Beginning Chapter Books

When my son was in Kindergarten or First Grade, I decided to start reading a chapter book to him.  We had a lot of picture books around the house and I read to him multiple times a day, but I thought he might enjoy something like Magic Tree House or Mouse and the Motorcycle.  He was a beginning reader, at the time, and I knew that reading higher level books to children could be a benefit to their literacy development.  I was a second grade teacher at the time and had a large selection of chapter books for him to choose from.  I brought a stack of books home from school and let him choose one that he was interested in.  
We got about 3 chapters into the book, after a few days of reading, and it was clear that this was not enjoyable for my son.  Listening to a story with no pictures was just plain torture.  I remember talking to him about making mental images (movies in your mind) as you are listening to a story, but this was no help either.  When we hit chapter 5, we abandoned the book.  We tried a different chapter book, again with no success, and I decided it would be something we would have to pick up when he was a bit older.  
When my daughter was at the same stage, ready to listen to longer stories, Kate DiCamillo came out with the Mercy Watson series.   

These were the absolute perfect chapter books.  The story was longer and more developed, but there were pictures on almost every page.  Pictures are a good thing, when you are new at making mental images.  We breezed through the first book in the series and my daughter was begging for the next book.  These books were the perfect transition into larger chapter books.  
After we finished the Mercy Watson series, we moved onto Magic Tree House, but Mercy has always held a dear place in my heart.
I started reading these books to my kindergarten class this week. The giggles when Mercy takes off to go get warm toast with a great deal of butter on it, brings back wonderful memories of reading to my daughter when she was the same age,
Happy reading. 

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