Bookbug Detective: progressing from picture books

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl
Category: Parents

With the new year comes a new regular Early Years blog, from our resident 'Bookbug Detective' Kirsty Sinclair. Kirsty has a wealth of bookselling experience, having previously worked as a Children’s Bookseller at Borders in York (RIP), Blackwell’s in Oxford and Waterstones at Cameron Toll in Edinburgh. Kirsty is here to help with your questions about Early Years books and reading. Let's hand over to her...



Kirsty Sinclair
Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog! To tell you the truth I’m a little bit nervous but I know you’ll make me feel at home. As my introduction states, I’ve done the circuit of children’s bookselling, and one of the best things about the job was being able to help customers out with various queries. I’d be asked all kinds of things, ranging from ‘I can’t remember the author of this book’ and ‘Do you have any books with tractors in them?’ to ‘My child just won’t read. Help!’ Some questions were easy to answer and some involved a bit more detective work, but it always gave me a lovely sense of achievement to send the customer away happy and with an armful of books.

So the aim of this blog is to help out in any way I can with queries relating to early years books and reading. Your questions and my answers will feature once a month on the blog. Even if your question isn’t published, I will still get back to you and if you’d rather not be featured in the blog, just let me know.

As this is the first blog, I’ve started off with a question I got asked a lot. But next month it’s your turn! Just email and I’ll endeavour to help.

Can you suggest any good books to help my child progress to chapter books? At the moment he reads picture books but he knows them all inside out and I think he’s ready to make the next step.

It can seem like quite a daunting prospect for a child to move on from brightly coloured, friendly picture books to chapter books with no pictures. But there are some great books out there now to bridge that awkward gap. Orion’s Early Readers have some pictures but also more text than a picture book and are in the smaller chapter book format. They have some great titles including some simpler Horrid Henry books and some great animal stories. Another suggestion would be to go for chapter books that feature the same characters that he’ll perhaps know from favourite picture books, for example Winnie the Witch. Hopefully the fact that the character is familiar will help with the transition. Some of the simpler Roald Dahl books might also be appealing: The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me (pictured), The Magic Finger and Esio Trot would all be a good starting point. The Egmont Banana books are brilliant as well. They have different coloured bananas for each reading stage and more of an educational focus. But please don’t stop him reading picture books – you’re never too old for picture books (I have loads!).

Do you have a question for the Bookbug Detective? Email it to

Kirsty Sinclair

Kirsty Sinclair is the Early Years Outreach Co-ordinator for Scottish Book Trust.