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Beginning Chapter Books

Category: Where The Child Things Are
Posted: May 18, 2017

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Katy Almendinger as a child.Despite the photographic evidence, I wasn’t always an avid reader. I liked books — how could I not? I had a full bookshelf, I was surrounded by adults that liked reading, and I liked listening to stories. But when given the choice I would have rather played outside or watched TV instead of reading independently. I certainly wouldn’t have stayed up too late reading, and I wouldn’t have jumped ahead in whatever book my class was reading. It wasn’t until middle school that I found an author who made me truly enjoy reading. Then I became the type of reader who devoured books.

As an adult, it’s clear to me that my problem was that I hadn’t yet found books that captured my interest. I hadn’t discovered my own reading tastes and preferences. I often wish that I had developed my reading habits at an earlier age. So, when parents and newly independent readers approach the Youth Information Desk looking for a book to read, I take this opportunity very seriously. It’s my chance to connect a reader with THAT book or THAT author. I want to give them the book that turns them into an avid reader, too.

What makes a great beginning chapter book? Beginning chapter books will still have illustrations that are designed to support comprehension and hold interest. They also have short chapters that are easy to read in one sitting. Early chapter books are great at telling stories about everyday events and situations. This approach can help support comprehension skills and vocabulary development. Beginning chapter books are designed for readers who are newly independent and are looking to branch out of the early reader section. I’m thinking of classic series like Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones. There are some other great series that are my go-to recommendations for beginning readers.


If you have a reader who just wants to browse, we have a sticker for that! Books with an owl sticker on the spine are good options for readers who are ready to graduate out of the early reader section. They feature many of the characteristics mentioned earlier. We know that finding books at the right reading level can be especially hard when you’re browsing. One of my favorite tips is to have your child read one page. If they find five or more words they don’t understand, it might be best to put that series aside for later.

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