I have no problem finding picture books that engage many readers. Middle grade books? Check. But books to engage those readers that are ready for longer books, but they are just a little too young for them... whether because the content is a bit too long, or a bit too mature. It can be a challenge.
Have you seen the Scholastic series, Branches? I love the variety it offers, both in topics and styles of books. They are colorful, fun and engaging for students who are ready to move from picture books, but may need just a bit more support with chapters books.
Some benefits of this series:
- All of them are series! Which means kids can learn the characters and have predictable plot lines and settings, which is important to beginning chapter book readers.
- Many of them have bright, colorful, illustrations. By giving readers a strong visualization, it helps support the text and gives kids picture to hold in their head as they read. The illustrations give just enough context clues to provide readers with some background information.
- The series is an appropriate length. Many young readers are ready for longer books, but don't have the stamina to read longer chapter books. They end up abandoning many books. These books are long enough to provide an engaging plot line, but not so long that children can't sustain their reading.
- Branches uses different formats to keep readers interested. Many of them use the illustration/doodles along with text format that Jeff Kinney made so popular with his "Wimpy Kid" books. There are also books that include a comics/graphic novel format.
I recommend classrooms and libraries that have grade levels 1-4 should look into having this series. They are engaging, fun and appropriate. I hope Scholastic continues making this series of books!
Check some of these out!