Learning Series: Transitioning to Chapter Books

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

We are so pleased to, again, share some expert advice on childhood literacy.  This week's installment in our Learning Series focuses on helping you navigate your child's transition to chapter books.  As parents, our goals is to help our children continue their love of reading while they are being challenged and building new skills.  Thank you, Janilee!

When should my child transition into chapter books?
Children usually transition from decoder books to chapter books in first and second grade, age seven to eight. Your child will go from decoding or sounding out each simple letter and sound blend to decoding words and eventually complete sentences. Once their decoding fluency increases, they are able to transition into simple chapter books.

Tell me about picture books, decoders and chapter books.
Picture books vary in reading levels. They are fun to read but often difficult for the beginning reader. Beginning readers focus on short books or decoders. Unlike most picture books, decoders use very simple words, phrases or sound blends repeated over and over with pictures are drawn specifically to help the child figure out words.  Children’s chapter books are longer stories divided into short chapters. 

How do I help my child transition?
It is normal for a child to struggle or push back once books become harder and longer. If you make it a special experience they will associate reading with positive feelings instead of an assigned chore. 
Begin reading a chapter of your favorite chapter book to your child at bedtime. Ask your child to describe how the characters and setting look in his mind. Stop and pause as needed to help your child visualize and imagine. Make it fun!

Make a special place in your home for chapter reading. A fun big pillow in the corner of a room, a secret closet, a special headlight for chapter reading in the dark, a reading tent made from blankets, etc. will make reading a wonderful experience instead of a chore. 

Finding a good book is extremely important. Search your public or school library for a series of books that are geared to your child’s current reading level and interest. There are so many chapter book series to choose from and getting your child hooked on a series is a fun way to keep them reading for weeks and months. Start with the easy readers and continue moving up.

A few favorites are:

  1. Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant,  
  2. My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles
  3. Ivy and Bean series  by Annie Barrows
  4. Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
  5. Horrible Harry series by Suzy Kline
  6. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (a little more difficult)
  7. The Dragons of Wayward Crescent series by Chris D’Lacey
  8. Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold
  9. Flat Stanley series by Jeff Brown
  10. Cam Jensen series by David A. Adler
  11.  Ready Freddie series by Abby Klein


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