Taking the Plunge into Chapter Books with Struggling Readers

I’ve never had a neuro-typical reader, so I’m not sure how this works for other parents. It seems effortless! I see you in Barnes & Noble with your 5-year-old in the same section I am in with my 10-year-old ….


For me, it’s not easy.

Both of my kids have dyslexia to a degree (one mild, one severe) so we have not really followed the path of “typical.”

I once asked my Facebook friends for suggestions for beginning chapter books, and I had both teachers and parents mention books like Magic Treehouse, A to Z Mysteries and Junie B. Jones

After trying these books with my non-typical readers, I was left with this expression …


I want to say up front that I have NOTHING against these books! So please don’t write me about how much you love them because we actually love to read all of them aloud as a family or via audiobook.  And I know that typical to excelled readers need age-appropriate options too.

However, for struggling readers trying to make the jump into independent chapter books – they can be HARD and EXHAUSTING. It’s just different. To see what I mean, watch this video of my daughter (2nd grade at the time, mild dyslexia) trying to read both a Fancy Nancy level 1 book and then comparing that to a Billie B Brown book. (Note this video was from when I was way into Usborne, but I’ve found other books that work since then too, including several Scholastic books):

My oldest is now in 5th grade, so I’ve had a few years of practice in finding the PERFECT beginner chapter books for struggling readers. Ideally, I’ve found we need:

  •  less than 50 words per page
  • large and clean font
  • between 2-4 chapters total (to build confidence)
  •  shorter sentences AND
  • words based mostly on phonics rather than whole-language.

Check out my Pinterest board for the ones that have worked for our family: Pinterest.com/DeelexiaMom.

Also, I’d love to hear the ones that worked for you as well! Comment below.


One thought on “Taking the Plunge into Chapter Books with Struggling Readers

  1. Sometimes, hearing another mom of a Dyslexic child speak the same thoughts I have thought over and over in my mind – scream them, reall- is like discovering fresh water in the midst of a cesspool. Unfortunately, the emotional part of me also reacts, so, I just cried reading this post. I will definitely be following your blog. Thank you -from one like minded momma to another


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