Have you tried picking out books as gifts? It’s the hardest thing! You want the book to fit with the person’s interests and be a fun read for them. This is the predicament I found myself in this year. I knew that my older daughter Samantha was rapidly growing out of her Pre-K books. Her reading skills are getting to be really impressive. I wanted to continue challenging her with books on her level, while also appealing to her interests. Scholastic’s PR representative recommended that I try the Branches books, early chapter books that have pictures.

Scholastic Branches Book Series

Scholastic sent me the first of several of their Branches book series: Owl Diaries, Princess Pink, Silver Pony Ranch, Missy’s, The Amazing Stardust Friends, and Olive & Beatrix. Since my daughter loves girly stories, the animal/princess theme was a great fit for her.

The first book, Owl Diaries: Eva’s Treetop Festival, was a beautiful, vibrant graphic novel. Inside, each page had big illustrations. Samantha’s an artist, so the colors are really appealing for her. I loved being able to understand the story without the words, because that’s what a lot of beginning readers need to be able to do. You can use the picture clues to help read the words. I also liked that the vocabulary was pretty simple and explained clearly in the text.

Owl Diaries #1 cover

Another fun book with some odd humor was Princess Pink and the Land of Fake Believe. Even though this book seems pretty girly with princess in the title, it would still appeal to plenty of boys with the wacky situations the characters get into in the story. One chapter was called Three Angry Beards, and it had illustrations of living beards talking to each other! The story was hilarious. Read this book to get a good laugh.

PrincessPink #1 (1)

For animal lovers, Silver Pony Ranch: Sparkling Jewel is a great fit. The main character, Tori, is a tom girl who loves riding horses on her grandmother’s ranch. This book has black and white illustrations, so it’s not as colorful as some of the other stories, but the illustrations have a lot of detail. I liked that there were pictures on almost every page to help kids visualize the situation. Kids who don’t usually ride horses can get more into the story by seeing the events happen.


The book Missy’s Super, Duper, Royal, Deluxe Picture Day is set up like a comic book with word bubbles for the dialogue. My daughter loves the comic section in the newspaper, so this book is a great fit for her. The main character Missy’s struggles are totally relatable to kids. From having mom pick out your outfit to getting in trouble for talking in school, what kid hasn’t had the same experiences? There are plenty of opportunities to pause and make connections to life to help with comprehension.

Missy Picture Day

Friendships are such a focus in school, so The Amazing Stardust Friends Step into the Spotlight was another great choice. In the story, the main character Marlo joins the circus, where she meets a great new trio of friends. This book had black and white illustrations in different sizes on each page. The pictures show the fun, magical world of the circus – tight rope walking, hula hooping, and the trapeze. My daughter loves dance and movement, so the story line was appealing for her.


The last book is Olive & Beatrix: The Not-So-Itty-Bitty Spiders. I received a nice, hard cover copy. Inside, I was delighted by the pretty colors in the illustrations. When I came across The Spider Hunt chapter, I had to laugh. My daughter calls herself the spider hunter because she always seems to track down spiders outside. Luckily, spiders don’t scare her at all because the story focused a lot on giant spiders. What an adventure!


What are your favorite book series for kids still learning how to read well? Share your favorites in the comments section below!


I received a free item, but it in no way influenced my opinion!

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24 Responses

  1. Cianna

    I was always a big reader when I was a kid! If I have kids, I’ll be sure to encourage them to read! Such good recommendations here!

  2. Sheena

    My daughter has the Owl Diaries books and loves them! I didn’t know there were so many others! I’ll definitely be looking for these when the next order form comes home. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Bree Hogan

    This post caught my eye because of the owl in the feature picture. I love owls! Makes me want to be a kid again and read the Owl Diaries.


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