Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stepping Stones Chapter Books

I am always on the lookout for good transitional books; books that allow my kids to move beyond early chapter books like the Henry and Mudge series or the Level 2 and 3 readers. These early books often have larger print and color illustrations, and the text is usually arranged on the page in short lines, but I want my 6 year old to start moving into actual paragraphs, though still with larger print and lots of pictures.

I like the Stepping Stones series from Random House Children's Books, but haven't really considered them transitional since they are more true chapter books, with smaller print and black and white pictures. Just this weekend, though, we hit the jackpot at Half Price Books.

Stepping Stones has a few books which they call "Full Color Chapter Books." These are BRILLIANT. They're usually under 50 pages, the print is larger, but not huge, text appears in full paragraphs and the pictures are in full color and somewhat more frequent than true chapter books, about ever 3rd page or so.

I bought all they had (3 books) and went on a hunt for more online and found several more -- Monsters (not pictured), King Arthur's Courage, Unicorns, The Magic of Merlin, Mermaids, (all classified as fantasy) Gold Rush Winter (history), and Ice Wreck (true story). The books classified as 'humor" were fictional stories, the fantasy books range between fiction and a kind of fantasy non-fiction which traces mythical creatures through legend and history. History is historical fiction and True Stories relate the tales of actual people -- Ice Wreck is the story of Ernest Shackleton's disastrous voyage to the South Pole.

One of the books I bought was Dragons, and I particularly liked that it referenced a number of classical sources, including Beowulf, St. George and the Dragon, and the Norse myths. Remember Cultural Capital? Little things like this -- just a mention of Beowulf or Thor -- lay the groundwork for future learning.

You can check out the whole range of Stepping Stones books at the Random House Site. Unfortunately, they didn't provide a separate listing of just the full-color chapter books -- they're scattered among the other categories and you have to have good eyes to detect the tiny (on the web pictures) line that says "full color chapter book" versus "chapter book."

I was tickled to bits to find these and am keeping an eye peeled for further copies. I hate to pay full price for books like this because children can grow past them so quickly, so finding them used was a real bonus. They're really a wonderful bridge to the next level of reading.

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