Transition to Chapter Books

Half way through my second year of working with 2nd and 3rd graders, I think I’ve really started to master the art of transitioning from picture books to chapter books. For the most part, second grade is when students are ready to begin the transition. Some students do not want to make the transition because they are afraid of the length of a chapter book – they just don’t want to get out of their comfort zone. Others want the longest book they can possibly find, which tends to be something they are not going to find success in reading. Whether it’s giving them the little push into longer books that they’re leary of, or if it’s bringing them down several notches to a book that’s more realistic when their abilities are considered – I’ve found some books that the kids will embrace. Here’s my list of the go-to series chapter books.


Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant

Both of these series by Cunthia Rylant are incredibly popular with my second graders. Once they start reading a book in one of these series, they want to read them all. They have all of the characteristics of the best transitional books – colorful illustrations mixed in with the “chapter” formated text, larger font size, and adequate spacing between lines. Generally, if I have a second grader that has been DEVOURING picture books at an incredibly rapid pace, I try to move them into one of these series and they love it!


Bones Mysteries by David A. Adler

Young Cam Jansen by David A. Adler

Once again, two different series by the same author that really hits the mark right on. I go straight for these when I have a third grader who is a struggling reader that is dying to read chapter books like their friends. These books make a good stepping stone into longer series books such as Jigsaw Jones and A to Z Mysteries.

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

Several great classic stories in this series. Not *exactly* chapter books, since each book has five stories instead of one story broken into chapters, this is a great transition none the less. These are great books for children and parents to read together.

Iris and Walter by Elissa Haden Guest

Iris and Walter are the newest additions to my go-to transition collection. I purchased this series with the Cookin’ for Our Kids funds, and the kids have really enjoyed it so far!

I’m always looking for more books that fit into this category, since helping my students make this transition is something I do every day.

4 thoughts on “Transition to Chapter Books

  1. To add your “go to list”, as a self publishing company, Nick the Cat, LLC, our first picture book project is a series titled Nick the Wise Old Cat published in mid/late 2010. As an extended picture book both in page and text, the series is intended to facilitate children’s transition from picture book to chapter book. I offer this information to those on this blog that are interested in finding more picture books that are based upon a “transitional” template. I might add all five books have been awarded a Gold Mom’s Choice Award late in 2010. For more inforamtion, visit You may want to give us a look.


    Keith Ramundo
    Founder Nick the Cat, LLC

  2. Hi there!
    I came across your blog and I enjoyed reading your posts. I am a Graphic Design college student looking to do some research in reading comprehension. I was wondering if I could use your expertise in this matter. I am working with children ages 7-8 whom are transitioning from picture books to chapter books. I have a few questions if you are willing to help me out.
    Thanks for your time!

  3. Katie DiCamillo writes a series of beginner chapter books ( Mercy Watson) with great illustrations. The main character is a silly pig.

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