How to Find Great Early Chapter Books
Yesterday I started my new book list series, Early Chapter Books. This is an ongoing series to help parents fill the bookshelves of kids who have moved beyond easy readers but are not yet ready for middle grade chapter books. In many libraries, these books are labeled as “bridge” books, but there are also some wonderful choices which may be mixed in with general books (in the photo you see not all books are labeled “bridge”)
When Kiddo first started reading chapter books I spent a lot of time combing the library shelves and reading book review blogs looking for quality books. I always let Kiddo choose his own books, but that doesn’t mean I don’t put
a few a lot of books right under his nose. If I didn’t he would be reading nothing but sports facts (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
I admit I’m not a literacy expert, but as an interested parent, I have learned a few tips about choosing books during my hours at the library.
Tips from a Parent:
None of these tips are set-in-stone rules, but if you’re having trouble finding age appropriate books at the early chapter books reading level, keep in mind a few of my general guidelines:
- A good clue is the age of the protagonist. Is the main character the same age as your child? If so, then likely the book is a good match. Make allowances for children who learn to read at a late age.
- Size of type. Books with larger fonts are geared towards younger children.
- Density of illustrations. The more illustrations the younger the audience. This does not apply to all books, of course. Graphic novels are the exception as well as a new crop of books based on the Wimpy Kid model. Illustration-heavy books are good choices for reluctant readers.
- Color illustrations usually indicate an easier reading level. Easy readers have color illustrations, as do many transitional chapter books like Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover.
- Length of book. Most early chapter books are 100 or fewer pages.
- If you find an author you like, look for more of their books. Authors often write multiple books for the same reading level.
- Kids naturally self-censor. If a books is too difficult, they will put it down.
Don’t forget: Most early chapter books are labeled for kids ages 5-8, but every child learns to read at a different rate and what might have been a good independent reading choice for my child at the age of 5, might still be too difficult for your 7 year old.
If you find your child has started reading a book that is too challenging for him, don’t despair! Simply choose a new book or read it along with him. Kids will resist reading if you push them too hard (in my experience).
If you’re still having difficulty finding appropriate books use my fail-safe technique: ask a librarian!
Do you have any tips to add? Leave them in the comments below so we can all share and learn!
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