And then I realized – my kids were readers and ready for their first chapter books. This was very intimidating for them. Honestly, while my 4 yr-old son will pick up and read any picture book to himself, he refuses to try chapter books. He’s perfectly capable, but it’s the equivalent for him of swimming in the deep end. He has been reading so very much on his own and to others that I don’t want to disturb his progress. But I noticed this morning that he has read most of the picture books in our house multiple times… he’s ready to move on. At his school library he chose a chapter book, so I’ll dive in again with him.
Here’s my approach, and it varies as the child needs:
- I showed them the book and how it is broken into small chapters, and still had pictures in it. My kids were used to me reading them both picture and chapter books, so they understood the structure, but I wanted to remind them before they immediately threw up walls and got overwhelmed. Our goal would be to get to reading a chapter in a sitting. If that was too much, we could just read a page or two.
- I read a page, they read a page (or paragraph).
- If they peter out part way through the book, we turn it into a bedtime story and I read the rest to them.
- I let them choose chapter books from the library or bookstore.
- We gave my daughter a Kindle. (Ok, my mother gave her one.) This was pure genius. One summer, we kept her up later than her brother and told her she could stay with the adults if she quietly looked at books. She saw all four adults (parents and grandparents) sitting in the living room reading either books or electronic readers. She picked up her Kindle and joined us. You can imagine our shock. In that first week, she read 2 chapter books on the Kindle. Now, she goes back and forth between the Kindle and paper books, happy as a clam to read either one.
The key is to find the gimmick or approach or book that excites them into making the leap. Once my daughter did, she was off and… well, reading!