Choosing the perfect chapter book

Covers of chapter books for younger readers

As a parent, choosing chapter books can seem foreign when it comes to our beginning readers. In this blog post, I want to help open your eyes to the wonderful world of chapter books and give you a simple system to choosing the perfect book for your child.

The importance of chapter books

Chapter books give children stories that are filled with elements such as character development, plot, problem, solution and more. Because of the length of chapter books, they help build a child’s reading stamina. Children also develop new vocabulary from reading more challenging books.

The most difficult part for children reading chapter books is either the fluency (pace and ease of their reading) or the comprehension (ability to recall the details and events in the story.) This is one reason why finding the perfect book is so important for your children. If you choose a book that’s too hard for their reading level, they may not enjoy reading because they have to work so hard to read the words on the page. This can be detrimental to the love of reading they’ve come to understand. Also, a book that’s too difficult could have situations in the storyline and language that’s too mature for your child.

As my daughter is reading more and more and I am having a hard time “previewing” her chapter books, I am reading reviews on them on either Shelfari or Good Reads to check the appropriateness of the content.

Read-to books

This is the first set of chapter books your child should be introduced to. These are chapter books that you read to your child. Your child gets to enjoy the story and talk about what’s happening (story elements: problem, solution, sequence of events, etc.) The reading level doesn’t matter since you are reading these books, but the content does. For example, I wouldn’t read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my preschooler. It would be difficult for her to follow and stay engaged. Some good ideas are:

Early readers

This is the first set of chapter books your child will be able to read and comprehend. The shelves at local stores like Target and Walmart are stocked with this genre of Early and sometimes called Easy Readers.

Beginning chapter books for independent readers

Now your child is reading fluently, can read for longer periods of time, and is comprehending the stories they are reading. They are ready to read chapter books on their own. Remember to consider the length and content of the books they choose. You wouldn’t want Harry Potter to be a first pick! Here are some titles to start with:

I hope this helps you in choosing the perfect books for your children. Don’t forget to use the resources out there in helping you find new titles. Pinterest is great for finding a group of titles like “Chapter Books with Mystery.” Happy Reading!

– Maria Dismondy, mother of three, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan.

Visit www.mariadismondy.com/resources and join our Private Facebook Group where parents and educators are collaborating to empower children with skills and strengthen their character and esteem.

6 Responses to “Choosing the perfect chapter book”


  1. 1 SciFi and Scary October 20, 2015 at 9:51 am

    It feels almost impossible to figure out what’s appropriate for Miss L, sometimes. She’s 6 years old, but tested at a 3rd-4th grade bridge reading level (in Kinder). She can easily read, say, and figure out from context larger words, so I feel like she should be reading much higher level stuff than what’s she’s currently reading… but she’s 6. Her idea of a fun book is “Rabbids Invade: Rabbids at the Museum” *facepalm* So, I let her pick and choose what she wants, but I stretch her boundaries with books that I pick that we read a chapter of at night. So she gets some of her choice, some of mommy’s choice.

    Is this a good way to do it? Right now *her* choice is Junie B., First Grader at Last, and *my* choice for her is The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones (She cackles when we read it and insists on reading the bolded words.)

    • 2 Anonymous October 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Hello! I think you are on the right track, the books you read to her can have more difficult vocabulary and story structure because you are there to help her answer questions. It’s important for young readers to read their book selections too (like Junie B. Jones) to keep them interested in reading! If this doesn’t answer your questions, I bet parent-teacher conferences are around the corner and your child’s teacher will have a good understanding of her current reading level!!!!

      • 3 Anonymous October 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

        Ps That comment was by me, Maria Dismondy!

      • 4 Anonymous October 20, 2015 at 11:20 am

        Ps My name is not showing up, it’s Maria Dismondy

      • 5 SciFi and Scary October 20, 2015 at 11:26 am

        Yeah, parent-teacher conferences are in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately I have absolutely zero faith in her teacher. Again, she tested at 3rd/4th grade bridge reading level last year (3rd percentile in the country), but this year her teacher says her reading skills are completely average, but she’s really good at math! (Miss L can’t reliably add 2+3 together without fingers or pencil and paper to dot it out.) So… *sigh* Ya know?

  2. 6 Anonymous October 20, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Thank you for your response, Maria! 🙂 Deanna


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