Best Pictured Chapter Books

With my dark hair pulled back into the obligatory librarian bun and my black, thick framed glasses set squarely on my overly stern, don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-reading-face, I have come to embody “The Book Snob.” I did not set out to become a book snob; I simply enjoyed reading. But the more I read, the more rules for reading I acquired. Being the dutiful first-born that I am, I knew that rules must not be ignored. Rules must be coddled and nurtured into mature regiments. Rules like:

  1. You must read on paper.
  2. The story is always better in hardback.
  3. Always read the checked out books before the books you own.
  4. Read stories you enjoy, unapologetically.
  5. Finish one book before starting another.
  6. Never quit in the middle of a book.
  7. Keep accountant level records of the books you read.
  8. Always have a book with you.
  9. If you like the book, never watch the movie.
  10. If it has pictures, it is not *real* reading.

Then I had children…now I have to read on a Kindle so that I can read in the dark while participating in the ten-hour long “tuck in” process; the story is still always better in hardback; all of my allotted library check outs are for the kids’ books; I am so exhausted I have the mental space to read about one “serious” book a year; my books are always getting lost under a couch or covered in mud so I never get to finish them; if a book has to do with children getting hurt, killed, or taken…I absolutely will be quitting in the middle of that book; my book recording now consists of clicking “read” on Goodreads; I do always have books with me; it is a board book collection to make any toddler drool; and I have to watch the movie because that is the only way I find out how a story ended.

But #10, number 10 has been the most stubbornly held rule of them all, until my second born. She did not feel compelled by my carefully thought out and flawless plan for transitioning children from reading picture books to beginning readers to chapter books. Chapter books without pictures I thought went without saying. It did not. Turns out this brilliant child has a mind and way all her own, even in regard to how she will read. She progressed beautifully through picture books and beginning readers, but at chapter books we hit a proverbial wall. I spent longer than I care to publicly admit trying to coax, convince, and eventually force her to read the chapter books I thought should come next. They did not. I saw what I feared most, a child of mine refusing to read.

Then she discovered Thea Stilton. She began to devour the books one by one in rapid succession. She was reading for fun, finally, but…was she? I found myself being uncomfortably confronted with my book snobbery and having to re-evaluate the meaning of *real* books. My daughter has given me an appreciation and even excitement for, what I call, pictured chapter books. Pictured chapter books are part comic book, part traditional chapter book. These are chapter books that, generally, have illustrations on every page. They are excellent for your reluctant reader. Here are some of our favorite series or authors:

  • Geronimo Stilton (by Geronimo Stilton)- Mouse adventurer extraordinaire, Geronimo regularly finds himself ensnared in stories beyond his expectation.
  • Thea Stilton  (by Thea Stilton)- Geronimo’s sister, Thea and her group of friends move from adventure to adventure with excitement and drama.
  • Big Nate (by Lincoln Peirce) – Follow the mischievous and funny Nate through his various school escapades and listen while your children laugh out loud.
  • How To Train Your Dragon (by Cressida Cowell)- The books provide a very loose basis for the ever popular movie, “How To Train Your Dragon.” The movie and the books are quite different so don’t worry that they will already know the story. This can be one of their first experiences with the whole the-book-is-always-better truth.
  • The Odd Squad (by Michael Fry)- No relation to the PBS show, these books follow Nick Ramsey and his friends Molly and Karl through their days filled with school, drama, and antics that will keep your reader reading more and more.
  • The Treehouse Books (by Andy Griffiths)- Beginning with The 13-Story Treehouse, the books follow Andy and Terry’s lives in their ever-expanding treehouse.

For more traditional comic book style, check out books by Raina Telgemeier, best known for Smile and Sisters.

From a recovering “Book Snob,” may you learn to break your own rules! You may be surprised who benefits.



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