Darlene Foster's Blog

The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by guest blogger Jennie

Posted on: February 19, 2019

I follow the blog of pre-school teacher Jennie Fitkzee at A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie is an amazing teacher who truly loves her job and shares her 30-year teaching experiences with her readers. In some of her posts, she talks about the importance of reading out loud and of reading chapter books to children who cannot yet read. Here is some of what she has to say.

Jennie and her students with a favourite chapter book

The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by Jennie

In order to read, and more importantly to want to read, it all starts with parents and family reading aloud to children, every day. The statistics on reading aloud and its link to academic success in all areas is profound. If reading is a pleasurable experience, then school work is by far easier. Every child begins school wanting to learn to read. In other words, we’ve got 100 percent of enthusiastic kindergarteners when they start school. The National Report Card found that among fourth-graders, only 54 percent read for pleasure. Among eighth graders, only 30 percent read for pleasure. By twelfth grade, only 19 percent read anything for pleasure daily. Yikes! What happened? The better question might be, what did not happen?

The seeds of not only learning to read but loving to read were not planted early. Reading aloud to children for 30 minutes every day, starting at birth and continuing after they have learned to read, is the single best thing a parent can do to build a reader. I know this. When I read aloud in my classroom, it’s the time that children are totally absorbed. Totally. A good story, read aloud, is the best learning and pleasure experience I give to children. It opens the door to questions and discovery.

People often ask why I chapter read.  After all, many of the children in my classroom are three-years-old.  When we chapter read, the children don’t have an image from a picture book.  They have to make the pictures in their head.  That requires language development.  The more they hear, the more they learn.  Even the youngest children benefit enormously.  For example, they may not ‘get’ the humor of the goose repeating everything three times in Charlotte’s Web, but they are still getting a huge dose of language.  And, that language is sparking their imagination.  No pictures; just words pouring into eager, young minds and creating their own images.

Jennie discussing a chapter book with a student

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day at school.  Books bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and talk.  They ask questions.  When I ask children, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” they answer “In your head.”

Reading aloud is the best thing I do with, and for, children.  They are preschoolers.  Yes, I chapter read to four-year-olds.  It is marvelous.  After three decades of teaching, I know this is “it”.  Learning can happen unexpectedly, and reading aloud is often the catalyst.  Children don’t need to sit and listen to a book in silence.  Asking questions is a good thing!

Reading aloud is the gift of language, and language is the most important element in a child’s development and success in school.  Wow!  The number of words a child knows can be directly attributed to his or her success in school; not just in English, but in Math and Science as well.  Perhaps these are the most important words a parent can hear.  Reading aloud is a strong part of my classroom curriculum, and children love it!  The more you read aloud at home increases your child’s development!  The biggest bonus is bonding together.  Nothing beats snuggling with Mom or Dad, one-on-one, reading a book.  Life is good!


I have often been asked why I don’t have my Amanda Travels books illustrated. This is why. I want my readers to create their own images. I also hesitate to categorize my books for 8 to 12-year-olds as many pre-schoolers enjoy my books being read to them by adults or older siblings. One grandmother read my books to her three-year-old granddaughter, who loved them and drew pictures of Ali Baba the camel from Amanda in Arabia. This young woman is now 12 and still enjoys reading, including the Amanda Travels series.

Follow Jennie’s blog with more meaningful reflections of an experienced teacher https://jenniefitzkee.com/

65 Responses to "The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by guest blogger Jennie"

I’m all for chapter books and reading out loud. I used to tell my composition students that the ear hears mistakes in writing which the eye might gloss over.

Jennie understands that involving more of the senses fires the imagination. (And so do you, Darlene.) Great post!

Thank you, Marian. As writers, reading our work out loud is imperative, which is why I belong to a critique group. Reading out loud, especially to children, is enjoyable to the reader and the listener. Jennie is a great teacher!

I couldn’t agree more Darlene and Jennie. There were only a few illustrations in a lot of the books I read as a child, but my imagination was a faithful and good artist!! xx

Well said, Joy. Thank you.

I too loved chapter books and read them way before my classmates. Reading Gone With the Wind at age 12 opened up a whole new world for me.

Thank you, Darlene! Sharing the message of reading aloud is spreading joy and learning to both the reader-aloud and the child. Marvelous! Much appreciated.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog and sharing what you have learned as a teacher. And thanks for being my blogging friend.

You are most welcome! I’m so glad to share what I’ve learned, and I’m very glad we’re blogging friends. 😍

What a great discussion, Jennie. It makes so much sense when you explain it this way.

It does, doesn’t it! I remember how much I loved being read to at home, school and Sunday school.

Thank you, Jacqui. Darlene did a fabulous job of putting my multiple writings together.

Such wonderful advice from Jennie, Darlene. I don’t think the Amanda books require illustrations but that is my personal view.

Great advice. I’m pleased you agree the Amanda books do not require illustrations. Kids enjoy creating the scenes in their mind.

Yes, I agree, and it is good for them to do that.

You are absolutely right, Robbie. No illustrations = greater imagination.

Jennie’s love and passion for teaching truly shows. The world needs more people like Jennie. Thanks Darlene Xx

Definitely. It’s refreshing to know that there are wonderful teachers like Jennie.

Darlene, I’m a huge fan of Jennie’s blog and think she must be a most inspiring and caring teacher … to her pupils and us here! I’ve borrowed many of the book she’s suggested and always touched by her and the students response to the stories they hear/Read!

That is so nice, Annika! Thank you for your kind words.

I too was very happy to find Jennie’s blog.

I agree with you Jannie and Darlene. Aside from the benefits for the child’s learning and development, when a parent spends time reading with their child(ren), they share that special time and develop a bond for an activity that can last a life time. #seniorsalon

I worked a lot when my kids were growing up, but I always made time to read to and with them. They tell me it was always a special time for them. Thanks for the visit.

You are so right, Natalie. The benefits are far reaching and last for a lifetime.

Great post and I so agree….the impact is nothing but positive. My wife and I have been participating in reading aloud to our granddaughter who is just over 2. Our daughter started reading to her at a very early age as we had done for her. Her husband jumped on the bandwagon and we have a 2 yr old with the vocabulary of a 3 yr old. I love the chapter book idea even at this age….sparks the imagination to visualize the story as you are hearing it….great post…thanks for sharing Jennie and Darlene!

She is one lucky little girl to have many people reading to her. She will have a head start in school for sure. Reading will become a habit, a very good one!

I agree…..thanks Darlene…have a great week!

Thank you, Kirt. You are seeing firsthand the importance of reading aloud. Wonderful!

Thank you, Kirt. It’s wonderful when you experience it firsthand with grandchildren. Seeing the language development is tremendous. And yes, chapter books stimulate the imagination. That is the key.

A great guest post, and although I knew the benefits of reading, the description and benefit of chapter reading to that age group is really insightful.

Many kids are given books to read but not always read to. And reading chapter books aloud to children who can’t yet read is amazing. I think many adults don’t understand the capability of a child’s imagination. I thought it was a great guest post too.

I’d never heard that about not having illustrations, but it makes perfect sense and encourages children to use their imaginations. And those are scary statistics about reading for pleasure – they don’t know what they’re missing!

I know. There are so many other ways to be entertained these days. It is so important for adults to instill the love of reading at an early age. I still meet many children who love to read so not all is lost.

Thank you, Teri. Well said! I tell the children they make the pictures in their head.

Interesting interview and thoughts about chapter books. I love that she reads them to four-year-old children.

Thanks, Patricia. You do a great job of reviewing meaningful chapter books. Many which would be of interest to pre-schoolers too. I sent three books to my great-granddaughter in Canada based on your reviews. She loved them all.

Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
I am featured as Darlene Foster’s guest blogger, writing about the importance of reading chapter books. Thank you, Darlene!

I love how Jennie uses books in her setting 💜

What I liked about chapter books when I was too young to read them was the anticipation of the story continuing. The teacher read a chapter or two each day, and at the end, I was wondering what would happen next, so I couldn’t wait until the next day. This delayed satisfaction is a good thing to learn when we’re young. A picture book is a sound bite for instant gratification. A chapter book teaches us we can’t have everything instantly.

A very good point. I too recall the anticipation of going to school the next day to hear more of the story. I am sure Jennie’s students are the same. Dad read Old Yeller to us when it was serialized in a local paper. So we had to wait until the next week to hear what happened next!

You are exactly right, Diane! Every day I have to stop reading, and it always feels like a cliffhanger to the children. That’s a good thing. Waiting to hear more is a lesson in itself.

Excellent feature on Jennie. She is doing great work. Thanks, Darlene.

Love this post! I’ve been reading since I was very young. Maybe 3-4. I too think reading aloud helps.

It sure does. It probably inspired you to travel as well and see how others live.xo

All children should be read to for at least the first 7 years in my opinion. My two loved being read to, and could read before they went to school.

Studies have shown that children who had been read to, are more likely to succeed in life. In the case of your two boys, it has proven to be true. It is still good to read to them even after they can read themselves, up to and including the teenage years. I once boarded a crowded ferry and sat with a family, a mom, dad and 3 children. They were each reading a Harry Potter book. The mom said they often discussed what they had read later. I loved seeing that.

How lovely. Yes, I read to my boys until they were about 12 and weren’t listening anymore! They could read by themselves at 4 years old. Every time I sat down they thrust a book at me. Sometimes I miss those days.

Interesting. I passed a book on to one of my godkids for her son, thinking he’d like it when he’s a bit older. She didn’t wait and he loved it. So yes, there’s a short testimonial.

Proof right there. He may well read it again when he is older.

I hadn’t thought of that but it makes sense. If he does, he’ll see different things in it.

[…] I love this, I have been reading to monkey since he was born and we also do chapter books, via The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by guest blogger Jennie […]

Imagination is the best gift you can give to a child. Well done! -Rebecca

It really does make a difference, my Mother read to me starting in the womb and I am a avid reader.

There you go. Proof once more.

I think it is so nice that she is doing that. I love when people take the time to read to kids. 🙂

It is so important!! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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