Monday, 29 January 2018

Four Female-Led First Chapter Book Series

There has been a lot of discussion in the world of children's books about a recent Guardian article talking about the gender imbalance in picture books. It's definitely something I've noticed over my six years of reading picture books that it can be hard to find books with an equal gender balance, and many are male-dominated, sometimes featuring no females at all. (I even wrote a post bemoaning this a few years ago!)

But now that Girl Child is well and truly an independent reader I've noticed an interesting difference in chapter books. It's much easier to find ones with female lead characters - and some of them are pretty kick-ass too! She's now mostly moved on from the shorter 'first' chapter books but I thought I'd share some great chapter book series we came across that are suitable for newly independent readers and feature fun, feisty girls!

N.B. I've deliberately chosen not to describe these books as 'for girls' as I think boys can, and should, read books about girls too. All the series I've featured are ones I think a boy would enjoy just as much as a girl.


The 'Squishy McFluff' series by Pip Jones and Ella Okstad

These books are great first step up from picture books. Nice and short with colour illustrations and told in rhyme, the format feels very familiar to young readers. The eponymous Squishy is actually an invisible cat belonging to the mischievous and curious Ava. Together they get into all sorts of trouble which is sure to get any child giggling! We especially enjoyed 'Squishy McFluff Meets Mad Nana Dot'!

'The Princess in Black' Series by Shannon & Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham

This series is a new discovery for us - we just got the first one for Christmas - but it's a lot of fun and I'll definitely be on the lookout for the other titles in the series! It's a great book for lovers of princess and/or superheroes, as seemingly prim Princess Magnolia transforms into a monster-fighting superhero. It's a brilliant subversion of the usual trope of the helpless princess awaiting rescue - Magnolia is the one who does the rescuing here!

The 'Anna Hibiscus' Series by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia

One thing that first chapter books do seem to be lacking in is diversity - although I may just be looking in the wrong places so do tell me if you know of some good diverse ones! The Anna Hibiscus series bucks the trend as it is set in an unnamed country in Africa and features mixed-race Anna and her extended African family. I really loved how these books introduced Girl Child to a completely different culture and encouraged her to think about important issues such as poverty and generosity.

The 'Dotty Detective' series by Clara Vulliamy

Girl Child is still enthralled by these books, which are a good next step from the shorter chapter books aimed at emerging readers. They are still very easy to read, with the text broken up with plenty of illustrations and variations in font size and style, and are written like a diary so are very easy to follow. Dotty is a curious, observant and very funny narrator who, together with her best friend Beans and dog McClusky, is determined to find the answer to every riddle she comes across. The series is a witty, gentle introduction to the detective genre which has always been so popular with kids - how many of us pored over Famous Five as children?! 


So those are my recommendations for chapter books series for emerging or 'first' readers - I'd love to hear any other suggestions you have!

Linking up with 'Read With Me' hosted by Mama Mummy Mum

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20 comments:

  1. At what age did you start early chapter books? I'm keen to start with Bb but don't think she's ready yet!

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  2. There are definitely a lot of books for older kids with female main characters, but it's good to know there are a fair few for younger children too.

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    1. Yes, I'm looking forward to introducing my children to other female leads as they get older, there's so much choice with chapter books!

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  3. We are huge fans of Anna Hibiscus and Dotty Detective. Dotty has now been translated into German too so we can share her with all our friends :o)

    #ReadWithMe

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    1. They're great, aren't they? Ahh that's interesting to know, we're learning German at the moment, maybe I should try and get some German copies - hmm, might not be there yet!!

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  4. My 7 year old loves Dotty Detective! Some great choices. Thanks for sharing with #readwithme

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  5. These sound good. With 2 boys, I haven't tended to focus particularly, but they did enjoy Winnie the Witch and books by Holly Webb as first readers #readwithme

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    1. Ahh thanks I'll look out for those. I have read a couple of Holly Webb ones but wasn't sure my daughter would be ready for the emotional content, she's quite sensitive. Maybe when she's older though.

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  6. I also don't like thinking of books in terms of boy books and girl books, and am always on the lookout for great books with female leads to read to my boys. So thank you for these great suggestions! #readwithme

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    1. Yes same, I think children should just read what they like, and I think reading about characters of both sexes is good for both boys and girls.

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  7. Love these recommendations - just what I'm looking for, for Izzie. I think I'll have to get down the library with a rather long list. I think the Barrington Stoke range of Little Gems is great for transitioning to chapter books - we have only read two so far but I'll be looking out for more of them :) #readwithme

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    1. Ahh I'll remember those for when my little one is starting to read, thanks for the suggestion!

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  8. Love that there are books that promote females. I've put away a Pippi Longstocking book and am all for finding more celebrating females. #KLTR

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    1. I had a read of a Pippi Longstocking book but wasn't sure what my daughter would make of it, she's a great character but very eccentric! I might try them when she's older.

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  9. My daughter would love to check these ones out. She is so big into chapter books anymore.

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    1. My daughter's moving onto more advanced books now but still loves these ones, the characters are great!

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  10. Great recommendations :) adding them to our list!! #KLTR

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  11. Love this! There definitely should be more female focused books and I think it is important for both my son and daughter to read this. Thanks for linking up to #KLTR

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    1. Yes, I'll be saving my daughter's copies of these books for my son when he's older, they're great for both!

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  12. Love this selection. My 5yo has just started enjoying chapter books and he loved one of the Anna Hibiscus picture books we borrowed from the library so I'm sure he would like those chapter books too. #KLTR

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