Finding a book series that engages your child is SO important, I feel, for turning kids into lifelong readers. We want our kids to read for fun. To WANT to stay up late at night completely immersed in a story. I remember being a child and being so in love with the Baby Sitters Club that I would try to read in the car at night between street lamps.
When kids are just starting out, what they need is to sit with you or another loving adult and just practice deciphering words. They need to make the connection between an idea and a chunk of letters. There are great books just for this purpose, like Hop on Pop, but book series are still valuable at this age. Even if it is just a box set of preschool books from Costco, having a set of books reminds the child (and you) to just keep practicing.
At some point, kids’ reading will take off and they will, hopefully, start wanting to read on their own. In our house, kids get to stay up late in their bed if they are reading. Even if they were “behind” at reading before, once they reach a certain point, their abilities will grow rapidly. Discovering the joy in reading will motivate them to read, which will make them better readers. For my currently reading children this happened around 2nd or 3rd grade. Having a good book series is important during this time, because you don’t want the momentum to stop when they finish a book.
Regarding grade levels and being “behind” or “ahead,” please don’t make a big deal out of this. My first two kids happened to read at grade level until second grade when they both rapidly moved through levels. They are now reading well above grade level. However, I don’t let them know they are reading above their grade, and I don’t pigeonhole them into one grade. Even though my 4th grader can read middle school books, I encourage him to read younger books as well. Just as with adults, sometimes we want to read things that challenge us and sometimes we want something light and fun.
My kindergartner is actually a little “behind” at the moment. He is still struggling to read even simple words (like “I”), but I am not concerned. Part of this is just that he is a third child and hasn’t had much practice yet with his busy parents. Part of it might be his learning style. Whatever the reason, the most important thing to me is that he learns to love reading, so my goal is for him to never feel any stress when he’s practicing. When I help him, I try to support him so he feels comfortable pushing himself, but stays out of his frustration zone.
Here are some suggestions for book series by grade level, but please remember that I am just using grade levels as a way to indicate progressing difficulty. These are all books series that my kids enjoyed, but not necessarily while in these grades. I used arbookfind.com to help me categorize each book into a grade level. However, remember that many of these books are meant to be read over several grade levels. Feel free to choose books from higher or lower categories than your child’s grade as you deem appropriate!
Another note: If you are looking for a book series to do as a family read-aloud, feel free to check in grade levels above or below your child’s level. Kids are able to understand and enjoy stories far above their reading level. Similarly, even if they have “grown out” of a reading level, a good story is a good story. Older kids often enjoy stories written for younger kids.
Click on each link below for detailed book series suggestions for that grade level.