These books are geared for kids who are getting their feet under them in reading on their own. Early readers are leveled, where level one is made up of very simple sentences and level four is basically a very short chapter book. They are almost always the same size, a tad larger than a normal novel, but very thin. Many titles are nonfiction or based on popular movies, such as Star Wars and Cars.
Graphic novels are a great choice for "reluctant readers" who are intimidated by lots of words on a page. Graphic novels tell a story in comic book style. Among the graphic novel series that kids love these days are Babymouse (kids often consider it a series for girls), Lunch Lady (see below), Squish and Bone (more advanced).
- Geronimo (and Thea) Stilton books combine text, cartoon-like drawings and words in playful type.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are written to look like a diary and they mix in stick-figure drawings along with the text. There are now lots of spin-offs that have text written in a similar manner.
- Books in the Captain Underpants series are a mix of graphic novel and fiction writing and are fast-paced and silly.
Popular Chapter Book Series
- Judy Moody & Stink: Judy is a fun-loving and energetic third-grader. She and her brother, Stink, have all sorts of adventures.
- Junie B. Jones: She has a tendency to get into sticky situations in both kindergarten and first grade.
- Magic Tree House: Jack and Annie travel through time on their adventures, landing in a different time period in each story.
- Goosebumps: Scary stories, popular with 9- to 11-year-olds.
- American Girl: Girls who lived in various times throughout American history share their stories.
When helping a child pick a book, some key tips include the following:
- Browse the selection before the children start picking books so you know what is available.
- Put out a variety of titles from each book type, displaying the covers. The aim is to give the kids choices, but not to overwhelm them.
- If a child isn't finding anything she wants to read, ask what kind of topics she likes (sports, animals, fairies, science, fantasy, etc.) and use that as your guide.
- Use the book cover as your guide about subject matter.
- Read the description on the back of the book.
- Flip through the book to gauge text size and line spacing.
- Listen to what the kids get excited about so you'll know what's popular.
- Write down titles they're searching for and contact the TRC office to see if those books can be obtained.
If a child gets excited about a book, let him have it, no matter the difficulty level. Even if it's at a more advanced level than you assume they can currently read, they'll get to it eventually. Kids might also feel a special attachment to a book or series they read at a younger stage in their lives.
If you're excited about the book options, the kids will follow your lead. Remember that if a child asks for a specific book, write down the book title and the child's name and contact the TRC office to see if we have it or can get it. For more tips on helping kids pick books check out this blog post from last year.
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