I've written a 3rd grade level (8-9 years old) children's book that takes about 25 minutes to read out loud. I read it to a 3rd grade class, with a few posters for illustrations, and it actually seemed to keep their attention. Even the teachers said they liked it.

Is there a market for a book like this, or is it just too long?

  • I think this depends on the type of book. For a fictional story, I'd agree with the answers that say you can add more easily. For a science book; I'd say that you could easily be in the right sort of ball park though - as these tend to require less words, but slower reading with thought. – UKMonkey Oct 17 at 12:21
  • 7
    Hi @Crj11! If 8-9 is not the age of 3rd graders where you live, please edit. We sort of assumed. TriG could have been nicer about it, but he is not wrong - school systems are different in different countries, so ages may vary. – Galastel Oct 17 at 14:16
  • @Galastel Rainbolt was nice enough to add the age parenthetical for me and I accepted the edit. You are correct in the ~8 years old age range. – crj11 Oct 17 at 14:20
  • 25 minutes may be a little long for one chapter, but many 8-9 yo are ready to move beyond chapter books. – Alexander Oct 17 at 18:18
  • @Alexander, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone audiobook is, according to ArcanistLupus, 8 hours. It has 17 chapters. Comes to 28 minutes per chapter, on average. – Galastel Oct 17 at 18:29
up vote 35 down vote accepted

If anything, I'd say your book is too short for that age. 3rd grade is 8-years-olds, right? At that age, 25 minutes to read out loud is closer to one chapter of a book they'd be reading.

At 8 years old, my favourite books were Sans Famille, White Fang and Narnia (all of it, except for the last book, which my parents decided was inappropriate). King Matt the First, The Wizard of Oz (with all the sequels) and Marry Poppins (all of them, again) were already behind me. My Nephew, who's 9 now, has already finished the first four Harry Potters, after which the content became too adult for him - the length was just fine. So there's your sampling of length you can be aiming for.

A book that can be read from start to finish in 25 minutes sounds to me like something for 4-years-olds, but even for them you don't have to limit yourself to something that short. Winnie the Pooh, which @ArcanistLupus mentions, or Peter Pan, are also quite appropriate for that age.

  • 12
    4 years olds will generally not read anything themselves; their parents will read the book to them, possibly as one bedtime story per day over a week or two. Which means you want short chapters of 5 minutes, but at least a dozen of them. As you said, this is quite different from what an 8 year old needs. However, if the books intention is "show kids who generally don't read that reading can be fun", it needs to deal with much shorter attention spans than a book aimed at experienced 8 year old readers. – Guntram Blohm Oct 17 at 12:10
  • 6
    @GuntramBlohm I don't know what is "generally" the case, but all three of my kids were reading chapter books at 4 years old. But their mother and I are both avid readers, so they may be the exception. – Kevin Oct 17 at 12:14
  • 9
    I was reading when I turned four years old. My father read constantly, and taught us (six kids) early; we only watched TV when he did: After dinner and before bed time. However, we were allowed to read anything on the shelves, hundreds of books and hundreds of magazines, he made no exceptions for our age. I think I finished Little Women when I was six. I got caught reading one of my father's age-inappropriate (sexually suggestive) detective novels in 2nd grade class, my father came to talk to the teacher about it, and told her to mind her own business, I can read whatever I like. – Amadeus Oct 17 at 14:43
  • 4
    Children develop at widely differing rates, so you're bound to have a decently large audience for your book. My 8 year old daughter still likes reading short (very short) books as well as having enjoyed reading through all the Chronicles of Narnia. – TimH Oct 17 at 16:18
  • 3
    I'm not sure I agree with the claim that Peter Pan is a kids book, but otherwise this is spot on. – Arcanist Lupus Oct 17 at 19:53

The audiobook for Winnie the Pooh is 2 hrs and 46 minutes (although admittedly it is episodic in nature rather than a single story.)

I was first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone around the same age, and it's over 8 hrs.

I think you're fine.

I agree that you're fine. Longer would be fine too. I will add that generally it is word count that gives you the length ranges for each age category (not that they're strict but that publishers will generally want books within the ranges).

I've done a fair bit of reading out loud. To my own daughter and her friends, at different ages, to other kids I know, to students I've had or borrowed, and to other adults.

How fast I read depends on a lot of factors. My audience, their temperament that particular hour, how many pictures there are and how long it takes to show everyone the pictures and/or talk about them, if the child has heard the book before, if the child/children interject, and my mood as well (am I enjoying myself volunteering in a classroom with no real time limits or am I trying to get my kid to fall asleep so I can go check Facebook?).

Take different people and you get a whole new set of speeds.

I'd go with word count. Here's a good summary. http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/word-count-for-novels-and-childrens-books-the-definitive-post

You've found yourself in a weird place, unfortunately. Third graders these days have been immersed in chapter books for a year or two already. Think the first Harry Potter book: 300 pages over 17 chapters. So your book is too long for the attention span of most who are read-to (unless broken into chapters), but probably too short for those comfortably reading to themselves. I'm not entirely sure what you can do about that without knowing more.

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.