Growing Reader

How to Help Your Child Transition to Chapter Books

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: Keiji Iwai, Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Unlike Peter Pan, most kids do want to grow up. They’re usually excited to read chapter books because it marks their coming of age as a reader. Here are a few things you can do to help your child successfully transition to chapter books.

  • 1. Practice Remembering the Story

    The biggest difference between reading a chapter book and a picture book is that the story (usually) continues for more than one reading session. Your child needs to remember what’s happening in the story from one reading time to the next or he’ll have trouble comprehending. This can be tricky.

    Help your child hold that information in his memory. After he reads, have your child share what happened. Then prior to restarting the book again, show your child how to look back at what she previously read – at the last chapter, including any illustrations – to refresh her memory of what happened.

  • 2. Show Kids How to Choose a Book

    You’ll also want to model for your child how readers choose books:

    • Look at the cover
    • Read the title
    • Scan the text (font size, white space)
    • Look at the back summary
    • Do the 5 Finger Test to see if it’s a just-right reading level
    • Decide if it’s a book you want to read

    This isn’t an intuitive process. Practice with your child so they get the hang of choosing good books for themselves.

  • 3. Find Engaging Book Series

    If you can get your kids into a book series they like, they’ll have a lovely backlog of reading material. This is a good thing. It makes book selection easy since you only need the next book in the series.

    Want some ideas for good series? Consider these popular and easy ones:

  • 4. Don’t Stop Reading Picture Books

    Don’t abandon picture books once your child starts reading chapter books. Picture books offer many benefits to children: they give kids a story they can finish in one sitting, they increase language development, they provide wonderful stories, and the illustrations give opportunities to make inferences and enrich the story visually.

    Kids need all kinds of books – adding chapter books to the mix of reading material only expands their selection.

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