A reader who works at a conservative school asked me for a wholesome book list for beginning (early / easy) chapter books that do NOT have potty humor nor rude characters with sass and would interest boy readers. So, I made this new list, specifically for that. These books are my choices for boys ages 6 – 9 with nice kids and plots that are decidedly lacking in toilet jokes.
An important element on this list is that the kids not be rude or sassy. I totally get this. And I really look for this in books with my own kids. It’s why I dislike the Junie B. Jones books. And it’s why my kids don’t watch the tween Disney shows.
That being said, I am not saying that kids who love potty humor are not nice. Not at all. I’ve been struggling to find a descriptive word that perfectly described this book list. A reader on Facebook suggested wholesome which I think is an apt word for these books! Thank you for the suggestion.
Want a similar list but for girls? Go here.
If you want wholesome chapter books for ages 9 – 12, visit this post.
A Wholesome Early Chapter Book List for Boys (Without Potty Humor or Rudeness)
Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes
Just a few sentences per page, this is a very easy chapter book collection of stories about two brothers and their childhood adventures. Relatable and endearing with a touch of humor.
Pigsticks and Harold and the Uptown Thief by Alex Milway
Even better than the first book, the friends in this story are solving the case of the disappearing statue. The pair look for clues and interview suspects. Fantastic, colorful illustrations aid readers in solving the crime –maybe even before Pigsticks and Harold do. I enjoyed the story so much. It’s a great book to get kids thinking and interacting with the text while reading.
Frank and Bean Food Truck Fiasco by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Bob Kolar
A laugh-out-loud, sweet story about good friends, Frank and Bean, who enter a food truck contest. Bean’s truck is donuts and Frank’s is oatmeal. Their biggest competition is Mad Dog’s Cupcakes. They become each other’s customers and invent a new food to sell — Friendship Bowls. Darling!
Good Dog by Cam Higgins, illustrated by Ariel Landy
A sweet beginning illustrated chapter book written from Bo the dog’s point of view! Enthusiastic and full of personality, Bo adores his loving family and his life on the farm. But he worries when his dog tag goes missing. He searches the farm with the help of all the farm animals and his spider friends help him find it. Your readers will love this new series with a darling doggie narrator! Get the first 4 books in 1.
Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton
Narwhal is exuberant to meet Jellyfish, his new imaginary friend who is imagining Narwhal at the same time. Although Jellyfish is more serious, you’ll love their adventures — forming a pod, having parties, eating waffles, and imagining. This is a feel-good friendship adventure told in graphic (cartoon) format that I absolutely loved. 5 and 6 year olds will, too! (Next in the series: Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt.)
Cornbread & Poppy by Matthew Cordell
Poppy and Cornbread are mice friends who like different things and have different personalities but love each other and love doing things together. (Yes, this sweet book of friendship stories feels reminiscent of Frog and Toad.) So even when Poppy doesn’t prepare for winter like Cornbread does (and reminds her), Cornbread joins her to search for food. In desperation, they bravely venture up the dangerous Hollar Mountain where they find a warm welcome and a new friend.
Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters) by Tracey West, illustrated by Graham Howells
In the times of castles and kingdoms, Drake learns he is a dragon master (and that dragons are real!) He must train with the other kids to master his dragon, an earth dragon. This is an adventurous fantasy chapter book that will interest almost any child as it has just the right amount of conflict, adventure, and excitement.
The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
We adore these (wholesome) magical adventures about siblings Jack and Annie whose forest treehouse transports them through time where they’ll help solve a problem. Each trip involves reading a book left by a mysterious librarian which gives them clues about solving their mission. Kids will learn about history while enjoying these historical, magical stories.
A to Z Mysteries by Rob Roy
This addictive mystery series will keep your kids reading for hours and days and months. My kids read them all more than once! We highly recommend this series, especially for kids around age 7.
The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey illustrated by Garry Parsons
Written in increasingly funny (and alarming) letters we learn that Uncle Morton left his pet dragon for Edward and his mom and sister to watch — with no directions!! The dragon poops in their shoes, eats their pet bunny, and causes all kinds of destruction which all are the subjects of Edward’s letters to his nowhere-to-be-found uncle. Finally Edward hears from his uncle who suggests feeding the dragon chocolate. Will Edward’s mom lose her mind? Will the chocolate work to tame the dragon?
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont
Nate introduces readers to how to be a detective and find things– even if it’s for small cases such as a friend’s lost picture. Don’t miss the learning activities located at the end of the book.
Our Principal is a Frog by Stephanie Calmenson, illustration Aaron Blecha
I’m very excited about this new easy chapter book series called QUIX from Aladdin / Simon and Schuster. This first book is an engaging story about a fantastic school principal who is accidentally turned into a frog by a bumbling magician. Whoops! But, this is one dedicated principal. He finds a way to keep running the school — even as an amphibian.
Dig to Disaster: A Miss Mallard Mystery by Robert Quackenbush
Another QUIX book, this one is an exciting mystery adventure. Miss Mallard is on an archaeological expedition in jungles of South American but someone is trying to scare the group off. Not to worry. Miss Mallard is the duck for the job. She follows the clues in order to capture the sneaky treasure hunter.
Digby O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy
Charming illustrations in red and yellow colors help readers enjoy this story about Digby’s memorable vacation. He and Percy visit the fancy Hotel Splendide. While there, the singer Peaches Meow’s, diamonds are stolen! With the help of a new friend on the island, Percy and Digby catch the thieves.
Good Dog, McTavish by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Grace Easton
I adore this endearing story about a family in chaos and the dog (and youngest sibling) who fixes everything. The writing is brilliant with subtle, rye humor. When a mom quits “momming”, the youngest daughter, Betty, suggests that the family get a dog. Betty chooses McTavish the dog at a shelter or does McTavish choose them? Right away, he gets to work organizing the family which… takes plans and more plans. SO sweet — I love this wholesome story.
Ivy Lost and Found by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
A heartwarming story about the life of an old doll who gets a new life as a book buddy! Ivy’s been in the attic for years until her girl, now an adult, donates Ivy to the Book Buddy’s shelf at the library. That’s when a lonely girl named Fern borrows Ivy. Fern is visiting her dad and his new family and she needs a friend like Ivy listens because she feels so many different feelings about her dad’s new family. Then, when Ivy gets left outside in the rain, she has a surprise adventure of her own and makes friends with two other Book Buddies. Eventually, Fern feels better about her new blended family and returns her to the library.
Marco Polo Brave Explorer by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Brave explorer Marco Polo is a former Christmas ornament who has become a book buddy at the library. A boy named Seth chooses Marco because of his small size so he can be a secret buddy for a sleepover birthday that he’s worried about. At the sleepover, Marco is stolen by the family cat — and he has to figure out how to rescue himself in an ingenious way! Marco learns that friends make adventures better. Relatable and entertaining.
David Dixon’s Day as a Dachshund by Kathryn Holmes
David is a boy full of ideas that often cause chaos like bringing his new puppy to school for show and tell. When the puppy escapes, David turns into a dog, too. The two dogs race in and out of the school with playful joy until David’s best friend catches Bandit the puppy and brings them back inside. The class guinea pig Bagel helps David learn how to think through ideas before he acts– and that’s when he turns back into a boy. Delightful!
The Last Firehawk: The Ember Stone by Katrina Charman, illustrated by Jeremy Norton
Tag, an owl, is in training to become an Owl of Valor. One day while playing tag with his squirrel friend, Skyla, Tag finds a golden egg who hatches into a Firehawk, the last one alive. Tag and friends must keep the Firehawk, Blaze, safe. Then they’ll quest to find the magical stone that may save their land from the Vulture and his army of tiger bats. This easy chapter book introduces kids to epic fantasy stories with the theme of good vs. evil.
Detective Gordon A Case in Any Case by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte SpeeThis story feels cozy, like a warm blanket or a cup of cocoa. Maybe because it’s about a kind-hearted mouse, Police Chief Buffy, and her best friend who is retired from the police, Detective Gordon. Together, they learn big lessons about friendship and wisdom as well as rescue two missing Kindergarten students who had ventured off to build a farm. Talk about wholesome! (This is the third book in the series but can be read independently.)
The Storm (The Lighthouse Family) by Cynthia Rylant
Pandora is a kindhearted cat who lives in a lighthouse all alone. Seabold lives on a boat all alone. Until one day a storm shipwrecks him at the lighthouse. Soon, a friendship develops and the lighthouse isn’t lonely anymore, especially after the friends rescue a family of orphaned mice. Kind characters and a cozy family theme with a gentle adventure make this a wholesome reading choice for young readers.
Galaxy Zack by Ray O’Ryan
What a fun concept for a new reader, illustrated chapter book — moving to a new planet! I enjoyed reading Galaxy Zack. It’s fun and relatable. Boys (and girls) are sure to devour this far-out series.
Ranger in Time #1: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner, illustrated by Kelley McMorris
Ranger, a golden retriever trained for search-and-rescue, travels back to the Oregon Trail to help a family in need. It’s a simple story that introduces the ups and downs of traveling on the Oregon Trail, starting off a new historical fiction easy chapter book series.
Secret Agent, Jack Stalwart: Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
9-year-old Jack became a secret agent so he could search the world for his missing older brother, Max. In this adventure, he’s investigating a science fair where an experiment creates a dangerous dinosaur who terrorizes New York. Filled with lots of fun interesting gadgets!
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
Your kids will zip through these fascinating adventures. The books are always about a young boy trying to survive the historically important, life-changing event.
Puppy Problem by Laura James, illustrated by Charlie Adler
A sweet story about teamwork, friendship, and the power of writing! Gizmo meets a new friend next door, a wolfhound named Jilly who shows him what to expect in the country and introduces him to more friends. Gizmo helps Jilly in return when Jilly’s worried about her humans selling her puppies to people far away. Gizmo finds a way to help — with persuasive writing!
They Didn’t Teach This in Worm School: One Worm’s Tale of Survival by Simone Lia
I LOVED the wry humor in this beginning, hilarious chapter book. It pairs two of the most unlikely of traveling companions together– a worm and a bird. In hopes that Laurence WON’T eat him for breakfast, Marcus offers to help Laurence navigate to Lake Nakuru. As they travel “the world”, the two develop an unexpected, lovely friendship. The reader will crack up at Laurence’s mistaken landmark sightings– is it the Eiffel Tower or a power line tower?
The Whodunit Detective Agency The Diamond Mystery by Martin Widmark, illustrated by Helena Willis
Friends and kid detectives, Jerry and Maya, go undercover in a jewelry store to figure out which of the three employees is stealing diamonds from the owner. It’s puzzling since all the employees are searched before they can leave the store. How are the diamonds going missing and who is taking them? This is a well-written, wholesome adventure with good pacing and enjoyable characters.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. They feed her buttered toast and take her for drives in their convertible. One night, Mercy gets scared and decides to sleep with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. Can you imagine what happens next? Hilarious and quirky, this is a fun series filled with many amazing adventures and excellent illustrations.
Word Travelers and the Taj Mahal Mystery by Raj Haldar, illustrated by Nehra Rawat
Fast-paced and fun, this word-lovers adventure will immerse growing readers (ages 7 – 10) in both a puzzling mystery and the origin of English words that come from India. When Eddie and his friend MJ find his great-grandfather’s big book of words and their history (etymology), they’re magically transported to India where they help a boy solve the clues and find his family’s missing fortune. As they solve the clues, they learn more words with Indian roots — many are from Hindi like bangle and bungalow and others are from Sanskrit like the words jackal and jungle.
The Vanishing Coin (Magic Shop Series) by Kate Egan and Mike Lane, illustrated by Eric Wight
Fourth-grader Mike can’t sit making it hard to get work done, avoid the school bully, and stay out of trouble. It’s such a great story because Mike discovers something that he IS good at — magic. Throughout the book, you’ll learn how to do the tricks, too.
Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures #1) by Catherine Nichols
Siblings Maddie and Atticus can’t figure out who is dumping trash everywhere. And when they rescue a baby dolphin entangled in the trash, they know they must get to the bottom of this mystery. Full-color photographs with information about dolphins, marine life, and more add bonus information for readers.
Zoo Camp Puzzle by Gail Herman
Ava and Rosie are not excited to move to the zoo for the summer with their brother, writer mom, and teacher dad. But once they arrive, they change their minds quickly. Now they’re really worried about the missing pronghorns and the suspicious trucks just outside the fences. With the help of their brother Ethan, the siblings must figure out what’s happening and how to keep the animals safe. Throughout the book, you’ll find pages with activities like puzzles and mazes as well as information about the animals at the zoo. You’ll love both the mystery story and the factual sections of information. It’s really well done! Also in the series: Puppy Rescue Riddle.
The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
This is a simple but wholesome beginning chapter book about a mouse grows up at Buckingham Palace longing for an identity. Not only does he not know his parents, he doesn’t even know his name! Happily, his adventures lead him to a very satisfactory conclusion.
The Philly Fake Ballpark Mysteries by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers
Not only is this a well-written mystery, but I also loved how the author included so much history within the story. The mystery has a great hook and the story is wholesome. One of my top picks for early chapter books!
The Greatest Star on Earth (Three-Ring Rascals) by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
When a newspaper reporter decides to write about the greatest star of the circus, all the performers worry so much that they end up getting sabotaging their own acts. Soon the circus is left with no performers and a stand-in ringmaster (who is helped along by the smart book-writing mice.) This is a fun and funny easy chapter book in a new series, Three-Ring Rascals, that both my daughter and I enjoyed.
The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
Humphrey is a beloved class pet and a favorite book series for many children. Humphrey, our narrator, lives in Room 26 but each weekend, he gets to go home with a student. Get ready for funny (and enlightening) adventures.