Dog Man, the spin off from the super popular Captain Underpants series, is known for being funny, irreverent, and colorfully illustrated. If your kids have already blown through the Dog Man books, don’t worry, there are lots of illustrated chapter books like Dog Man and Captain Underpants for them to read next!
I talk fairly extensively about the reading level of Dog Man books in this list of graphic novels. Basically, Dog Man is meant for second grade and up, and the books in the series hover around a guided reading level of P. In this list of chapter books I’ll share publisher’s recommended grade level or the guided reading level.
However, in most cases you should ignore reading level and let your kids read what they enjoy. You can always use books that are too difficult for them to read independently as family read-alouds.
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A Note About Chapter Books like Captain Underpants
So, as mentioned above, Dav Pilkey also wrote a series that has sold JUST A FEW COPIES called Captain Underpants. I didn’t include them in this list because they are, quite frankly, so incredibly popular. I figured if you’ve heard of Dog Man, you’ve heard of Captain Underpants. They could fit this list – illustrated, not a ton of text, and basically 157 pages of irreverent humor in every 160 page book.
However, Captain Underpants books do not have animal protagonists, so I’m not including them. Also, full disclosure, I don’t love how grownups are portrayed in the Captain Underpants series. That being said, this list of illustrated chapter books is also for kids who love Captain Underpants. The humor and the pictures are all here!
Chapter Books Like Dog Man series
Stick Dog series by Tom Watson
As a picky mom, this is my top recommendation from this list. That’s why it’s first. If your kids likes Dog Man, they’ll like Stick Dog. This list could just as much have been titled, “Books for Kids Who Like Stick Dog.“
Stick Dog is a stray dog who leads a whole pack of stray dogs as they go on adventures around town. This series is great because Stick Dog is so nice. No snark, no sarcasm, no making fun of the other dogs when they do goofy things. I love it. My elementary boy loves it because they’re so funny.
The narrator, who is the author, does occasionally disparage his elementary teachers who told him he wasn’t writing correctly. I find that sort of weird, because teachers are literally God’s gift to society. Heads up that there is some cartoony romance in Stick Dog Meets His Match. Otherwise squeaky clean…except that one of the dogs is named Poo. But I’m told that’s because he’s a poodle!
The 11 Stick Dog books hover around reading level P, which is a third or fourth grade reading level.
The 13-Story Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
The Treehouse books don’t have an animal hero, but other than that they’re illustrated chapter books perfect for kids who like Dog Man. There are a ton of puns, jokes, ridiculous premises that are never explained (a character has a flying sleigh pulled by cats?!!?), funny names, and slapstick humor.
So. Much. Slapstick.
I mean, at one place it was 2 pages of them climbing a staircase to the top of Mt Everest. It just said, “up and up and up are we there yet? up and up” for LITERAL PAGES. If an 8 year old wrote an illustrated chapter book, this is what it would be.
Heads up that the 10 books in the series were originally published in Australia, so you can also find the books with the spelling “Storey” instead of “Story.” There is also a FANTASTIC audiobook production of the series that our whole family has loved – it uses the “Storey” spelling.
The 13-Story Treehouse series (or, The 13-Storey Treehouse series for my friends down-under) is written at a second to fourth grade reading level. However, the interest level is definitely a bit older than that, more like second through eighth grade. The protagonists are grownups, so no reason to limit it to early elementary!
Full disclosure: although I think you should own most of this series, because it’s awesome, I do not recommend book 5 of the series, The 65-Story Treehouse. The protagonists go back in time, and it’s so inaccurate…I just can’t. When the two heroes are single cell organisms who have just crawled out of the primordial ooze, wanting to move the umbrella to shade them from the hot sun – my science degree screamed at me from a dusty box in the basement. Other than that, they’re awesome.
Inspector Flytrap by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell
This fun illustrated chapter book series is about a Venus flytrap (yes, the plant) who solves mysteries with his assistant, Nina the goat. It’s thin on moral life lessons, but super funny. There is interesting sentence structure and vocabulary while maintaining an easy to follow story with only a few characters. It is at a guided reading level P. (Basically exactly the same as Dog Man.)
FYI, there is sometimes a “heck” or two in the books, and there is a tiny bit of cartoony romance because **spoiler alert** Nina falls in love with a goat named William. We used this series as a family read aloud, so I skipped the part where they kiss and made up a side story about them being good friends. Because I’m obviously a total prude, but I would still feel comfortable handing it to my elementary reader. Definitely recommend this series!
Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon
Dragonbreath is THE choice I recommend for reluctant readers, both boys and girls. It is text intermixed with occasional comic book pages. The stories about a dragon with no fire are straight up ridiculous. It’s silly, not high-brow at all, and complete perfection.
Although Dragonbreath books are aimed at first through fifth graders, it is written at guided reading level R, higher than many on this list. I think that first graders will definitely get the humor, so this would be the perfect series for first graders who are reading above their reading level. It can be hard to find books that are content appropriate for those precocious early elementary readers. There are 11 books in this series, so if your kids like it, GET THEM ALL!!
The Chicken Squad series by Doreen Cronin
The chicken squad is made up of four little chicks who solve mysteries in their backyard. They’re crazy. But that makes for funny reading! Heads up that the chickens are sort of rude to each other and other animals and their MOTHER. That isn’t my favorite. But maybe the sass helps them catch the bad guys?
The Chicken Squad‘s six books are similar to the Dog Man series because it has animals solving mysteries, and is basically all tongue in cheek humor. The Chicken Squad books are written at a lower guided reading level of N; however, they do have less pictures than most of these chapter books for kids who love Dog Man. Therefore, don’t count them out just because they are a bit simpler.
If this simpler story is what you’re looking for for your family, also check out this list of chapter books that can be read in one or two sittings.
Hamstersaurus Rex series by Tom O’Donnell
What happens when a class pet gains SUPER STRENGTH? Shenanigans. That’s what happens. There are tons of ridiculous scenarios in this four book series, and lots of middle school antics. (This includes some bullying, and middle school crushes, FYI.)
Hamstersaurus Rex books do not have a ton of illustrations, and are at an R reading level, meant for fourth through sixth graders. (I think you could easily push that age higher, because the protagonist is in sixth grade. The kid, not the hamster…although now that I think of it, the hamster is a class pet, so he’s in sixth grade, too.) Also, the books are the longest on this list, and probably the most intricate story line. This is a definite step up, difficulty wise, from Dog Man.
Platypus Police Squad series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
The title basically explains it all – platypuses (or “platypi,” both are correct, I looked it up) make up an elite crime fighting unit in Kalamazoo. What more could you ask for? It’s silly, and the mysteries aren’t really head-scratchers, but it’s perfect for kids who like Captain Underpants’ or Dog Man’s ridiculous crime fighting antics
This is a 4 book series, with the sweet spot of interested readers being third through sixth grades. It is technically a guided reading level S. (That means it is quite a bit more difficult than Dog Man.) However, there are LOTS of detailed illustrations – way more than Hamstersaurus Rex.
Julius Zebra series by Gary Northfield
A hyper zebra gets kidnapped and becomes a gladiator, then tries to find his way back home. Also there are cartoon illustrations and toilet humor. Did I just describe your reluctant reader’s dream book?
Julius Zebra is hysterical, kids who like Stick Dog or Dog Man will love it. Heads up that there is quite a bit of snark, and some meanness, even from the good guys. It is all played off as humor. Although I think this is a great historical series for early elementary, if you dislike the bad attitudes or snark, you should preview it first to make sure it is ok for your family.
Julius Zebra is written for second through fifth graders. The fourth book in the illustrated series comes out in June 2021.
Dead Sea Squirrels series by Mike Nawrocki
Believe it or not, there is a Christian book series like Dog Man! This series is hard-core faith based, so if that’s not for your family, you’ll want to skip this series. In the series two petrified squirrels from the year 30 BC come back to life. There are some excellent moral lessons here, but they are overshadowed by the humor. These books are funny! I like that my son likes to read them because in the stories bad choices, even if they’re funny, have consequences.
Dead Sea Squirrels is written for 8 to 12 year olds. The protagonist is 10 years old, but he does act slightly more mature than most 10 year olds I know, so you could easily push the age up a bit. This series would be a good option if your kids got in to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. So far there are eight books in the series.
Heads up that I personally think the books end at sort of funny places. Like, you think there would be a few more chapters, but instead you have to just get the next book. I only tell you so that you don’t get caught having to make a second trip to the library to get the next book in the series since it ends on a cliff hanger!
Don’t count out graphic novels!
All of these books on this list are chapter books similar to Captain Underpants or Dog Man. However, don’t forget about graphic novels! They are wonderful options for kids who like this type of book, even older elementary kids. Check out this list of 50+ graphic novels for kids who love Dog Man.