We’ve been doing leveled readers for a while now and the next step would be to tackle easy chapter books. But I get really confused when I see recommendations for ‘early chapter readers’, ‘beginner chapter books’, ‘first chapter books’ etc. Popular titles under these categories are books such as Mercy Watson or The Magic Tree House series. Honestly, I feel the jump from readers to these early chapter books is a big one. I felt we needed a slower transition. So I began looking for what I’d call ‘transition books’.
Some kids are ready to move on from picture books and can plunge right into Nate The Great or Ivy and Bean. Some need a bit more time and confidence boost. How do you tell? I look at my child’s general reaction when I hand him a chapter book.
So here are the in-betweens we went for. In general, mini-chapter books (you know, the ones with short 4 or 5 chapters) that are fun and just about the right length so they don’t find it dreary.
Here are a few, both old and new, that we’ve enjoyed so far.
- Dragon series by Dav Pilkey
This is an early chapter book that makes reading aloud fun! A good in-between because it’s like a picture book set up in chapters. Each chapter is short and the story plot gets carried through all five chapters so kids are tempted to continue reading till the end to see what happens. (Some early chapter books consist of individual stories making up a chapter.) A kind hearted and loving character, Dragon is really hilarious and his silliness is right on target for tickling young readers. Sprinter had a good laugh reading it aloud on his own and he’s happy to pick up this series to read again and again 🙂
2. Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold
We love these books too! These are really basic chapter books… big fonts, a sentence or two per page and less than 50 pages in a book. If you’re moving on from levelled readers and want to introduce chapter books, this might be a good first option. They are relatively easy to read so young children will not get put off and they will feel like they are really beginning to read true chapter books. Fly guy is what I call boy humour… the kind boys will like… but I was very wrong. My niece loved it, my girl loved it. I guess they’re really funny with a touch of nonsensical humour?
3. My Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant
Chapter books are a great confidence-builder and this series (our library has them all in hardcovers!) certainly makes one feel very accomplished after successfully tackling them 😉 If your reader is ready to take them on after enjoying the Fly Guy and Dragon series, Mr Putter and Tabby would make a perfect next step 🙂 The stories in this series are gentler and much calmer than the first two in terms story pacing… there is a touch a humour too so it should make a good bedtime read-aloud option. I believe there are about twenty book in this series, so if your kid becomes a fan, he’ll get plenty of reading practise just by finishing all the book in the series. 🙂
4. Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
Next level up will be Frog and Toad. My old time favourites. Each chapter is a different story. Gentle with a light touch of humour too, these are great for developing readers. Audio versions read by the author himself are available too. 🙂
5. The Adventures of Mooty series by Jessie Wee
While I was going around the house looking for good ‘transition chapter books’, this series caught my eye. And why not? We first read them a year ago and enjoyed them very much! You get two stories in each book and although they qualify as picture books more than chapter books, there is enough narrative continuity throughout the series that make all five books read like a complete story. Authored by a Singaporean, it’s exciting to get a dose of local culture in our reads!
What are your favorite early chapter books? We definitely need more ideas!