My girls are four and six, and my six year old has recently developed a significant interest in reading chapter books. However, my three year old only wants to join us if there are pictures, so I'm always on the lookout for excellent early chapter books with frequent pictures. Here are a few we've found and loved so far.
Debbie Dadey's Mermaid Tales series - This is by far my children's first love when it comes to chapter books. We got a great deal on this bound collection that includes books 1 through 4 at Green Valley Book Fair, and after we read all four of those, they were definitely hooked. It is still a favorite for them, and we revisit those books often. They're a go-to purchase for me when I'm looking for a little surprise for the girls. *Note that I linked Amazon here, but Green Valley is currently shipping if you'd like to check out their items. Their selections are usually only available on location, but they have an amazing selection and are shipping items right now.
E.B. White's Charlotte's Web - I've been shocked by how much my girls love this classic story. I wasn't sure how they would do, especially my older child who is very sensitive. But the truth is I was the one who was trying not to blubber through my tears at the end (I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it...), but they were fine with the cycle of life aspect of it and absolutely loved the characters. We're on our second reading of it now.
Dana Simpson's Phoebe and Her Unicorn series - My children LOVE comics and graphic novels. (They read Calvin and Hobbes collections with their father far more often than I would care to admit.) This one is a new addition for us; we got another great deal at Green Valley for a box set of books 1-4, and my girls are loving everything about the adventures of Phoebe and Marigold, her unicorn friend. The humor is actually better suited to older kids, so they don't get some of the jokes, but my girls are not deterred by that at all!
Alice Cuipers' Polly Diamond and the Magic Book, illustrated by Diana Toledano - This is the first book in the Polly Diamond series, and it's the only one we have so far, but we're loving it! There are A LOT of illustrations, which is a big win with my three year old, and the story is captivating, so my six year old is also intrigued. It's very approachable for early readers, so I can see that they will be able to read this one on their own earlier than some of the others I've included.
Annie Barrows' Ivy & Bean series - We started with book 1, and I was able to get several of these on sale at Green Valley. (Are you noticing a shopping trend here?) I really like them, but the girls haven't read as much of these yet. I think they are very inviting for early readers, though, and I imagine my older daughter will be reading them soon.
National Geographic's Little Kids' First Big Book of... series - Although this series does not feature female protagonists, I'd be remiss if I created a list of chapter books and didn't include these. My girls are both huge science fans, and they love these books so very much. They were the first chapter books we read together, and they continue to be favorites. We have Big Book of Things that Go, Big Book of Space, Big Book of the World, and the Big Book of Why 2.