My daughter is in grade 2.  She is a good reader but we have a problem.  Many of her friends are now reading chapter books.  She wants to read them too but seems to be very nervous when she brings one home.  I am sure that that she can read them but I don’t know how to help her relax and enjoy a good book.  Can you think of any way that I can ease her into chapter books?

 When readers move from shorter texts to chapter books it can be an overwhelming task.  There are several ways to ease children into chapter books.

 Choice of books is very important.  For example, a child who is just exploring chapter books should not pick up a Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) book or any other chapter book with dense print and long chapters.  Early chapter books should have large easy to read print, good spacing between lines and short chapters.

 My favorite authors for beginning chapter books are Cynthia Rylant and Mary Pope Osborne.

 Cynthia Rylant:

Henry And Mudge First Book is a wonderful series that children seem to love.  There are many books in the series.  Your daughter should start with, Henry and Mudge - The First Book.  This book introduces the characters Henry and Mudge.  After reading this book, even though they are numbered, the books can be read in any order.  The chapters are very short, not too many words on a page, and the print is good size.  Cynthia Rylant has written two other series, Mr. Putter, and Poppleton.  These are not chapter books but a series of three short stories per book and they are very funny. 

 Mary Pope Osborne:

Second graders love Mary Pope Osborne’s, Magic Tree House series.  Chapters are short, and the print is good size.  Covers and titles are inviting and children can learn a little history as they read many books in the series.  Children should start with Dinosaurs before Dark.  This book introduces Jack and Annie, the main characters.  After that, the books can be read in any order.  Some children will only read the books in order while others prefer to look at the many titles and choose their next book.

 Children also love the Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.  Most of them are not divided into chapters, but they are not too long, have good size print, and stories that young readers seem to like.  Nate is a boy detective who solves mysteries in his neighborhood.  The reader gets to know Nate and his friends.

 Other chapter book series that second grade students like are:

 Cam Jansen, series by David Adler SET OF 9 CAM JANSEN PAPERBACKS.

A-Z Mysteries, by Ron Roy The Talking T. Rex (A to Z Mysteries)

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey The First Captain Underpants Collection (Books 1-4)

Junie B. Jones, by Barbara Park Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever! (Books 1-4)

The Bailey School Kids, by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones Bailey School Kids: Volume 1

Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown The Flat Stanley Collection Box Set

 There are many others but these seem to be favorites depending on the interests of the child.  Other tips for taking the fear out of chapter books: 

  • Start reading a chapter book with your child or even read the first chapter aloud to your child.  Getting them interested in the story sometimes helps them tackle the book on their own.
  • Comprehension is critical.  Talking about the story with your child will help her to follow the story and want to continue to read to find out what will happen next.
  •  A technique that has worked with many students is the following.  Get a very large paper or oak tag.  Write the name of the book at the top.  Write characters and setting under the title and leave a space to fill in this information as you go along.  Underneath characters write Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc., for as many chapters as there are in the book.  Leave enough room for a post it to fit underneath each chapter.  As you start reading the book together, begin to fill in your chart with characters and setting.  Put a star by the most important characters when you find out who they are.  After finishing each chapter write very brief notes about what happened in that chapter.  Write no more then you can fit on a post it.  You can use either 3x3 or 5x3 post its.  Each time you return to read more of the chapter book, read your post it notes from the beginning.  It only takes a few minutes and it will remind your daughter what has happened in the story making it easier for her move forward within the story.
  •   You should also talk to your daughter’s teacher.  Your daughter probably thinks that she is the only one that is having this problem.  I can assure you that she is not.  Her teacher might take a group having the same issues and teach them how to read a chapter book.  The method above is one way, but there are others and it might just get her on the right track and make her feel as though she is not alone.