Reading Chapter Books – What to Read after Picture Books?

Transitioning to Chapter Books

The transition from children enjoying picture books to chapter books can seem like a very large jump to lots of our children. Comprehension of what they are reading becomes more apparent as children are not always able to follow and understand the story as easily as they could through heavily illustrated picture books.

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Reading for Pleasure

For many children (and adults) there is a huge pleasure in reading picture books and being lost in both the author and illustrator’s world simultaneously.

Children may have the reading skills to be able to progress onto chapter books but if they are not ‘ready’ for chapter books their spark for reading can diminish quite quickly when they don’t get the same pleasure for reading. In this blog post I’m going to show you the wonderful world of early chapter books that will continue to ignite your child’s passion for reading.

Early Chapter Books

Early chapter books, especially highly illustrated ones, are an ideal transition from picture books to chapter books designed for middle grade readers and beyond.

As I’ve already mentioned the main goal is for child to be reading for pleasure. Here are my top tips to help select books that your children will love as they venture into this exciting new are of their reading journey. After my top tips I’ll go through so early chapter books so you can get an idea of what to look for.

My Top Tips for Choosing Early Chapter Books

  • 🌈Think about what picture books they enjoy – books about friendship? funny books? animal related stories? lyrical text? You’ll be able to find something that matches your little one’s preferences.
  • 🌈How’s their comprehension? Can they follow the story when it is read or they are reading? If comprehension is something your child is working on then images on every page can aid understanding. Go for highly illustrated chapter books with images on every page that help depict the storyline.
  • 🌈Are they reading a little too fast and missing punctuation and words? Graphic novels are great for this as the speech bubbles and captions give a much more obvious pause and help to slow the reader down a little. Books with shorter paragraphs broken up by images helps with this too.
  • 🌈Is your reader quite careful and slow when reading? If so, look at shorter books so that they don’t feel they are on the same book forever. Another tip here is you read a page, they read a page. This is great opportunity to model flow and intonation as they follow along as you read. It also helps with comprehension of the text.
  • 🌈In our visual world – cover appeal matters to our kids – choose books you think will entice your young reader or allow then to select their own from the library or bookshop. We have a day we go to the library each week that we always look forward to. Lots of libraries do free inter-library requests for children so you search for books, request and pick them up from your local library.
  • 🌈Decide how important colour is to your child – lots of the books are full colour or limited palette colours, others are black and white. Black and white books can help children who get sensory overload. Books with more limited images may help in this context too.
  • 🌈Is text size important? Text comes in all typefaces and fonts. Look for text that you know will suit your reader.

Reading with your Child

As your child is becoming a more confident reader keep listening to them read aloud and don’t stop reading to them. Children learn so much about how stories and books work when they hear us read. I love sharing books together. You read a page, they read a page. If you’ve got a child who misses those full stops you can alternate sentences together. If it’s a book with lots of direct speech each pick a character to read.

Audio books and players are a great way to engage children more with reading. My daughter loves listening to audio books on either her Tonie Box or Yoto Player on an evening. If you’d like to find out about these then check out this blog post.

Book Bands – Levelled Reading

You can match books to the level that your child is reading at school. If you’d like to find out more about book bands then have a read of my blog post here.

Many series are quite good at keeping to a similar reading level. However, it’s worth mentioning that some can have quite a spread. If your child has really enjoyed one book and found another in the series more challenging it can be that that book has a higher lexical level. If you’d like any help with selecting books to match book band levels just drop me an email

Early Chapter Book Ideas

Below I’ve given some early chapter book ideas with sample pages. Do pop back as this page will get updates with new finds and releases. If you’d like to recommend a book do pop in comments.

Books are in the following categories:

Highly Illustrated Full Colour Early Chapter Books

  • Billy and the Mini Monsters Series

If you’d like to find out a little more about the Billy and the Mini Monsters series this blog post – Reading Rambles – Reading for the Pleasure of it! Poetry and Book Series – has a section with information about the latest release. There’s also a little peep into the March 2023 arrival!

  • Unipiggle Series
  • Yasmin Books
  • Stripes/ Little Tiger Full Colour Series
  • Teacup House
  • Samira’s Wish – doesn’t have chapters but laid out more like a chapter books therefore a great introduction.

Limited Colour Early Chapter Books

  • Marv Series – find out more about this fabulous series that would appeal to all here.
  • Wigglebottom Primary Series – lots of bold, block capital words in the text

There are currently five in the series and a sixth book due early 2023. The main two characters are gentle, patient Bear and impatient, know-it-all Rabbit. They’re gentle fun always with a good take-away message for Rabbit (and the reader).

  • Isadora Moon Series

Another favourite series of ours which we HAVE to get the latest book and devour it at the first opportunity.

We were lucky enough to see both Paula and Jenny at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2022. It was a great session and inspired lots of cat drawing!

  • Squishy McFluff Books – written in rhyme.

Graphic Novels

  • Agent Moose
  • Bunny Vs Monkey – all written in block capitals.
  • Billy and the Mini Monster Series – not completely graphic novel style but has spreads through out that are in comic style.

Black and White Highly Illustrated

Here are books that still have large portions of the spread dedicated to illustrations. The text is broken up into manageable chunks either through the use of illustrations or a conscious consideration for fewer words per paragraph and/ or page.

  • Genie and Teeny Series
  • Nikhil and Jay
  • The Tindims
  • Walker Sprinters Series
  • Magnificent Mabel Books
  • Marshmallow Pie Books

Black and White with Some Illustrations

These are chapter books that mainly have text with a few illustrations throughout the book. Ideal for children who don’t enjoy the distraction on illustrations and those travelling towards middle grade books.

Flat Stanley Books

The Naughtiest Unicorn Books

Little Owl Rescue – there are other animals in the series too.

Dick King-Smith books – The Hodge-Heg and The Adventurous Snail for example.

The Playdate Adventures Series

Holly Webb animal stories

Familiar Books

These are books that have been picture books that are put in as a collection of stories into one book that looks like a chapter book. Great introducing children to a longer format book but with stories they are already familiar with.

The Lighthouse Keeper Tales

Princess Mirror-Belle

Dyslexia Friendly Text

For dyslexia friendly texts that I very much recommend you look at Barrington Stoke books.

  • The Tindims

Large Text

  • Walker Sprinters Series
  • The Lighthouse Keeper Tales
  • Squishy McFluff Books – written in rhyme.
  • Magnificent Mabel Books

Do pop back monthly to see what new finds we’ve found and new releases have been added.

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