Sometimes I imagine that the easy reader is the middle child in the children’s book family. Picture Book is the baby we all dote on – so cute and sweet, Picture Book gets our attention without really trying. Older sibling Chapter Book is somewhat glamorous – all of those words! Youthful and a little more sophisticated, Chapter Book always makes us proud.
Somewhere in-between is Easy Reader. A little like Picture Book and a little like Chapter Book, Easy Reader often struggles to carve out his own identity. But make no mistake; he is a very powerful and important member of the family. Here are five of our middle child’s most distinctive characteristics:
Big kid in a little package. The easy reader is popular with an age group that is particularly interested in distancing itself from anything considered “babyish.” These readers want to be treated like “big kids.” Still, they must be approached as beginning readers. For this reason, the appearance of an easy reader resembles that of a chapter book on the outside and a picture book on the inside.
Pure and uncomplicated. In the world of the easy reader, simplicity is key. Sentences are short and words are usually familiar. Plots are straightforward and uncomplicated.
Full of energy. These books, like their readers, are full of energy and action so the story starts right away. The main character is introduced immediately and so is the “problem” the character faces. Problems should never seem insurmountable and the more familiar the better.
Talks a lot. Dialogue is prevalent in easy readers. This is a great tool for keeping the reader interested and for moving the plot along quickly. Details are discovered through conversation – gone is the need for lengthy exposition.
Has a good sense of humor. The easy reader is light and full of humor. In the classic “Frog and Toad are Friends,” by Arnold Lobel, Frog is sick and asks Toad to tell him a story. When Toad can’t think of one he stands on his head to jog his imagination. He splashes his face with water. He bangs his head against the wall, but no matter what Toad tries he can’t think of a story to tell Frog. The reader appreciates the silliness in these activities and laughs at Toad’s ridiculous antics.
Ah yes, Easy Reader might get overlooked at times. And some people may occasionally call him by the wrong name. But providing the bridge between two of his more popular siblings comes...well, easy.
P.S. If you are wonder where Mid-Grade Novel and Young Adult are in this family, they are both very busy having slumber parties and talking on the phone and could not be disturbed for this article.