Not everyone knows chapter books exist. I even had some mild confusion when first delving into this strange book beast. I used to think they were a subset of MG, so I called them MG Chapter Books. That made any person call me silly as (paraphrasing) all MG novels are expected to have chapters. Someone came into the conversation and thankfully kept me from wrongfully explaining and helping me understand a wee bit more in this (to me) very gray area of writing.
So, what are chapter books? They are books divided into chapters for young readers with a length of 7,000-10,000 words. In general terms, they are the step between picture books and MG novels. From what I’ve experienced, this is a small market. Though, there are many books (often licensed properties like Scooby Doo).
In my house, they have been used by my kids in two different ways. My daughter spent most of 1st grade with a 4th grade reading level. Problem was that she was still a 1st grader. She didn’t really have the attention to go through a MG novel and she felt too “advanced” for picture books. For my daughter, chapter books were what helped her end 1st grade at a 5th grade reading level. As for my son, he was very much a reluctant reader. He looked at a normal MG novel, even a thin one, with dislike. Chapter books kept him reading at his grade level and helped him build his desire to read.
So what about the post title? Don’t think I’m sitting here telling you you should stop writing your general adult, NA, YA, or MG novels. I’m not saying, “Drop everything and switch audiences!” I’m saying, just like you might write having coffee with your character, you might one to give writing one of these puppies a try. I think most authors can say they expect to write a child (elementary age) at some point, so why not explore that age range in their natural book habitat?
I propose you do this as an exercise and see what it teaches you. Do you underestimate kids? Do you try to adult them up? Can you keep it “age appropriate”? What comes easy to you? What comes hard? I’m guessing you’ll learn something from it.
Are you going to give it a try?