My daughter has taken to independent reading like a champ, moving onto some beginner chapter books this summer on her own. I’ve been keeping a shelf in her room stocked with books at this level, ready for her when she was ready for them. These are books a bit shorter and easier to read than some of the chapter books we’ve been reading together or that she’s read with her class at school that I’ve written about. Two of these books have made her really happy over the last couple weeks, and the pride is evident on her face when she excitedly announces, “I’m already on chapter ten!”
The funny title of Julie Sternberg’s book caught my daughter’s eye, and since I had read this one myself, I knew the level would be just the right amount of challenge for her. Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie tells the story of Eleanor, a young girl whose beloved babysitter moves away, leaving her to experience the difficult process of saying goodbye to someone she loves. Told from Eleanor’s perspective in her own words, this story has a lot of heart. Her voice is realistic and believable, and her experience is one that everyone eventually comes to know personally. My daughter was really affected by this book, tapping into the emotional side of the story and expressing sincere compassion for the character when she talked about it afterward.
Though I haven’t read Kate Messner’s Marty McGuire in full, my daughter spent the last week with it frequently in her hands. I know of Messner from her previous picture book Over and Under the Snow, which blew me away last fall, so I was confident that this would be a quality book. My daughter summed up the plot for me– Marty, a third-grader, is cast as the Princess in the school play, not something that she expected. Improvisation is introduced as a concept, and Marty soon learns that she can do a little bit of it herself… switching out a live frog for the stuffed one during the performance! My daughter giggled quite a bit while reading this one, and she’s excited to learn that there is a second book out now– Marty McGuire Digs Worms! I know what we’ll be looking for at the library this week.
Intended for readers aged 7 or 8 and up, these are great examples of beginner chapter books with short chapters (4 – 8 pages) and fun story lines that keep children engaged. First chapter books can help build excitement for young readers as they see the number of pages they’ve read begin to get thicker and thicker! Nothing better than helping your child build a lifetime love of reading.