Raising Readers: Five Series for First Graders

Apr 7, 2015

Today I'm doing something a little different. I wanted to share a few of the series that Aaron (six-years-old, first grade) has been reading lately.

The problem is . . . I have not read any of these books. I picked them up from the library, read the first chapter (and sometimes skimmed a little bit more) and then handed them over to Aaron. And he promptly devoured them.

So I thought, Since I haven't actually read these books, why don't I have Aaron write these reviews and tell all about them himself?

Obviously I forgot which child I was talking about. Aaron is quiet and reserved, even to me. And when I ask him about anything, he limits his response to the barest of details.

 Me: How was your day?
Aaron: Good.
Me: What did you do at recess?
Aaron: I don't remember.
 So when I sat down to ask him about these books, I got a lot of, "Because I like it" to the question, "Why do you like it?"  So helpful, I know.

(As a side note, Maxwell, who is just nineteen months younger, is completely different. He analyzes and talks about everything. He loves to jump in and help Aaron with his homework (which is definitely not appreciated by Aaron). He always has an idea or an opinion, even if it's the wackiest, craziest, most falsified thing you've ever heard).

Anyway, I'm telling you all of this so that you'll take this list for what it's worth: a recommendation from a six-year-old with reserved approval from his mother. I can't promise that these won't contain potty language or rude words (my #1 pet peeve with books for this age group), but I can definitely tell you that they are first-grade approved and great for increasing reading speed and fluidity.

Read on for Aaron's (brief) thoughts:

1. Oliver Moon series by Sue Mongredien (12 books)
"Oliver Moon is a kid wizard who does tests with other kids in his class about magic. One of my favorite books is Oliver Moon and the Spell-off (#6). Oliver and Casper (a new boy) do a spell-off. He has to do one potion and three spells. So whoever won, they would just win, and whoever lost would have to blindfold themselves and go to the top tower and walk around blindfolded, but it was a tie so they just did it to the bully." (I'm not sure I completely understand what went on except that if you won, the glory of winning was your only prize.)

2. Dragon Keepers series by Kate Klimo (6 books)
"It's about Emmy. She's a dragon. Two kids own her. Their names are Jesse and Daisy. A bad guy named St. George is always trying to steal Emmy because he thinks she belongs to him. I like these books because I like dragons. And I like that it's a series because I like the story to keep going instead of having to read one really long book (like 100 chapters)." (I'm not a dragon fan, so I'm glad Aaron can read these on his own.)

3. Melvin Beederman Superhero series by Greg Trine (8 books)
"It's about a kid named Melvin Beederman. He's a superhero. He's an orphan and he went to a superhero academy, and then he went to Los Angelos. He helps good guys. I liked it when the aliens tried to take Melvin Beederman to their planet for science, and then Melvin and his friends escaped. The glass from that planet was not breakable. Melvin Beederman put a dot on it, and all of them turned on their x-ray vision, and it went straight to the dot and melted it. (I've read bits and pieces from several of these books." They're all fairly entertaining.)

4. Roscoe Riley Rules series by Katherine Applegate (7 books)
"These books are about a boy named Roscoe Riley who always gets into trouble. I like Roscoe because he's funny. One time he was trying to help his friends. He glued them to their chairs so that they would stop sword fighting." (I agree with Aaron; these are funny.)

5. Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka (2 books, so far)
"Frank is a boy who likes to invent things. He tried to win a science contest, but someone else won it. He invented a flying bike. And then a robot built itself, and then that robot built another robot, and they help him build stuff. I like these books because I like  the inventions, and I want to read more to see if there are more science projects." (The illustrations are my favorite part of these books.)

Aaron went into first grade reading very well, and so I tried to get him to read a couple of longer and harder books. But even though he could read the words and understand the plot, the length was daunting to him. He likes to be able to take a book to bed and finish it in an hour or less. He's still building his speed, and so it helps him keep up his momentum if he can read several books in a week instead of one book over several weeks. Oliver Moon, Melvin Beederman, and Roscoe Riley are all short, fast reads. Dragon Keepers and Frank Einstein are a little bit longer but are still books that can be read over just a few days' time. They're all increasing Aaron's love of reading, which I think is the most important thing.

Are you familiar with any of these series? What are your favorite series for first graders?


  1. Frank Einstein is the only series we've read from your list, so I just added a few more books to our to-read list. Thanks!

    My first grader loved the Magic Tree House series (lots of books so it'll last for a while and some non-fiction guide books for more in-depth reading about certain time periods/people), Babymouse series (Holm's graphic novel series), Jake Drake series (Andrew Clements), Captain Awesome series (Stan Kirby), and the Stink series (Judy Moody's younger brother by Megan McDonald). Hope something looks good!

    1. Aaron really likes the Magic Tree House series also (and it really is a practically endless series). He's also read a few in the Captain Awesome series. Thanks for the other suggestions!

  2. Ooh, you are reading the new Penderwick book! My kids have loved these in audio, and I enjoy reading them. (The covers are a bit too calming to entice them in print.)

    Has Aaron tried the Danny Dragonbreath books? Those might be a tiny bit harder than the current ones, but the illustrations ease things along. And he likes dragons.

    1. Yes, it is so, so good! That's funny about the covers--I love them *because* they are calming! :-)

      No, he hasn't tried the Dragonbreath books! But they look like something he would like, so I'm putting the first one on hold right now!

  3. I'm glad you write this! Now I have an idea of what to read with Michael this summer/next year. How does it compare to the magic tree house books? Through the series, the books get longer and the font smaller. I'm wondering if we should read these before magic tree house, or after.

    1. Thanks again for doing this post!

    2. Marseille - they're very comparable to Magic Tree House in terms of length and difficulty. In order of difficulty, they go: Roscoe Riley (easiest - bigger print than Magic Tree House), Oliver Moon, Melvin Beederman, Frank Einstein, and Dragon Keepers. Happy reading!


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