What are Chapter Books?

Chapter books are so misunderstood.

When I use the phrase “chapter books,” teachers, parents and writers nod in understanding. But as the conversation blooms, I find we’re usually we’re talking about different things. Sometimes they are referring to middle grade novels, sometimes easy readers.

Since this blog started, we’ve had two in-depth posts on the topic. Check The Great Middle Grade Chapter Book Confusion, as well as esteemed author Claudia Mills’ guest blog on The Differences between Early Readers & Chapter books.

Basically, chapter books are a big step past picture books, with more text and less pictures. They are longer and more complex than easy readers, usually with more plot, personality, wit and heft.  And yet, they are not that big leap into full-on middle grade novels. That means, for the most part:

* There are some illustrations–but not so many as a picture book.

* There is a story with a beginning, middle and end.

* The type is bigger than in a middle grade novel.

* The line spacing is wider than in a middle grade novel.

* They are often a recurring series centered on a memorable character.

Chapter books enter a child’s life at that tender moment when he or she is ready to embark on a more challenging reading adventure… but not so challenging that it’s scary.

There are some amazing, imaginative chapter books with characters that a kid can really grab onto. This important little sub-genre of kid’s literature is so vital, I just don’t know why we don’t give it more love.  So that’s what this little blog is all about.