yearling, 1998.

 Jonathan goes to the doctor for a flu shot.  But he gets a helium shot instead and soon finds himself floating everywhere. Naylor has written many outstanding novels for middle school students but this amusing story is perfect for younger readers. 

Neri, Greg. Tru and Nelle. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
An unlikely friendship builds between a seven-year-old boy who likes to dress in fancy clothes and a six-year-old girl who dresses like a tomboy. But they both enjoy reading. They also like mysteries and set off together to discover who has stolen candy and a brooch from a local drugstore.  Set in Alabama in the summer of 1930, this 268-page novel is based on the real-life friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. Readers don’t need that information, though, to enjoy the story. The writing flows like music and the large font and widely spaced lines make it easy to read. Several short stories – inspired by the real Truman’s fondness for short stories – and an historical note with black-and-white photographs round off the book. Highly recommended for readers 8 years old and up.

[Alabama; Capote, Truman; Friendship; Historical fiction; Lee, Harper; Mystery and detective stories]

Junie B. Jones

Park, Barbara. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. New York: Random House, 1992.

“In her own words, a young girl describes her feelings about starting kindergarten and what she does when she decides not to ride the bus home.” – CIP. The first in over 30 feisty stories by a prolific author of humorous novels.

Clementine, Friend of the Week

Pennypacker, Sara. Clementine, Friend of the Week. Disney • Hyperion, 2010.

Reading Clementine stories will surely bring smiles to the faces of readers who have enjoyed Russell Hoban’s Frances and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona. In this episode, Clementine comes up with all sorts of ways to get her classmates to write wonderful comments about her, discovers her friend Margaret isn’t as confident as she appears, and loses her kitten called Moisturizer. She learns that everyone feels hurt sometimes, and that hurt feelings are part of being human.  A great story for students in grades two and three, this novel is sure to appeal to anyone with a fondness for funny stories about rambunctious children.  And there are 5 more books in this wonderful series. 

Marvin Redpost

Sachar, Louis. Marvin Redpost: Kidnapped at Birth? New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 1992.

Nine-year-old Marvin knows why he does not look like anyone else in his family. It is because he is a long lost prince! This is the first in a series of 8 short novels, not especially memorable but entertaining nonetheless.

Schmidt, Gary D. One Smart Sheep. Boston: Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.
Wilson is one smart sheep. And friendly. And handsome. Unfortunately, Wilson is also a little bit lonely so when he discovers his gate unlocked, he sets off on an adventure. Fortunately, Abigail notices that he has disappeared and sets out – withTippy her collie dog and Jeremiah her neighbour – to rescue him. This charming little novel – full of humour, elegantly designed with a large font and widely spaced lines, and softly illustrated by Jane Manning – is perfect for young readers. Highly recommended as a read-aloud.

The One and Only Stuey Lewis

Schoenberg, Jane. The One and Only Stuey Lewis. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011.

“Stuey Lewis makes his way through second grade facing reading problems, pulling off a great Halloween caper, joining a soccer team, and more with the help of family, friends, and a special teacher.” – CIP. [Family life; Schools; Teachers]

Nate the Great

Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman. Nate the Great, Where are You? New York: Delacorte Press, 2014.

Nate and his dog Sludge just cannot escape from all the cases awaiting their detective skills.  There are over 20 short novels in this fun-filled series for young readers.

Speck, Katie. Maybelle in the Soup. New York: Henry Holt, 2007.

” When Mr. and Mrs. Peabody invite a guest to dinner, Maybelle the cockroach, who lives under their refrigerator, ignores the warnings of Henry the flea to be sensible and ends up “splashing” into a big adventure.” – CIP.  A delightfully lovable character and a charming story. [Cockroaches; Curiosity; Insects]

Third Grade Angels

Spinelli, Jerry. Third Grade Angels. New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012.

George is determined to win the first award of the year from his third grade teacher. But his efforts to be the best behaved student teach him more than he expects. This humorous but insightful novel by a very popular author will be enjoyable for readers of many ages. [Family life; Friendship; Schools]

Geronimo Stilton

Stilton, Geronimo. Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye. New York : Scholastic, 2004.

“When Geronimo’s sister, Thea, discovers an old, mysterious map showing a secret treasure hidden on a faraway island, the gang of the “Rodent’s gazette” is dragged into a treasure hunt.” – CIP. The first in a series of over 60 popular books about a travelling mouse by Italian writer Elisabetta Dami. [Adventure and adventurers; Mice]


Titus. Eve. Anatole. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956.

Anatole, a mouse, becomes a taster who leaves mysterious notes at a Parisian cheese factory. A Caldecott Medal Book and the first in a series about Anatole, the mouse who rides a bicycle.  After appreciating this heart-warming classic, readers might like to move on to Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle series. 

A Bee

Wishinsky, Frieda. A Bee in Your Ear. Victoria, B.C.: Orca, 2004.

Kate wants to win the spelling competition but she also wants to keep her best friend. What should she do? A realistic story suitable for readers new to chapter books. [Competition; Friendship; Spelling bees]  For more easy-to-read novels by Canadian writers go to Orca Echoes.

For more great novels, go to…

Gr. 3 Literature Survey and

 Challenging Reads for Younger Readers.

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