If you do not count picture books or board books, then there are basically four different types of books that children read. Each of these has different chapter links and total book lengths that are fairly average for the industries. If you are just getting into writing children’s books or publishing them, then you may want to know what these links are so that you can follow along as a guideline. However, keep in mind that they are just that – a guideline – and you are welcome to go over or under the recommended lengths if it makes the book better.
Easy readers are expected to range anywhere from 1000 words to a maximum of about 1500 words. The older the child that you are targeting, the slightly longer you will be able to make your book. The Berenstain Bears is a good example of this type of book. You will notice that these books do not actually have chapters so there is no reason to list the chapter length here.
Chapter Books, on the other hand, actually do have chapters. Chapter books are targeted towards slightly younger readers than most of the middle grade fiction out there. While other middle grade fiction may be 15,000 to 30,000 words, chapter books are usually going to be restricted to between 10,000 and 15,000 words and chapter lengths are going to be restricted to 500 to 750 words. These chapter books often include pictures within the chapter in order to transition the child better from there easy readers to books with mostly words.
Depending upon the age of the middle grade fiction that you are writing, chapter length for these books can be anywhere between 500 words to around 2000 words. The total length can be anywhere from 15,000 words to 30,000 words. However, it is important that you not worry too much about chapter length and overall word count when you are writing, and instead just let chapters end naturally and write until the book is finished. After all, there have been many books that have broken the mold and were way longer or shorter than they were supposed to have been or have chapters that restructured differently than the experts recommend. The Harry Potter series is considered middle grade fiction and many books are longer than most of the adult novels out there.
YA or Teen Fiction
Teen fiction can be pretty varied. Generally, you want to keep it under 50,000 words. That’s because teen books are usually slightly thinner than their adult counterparts. You might see them on a paperback shelf in the teen section of your library. As for the chapter length, it doesn’t really matter, as long as the book is somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 words. You do not want it to be any less than that word count though because it will look a lot thinner next to all of the other teen books on the shelf.