A Parent's Guide to the World of Chapter Books for Kids

Here's how to navigate the sometimes overwhelming array of options with your growing reader.

Jul 02, 2019



© Jack Hollingsworth/Getty

Jul 02, 2019

As your child transitions from a beginning reader who needs to sound out each word to a more advanced reader who is starting to decode faster and follow longer, more complicated stories, kids’ chapter books become the reading material of choice. But these books come in many different styles with various kinds of content — and it can get overwhelming knowing which ones are just right for your young reader. Use these four tips to match your child with the perfect book!

1. What to Expect From Kids' Chapter Books
Early readers focus on very short books that are light on text and heavy on pictures and illustrations. As they become more confident, children can transition to kids’ chapter books — stories that are long enough to be divided into chapters, but not as extensive or complicated as a novel. Chapter books still feature illustrations, but fewer than early readers’ picture books. Generally speaking, children become ready to transition to kids’ chapter books at around age 7 or 8.

2. Captivate Newly Independent Readers
Some children are naturally enthusiastic about diving into chapter books — especially if they took an active role in the read-alouds you shared, holding the book, flipping the pages, and memorizing parts of the story. These readers need very little encouragement or supervision, and you can usually just point them toward the books! For fans of action and mystery, we recommend books by Gordon Korman; for kids who prefer more familiar settings, like classrooms, try Sara Pennypacker's Clementine series. And for the kid who just loves to laugh? You can't go wrong with the wildly popular Captain Underpants

Best Chapter Books for Newly Independent Readers

3. Entice Reluctant Readers 

Even if you’ve been a passionate reader to your child throughout the early years, sometimes it takes a little extra time to pass on the joy of reading. If reading time is starting to feel like a chore, keep in mind that it's perfectly normal for children to struggle with reading once the books become longer and harder to follow. The Scholastic Branches line is actually designed to bridge the gap between leveled readers and traditional chapter books for growing readers, and will help your reluctant reader get comfortable with longer texts. Each book features easy-to-read text, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page to boost reading confidence and stamina. 

For more inspiration, check out this list of books for reluctant readers in 1st and 2nd grade

Bridge the Gap to Chapter Books With Branches

4. Share Incredible Classics

One of the great joys of kids’ chapter books is sharing the books you loved as a child with your newly independent reader. It’s impossible to forget the first time you read the Boxcar Children series or Matilda, and now you can reread those titles along with your child, discovering all over again what made you an avid reader. Don’t be afraid to keep reading books aloud with your child in addition to their "read alone" time — even at this age and beyond, that read-aloud time still helps to boost reading comprehension and build vocabulary! Check out the great classics below, or view our complete timeless chapter books list.

Classics Every Child Should Have

Reading Comprehension
Attention and Focus
Book Selection Tips
Age 9
Age 8
Age 7
Age 10
Reading Support
Reading Comprehension
Independent Reading
Reading for Pleasure