I have recently started writing a chapter book, which is "a story book intended for intermediate readers generally between 7-10 years old". The book is only 29 pages long and I am nearing the end.

How many more pages do I need?

  • 3
    You need as many pages as the story asks for. If you're trying to fill a certain page count, then you might need a different story instead.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Oct 21, 2014 at 11:38
  • This feels awfully familiar.. Except it's only 5 pages at a time! :-/ Oct 22, 2014 at 1:41
  • If the targeted age/reading level indicated by the edit is incorrect (it was based only on the use of "chapter book" and the Wikipedia article; "young-adult" is sometimes classified as between 14 and 21), you should edit that to clarify. (The "edit" link is just below the tags at the bottom of your post.)
    – user5232
    Oct 22, 2014 at 10:47
  • How many words per page? Books for 7-year-olds might have very few words per page, hence your "29 pages" could actually be way too long if your pages have 300 words each. For example, take a look at the "Frog and Toad" chapter books to see what I'm talking about. Those are directed at very young readers. They have about 60 pages each, with about 40 words per page, and about 10 pages per chapter/story.
    – dmm
    Oct 22, 2014 at 17:54

7 Answers 7


You've made the same mistake I did. You've picked up a book and realised that it has 500+ pages of text, you've started writing and got to the end and realised you're 475 shy of writing the next epic novel.

You're approaching the task backwards and there are a few things to realise very early on.

  1. A good story starts and ends when it should. How many films have been inflated/shortened past when it's enjoyable!? Your plot and your story determines the length your book should be not an arbitrary page number.
  2. Writing 500 pages of high quality fiction takes time... a LOT of time!

With that in mind if you want to write a book you need to plan a story which will fill a book. That's not to say your plot for One With Water is no good, it may make a fantastic short story... or it may be the starting point for a much more complex piece of fiction!

This answer discusses appropriate classifications of story and the rough word counts associated with each.

My suggestion would be to either finish, pat yourself on the back and consider it a good Short Story or really get into it and work out where the plot can go. Is there more in there you've not explored? Can your short story form the plan/introduction for a larger piece?

  • 1
    Since the OP indicated "chapter book", I would guess (based on Wikipedia) that adult book length classifications would not be particularly helpful.
    – user5232
    Oct 22, 2014 at 10:50

Contrary to what the other answers recommend, when you write for children, you must not let the story dictate the length of the book!

When you write for accomplished readers, you can let your story unfold as it will (although there are apparently expected lengths that unpublished authors should not deviate from in their first novel).

When you write for children, the length of your book must be appropriate for their developmental phase.

  1. Children can only focus on one thing for a certain amount of time.
  2. They can only graps stories of a certain complexity.
  3. And, if they read the book themselves, their reading ability is still weak, reading is a strenuous effort, and they tire easily.

Books for beginning readers are usually not classified by age group, but by how well a child reads (because different children will reach different levels of accomplishment at different ages). There is a gradual progress, from books for first readers that look very much like picture books, to books for more advanced readers that except for their shorter length look a lot like adult novels, with word count increasing and size and number of images decreasing. Agent Jennifer Laughran gives the word count for books for beginning readers as 100 and 2,000 words, depending on reading level.

Books for absolute beginners have large images and only a sentence or two on each page. The text is printed very large and often the lines are broken shorter than page width to make finding the correct next line easier for the children. As books grow longer with reading ability, they are often broken into chapters or contain several shorter stories, to provide (meaningful) breaks. A book for a child that has been reading for about half a year – that is the second level of reading ability or usually the second half year of first form (age 5 to 8) – is about 30 pages long and takes the child about half an hour to read. (This is my experience from a score of books my seven year old son has been reading to me as a homework exercise.) If books are longer, each story in the book or each chapter should take a child about half an hour to read. That is the amount of time that a child that age is willing to focus on reading, so you need to break your book into appropriate chunks, even if it aims at more advanced readers and is longer.

Chapter books – that is, books for children who have mastered the basics and are comfortable with reading – are between 4,000 and 13,000 words long. Your book length (29 pages) and the low minimum of your age range (7-10) suggests to me that you might not be writing a chapter book but a book for advanced beginners. If you want to write a chapter book, look at other examples in the category (some are listed on Jennifer's page, others you will find in your local book store or library) and roughly calculate their length (count one page and multiply). Also, read some of them and see how their stories differ from yours and what you might incorporate or expand on to increase length.

Writing for children is much more difficult than writing for adults, because you have to understand children and be familiar with their interests and their abilities. If you don't have children yourself, observe the reading habits of the children of your friends or extended family. If you can, let them read to you and see how they manage. Print out your manuscript in large type and give it to some children to read. If you don't have personal contact to any children, ask some parents to have their children read it and get the feedback from the adults. (Don't try to approach children, the parents will misunderstand this.)


It really doesn't matter. Focus on what you think is right for the story


I would say that you should let the story play out. If you are planning on writing a chapter book for children who are just learning to read, I would keep it around 200 hundred pages. It's hard to get a kid to willingly pick up a 500 page book. But, if you find yourself around 200 pages but have more of you story to tell, don't try to wrap it up to get a shorter length and sacrifice part of you amazing story. Have the page number in the back of your mind while writing but don't make it the most important thing, let the story take job.


Just write the story and don't worry in the beginning about how many pages. The story itself will dictate when you should stop. Also, if you are looking at shopping it around to publishers they will let you know what their criteria are. Good Luck!


Early reader "chapter books" range widely in length. Some have very little, simple text, and some have a quite a lot of complex text. You should spend some research time in a library or bookstore and compare your manuscript to what is out there to get a better picture of what is publishable.


Primary school reading levels are often given a classification letter from A to Z. Your stated age range is approximately F to R. Although commercial fiction doesn't really use these educational categories, you will find plenty of material at bookstores or online that may help you to narrow your focus.

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