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How long did it take to develop reading stamina after being able to read?


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I am curious how long it took your child to develop the ability to read longer chapter books that don't have pictures on every page. My son can read (he finished 100EZ, most of Funnix 2 and we just reviewed all of Phonics Pathways), but doesn't like to read chapter books that don't have pictures on every page. So for example, this week I am having him read a chapter a day out of a Magic Treehouse book. He can do it but I doesn't enjoy it. Last week he finished an Usborne Robin Hood book that has a higher reading level than MTH but it has pictures on every page. He would read a chapter a day out loud to me, but then got tired. He reads fluently with expression but slowly. He just turned six so I really don't want him to think reading is such a chore. I am thinking of forgetting moving on to chapter books and instead having him read through the Caldecott winning picture books. Any other ideas? He has already read Mercy Watson, Amelia Bedelia, and Ricky Ricotta. The only book he willingly picks up to read is his Ninjago Encyclopedia.

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Very different.

Two months for DD. She read her first book, Dr. Seuss "Hop on Pop", end of October K year - after Christmas, she read Roald Dahl.

Two years for DS. He preferred books with pictures and "sound bites" - short one paragraph summaries of Greek myths, a paragraph about poisonous animals, encyclopedia entries and did not have an interest in chapter books for quite some time. I hear this can be rather common in boys.

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My oldest could read at a 4th grade level at age 6, but his stamina didn't pick up until closer to age 7. Stick with picture books for a while. Many of them have a 4th to 5th grade reading level. I had my son read one chapter per day from a chapter book (silently), and then had him read 20 minutes from the library book basket. He loved Amelia Bedelia, Nate the Great, and various science and history readers.


What really helped increase his stamina was reading Star Wars books. They have beginner books to middle school chapter books, and everything inbetween.

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Eldest was really quick. Frog and Toad with me beside him helping 2 months later chapter books with me beside him helping. 1 month later he was reading the "Dealing with Dragons" series with no help. (It's a family favorite so he had heard it 3 times before. It's a big thick chapter book with no pictures and a high reading level. He was 7 when he made the above reading changes.


Youngest is no where near independent reading of any sort right now. We work together to get through simple sentences. I don't have the stamina to help him through anything but the shortest phonics picture book without taking a quick break before starting the next book. This short break is sometimes only a few minutes when we talk about books or well anything. I just need that break for my hand that must point to ever little letter in ever single word. If I don't he gets lost in the middle of a sentence.

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My older ones were quicker also, my 4th one is in the 4th grade and still doesn't enjoy reading chapter books unless they are short and have pictures on some of the pages as well. He only willingly picks up his Ninjago chp. books that he got for Christmas. We still use tons of picture books with lots of text for his reading and the McGuffey readers as his oral reading practice.

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My oldest didn't have any problems learning to read, and could read the Little Bear and Frog and Toad books fluently by 1st grade. But he didn't really start to *be* a reader on his own until mid 3rd grade and it really took off this year in 4th. My 4 year old wanted me to read MTH aloud and my 3rd grader was interested and starting reading the series on his own, and then that helped jump start his reading. He'll read Harry Potter or The Hobbit for fun now.


I would just keep reading aloud to him. That helps a lot!!! and I would still give my ds those shorter Step Into Reading style books to practice reading aloud every day. I don't think the pictures necessarily matter. There's pictures on nearly every page of Wind in the Willows (and lots of other classics) and yet that's a challenging book for kids to read on their own. There's also plenty of picture books at a higher reading level you could try. How many Spots Does A Leopard have or books by Patricia Polacco.


I don't think there's anything necessarily better about a lack of pictures. Call it art appreciation and move on! ;)

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same here. Younger one still will not voluntarily read chapter books and he's 9. younger two were reading chapter books by the end of first grade. there is no urgent need to get them reading chapter books. Dont try to make your child be a specific kind of kid, help your child be the best 'him' he can be. he will know when he's ready for chapter books. Just keep showing him new, interesting ones every few months and eventually he'll be ready.

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My son spent about 6 months reading nothing but Ninjago and Pokemon books, but getting lots of practice playing computer games. He suddenly got interested in one of the topics in a Magic Tree House book (I had the first 20-something from a used book store), and started reading them every night. We started out with me reading him the first chapter, then turning the book over to him to finish. For some reason, me reading the first chapter to him helped. He's now read every single one of the MTH, including the Merlin Missions, in the past 6 months. Usually completing one at a sitting.


With him it happened suddenly. Literally one day he only read his guide books and the next day he started reading every MTH book. I have been trying to introduce him to some other chapter books but he doesn't want anything else but MTH. I'm hoping the jump to other stuff happens the same way.

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side note: If you mean just enjoying picture books to look at for solo reading, no problem. But if you mean using picture books as outlook readers, then do be aware that many have an even HIGHER reading and vocabulary level (average of 5th grade reading), even though there is only a short amount of text per page).


With our DSs, every school day for 10-15 minutes we did "popcorn reading" ("you read a page, I read a page") to get over the hump of moving into chapter books. We started with a lot of "stepped readers" first, and then slowly moved up to Magic Treehouse and then Boxcar Children, etc. We visited the library's stepped reader section weekly for awhile! Alternating reading helps to keep them from tiring out so quickly, and it allows you to see how they are progressing. And... it's fun! :)


As far as enjoying reading on their own... As with the previous posters, our DSs did not seem to enjoy solo reading of chapter books until about age 9-10. We just had tons of picture books, "exploded view" illustrated books (example: Star Wars vehicles), I Spy and Search and Find books, etc. Because we did daily reading during school, I let them pick what they wanted for on-their-own reading, and encouraged interacting with books by letting them have books in bed and the lights on for an extra 15-20 minutes at night. We also did tons of read-alouds so they were exposed to good writing constantly, even if they weren't do the reading of it themselves for awhile.


BEST of luck in your reading adventures! Warmest regards, Lori D.



Ideas for books with similar text-to-picture-ratio as Amelia Bedelia:


- Little Bear (Minarik)

- Frog and Toad series (Lobel)

- Mouse Tales (Lobel)

- Owl At Home (Lobel)

- Commander Toad series (Yolan)

- Fox series (Marshall)

- Three by the Sea (Marshall)

- Four by the Shore (Marshall)

- The Adventures of Snail at School (Sadler)

- Wizard and Wart series (Smith)

- Captain and Matey series (Laurence)

- Aunt Eater series (Cushman)

- Nate the Great serise (Sharmat)

- ".... Riddles" series (Hall and Eisenberg) -- Puppy, Ribbit,

- Inspector Hopper

- Dinosaur Detective

- The King, the Mice, and the Cheese (Gurney)

- The Big Jump (Elkin)

- Sam and the Firefly (Eastman)

- PJ Funnybunny Camps Out (Sadler)

- PJ Funnybunny's Bag of Tricks (Sadler)



Stepped Readers with similar text-to-picture-ratio as Amelia Bedelia:

- Fly on the Ceiling (Glass)

- Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares (Murphy/Walz)

- The Blind Men and the Elephant (Backstein/Mitra)

- Sim-Chung and the River Dragon (Schecter)

- The Warrior Maiden (Schecter)

- Gargoyles (Dussling)

- Greg's Microscope (Selsam)

- Hill of Fire (Lewis)

- Dinosaur Hunter (Alphin)

- Abe Lincoln's Hat (Brenner)

- Chang's Paper Pony (Coerr)

- The Drinking Gourd (Monjo)

- The 18 Penny Goose (Walker)

- Sam the Minuteman (Benchley)

- Wagon Wheels (Brenner)

- The Josefina Story Quilt (Coerr)

- Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie (Roop)

- The First Thanksgiving (Hayward)

- Small Wolf (Benchley)

- Finding Providence (Avi)

- Christopher Columbus (Krensky)

- Johnny Appleseed: My Story (Harrison)

- George Washington's Mother (Fritz)



Stepped Readers with pictures every page, but of short chapter book length:

- Billy and Blaze series (Anderson)

- Buddy, the First Seeing Eye Dog (Moore)

- Barry, the Bravest St. Bernard (Hall)

- The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Standiford)

- Balto and the Great Race (Kimmel)

- Five True Dog Stories (Davidson)

- Seven True Horse Stories (Davidson)

- Nine True Dolphin Stories (Davidson)

- Animals Do The Strangest Things (Hornblow)

- Birds Do The Strangest Things (Hornblow)

- Insects Do The Strangest Things (Hornblow

- Fish Do The Strangest Things (Hornblow)

- Reptiles Do The Strangest Things (Hornblow)

- A Grain of Rice (Pittman)

- Aladdin (Mistry)

- The Story of Thomas Alva Edison (Davidson)

- Helen Keller (Davidson)

- Louis Braille (Davidson)

- Flat Stanley Worldwide Adventures series (Brown)- Pompeii... Buried Alive! (Davis)

- Ice Mummy: Discovery of a 3,000 year old Man (Dubowski)

- The Titanic: Lost and Found (Donnelly)

- Tut's Mummy: Lost and Found (Donnelly)

- To The Top! Climbing the World's Highest Mountain (Kramer)

- Mountain Climbing: Scaling the World's Highest Peaks (Martin)

- Civil War Sub: Mystery of the Hunley (Jerome)

- USS Monitor: Iron Warship That Changed the World (Thompson)

- Race Into Space (Arnold)

- Moonwalk (Donnelly)

- The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War (Little)

- The Trojan Horse: The World's Greatest Adventure (Davies)

- Days of the Knights: A Tale of Castles and Battles (Maynard)

- Pirates: Raiders of the High Seas (Maynard)

- Antarctic Adventure: Exploring the Frozen Continent (Martin)

- The Great Houdini: World Famous Magician & Escape Artist (Kulling)



Early chapter books with an illustration every other page:

- Magic Tree House (series) (Osborne)

- Toots and the Upside Down House (Hughes)

- Moongobble and Me (series) (Coville)

- Dragonslayer Academy (series) (McMullan)

- The Littles series (Peterson)

- Catwings (series) (LeGuin)

- Light at Tern Rock (Sauer)

- Jigsaw Jones series (Prellar)

- Cam Jansen series (Adler)

- Third Grade Detective series (Stanley)

- Viking Adventure (Bulla)

- The Sword in the Tree (Bulla)

- The Minstrel in the Tower (Skurzynski)

- A Lion to Guard Us (Bulla)

- Phoebe the Spy (Griffin)

- The Secret Valley (Bulla)

- Riding the Pony Express (Bulla)

- Robinson Crusoe Reader (Cowles)

- The Wright Brothers (Reynolds)

- Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky

- Mystery of History: Brendan the Navigator (Fritz)

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It depends on the kiddo. DS6 learned to read quite young and *can* read at a much higher reading level than 1st grade. But he just doesn't have the attention span to sit and read a longer chapter book. Recently, I asked him to start reading a chapter a day out of some of the easier chapter books we have (Flat Stanley, Magic Treehouse, Magic Schoolbus) and he's doing much better with it. He's actually asking if he can read more chapters from the Flat Stanley books.


I think, especially for boys, it has a lot to do with maturity. It'll come!

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My DD5 has been reading since she was 3 but still reads with me - she reads fluently, but still could do with a blank page under the line she is reading and her visual tracking still needs some work as she often skips words when left to read by herself (and not words that are difficult but rather often the first word of the next line as though she doesn't track far enough back to the left). She managed to read 4 chapters of a Nate the Great book recently (she is reading at about 4th grade level, but to help with stamina and fluency and also just for fun I give her easier books) in one go but that is the most she has ever read and I was surprised - usually she reads 1-4 pages and then I read a page or two before she carries on. I think the biggest thing that helps with stamina is interest in a story - if the story is gripping enough they will develop the stamina to read it - fluency does help with this to some extent.

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I agree with Sweetpea, it might just be a maturity thing. My ds can read well above his grade level, but his "interest level" is still that of a 6yo. He doesn't want to read a typical 5th grade book because there are few pictures, the printing is small, and there are too many words. And besides, he probably doesn't relate to the material. So I let him read what would probably would be considered fluff by others. He loves books like Nate the Great and Roscoe Riley, even though they are below his reading level. He also loves Geronimo Stilton and those books range from 2nd-5th grade. He reads a ton of non-fiction as well. Usually, that's where he gets his on-level reading. I also read aloud to him books that I would like him reading, like right now we are reading Alice in Wonderland, and I have him read a paragraph or page here and there.

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Dd8 went from decoding CVC words to reading thick chapter books fluently with full comprehension in about 6 months flat. Ds7 took about 2 years to make that same transition and there were lots of illustrated books and nonfiction books with photographs along the way. I think there can be a huge range here depending on the individual child.

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DD6 was done with OPGTR and Frog & Toad by her 5th birthday, and starting to read Magic Treehouse, but only sporadically and the stamina didn't come for almost a year. I backed off and had her reading a few days a week rather than every day until it visibly appeared less fatiguing. In retrospect, I should have periodically tested for stamina along the way because she might have taken off a bit earlier but backing off a bit was the right thing to do in our case.

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Thanks for everyone's advice. It is good to hear that some other kids take a while to develop reading stamina. I thought more about what interests him and he prefers nonfiction at this point. I am having him read the second Magic Tree House book, "The Knight At Dawn", and then I am reading to him the companion nonfiction book "Knights and Castles" research guide. He loves the guide and is only tolerating the fiction book. I think I will have him read a page or two out of the nonfiction guide to see if he prefers to read it instead even though it is at a higher reading level than the fiction book. I plan on making a trip to the library this weekend without the kids to find more nonfiction books at his reading level and some Caldecott picture books to see if he prefers to read those. Usually when I go to the library I take both kids but it is hard to really take a good look at the books when I take my just turned four year old.

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My dd7 has been reading well above grade level since 4yo, but only in the past 6 months has she started to read chapter books on her own. And even then, her interest is limited to the American Girl books.


For a child like yours, I would strongly suggest "trade reading," in which you read together a book you know he has an interest in. You take turns, and you gradually increase the proportion that he is reading. He may start with a single sentence to your page. This way, he gets practice but is not overwhelmed by it.

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My daughter took a few years, her main problem was actually font size. How long she would read was correlated to font size, not reading difficulty or length of the book. Even today, she prefers large print versions of books. (And yes, her vision has been checked and is normal.) Of course, she started reading very young, so that may have been part of it.

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Tigger started learning to read at 3 1/2. He read his first chapter book (Magic Tree House #1) at 5.75. Around his 6th birthday we finally finished Phonics Pathways. At 6 1/2, he became hooked on chapter books and Calvin and Hobbes. So it was a three year process from first sounding out words to being a complete bookworm plowing through books as fast I could get them from the library.


I asked a similar question about reading stamina maybe a year ago. The transition from him struggling a bit by chapter books to plowing through the Boxcar Children was about six months.

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