There is a category of books that children love, but many adults don’t know about. Chapter books. “Chapter books” is a somewhat misleading term. One would think that any book with chapters is a book with chapters.
However, the term is used to describe books for newly independent readers, typically in the 5-9 age bracket. These books have longer and slightly more complex plots than picture books, but are still simple enough to hold the attention of younger readers. They also have lots of illustrations – mostly black and white sketches. Chapter books are a bridge between picture books and larger books.
Children thrive on books with chapters. The main reason is the sense of pride and accomplishment they feel when they read them — that they’re reading a “big book”! It gives them confidence that they can read a book with real chapters on their own.
Chapter books are different enough from picture books to feel new and exciting. Yet it contains all of those elements that they find comforting. Big fonts, lots of illustrations, easy vocabulary, simple stories populated by kids as old as them.
The best time to introduce these books to children is when they are eager to read longer books. when they can sit longer with a book.
After all, books with chapters demand their attention longer. Unlike small books, which can be completed in a short time, they will not be able to finish reading chapters in one day. The child must therefore be able to remember what happened and come back to the story the next day.
Plus, there will always be kids ready for longer stories, but not yet ready to read them on their own. Chapter books are perfect for these situations – the adult can read aloud to the child.
Although there are several stand-alone chapter books, chapter books often come in series. For example, the Magic Tree House Series, owl logs, Ivy + Bean, Zoey and Sassafras, Dragon Masters, Junie B Jonesand many others.
Closer to home, there are a number of Indian chapter book series. The duck’s beak hole book series is very popular with children. Written by different authors on various subjects, they present Indian children in very similar Indian situations. I’m lucky to have written two empty books. The latest is Malhar in the middle about a little tabla player who wants to sit center stage.
There are other series of chapter books by beloved Indian authors – the Super Zero Series by Jane de Suza, the lucky series by Nalini Sorensen, the mini series by Nandini Nayar, the mooli series by Asha Nehemiah, the Nimmi Series by Shabnam Minwalla, Clumsy by Khyrunnisa A, and many more, guaranteed to keep the child reading.
The chapter books phase usually ends quickly. Children move on to larger books, but not before becoming lifelong readers thanks to the magical lure of chapter books.
The author has written 14 children’s books and can be contacted at www.shruthi-rao.com
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