Chapter books are illustrated narrative books with chapters written for beginning readers ages 7 to 10. These best chapter books of 2023 are my favorites, with excellent storytelling and writing that will engage kids in the stories.
Best Chapter Books of 2023
Bear and Bird: The Picnic by Jarvis
I adore these darling stories of friendship adventures full of miscommunications. For example, in one story, Bear forgets to pack the picnic, but instead of telling Bird, Bear figures out something better, and it all works out because the friends are adaptable. Best friends forever! If your beginning readers love Frog and Toad, try this very beginning chapter book next!
Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
REALISTIC / FAMILY (illustrated middle grade)
Leeva’s horrible Matilda-like parents ask her sarcastically, What are people for? Leeva, who isn’t allowed to go to school and does the chores, cooking, and other tasks to help her parents become rich and famous, decides to investigate the question. She discovers the library and books — but more than that, she discovers kind new friends, including the librarian and her grandson and two kids her age. She realizes that people help you not be lonely because they share life with you…and hugs are a nice bonus, too. I love the writing and the message of kindness and good things from books!
Squirlish: The Girl in the Tree by Ellen Potter, illustrations by Sara Cristofori
FAMILY / FRIENDSHIP
When a squirrel named Shakespeare finds baby Cordelia, he raises her in his Central Park tree. Now, at age 8, Cordelia leaves the safety of their park home to chase a nut-thieving squirrel…and gets lost! Sweet Cordelia’s attempts to make friends go drastically wrong when she behaves like a squirrel–chasing and chittering. Soon, Cordelia knows it’s time to go home. But can the city squirrels show her how to get there? And could she ever make a friend with another human?
Schnozzer & Tatertoes Take a Hike! by Rick Stromosky
FRIENDSHIP / FRACTURED FAIRY TALE
Hoping to find Tatertoes’ mom, Schnozzer and Tatetoes journey through the fairy tale story-filled woods where they meet the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood. The only direction they get is to “follow their nose” which seems unhelpful. Their adventure is funny with a heartwarming ending.
Love Puppies: Best Friends Furever by JaNay Brown Wood
The magical Crystal Bone calls the pups to help a lonely girl named Meiko. The Love Puppies plan turns to disaster. How will the puppies accomplish their mission? Warmhearted and sweet, you’ll love these caring puppies and the kids they help. I am positive this book series will be a hit with 2nd and 3rd graders!
Dragon Kindom of Wrenly: The Coldfire Curse by Jordan Quinn
FANTASY / GRAPHIC NOVEL
When Cinder’s father crashes, it’s clear he’s sick from the dreaded “cold curse,” so Cinder must ask the king for help. Cinder flies to the castle of the human king and meets a red dragon named Ruskin, the pet of the human king. Cinder, Ruskin, and Groth travel to the fairies in order to get the ingredients to cure the curse. But the witch-dragon is NOT pleased with their success. A fast-paced and excellent story with a hook that will keep you reading the series!