10 New K - 3 Chapter Book Series to Add to Your Classroom Library

  
We know how important reading is, but if kids don't WANT to read, it's going to become a bigger problem in the face of how this pandemic is changing education. With the learning that has happened remotely, we NEED kids to want to pick up a book for fun, especially in K - 3. Younger readers need lots of experience with reading if they are going to continue to grow as readers, but books at their reading level are hard to find and not always interesting. Often books that are written for younger readers to decode themselves are contrived to have particular sight words and patterns that support emergent readers. I'm not saying that isn't important – it is. It's one of the foundations for learning to read, and it is a necessary step in the reading process. But it's hard to convince kids to get excited about reading a book that does not have an interesting plot. We need them to find pleasure in curling up in a quiet place to enjoy a story whether in the corner of our classroom or in a corner of their home. That means we need to help them find books that are engaging and relevant to them. We, as teachers, can use those decodable sight word readers in guided reading groups and direct instruction as a focus for our teaching point, but we also need to get kids reading for pleasure on their own. People, especially kids, DO judge books by their cover no matter how the saying goes. So it’s time to start updating our classroom libraries! It's time to get rid of outdated books and replace them with stories that resonate with our students today. While there are beautiful, timeless books out there that we need to hang onto, not all books are created equal. As we think about the books we are putting in the hands of kids, we need to be asking:
- is it relevant and appealing to our students?
- is it representative of all people and their family dynamics?
- does it have underlying bias we need to be aware of?
- will our students want to read it? 
Here are some new early chapter book series that will have your K - 3 students excited to pick up a book and read! Getting them hooked on a series will give them a go-to place for their next favorite read. And EVERY kid can't wait to read chapter books! These books will help your younger readers identify as readers who can't wait to pick up their next book. 
The following links are affiliate links, which means that if you use the link to purchase a book, I do receive a small stipend at no cost you.

Elephant and Piggie

by Mo Willems


The truth is, this is not a new series. And even though there is a "new" book being published, it's not really new. It's just a bunch of old Piggie and Gerald stories put together into one big book. But I HAD to include this series because it is the best! Both boys and girls LOVE Piggie and Gerald. I mean, they L–O–V–E these books! If you have kids reading early chapter books, you absolutely have to have Piggie and Gerald in your collection. It's a no-brainer. And there are A LOT of Piggie and Gerald books to choose from, which keeps them reading! I choose a few to include below, but there are MANY more!

Newest book in the series: An Elephant and Piggie Biggie! Volume 3 published Sept. 22, 2020
Grade level: K - 2
Reading level:  DRA - 12 - 16
                          Fountas & Pinnell - G - I
                          IRLA - 1B -2B
                          Lexile - 180 - 310

          

Unicorn and Yeti

by Heather Ayris Burnell




Unicorn and Yeti has been a newer addition to my classroom library, and it has been most appealing to girls. It is a graphic novel chapter book, which is really popular right now. The storyline is a little too simplistic to make it a favorite, but the readability and the pictures make it a great transition for lower level readers. It is not easy to find books at this level that are appealing for those readers just trying to master fluency by reading more text, so this is a series worth having for that transition. 

Newest book in the series #6 Together to be published Feb. 1, 2022
Grade level: K - 2
Reading level:  DRA - 16 - 18
                          Fountas & Pinnell - J
                          IRLA - 2B - 1R
                          Lexile - 300 - 380

 
   

King and Kayla 

by Dori Hillestad Butler


King and Kayla is a great early-emergent chapter book written in the voice of King, the dog. While written for younger readers, it still has humor and an interesting twist when kids have to infer what King is thinking from his point of view as a dog. It also involves mysteries he has to solve, so it keeps things interesting. This is a series with a lot of sight word reading like Frog and Toad (some of those timeless classics), and Kayla is a person of color, which is always a nice addition to keep libraries diverse. It has been appealing to both boys and girls in my class because they love hearing King's voice in the story.

Newest book in the seriesKing & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Library Book (King & Kayla, 8) to be published Feb. 1, 2022
Grade level: 1 - 2
Reading level: DRA - 16 - 24
                          Fountas & Pinnell - L
                          IRLA - 1R
                          Lexile - 440L

      


Yasmin 

by Saadia Faruqi



Yasmin books have been very popular with the girls in my class this year. Yasmin is a realistic fiction series with a Pakistani American girl who has adventures that are typical of most 1st and 2nd graders, which make her stories sweet and relatable. One of my favorite things about this series is that Yasmin is a typical second grade girl who is Muslim. Her religion does not play a role in the stories themselves; you just see it in the dynamic of her family. There are very few books in which our Muslim students get to see themselves, so I loved adding this diversity to my classroom library.

Newest book in the series: Yasmin the scientist published Jan. 1, 2021
Grade level: K - 3
Reading level:  DRA - 14 - 16
                          Fountas & Pinnell - H - I
                          IRLA - 2B
                          Lexile - 500


              

Narwhal and Jelly 

by Ben Clanton



If you have not yet discovered the joy of Narwhal and Jelly, it's time to check them out! These two ocean friends (a narwhal and a jellyfish) have very different personalities, but their silly adventures had my students–girls and boys alike– grabbing for these graphic novels. My students actually made a list of who got to read them next because they were in such high demand. Graphic novels are taking off like wildfire and getting kids reading for fun again. Check out this brochure from Harper Collins about why graphic novels are so powerful for our students. 

Newest book in the series: Book #5 - Happy Narwhalidays, published September 8, 2020
Grade level: 1st - 4th
Reading level:  DRA - 24
                          Fountas & Pinnell - L
                          IRLA - 2R
                          Lexile - 520

    


The Notebook of Doom and The Binder of Doom

by Troy Cummings




The Notebook of Doom series, which eventually becomes the Binder of Doom series, has become a recent favorite in my classroom. These mysteries are a little bit scary (but not really--very safe reads for 2nd graders) which makes them fun and silly mysteries for kids. Strange monsters are in this town, and the kids are the heroes as they take notes on the different monster mysteries they solve. This has been a favorite for both boys and girls. There are 13 books in the Notebook of Doom series and 4 in the Binder of Doom Series. I added a few here, but there are more.

Newest book in the series: #4 Binder of Doom Hydrant-Hydra published July 7, 2020
Grade level: 1 - 3
Reading level:  DRA - 28 - 38
                          Fountas & Pinnell - M - P
                          IRLA - 2R - WH
                          Lexile - 460 - 510

   


Zoey and Sassafras 

by Asia Citro




Zoey and Sassafras might be my favorite new series! Zoey, her mom (who is a scientist), and her cat, Sassafras, can see magical creatures. The animals come to them for help when they are sick or hurt. Written by a former science teacher, I LOVE how Zoey uses science, hypotheses, and experiments to solve problems. Because the creatures that need her help are magical, she has to be a creative problem solver. Whether doing research on different kinds of animals or conducting experiments to find the best solution, Zoey, with the help of her mom, cure these magical creatures. It's written in a kid-friendly way with science concepts that kids can try themselves. I love the STEM connections in this series, and I love that Zoey, the main character, is black. We need more books like this so kids of color see themselves in the stories they read.

Newest book in the series: #9 Wishypoofs and Hiccups to be published Oct. 26, 2021
Grade level: 1 - 4th
Reading level:  DRA - 34
                          Fountas & Pinnell - O
                          IRLA - WH
                          Lexile - 600

       

The Bad Guys 

by Aaron Blabey

The Bad Guys is another series of graphic novel favorites, especially for boys. Characters that usually play the bad guy in fairy tales such as the wolf, snake, shark, and piranha want to change their image and become good guys. They try to do good deeds, but not everyone is ready to see these bad guys as good! With a lot of silliness and 2nd/3rd grade boy humor, these bad guys set out on adventures to do good deeds. This series is also becoming a Dream Works animated movie, so it's a great opportunity to get them hooked! 

Newest book in the series: #14 The Bad Guys in They're Bee-hind You! to be published Nov. 2, 2021
Grade level: 2 - 5
Reading level:  DRA - 34 - 38
                          Fountas & Pinnell - P - Q
                          IRLA - WH
                          Lexile - 390 - 540

          

Dogman 

By Dav Pilkey






Dogman. Is it silly? Yeah. A bit ridiculous? Uh huh. Does it make teachers kind of roll their eyes? Yup. Is it an absolute favorite action–adventure graphic novel, especially for boys? Definitely. The boys in my class could not get enough of Dogman this year. It does not have as much "potty humor" as Capitan Underpants (written by the same author), and if it makes kids excited to read, I'm okay with that! I want to instill a love of reading, and like it or not, this does the trick for a lot of our boys who are reluctant readers. It is dead-on boy humor. 

Newest book in the series: #10 Mothering Heights published March 23, 2021
Grade level: 1 - 4th
Reading level:  DRA - 38 - 40
                          Fountas & Pinnell - P - Q
                          IRLA - WH - BK
                          Lexile - 480

        

Who Would Win?

by Jerry Pallotta

We always need to keep a balance of nonfiction books in our classroom libraries, and the Who Would Win? series is a huge hit! The idea of different animals battling each other is a big draw for students, especially boys. While most of the battles in these books are between animals that would never actually encounter each other in real life because they live in different parts of the world (which is explained in the text), it doesn't matter. It lays out stats on these animal like in video games and compares their strengths and weaknesses. I think that is the big draw for kids. And they get to read a lot of nonfiction text features and facts, so it is a win-win series to invest in! There are 25 books in this series, so I added just a few below. 

Newest book in the series: #25 Walrus vs. Elephant Seal published Dec. 29, 2020
Grade level: 1 - 4th
Reading level:  DRA - 34 - 40
                          Fountas & Pinnell - O - Q
                          IRLA - WH - BK
                          Lexile - 570 - 700

   

So as you are setting up your classroom for students to come back in person, try hooking them on a favorite series! We need to keep kids reading!

Teacher Stuff for You Newsletter #2: Bitmoji Mania




The 2nd edition of the Teacher Stuff for You Newsletter is ready! The theme of this newsletter is Bitmoji Mania. Click the picture to visit the live links. Use the arrow in the slide show to see the previous Newsletter. Enjoy!

Teacher Stuff for you Newsletter #1: Use for Remote & In-Person Learning



Thanks to the virtual class I took at #twtcon2020 from tech integration & innovation specialist Traci Piltz, I have decided to try making my own visual newsletter! You should definitely check hers out - it's amazing! I'm switching districts this coming year, and this is a way that we can stay connected! I will be creating themed newsletters. The first theme is: Use for remote or in-person learning. Click on the picture to access the links. I'll let you know when the next one is ready! As suggested by Traci, these newsletters will be on a continuous google slide. I will continue adding to the same google slideshow so you can always go back to find past tips and tricks. I hope you find this helpful!

Get Organized for #DistanceLearning: Sub Plans in Google Drive



No one knows exactly what school will look like in August yet, but there are a few things that we can do to get organized in the meantime. This series of blog posts called, "Getting Organized for #DistanceLearning" is full of tips that will be useful whether you're teaching online or face to face. So be sure to check back for all the tips in this series! 

Tip #1 was Password Saver
Here is your last tip in this series, tip #4 . . . 

Plan Ahead for a Sub

So this is one of the aspects about next year that feels the most unknown to me. What if we do get sick? Whether we are sick with the common cold or COVID-19, this is going to have a huge impact next year. There will be no more, "I'm not THAT sick, so I'll just work through it." We've all done that –worked even when we didn't feel great because it's easier sometimes than making sub plans. I'm guessing those days are over. I'm trying not to worry about the fact that I don't have 14 days of sick leave (I'm starting in a new district this coming year), so if I were to get sick, how would I stay home for 14 days AFTER my symptoms were gone?

So without worrying about how the details will play out yet, we obviously need a plan. I'm not talking about full blown lesson plans for the day. I've seen people do that and it seems to be successful, but I'm not a huge fan of writing the actual plans now. I'd rather have students work on what we're actually doing in class if I'm gone rather than something totally different. Although in an emergency, I can see the need for that. Today, I'm talking about organizing a template in google drive.

Sub Plans in Google Drive


If you don't write your lesson plans in google drive already, now is the time. Ditch the Word document or paper. It is inefficient. You need a template that you can easily fill out with boxes that remind you of what you need when you're not thinking clearly. Most importantly, you need to be able to share your plans easily with your sub, your team, and the office. You will probably not be allowed back inside the building if you are sick, so in google drive you just hit share. Forgot to add something to your lesson plans? No problem! You can change or add something, and they see your changes immediately. You can even link websites and videos inside your plans. So here are the things you can set up right now:


  1. Master class list: Create a table, type in your students first and last names, and leave notes that will be important for the sub to know. Who is in special ed? Who is a second language learner? Who has allergies? You can print this list for the sub, but it's easy to make changes to your master list if you get a new student or one moves away. 
  2. Attendance page: Copy and paste those first and last names into an attendance sheet that can be printed and sent to the office. I take attendance on the computer, but the sub doesn't have the ability to do that. Sometimes they're stuck sending a scrap of paper to the office, and that is not efficient for anyone. If you have a list made with your class name and grade, a place for the date, and the student names already typed in, your sub only needs to put a check mark next to any students that are absent. 


 3. Daily Schedule: Believe it or not, this is the number one thing I hear subs say they do not receive–the daily schedule! This is pretty important. Have a separate page that outlines your typical day. In a pinch your team can throw together some plans for you, but you will need to have your daily schedule ready to share.
    4. Helpful Info: When subs travel from one building to the next, they may not know your room number, your extension, or even the name of your principal. Having this info ready for your sub can really help out. If a student pukes in class, the sub will need to know how to reach the janitor and your room number. If your sub has a question, it would be really nice to have the name and extensions of your teammates and the office manager. This is one of those pages you only have to fill out once for the year, but it can come in really handy for your sub. 
    5. Classroom Procedures: This is another page that only needs to be filled out and printed once, but it's really important for the sub to have. Each teacher does things just a little bit differently in his/her own classroom, so share your procedure for the bathroom, snack time, and classroom rewards. 


    6. Sub Plans: I recommend having a template for this. A box for each section of the day with a header for the time and subject, and a checklist at the end for materials the sub will need for that subject. This will help your sub, but it will make it SO much easier for you too. When you're putting things together for your sub, you can check the list of materials at the end to make sure you have gathered what you need. I have a plastic envelope for each subject that I put materials into. It makes things more organized for the sub, but it also helps me when I need to put things away once I get back.
    7. Feedback: We always want to know how things went, so have a feedback form available for the sub. Nothing fancy, just make sure you leave room for what you need to know.

Taking the time to get organized for a sub will be worth it. I did this last year, and I got SO much positive feedback from the subs in my classroom. They were all happy to come back and sub for me, and that makes a big difference. We have had a sub shortage in my district for a few years, and there have been many times that we had to split our classes or pull an intervention teacher to cover the class. Next year it is going to be imperative to have good subs available, so we need to take care of them. 

If you don't want to make your own template, I do have all the pages you see in this post available in my TpT store as an editable google doc. You can find it here.

I hope these tips help you get started organizing for #DistanceLearning. Don't forget to check out all the tips in this series. It's a good place to start:

There are a lot of unknowns, which can cause some anxiety, but it's going to be okay. We'll figure it out! Take some time to just relax this summer, and good luck this coming school year!







Getting Organized for #DistanceLearning: Organize Your Google Drive


No one knows exactly what school will look like in August yet, but there are a few things that we can do to get organized in the meantime. This series of blog posts called, "Getting Organized for #DistanceLearning" is full of tips that will be useful whether you're teaching online or face to face. So be sure to check back for all the tips in this series! 
Tip #1 was Password Saver
Here is tip #3 . . . 

Organize Your Google Drive

Google drive is our 21st century filing cabinet, so there is no need to have 2 or 3 filing cabinets in your classroom anymore–save your master copies virtually. This will allow you to access everything you have from home and assign it virtually if necessary. It is SO much easier to keep track of what you have in your filing cabinet when it's a digital copy. And you will want an organized google drive next year–trust me! We'll all be using more digital resources (like it or not). I am a google certified educator level 1 and 2,  and I have a few tips to make organizing your google drive so much easier!

Folders in Google Drive

Image from Gyazo
How to create a new folder in Google Drive:
new–folder

First, if you haven't created folders in your google drive, that is the place to start.  Click: new–folder. Just like you would in a metal filing cabinet, you can organize your files by subject. Then you can create folders inside folders to continue to organize your files. For example, I have a Balanced Literacy folder. Inside that folder, I have a folder for Comprehension, Read Aloud, Word Study, Conferring/Guided Reading, Shared Reading, and Writing. In my math folder, I have folders for each standard: Number and Quantity, Algebra and Functions, Data, Statistics & Probability, and Geometry. If I use a specific curriculum for any subject, I also create a folder it, i.e. Lucy Calkins Units of Study, or Bridges Math. 

Once you have your files organized into folders, they will show up in alphabetical order. You can number your folders to reorder them in the order you want. Years ago, I learned this cool tip from Ladybug's Teacher Files. You can use https://www.copypastecharacter.com/numerals to give your numbered folders a sleeker look by copying and pasting their numbers in the name of your folders. You can use emojis and pictures too. Check out her original post from 2016 here: Color Code and Organize your google Drive

Image from Gyazo
How to change the color of your google drive folders:
Right click on the folder–go down to 'change color'

Next, I color-coded my folders in google drive to match the same colors I use in the classroom: red = literacy, blue = writing, green = math, yellow = science, orange = social studies. This helps me visually organize subjects. Just right click on the folder and go down to 'change color.' 

#Hashtags and Shortcuts

Image from Gyazo
Add hashtags to the file description when the file fits in more than one category:
click on the file–3 dots in the corner–details–pencil under description

Are you ready to take your google drive organization up a notch? Try #hashtags! I got this idea from Shake Up Learning. She has 13 Tips to Organize Your Google Drive that you can check out. The one that was new for me was adding descriptions to my folders in google drive using hashtags. This is really helpful when I have a file that I could put in more than one place. For example, I use a lot of poems during shared reading. This poem fits in the categories #Poetry #SharedReading #WordStudy #SightWords #Fall #Halloween.  If I click on my poem and click on the 3 dots, click details, and click on the pencil under description, I can use all those hashtag labels to describe this file. Then, when I am planning for fall activities, I can type in #Fall in the Google Drive search bar. Anything I labeled with #Fall will pull up in the search no matter which folder I stored it in. Super helpful and easy!

Image from Gyazo
How to add a file shortcut to another folder:
right click on file–add shortcut to drive–choose folder in google drive to add it to

In March 2020, google came out with a new update, 'add shortcut to google drive', that has been especially handy if you create and share teacher resources on a platform like Teachers Pay Teachers or Teacher Sherpa. I keep the teacher resources that I create in a separate folder instead of mixing them into my Google Drive teacher files. However, with the 'add shortcut to google drive' option, now I can add it to my personal files! For example, I created this 1G Power Words Sticker Book. I keep it in my folder of resources that I sell. But now I right click on that resource, click on 'add shortcut to drive', click on the folder in my google drive where I would use that resource, and now it lives in 2 places. Then I can see it in my teacher files when I'm planning, and I don't have to try to remember what I have.

I'm switching school districts this coming school year, and my big project this summer is organizing my google drive. You may already know that if you have a google account through a school district, anything owned by that account in google drive will disappear when they delete your account. Unfortunately, you cannot change ownership to your personal google drive because it will not allow ownership change outside of your organization. So now what? Apparently I have not paid attention to whether I created things with my personal google drive or my school google drive, so I have stuff all over the place! Here is a blog post that shares how to save everything in your school google drive account so you can transfer it to a new account: http://techtips-ccsd.blogspot.com/2015/05/tuesday-tech-tip-taking-it-with-you.html

These are the tips I'm using to organize my google drive this summer, and I hope you find them helpful too! Don't forget to check back next week for more tips. If you haven't seen the other tips in this blog series yet, make sure to go back and check out tip #1: Password Saver and tip #2: Lesson Plan Templates and Hyperlinks.