A chapter book is a story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age 7-10. Unlike picture books for beginning readers, a chapter book tells the story primarily through prose, rather than pictures. Unlike books for advanced readers, chapter books contain plentiful illustrations. The name refers to the fact that the stories are usually divided into short chapters, which provide readers with opportunities to stop and resume reading if their attention spans are not long enough to finish the book in one sitting. Chapter books are usually works of fiction of moderate length and complexity.
The New York Times Best Seller list of Children's Chapter Books has included books with intended audience age ranges from 6 to 12 and up. This may reflect a straightforward interpretation of "chapter books" as those books directed at children that are long enough to include chapters. However, some publishers such as Scholastic Corporation and Harper Collins include the phrase "chapter book" in series titles aimed specifically at younger or beginning readers, including the I Can Read! series and the Magic School Bus series.
The term "chapter book" is occasionally found written as one word: "chapterbook". In addition, the meaning of the term is expanding. With the advent of online publication portals and e-books, story length (in terms of numbers of words or pages) is becoming less important as a marketing factor. A novel, defined as having 40,000 words or more, was normally sold individually; works of lesser length were most often printed in periodical form and then later reprinted in anthologies. Today, works of less than 40,000 words are often marketed individually. These individual works are being referred to as chapterbooks by the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) website. Chapterbooks in this sense are no longer exclusively produced for children, nor are illustrations a requirement. An example of a chapterbook is the Raymond F. Jones short story "Cubs of the Wolf". It was published in the November 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reissued as an eBook by Project Gutenberg in 2007 when it was determined the work was no longer under copyright. This short story, among many others, is under 40,000 words in length, available as an individual work, and thus considered a chapterbook by ISFDB.
- Loer, Stephanie (2001-04-29). "Chapter Books Lead Young Readers from Pictures to Novels". Boston Globe.
- Taylor, Ihsan. "Hardcover". The New York Times.
- "How to Convert a Novel to a 'Chapterbook'". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database Website.
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