For the longest time, the whole Frog and Toad series was on repeat in our house… We read the physical books over and over again and listened to the audiobooks on repeat. At one point, our then 3-year-old had Frog and Toad Are Friends memorized. Every single word, every single chapter. While I truly love the Frog and Toad books, I have to admit that I was a bit relieved when we moved on. And fortunately, I’m here to tell you that we moved on to other similar length and difficulty early chapter book series: the Yasmin series and the King & Kayla series! Read on for a little insight into each, as well as some tidbits from my girls about why they like these stories so much.
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The Yasmin series by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly — With more than 10 books in the series, this spunky protagonist with a wide range of interests and talents is bound to keep your kiddos coming back for more! Yasmin is a second grader with a big imagination and a desire to do good in the world… I mean, what more could we ask for in a role model for our young readers? Yasmin writes, builds, explores, gardens, helps people, plays soccer, designs fancy outfits, and so much more. Each book tells of her adventures and problem-solving scenarios as she finds her way in whatever endeavor she’s facing. On top of that, Yasmin lives with her multi-generational Pakistani-American family and has wonderful relationships with her parents and grandparents!
The Yasmin books each contain substantial back matter, including discussion questions for teacher and parents, an Urdu glossary, facts about Pakistan, and craft directions or a cooking recipe (or maybe both!).
The Yasmin books come as individual stories (generally with 3 chapters in each), or as collections (with 4 stories in each — we have Meet Yasmin!, which includes Yasmin the Explorer, Yasmin the Painter, Yasmin the Builder, and Yasmin the Fashionista). Suggested age range is 5-7 to read independently, but they’re also perfect for younger listeners who are building their endurance when transitioning from listening to picture books to listening to chapter books. Our older daughter loved these when she was first transitioning to independently reading chapter books, but both of our girls have adored listened to them for many years.
What my almost 5-year-old has to say about the Yasmin books: “I love them because she’s cool. And I like the books because it’s fun and good. And I like the Yasmin books because it’s funny that she fits in her mommy and daddy’s clothes. That’s all!”
The King & Kayla books by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers — Slightly longer, with slightly denser text and slightly higher vocabulary, the King & Kayla series is nevertheless a wonderful series for those readers yearning to read longer books on their own, or those listeners eager to listen to chapter books! We absolutely adore the whole King & Kayla series. Maybe it’s because they’re told from the perspective of King, the dog, or maybe it’s because Kayla uses a very methodical, scientific approach to solve small mysteries in her life… Or maybe it’s because I love mysteries and they are hard to find for preschool/early elementary readers. Either way, the King & Kayla books are a wonderful combination of funny and inspiring!
There are currently 6 books in the series, with another set to release February 2021 (you can bet we’ll be getting that one ASAP!). Publishers target ages 7-9 for these books, but they’re also terrific for younger readers who are ready to independently tackle chapter books, or younger listeners eager for something more substantial. Two of the books (King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth and King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats won Geisel Award Honor Medals, an award given for the most distinguished American book for beginning readers). Many thanks to the publishers for sending us an advance copy of King & Kayle and the Case of the Unhappy Neighbor.
What my 7-year-old has to say about the King & Kayla books: “They are really really good! I love solving mysteries and sneaking up on things. And a dog tells the story! They are wonderful.”