I've been asked a few times why I use challenge words in my early chapter books.The answer is easy: Children are capable of learning them!
When my child started first grade I found a kindred spirit. Her teacher believed children were capable of far more. When she brought home her first spelling word list I remember thinking, "Whoa!" My next reaction was a grin. This was definitely a teacher I could get behind and support. The children were supposed to write their words three times, my daughter would happily write them ten. We would also discuss what the words meant so she would fully understand them. It helps to use words in a sentence so they understand their full meaning. After that year my daughter's vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds. This early learning serves a child in all areas of study because it helps them develop a better comprehension of their overall studies.
I've adapted this thought into my writing. I try not to input too many challenge words that a child gets frustrated, but enough to try and help broaden their vocabulary. It is also an excellent opportunity for the parent and child to discuss such words and what they are reading. I always tried to read the same books as my daughter so that we could have an open dialog on what she thought of the book--what did she find interesting, which were her favorite characters and why? How did she identify with them? It is amazing the insight your child can have and it is the perfect moment to bring you closer together.
There you have it---why I include challenge words. Your child has such endless potential, why not start them off early and show them they are capable of it!
Wishing you all a little adventure,
Its the adventures of Dani P. Join her in her mysteries!