At the SCBWI Fall Workshop last week, Author Darlene Bailey Beard spoke about what exactly is a chapter book. It seems many people, even some in the writing community, are confused. To steal Darlene's words, a chapter book is a "transitional" book or a bridge from a very early reading books (like the old Dick and Jane) to more complex books. Chapter books are not terribly long, usually around 7000 words, have short chapters, have illustrations to help clue in the reader to what the words are saying, have a larger print, have a lot of white space and the key is...they are non-threatening. Children should not look at a chapter book and feel anxious or think they could never finish one. I think chapter books are where children can learn to love reading, and to actually enjoy a story on their own.
At one class I had taken for writing chapter books, the instructor said writing chapter books is very liberating. After working with picture books that have such an attention to word count, I had to agree. When I started writing my chapter book (and the middle grade novel that I'm currently working on), it felt awesome. I could let the thoughts and words flow freely.
If you have an interest in Chapter Books or Middle Grade Novels, visit the children's section at your local library. Those books are fun to read, even if you are an old timer like me. You can also check out local author's work, like Darlene Bailey Beard's The Flimflam Man or of course, my new book, Mila Denton's Worst Week Ever! Happy Reading and Writing!