From Picture Book to Chapter Book.

Early Reader 6-8 Blog Image

My six year old boy isn’t a reluctant reader as such but if I ask him to read a book that he thinks he can’t manage he’s easily put off. Whilst I will only suggest books which I think he can cope with there’s often other ideas going on in that head of his. Without a doubt, foremost he still adores many picture books but he’s now becoming interested in longer stories despite it being obvious he still lacks the confidence to tackle them head on.

I’ve therefore been looking for books which bridge the gap between picture books and longer chapter books; ones which make the transition less obvious. The general rule of thumb is to pick books which have early reader across the top of the front cover. Early reader books are smaller than picture books and although the font size varies between books that too is generally reduced. On the whole they’re also split into short chapters but predominantly still focus on less text and more illustrations. Horrid Henrys & Early Readers 20 Children’s Books Collection Box Set Illustrated by Francesca Simon is an obvious choice within this category. However for some reason despite his school book bag being packed full of early reader books my son steers well clear of these at home. I think perhaps he associates these types of books with school. So I’ve spent some time searching for chapter books which contain the same features as early reader books but maybe look a little less educational! It hasn’t been easy. There are several within this category of which he loves the story and is happy for me to read to him but if any suggestion is made for him to read them to me he quickly loses interest. I’ve therefore tried to follow his lead on this. It’s involved offering a large variety of books and much trial and error. However the following six books are all ones which he often picks up and reads by himself without any prompting.

Stink, The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald (author) & Peter H. Reynolds (illustrator). Published:  Walker Books Ltd, 2006.

This has been around for a while and is the first in a spin off series from the author’s Judy Moody series as Stink is Judy’s little brother James. In this book we follow Stink through from his experience of shrinking to dealing with an escaping class newt and being the recipient of an un-birthday party. An amusing story with a light-hearted tone encouraging children to be happy with who they are. The large text and frequent illustrations made this book a popular choice.

CLICK TO BUY Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid

Wigglesbottom Primary, The Magic Hamster by Pamela Butchart (author) & Becka Moor (illustrator). Published: Nosy Crow Ltd, 2016.

I knew this title would get my youngest’s attention. The mix of magic, hamsters and friendship was everything he loves all rolled into one. He was happy to take this one away and read it on his own instead of watching TV so it gets full marks from me. This is just one out of a growing series of books set in Wigglesbottom Primary and it’s a lovely example of the dual colour palette and shiny pages I’m seeing more and more of for this age range. Somehow this design seems to enhance the contemporary feel of the book for me. This particular book is split into three separate stories, the first being about the magic hamster.

CLICK TO BUY Wigglesbottom Primary: The Magic Hamster

Action Dogs, Ocean of Peril by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore (authors) & Martin Chatterton (illustrator). Published: Usborne Publishing Ltd, 2012.

My youngest was very keen to read this one to me and despite some words being beyond his vocabulary level he has happily persisted. Action Dogs is a graphic novel with comic style speech bubbles, black and white illustrations, moody cats and clumsy heroes with high tech gadgets and disastrous plans. The font is smaller than that of other books but it has been split into twenty-five manageable sections. A book packed with drama and mishaps galore.

CLICK TO BUY Action Dogs: Ocean of Peril (Book 1)

The Chicken Squad, The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin (author) & Kevin Cornell (illustrator). Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint ed. Edition, 2015.

These cute baby chickens are full of character and brave beyond their size. Split between an introduction, nine chapters and an epilogue, this book works well as a gentle introduction for young readers to a traditional book layout but with large text. The black and white illustrations express a range of emotions as the chickens go in search of the scary thing that has got Tail and squirrel all worked up.

CLICK TO BUY The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure

Squishy McFluff, The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones (author) & Ella Okstad (illustrator). Published: Faber & Faber Ltd 2014.

The large text and a dual pastel palate used to highlight expressive black and white sketches makes this book a pleasure to look at. The story is split into three short rhyming chapters about a little girl Ava and her invisible kitten who likes to get into mischief. Stories written in rhyme are often very appealing to new readers as the predictability of rhyme can help them interpret the text more easily. Squishy’s funny melodic rhyming adventures are a prime example of this. Pip Jones has had five more published since this one as part of the series.

CLICK TO BUY Squishy McFluff: The Invisible Cat!

Claude, Going for Gold by Alex T. Smith (author / illustrator). Published: Hodder Children’s Books 2016.

Going for Gold is the latest in a superb series. Although the Claude stories aren’t split into chapters they are a must for early readers. Our entire family are huge fans of the comical French dog Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock. It’s extremely amusing on many levels and complimented by the eccentric illustrations splashed with red. Claude is cast as a lovable accidental hero who is always up for trying new things. Accompanied by his friend Sir Bobblysock, who doesn’t like getting dirty and prefers to do as little as he possibly can, they regularly slip out of the house in search of adventure whilst their owners are at work.

CLICK TO BUY Claude Going for Gold!

I’ll be posting some more short reviews here and on my Facebook page over the summer holidays of picture books as well as easy reader books for 6-8 year olds so hopefully everyone can find at least one to keep each little one keen to read this summer.

Source: Library or private collection.

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Get Kids Reading with 9 Graphic Novels

Graphic Novels Horizontal

Never underestimate the impact of a graphic novel. For a book design of limited text and simplified illustrations each poignant panel has the uncanny knack of expressing emotion, humour, visual thinking and sound effects with a single powerful punch. KERPOW!

Both my boys love graphic novels and unlike other books which they relegate to the bedtime reading zone, it’s not unusual for me to find them reading them on the stairs, under the stairs and even sitting in cardboard boxes. I once happened upon a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to read one on the trampoline!

Graphic novels seem to bring out hidden acting skills in them! They are one of the few books that they love to read out loud, repeat the funny parts (again…..and again!) and invent voices for the different characters. Somehow they become more involved with graphic novels so rather than it being a solitary reading affair it becomes an active interaction between both boys. So if you haven’t tried one before, it might just be the switch that you’re looking for to spark the difference between a reluctant reader and a relentless reader.

Once again they have been rated out of 10 by my two boys currently aged 8 and 6. The first rating from my eldest.

Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos lll (author) & James Proimos Jr (Illustrator); Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 2015. RATING: 10/10 – 6/10.

A quick read but none-the-less enjoyable and the perfect introduction to graphic novels. Sometimes the satisfaction of completing a quick read is exactly what children need to fuel their interest towards the next book. When Brownie and Apollo’s hunger sets in and their humans haven’t returned to feed them it can only mean one thing, the world has ended! So we follow the two brave dogs as they venture out into the big world beyond the front door in search of their dinner.

CLICK TO BUY Apocalypse Bow Wow

Tom Gates, A Tiny Bit Lucky by Liz Pichon (author & illustrator); Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books Ed. 2015. RATING: 10/10 – 3/10.

Of course we could have picked from a number a Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates books but this was voted one of our favourites. The amusing illustrations compliment the dry humour of Tom Gates and his diary-like candid comments of the things you might be thinking but wouldn’t want to say out loud!

CLICK TO BUY A Tiny Bit Lucky (Tom Gates)

Stormbreaker, the graphic novel. Original story by Anthony Horowitz (author) & adapted by Antony Johnston. Kanako & Yuzuro Yuzuru (illustrators); Publisher: Walker 2012. RATING: 8/10 – recommend for age 8+ so not read with youngest.

This one was recommended by our librarian as my eldest has previously read and loved some of the other Anthony Horowitz novels. The graphic version of Stormbreaker instantly took precedence over the full length novel. Graphic novels can act as a simplified format for younger children to absorb a lot of information at one time. The story of Alex Rider, school boy turned super spy being recruited for life and death missions successfully plays on its Bond like appeal for children.

CLICK TO BUY Stormbreaker: The Graphic Novel (Alex Rider) by Horowitz, Anthony, Johnston, Antony (August 2, 2012) Paperback

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (author) & Terry Denton (illustrator);  Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books 2015. RATING: 9/10 – 5/10.

The story writing duo Terry and Andy live in the most epic treehouse you could ever imagine. They have a secret underground laboratory, a bowling alley, a swimming pool and so much more, including a very handy vegetable vapouriser for any stray sprouts they may come across. We follow the two friends through their crazy, hilarious adventures to save their treehouse from destruction. Split into chapters with black and white illustrations throughout.

CLICK TO BUY The 13-Storey Treehouse (The Treehouse Books)

Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown (author/illustrator); Publisher: Scholastic Children’s Books, Scholastic Ltd 2014. RATING: 9/10 – 6/10.

We’re introduced to the character Roan Novachez who is endeavouring to learn how to be a powerful Jedi but it turns out it’s the mishaps he encounters which endear him to us. Between seeing him arrive at the Academy embarrassingly early, laughing at his many disastrous attempts to conquer the flight simulator without destroying it, and watching him try to earn some kudos mixing with Cyrus and Cronah on the dark side only to end up almost ruining his already slim chances of love with Gaiana, Roan is a character any child can relate to.


The Phoenix Presents Evil Emperor Penguin by Laura Ellen Anderson (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books 2015. RATING: 10/10 – 10/10.

My youngest chose this himself at the school book fair before half term and adores it. So much so, although it’s currently beyond his own reading capabilities he made sure he gave it his best try! The full colour illustrations and witty side comments make it a fun, entertaining read with a wide age appeal so I often find it living in either of the boys rooms. The sarcastic Evil Emperor Penguin has set his sights on taking over the world but the good intentions of his cute and cuddly accomplices Eugene and the multi-tasking knitting squid, Number 8, prove more of a hindrance than a help.

CLICK TO BUY Evil Emperor Penguin: Book 1 (The Phoenix Presents)

Spider Moon by Kate Brown (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books (Division of Random House Children’s Publishers UK) Ed. 2010. RATING: 6/10 – recommend for age 8+ so not read with my youngest.

Having a girl as the central character makes a refreshing change for a graphic novel and I enjoyed reading the added extras at the back about how the illustrations were put together. A large, hardback book with just the right mix of destiny, power, heroism and impending disaster to keep us guessing until the end.

CLICK TO BUY The Spider Moon: Book 1 (DFC Library)

Good Dog, Bad Dog by Dave Shelton (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books (Division of Random House Children’s Publishers UK) Ed. 2013. RATING: 9/10 – recommend for age 8+ so not read with my youngest.

A little more serious than some of the other graphic novels mentioned but it still maintains that familiar tongue in cheek approach we love about our comic heroes. The imaginative, full colour illustrations and engaging story line make this book especially attractive to any already avid comic readers out there but beware, even with very good eyesight I found the font type a touch on the small size.

CLICK TO BUY DFC Library: Good Dog, Bad Dog

Super Animal Adventure Squad by James Turner (author/illustrator); Publisher: David Fickling Books (Division of Random House Children’s Publishers UK) Ed. 2013. RATING: 10/10 – 8/10.

Although overall a longer read than some of the other graphic novels mentioned, the light-hearted humour in this one makes it suitable for a mixed age range. It was addictive. We couldn’t stop reading until we found out how the Animal Adventure Squad prevented the teatime of doom. It was one of those stories that I just couldn’t help myself end each page with that nationally accepted exclamation of impending doom! You know the one! I just don’t know how to translate it into text! Somehow “D – d – derrr…” doesn’t quite convey the same dramatic effect I’m looking for!

CLICK TO BUY DFC Library: Super Animal Adventure Squad

Reading a graphic novel is a bubble talking, often messy super sleuth experience unlike any standard novel. So be prepared to make strange noises and sarcastic comments when delving into the dastardly world of superheroes!

Source: Personal or library copies.


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