The Josie Smith books, by Magdalen Nabb, are perhaps the very best first chapter books to read aloud to a young child. I read the entire series to my daughter when she was four one summer. We were abroad in England and Ireland, so I was lucky enough to purchase the entire series.
Josie Smith is a bit like Ramona, but younger and perhaps a bit less spirited. Her world, as a five-year-old, is small and consists of her mother, a friend or two, an old man neighbor/gardener, a neighbor friend, and shopkeepers. Her mom is a single mother, often busy, but loving and caring. In other words, Josie is an everyday child with an everyday life. But the books are beautifully written and younger children love them.
Imagine my surprise when I see that some titles in this series are going for upwards of $100 on Amazon. Perhaps they are rare editions or something, but I think it is time these books are published in the U.S.!