A year and a half ago Sammi and I took a brave step and read our first chapter book together. I was inspired by Jim Trelease‘s book The Read-Aloud Handbook. I selected Charlotte’s Web because I remembered loving it as a child and it was conveniently unpacked and sitting on our bookshelf. Sammi was 2 years and 3 months old when we started it. We read it every morning at breakfast and we actually finished it. She enjoyed it and so did I.
Since that first success with a chapter book, we haven’t really had much success with any of the other chapter books we already owned. We started a few, but we’d read them here and there and the story line got lost because of our inconsistent reading. Elli has also grown a bit and developed her own opinions about what we read and how long she’ll allow us to read books that are too big for her.
I’ve been feeling like we needed to find some chapter books that we in-between Charlotte’s Web and long picture books. One day at the library Sammi pulled a book off the shelf and brought it to me asking if we could take it home. It was Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in her Pocket. I flipped through it and loved the layout. There are illustrations about every other page, the font is nice and big and it’s divided into chapters. There were six chapters in this book.
It worked out perfectly that we were able to read it for a chapter at a time. Elli could handle that much of the book before interrupting us. It really didn’t take very long to read a chapter. In fact, we’ve read picture books longer than a chapter and some as long as the whole book. But it has a more grown up feel because of the chapters and the layout. The story moveds pretty quickly and Sammi was always interested in rading one more chapter. We picked it up a couple times each day and had it finished in three days.
Sammi enjoyed Junie B. so much that we got two more books in the series. We’re currently reading Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch. Sammi is thrilled with this book, too. At the bookstore where we got it, they had a whole collection of them and I let her pick out two. She seems very pleased with her choice. These books are written in first person from Junie B.’s perspective. It includes typical grammar mistakes of an early elementary school child and a whole lot of spunk in her personality. I often skip over words like stupid and dumb if they are used in a context that Sammi doesn’t know yet (and I don’t want to give her any ideas!). Other than that, it’s a fun read for both of us and we’re excited to be reading chapter books.
We’re definitely hooked on Barbara Park and her Junie B. Jones collection.
Are there any beginning chapter books you’d recommend for us?
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Junie B. is a really fun series – a little beyond Junie B (less illustrations, a little longer chapeters, but on level vocabulary) is the Magic Treehouse Series, by Mary Pope Osborne. Great fantasy/adventure stories at a comprehendable (and digestible) level.
Have you read any of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books? Young kids often like them!
Gretchen Neisler says
Have you guys tried any of the classic American Girl books? The chapters are pretty short and have really lovely illustrations, and the stories are just wonderful. Some have rather heavy content (for instance, Addy, who is a slave, and Meet Kirsten, whose best friend dies). I would recommend starting with Samantha. Junie B is super funny, though, so it’s hard to top the humor aspect.
Way to go starting on the chapter books at an early age! Right now I’m working on reading books with paper pages with my 11 month old. 🙂 Before too long these years will be slipping away, and we’ll both be reading Tolkein to our girls!
Janna @ The Adventure of Motherhood says
I read one Junie B outloud to my class once for fun and we all loved it. I loved trying to talk like Junie B.
I don’t know of many beginner chapter books but I like Gretchen’s suggestion.
My daughter is just starting to be interested in chapter books. We read them together, but she also listens to a couple of them on audiobook. She recommends:
Ramona the Pest (and the rest of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary)
Ivy and Bean (again several books) by Annie Barrows
Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker
Rainbow Fairy series by Daisy Meadows
Christianne @ Little Page Turners says
I’m struggling myself with trying to find good chapter books. My 5 year old is at a reading level to handle them herself, but Junie B (as you mentioned) has some elements I’d rather she not be exposed to yet. Charlotte’s Web didn’t hold her attention. We had better success with a Magic Tree House book, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the storyline. She liked the Rainbow Fairy books, but again I wasn’t impressed. Maybe it’s ME that’s too picky! 🙂 I think I’m going to try the Boxcar Children next.
Thanks for the great recommendations! We started a Magic Treehouse book today and she wanted more. Always a good sign 🙂 I loved the Boxcar Children and the Ramona Quimby books. I’m going to look into the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books.