“What Are Chapter Books?” by Joan Y. Edwards
Linda Andersen asked me to write a blog about Chapter Books. Technically, any book with chapters is a chapter book. However, chapter books defines the books that help take a reader in skills, vocabulary, from simple to complex. Chapter Books help each reader gain confidence in his abilities to read and find books that interest him from Easy Readers to Middle Grade Novels.
I wrote about what I know, what research told me, and put it all here. I hope it helps you get a clear idea of what Chapter Books are. Perhaps it might entice you to try your hand at creating one for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or neighbors down the street.
Chapter Books vary with the number of pages and complexity of the words, sentences, and paragraphs. They are also divided into short chapters (from 7-12 pages or longer. Ages may overlap. Most contain a table of contents to make students feel like they are reading books like adults.
Some people call the Early Chapter Books as Easy Readers. This makes for confusion on my part. However, I think I’ve figured out a way to sort them by the number of syllables of the words and the number of lines on a page.
To understand a little more about the varying kinds of early and regular chapter books, click on the Amazon listing:
- Check out the table of contents
- Check out the first pages
You can probably tell by looking at these whether it is an Early Chapter Book (easier to read) or a Regular Chapter book (a little bit harder to read).
Both may or may not have a table of contents, but I believe they should have one.
Early Chapter Books use 1-3 syllable words, occasionally a 4 syllable word.
Regular Chapter Books use 1-5 syllable words
Early Chapter Books
- 6-9 years old (Grades 1-4) (Grade 1 & Up)
- page numbers vary from 30 pages to 112 pages or more
- chapters tells story through words
- 2-4 sentences per paragraph
- 3 syllable words (sometimes 4 syllable words)
- a lot of action
- black and white illustrations every few pages
- table of contents
- each chapter is one episode that stands by itself or a cliffhanger for an event that ends in a later chapter
- ten or less chapters
Barbara Park Junie B. Jones http://www.amazon.com/Junie-Joness-First-Boxed-Books/dp/0375813616/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322590086&sr=1-4#reader_0375813616, table of contents, 8-10 chapters, each chapter an episode in itself, but continues on with the story to the end, 3 and 4 syllable words.
Jack Prelutsky (Harper Collins I Can Read Book 3) My Parents Think I’m Sleeping) http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Think-Sleeping-Read-Book/dp/0060537221/. table of contents, 4 chapters, 4 episodes, 48 pages, written in rhyme, 4 syllable words
J. C. Greenburg. Andrew Lost http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Andrew-Lost-1/dp/0375812776/ Ages 6 and up; 96 pages, table of contents, 10 chapters, 3 syllable (hyphenated words) ultra-digital,
Lewis Carroll (adapted by Mallory Loehr) (Random House Chapter Books, Stepping Stone Books). Alice in Wonderland http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alice-in-wonderland-lewis-carroll/1100190508?ean=9780375866418&itm=4&usri=stepping+stones+series; 112 pages, 3 syllables, smaller print, wider margins, more words on one page, 3-4 sentences in a paragraph
Nick Eliopulos (Random House Chapter Books, Stepping Stone Books). Gulliver’s Travels
http://www.amazon.com/Gullivers-Travels-Stepping-Stone-Book/dp/0375865691 112 pages, 3 syllable words, no table of contents
Patricia Reilly Giff (Dell). The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room (The Polk Street School Series) http://www.amazon.com/Beast-Rooneys-Room-Street-School/dp/0440404851/ 80 pages, no table of contents, 22 lines on a page, black and white illustrations, 3 syllable words, no table of contents
Ron Roy A to Z Mysteries http://www.amazon.com/Absent-Author-Z-Mysteries/dp/0679881689
Chapter Books (Regular) Intermediate Readers
- For Ages 7-10 (Grades 2-5)
- Tells story through words, not pictures
- Many illustrations throughout the book (may be in black and white or in color)
- 45-60-96 pages (5,000 to 25,000 words)
- table of contents
- more complex stories than Early Chapter Books
- 3, 4, & 5 syllable words are allowed
- A lot of action
- sentences longer and more complex structure
- paragraphs still short (2-4 sentences is average)
- chapters end in cliffhangers to keep the reader turning the pages
- short chapters offer children a chance to stop reading and pick up with a different episode when they come back
- ten or less chapters, I’d say go with 10 if you’re writing a Chapter Book.
Suzy Kline (Puffin) Herbie Jones Series, 96 pages, Grade 2 and Up http://www.amazon.com/Herbie-Jones-Suzy-Kline/dp/0698119398/ 7-10 page episodes by chapters, 4 & 5 syllable words
Beverly Cleary (Avon Camelot Books) Ramona Series, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 http://www.amazon.com/Ramona-Quimby-Avon-Camelot-Books/dp/0380709562, 11-20 pages in a chapter; episode for each chapter, 4-5 syllable words
Joanna Cole (Scholastic) The Magic School Bus Chapter Book Series The Truth about Bats http://www.amazon.com/Truth-about-Magic-School-Chapter/dp/0439107989/, 80 pages, 4-5 syllable words
For steps on how to Write a Chapter Book, read the following Wiki How.com article: http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Chapter-Book
More titles that may be Chapter books or Easy Readers to help you test your knowledge or help you get a better grip on it.
I suggest that you check out about 25-100 of the Early Chapter and Regular Chapter Books. Look and see how the book you’re reading compares with the ones on my list. You’ll learn to distinguish the information necessary to write one yourself.
Random House has a series for Chapter Books called Stepping Stone Books. Harper Collins has I Can Read Chapter Books are for Grade 3 & Up. (Not to be confused with I Can Read books in the Easy Reader area: I Can Read, I Can Read 2, and I Can Read 3: 63 pages, Grade 1 and Up, Table of Contents.)
Can you tell why these are not on my Early Chapter Book or Regular Chapter Book list?
Arnold Lobel (Harper Collins I Can Read Book) Frog and Toad Are Friends I Can Read Book 2 http://www.amazon.com/Frog-Toad-Friends-Read-Book/dp/0064440206/ 64 pages, Ages 4 and Up, K and Up, table of contents, Five chapters, 9-10 lines each page, larger font, 1-2 syllable words
Elsa Holmelund Minarik (Harper Collins I Can Read Book) Little Bear http://www.amazon.com/Little-Bear-Can-Read-Book/dp/0064440044/ 63 pages, table of contents, 4 chapters, 5 lines or so each page. Easy Reader, 1-2 syllable words, Age 6 and up (Grade 1 and up)
Answer: 1 & 2 syllable words only; few lines per page; few chapters
Linda Andersen, I hope this helps you and other readers decide what a chapter book is and gives you some idea of what to put in it, and how to organize it for a manuscript. I know my criteria might not match up with everyone else’s. However, it makes sense to me. I look forward to hearing what you think.
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Enjoy being you.
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards