Earlier this year, I was looking for some well-written chapter books for my six-year-old daughter who at the time was finishing the Step into Reading series of books and had expressed an interest in reading chapter books. My requirements were that the books had to be interesting and engaging with some illustrations to keep her motivated, and above all, well-written with good use of language.
Well, I recommend two series of chapter books for young girls ages 6-9 who are beginning to read fluently and independently and are ready for chapter books: the Ivy and Bean series and Judy Moody. Both series of books have great, fun story lines with central characters that children, especially young girls will easily relate to, and engaging illustrations that will appeal to visual readers.
The Judy Moody series of books appeals to my daughter because the stories are fun, the chapters are easy to read through (the vocabulary is appropriately pitched for young independent readers embarking on chapter books), and there are lots of interesting illustrations that are detailed and fun to observe. This is especially important given that my daughter is a visual learner and is attracted to pictures and illustrations.
This first book in the Judy Moody series focuses on the exploits of Judy Moody, a precocious young girl about to begin third grade. She is initially anxious about going to a new class, and refuses to cooperate with her new teacher Mr. Todd (she rudely calls him Mr. Toad). Over a period of time, Judy comes to realize that change does not necessarily mean something unpleasant and that she can still have fun in a new environment. This is a wonderfully written, fun book about a young child coping with change. My daughter and I laughed as she read the story aloud to me and there are many such moments throughout the book. It is a fun, entertaining story that will have young readers clamoring for more.
In Judy Moody Gets Famous, Judy turns into the green-eyed monster, envying her arch nemesis Jessica's spelling skills. When Judy's attempts to excel at spelling fail to achieve the desired results, the plucky lass latches on to another scheme, which results in hilarity.
In Judy Moody Saves the World, Judy tries her best to get her family and friends to be conservationists, with some seriously funny results, but she does end up making a difference in the end!
In Judy Moody Predicts the Future, Judy finds a mood ring in her cereal box and believes the ring has bestowed the powers of prediction upon her. She is so enamored with the ring and it's so-called powers, she begins to make a series of outrageous predictions, including the prediction that she will win a coveted sticker on a spelling test. Has Judy Moody truly become a psychic, and will Madame M's predictions come true? My daughter was so entertained by this story that she begged me to get her a mood ring, which I did. Of course, we first determined that no mood ring is going to make one a fortune-teller, no matter how many times said ring changes color!
In Judy Moody, M.D., third grader Judy Moody is inspired by Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor, and decides she will conduct some amazing medical experiments of her own. Reading this had both my daughter and I in stitches!
In Judy Moody Declares Independence, Judy and her family take a trip to Boston and Judy acquires a friend and pen pal. She also gets a good dose of history, and upon returning home, decides to have a revolution of her own (Boston Tub Party, anyone?). The illustrations in this book are truly hilarious, and the story also inspires some neat connections between language arts and social studies.
In Judy Moody Around the World in 8 1/2 Days, Judy meets Amy Namey, and initially Judy bristles at the other girl's unique personality before realizing that Amy is quite the kindred spirit. Unfortunately, the pair's close bond threatens Judy's close friendship with Rocky and Frank. Lots of fun with this one, especially with all the rhyming that goes on.
The eighth book in the series, Judy Moody Goes to College sees Judy's dad taking her to college to get help with math (well, her tutor is a college student). Judy is terrified by this, but soon learns that her new tutor is fun and makes learning math enjoyable and engaging! The concept of a positive role model is explored here.
The last book here, Judy Moody Girl Detective, is also one of my daughter's favorites in the series. Judy and her friends get to know a police dog by the name of Mr. Chips who makes an appearance at their school. When the dog goes missing, Judy Moody makes it her personal mission to investigate what happened, and she is inspired by her favorite sleuth Nancy Drew. Any fan of Nancy Drew will be tickled pink by the references to various Nancy Drew mysteries in this book (I'm guessing author Megan McDonald must be an ardent fan of the famous girl detective?). Anyway, my six-year-old has yet to experience the pleasure of reading the Nancy Drew mysteries (I'm a great fan), so I had to explain why Nancy Drew keeps popping up in this story. Judy Moody, Girl Detective is fun, humorous, and full of adventure!
Final verdict - this is an excellent series of chapter books for elementary-aged girls.