Did you know that the Library District has a special collection of books for kids who are just beginning to move from picture books to chapter books? These books have some important characteristics that make them ideal for that transition period. As your child begins to read longer books, these features will make it less stressful for both of you! If you don’t know where these book collections are kept at the Library, please ask!
- The words are in a larger size font and lines of text are spaced further apart.
- Paragraphs are kept very short – usually no more than about 3 short sentences.
- Lots of white space on the pages.
- Plenty of illustrations.
When children are learning to read, their eyes tire easily. All these features keep each page from seeming too overwhelming. Kids often have difficulty in making their eyes travel from the end of a line of text to the beginning of the next line, so the greater spacing is needed to make the transition easier. Also very short chapters provide convenient stopping places if your reading time is limited. Remember that reading is hard work at first, so you may want to take turns reading paragraphs or even pages. You want reading to be a fun experience, so let your children choose books that interest them.
Books in this format have been around for many years. Two classic series are the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel and the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarek.
Cynthia Rylant has written many easy chapter books. Her long-standing series include the Henry and Mudge books, the Poppleton books, and the Mr. Putter & Tabby books. Some of these have been around since the 1980’s, but I continue to recommend them to beginning readers, because I remember how much my own children loved them.
Kevin Henkes (the Penny series) and Kate DiCamillo ( the Mercy Watson series) are both award-winning authors who write for multiple age groups. Dicamillo also writes the Tales From Deckaroo Drive beginning chapter books.
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel began as a picture book, but Bruel has gone on to write many Bad Kitty books in an easy chapter book format. Another of our most popular series is The Notebook of Doom by Indiana author Troy Cummings. The Notebook of Doom series is also available through the Indiana Digital Download Center.
Keep reading aloud with your children even after they are able to read alone. Research shows that kids can comprehend stories they hear, even if the reading level is higher than that of books they can read for themselves. By continuing to read with your children, you’ll be helping them build vocabulary and comprehension skills. Just as importantly, you’ll be having fun together and will be forming shared experiences.