#Road2Reading Challenge: Navigating Chapter Books: What Readers Need to Know

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

Each week, Michele Knott and I post about new early readers and transitional chapter books.  This week, I am looking at what readers need to know to navigate chapter books. 

Lately, I have been contemplating reading levels and what do they mean. I am a big advocate for choice reading. However, many educators have not yet built up the confidence to match readers with books at a "just right level". Of course, "just right levels", can vary depending on a given day or the topic of the book. Some days a child may be able to focus longer and deal with more complex texts but on another day, may only be able to handle shorter less complex texts. And interest and prior knowledge can make all the difference in the world. If I know a lot about science fiction, then reading a science fiction novel may seem easier than if I was completely unfamiliar with the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre. 

For teachers supporting second and third graders as they develop into fluent and competent readers, it is important to consider what readers will encounter with the structure/plot, and character development. Will there be tricky parts and will readers know how to navigate those parts successfully? And are there any other elements that readers will need to understand to best comprehend what they are reading? 

What are some questions or elements to consider when conferencing with readers?

* How many problems does the main character(s) encounter? Will all be solved in the story? 
* Are there problems or issues that need to be inferred? 
* How does the character change from the beginning to the end of the book? How does the reader learn about the character's traits?
* What role does the minor or secondary characters play in the book?
* What parts might be tricky for readers such as vocabulary, figurative language or parts that are intentionally unclear at first?
* Why do the characters do what they do?
* How does the setting influence the story and what does the reader need to understand to understand what is happening? 

One way to begin with helping readers transition to more complex chapter books is by using a familiar set of stories such as fairy tales.  Many children have been exposed to a variations on traditional fairy tales through picture book read alouds. Given this prior knowledge of characters and plot, readers can be coached through tricky parts and develop important skills that they can transfer to other stories. 

Here are a few books/series to explore with readers.... 

Grimmtastic Girls: Red Riding Hood Gets Lost by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (Scholastic, 2014) 

Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale (Scholastic, 2015)

Little Red Riding Hood: An Interactive Fairy Tale Adventure by Eric Braun; Illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum (Capstone, 2015)

Look for these and other books at your local indie bookstore or public library.

Check out Michele's post and if you have a #Road2Reading post, please link up below.