expanding on chapter books

This post originally appeared on June 13, 2012.

Now that you know why you should read chapter books with your young kids, let’s talk about how to take the chapter book experience up a notch.

Expanding on the experience of chapter books

1.  Questions, questions, questions.  This is no different than with picture books.  Asking open-ended questions will engage your kids in the story.  It adds another level, makes them consider what is happening rather than just following along.  The questions can be as simple as;  “Hmm, I wonder why the main character would have chosen to open that door.  What do you think?”  The questions can also bring them into the story;  “How would you have reacted if the same thing happened to you?”

2.  Make predictions.  I have my middle school, teacher sister to thank for this one.  She started having the kids predict (using the word predict… love language that will help them later!!!) what would happen based on what had already happened in the story.  After a while Little M would stop me and tell me exactly how she thought this moment would affect the outcome.  The best part about predictions?  There is no right or wrong… it’s simply an educated guess.

3.  Add in a little pretend play.  While you are in the midst of a thrilling book, try adding dolls that resemble the characters to the block area.  Mention how toys they are already playing with remind you of portions of the story.

chapter books

4.  Incorporate activities.  As you read think about ways that you can make certain parts of the story into an art project.  Have your kids draw a scene as they visualize it.  Make a snack that is mentioned in the story or work together to create props that match something the characters use.  (The picture shows a wardrobe we made while reading The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.)

5.  Watch the movie.  Yes I said it, watch the movie.  Just wait until after you’ve finished the book. 😉  Talk about what parts are the same, what has been changed in the story?  Does the main character look the way you pictured him?  What did you like better, the book or the movie?  I rarely like the movie as much as the book, what a great lesson for kids to learn early on.

How do you expand on chapter books?


  1. This is all really interesting. I recently started with my 3.5 year old and have lost count of how many people have told me he is too young. He really enjoys the Horrid Henry Early Readers.

  2. My daughter began reading on her own at 4. She is 7 now and whips through chapter books like they are a big ice cream dessert! She won’t go anywhere without one packed along.

    1. My sister always carries at least one book in her purse and my niece sounds just like your daughter. It’s so fun to watch people who love reading that much.

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