10 Illustrated Chapter Books for Early Readers

Reading Challenge 2017: 10+ Illustrated Chapter Books for Children

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I love children’s books!

There are tons of fantastic picture books out there. Some of my favourites (and more importantly my daughters’ favourites) are The Love Monster*, The Best Ever Bookworm Book*, and Shh! We Have a Plan*. I love these just as much for the artwork as for the story.

But this year I want to read more chapter books to my daughters.

I’ve tried in the past but the ones with lots of words and no pictures don’t really hold my older girl’s interest for long (and not at all my youngest girl’s). So I’ll be reading the ones that are so heavily illustrated that they are almost like junior graphic novels. We’ve read the first two Princess in Black* books, and they both love them. They’re cute books, I really enjoy them too. The words and sentences can be a little challenging at times; but they’re colourful with illustrations on each page so it keeps their attention. And the princess doesn’t need saving by a prince.

Here are the 10 chapter books (with lots of illustrations) for junior readers that I will be reading with my girls this year:

  1. The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde*. This is #3 in the series so read the first two (The Princess in Black* and The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party*) if you haven’t yet.
    Olive & Beatrix: The Not-So Itty-Bitty Spiders*. I’m hoping Silly Bean likes this one. The story sounded cute and it’ll be a (nice) change to read about witches instead of princesses all the time.

  3. Owl Diaries: Eva’s Treetop Festival*. Looks cute and the illustrations are pretty. The diary format might be a little confusing to read at first.

  4. Lotus Lane #1: Kiki: My Stylish Life*. Another one with cute illustrations that is perfect for early readers also in a diary format. The only thing I’m not too fond of is much it seems to focus on fashion and makeup but my goal this year is to get them more interested in reading longer books.

  5. To balance out all the cutesy books I’ve already posted there is Dragon Masters: Rise of the Earth Dragon* that I’m looking forward to reading. I don’t want the girls to feel like they only need to read about about princesses and fashion (even if the princess has ninja skills!)

  6. Danny’s Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment* Has good reviews so I’m looking forward to reading it. (Again trying to get away from princesses and make up a little bit).

  7. I’ve had this Ivy+Bean* book in my shopping cart on Amazon for months now and am looking forward to finally reading it this year. If I could buy every book I wanted I would probably be running a library.

  8. Clementine* sounds a bit like Ramona, and I absolutely loved Ramona books when I was little. From reviews the book sounds funny and engaging for younger readers so even though they are most likely less illustrated than any of the others on this list I hope that it catches my daughter’s interest!

  9. Another one of Scholastic’s early reader Branches series: Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #1: Picture Day*. Missy’s fashion sense sounds just like my girls’ so I think they’ll enjoy this.

  10. And one more of the Branches series… Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe: Moldylocks and the Three Beards*. It’s supposed to be a funny series, so I’m looking forward to this one as well.

10 Illustrated Chapter Books for Early Readers

 Any illustrated chapter books you would recommend that I try reading to my girls? Let me know in the comments below!

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Books Read: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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Have you ever watched a movie before you read the book?

As much as possible I try to avoid doing that. Unless it’s one of the dozens of adaptations based on Emma or Pride and Prejudice; in which case I’m sorry to say I had seen at least one movie adaptation before reading either one of those books. (My favourite Emma adaptation being Clueless.)

I picked up ‘Me Before You*‘ after stopping at a little corner store on my way to work one morning. I had heard there was some controversy surrounding the movie and I wanted to know what the fuss was all about so I bought the book. (And partly because I wasn’t interested in any of the other books they had). I added the book to my to-read pile as I was still in the middle of another one.

The following week I met up with a friend of mine for one of our regular lunch and movie dates and we decided to watch Me Before You. I’m a sucker for tearjerker type movies and I cry at everything. If that’s not you, you may not enjoy this one. [SPOILER ALERT]: Even though the movie didn’t end the way I would have liked, I mean it would have been nice if Will had changed his mind and he and Lou lived happily ever after, I still enjoyed the movie and started reading the book the following day.

So what’s Me Before You about?

Louisa Clarke is in her mid 20s, just lost her job and is looking for a new one. Will Trainor, in his mid-30s, is paralysed from the chest down after being an accident a couple years before and needs a caregiver. Even though Louisa has no experience being a caregiver she is hired by Will’s mother. Louisa discovers that Will wishes to end his life and sets about trying to change his mind.

In the movie Louisa came off as being fun and kind of silly but I didn’t get that sense in the first half of the book. I really couldn’t see Will falling in love with her in the beginning. I felt connected to the characters in the movie, and I kept holding out hope that I would eventually like the characters in the book as well. Halfway through the book I started to like them and in the end the book still made me cry. I’m fairly certain that had I not previously watched the movie I would not have liked the book as much. 

What’s the deal with this book?

This book is surrounded by controversy due to the topic. Some people have the impression that the book is saying that people with disabilities should choose assisted suicide. I disagree, although since the character chooses to do that I can see how they would get that impression. This is a fictional story about one person who winds up in a wheelchair after becoming paralysed due to an accident. Everyone experiences life differently. Not everyone can “see the light at the end of the tunnel”. There are probably people out there whose experiences are reflected in the book. Just as there are people whose experiences are not. The topic was not necessarily handled well in the book, but I didn’t get the impression after reading the book that society suddenly needs to send all the people with disabilities out to be euthanized.

And seriously, half the time the disabled character can suddenly walk at the end of the movie or book. Is that better?

So who knows? I felt meh about the characters for most of the book but it still made me laugh and cry AND I’m still putting ‘After You’ (Me Before You book #2) on my to-read list. Not sure what that really says about me.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s fairly well-written and a good time-waster. I doubt it will change your life though. Buy it* if you want, or just borrow it from your local library.

Quote from the book I enjoyed:

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

This is one of the books I read as part of my 2016 reading challenge. You can see the prompts I’m using to choose my books (and a list of all the books I’ve read so far) by clicking the pic below to get to the post.readingchallengefeature


You can see all the other books I’ve read in the past by following me on Goodreads, or on my Books Read Pinterest board.

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2016 Reading Challenge

Updated June 18, 2016: Included the list of books read this year that fit the prompts.

Last year I set a personal reading challenge goal of 24 books. I did pretty good. I managed to read 22 and am halfway through #23. If you’re interested, check out the books I read in 2015 on my Books Read Pinterest board.

And yes, I only just read the Game of Thrones series this year. I resisted for so so long, and then just gobbled them up. (I still haven’t watched the series yet though!)

Even though I didn’t quite meet my goal for 2015, I decided to up my goal slightly to 25 books for 2016. AND to make it even more fun (ie. challenging) for me, I decided to create a reading challenge of sorts.

25 Books to Read in 2016. A reading challenge created by Lulu & Celeste. #25booksfor2016

Download the plain PDF version here. There’s enough space under each prompt so you can write down the titles as you go through the list.

I think the hardest prompt will be to find an author with my same initials. Anyone know an author with the initials U.P.? I think I may have set myself up to fail at this, ha.

I will be even sharing on Instagram. I even created a hashtag that I’ll use on Instagram: #25booksfor2016, so if you follow any of the prompts and want to share use the hashtag so I can check out what you’re reading!

I’ve added the names of the books using the prompts below. If the title is clickable I’ve posted a review of the book.

  1. A book that became a movie: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  2. A book from your childhood: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
  3.  A book with a number in the title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith 
  4. A book set in the future: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood 
  5. A book written by someone under 30
  6. A book with a colour in the title
  7. A mystery or thriller: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
  8. A book with magic
  9. A book with a one-word title: Gemini by Mark Burnell
  10. A book you own but have never read: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  11. A nonfiction book: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande 
  12. A book that has been translated
  13. A popular author’s first book
  14. A book written by an author with your same initials
  15. A Pulitzer Prize winning book: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
  16. A book set in the spring
  17. A book based on a true story
  18. A book with a female heroine: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
  19. A book with antonyms in the title: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  20. A book with a green cover: Nuclear Jellyfish by Tim Dorsey
  21. A book that came out the year you were born:
  22. A book set somewhere you want to visit: The True History of Paradise by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
  23. A book that was published this year
  24. A book with pictures: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
  25. A book with bad reviews

Other books I read that didn’t fit a prompt:

  • MaddAdam by Margaret Atwood
  • Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey
  • Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson
  • A Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
  • The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

Have a safe and happy New Year! See you in 2016! Happy reading! 🙂

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Ula writes for Lulu & Celeste