Blue Apple Books is releasing the debut titles in its Jump-into-Chapters series of early readers, designed to help the transition from picture books to text-heavy chapter books. Due in January are Okay, Andy! by Maxwell Eaton III and Mr. Ball Makes a To-Do List by Michael Townsend; Scribbles and Ink Out of the Box by Ethan Long follows in February. Aimed at newly independent readers, the paper-over-board series offers art- and character-driven books with more pages and plot than picture books, but very few words per page.

Harriet Ziefert, founder and publisher of Blue Apple, is a former elementary school language arts specialist who was trained to apply an integrated approach to the teaching of language arts and social studies. “As a reading teacher, I saw that some children get the gestalt of reading pretty quickly, while others have a problem going from picture books to leveled readers,” she said. “Two things happen at once: they go from a 32-page book to a 64- or 96-page book, and they have to absorb much more text at the same time. That’s very difficult for many new readers, and often it’s hard for them to remember all that happened in the story since the beginning.”

The Jump-into-Reading line, said Ziefert – who has written as well as published many easy readers – will combine humor, relatable characters, lively art, and spare word count to “bridge the gap between read-to-me books and read-on-my own books.” The publisher expects to add six new titles to the series annually.

The fall 2014 Jump-into-Chapters list will include sequels to the three launch titles, which Ziefert characterized as “probably more boy- than girl-oriented.” All the characters introduced in the debut books will be featured in four to six books, Ziefert added, “to give the series some continuity.” Downloadable Jump-into-Chapters activity and discussion materials for kids, parents, and teachers are available on the publisher’s Web site.

Ziefert sees Jump-into-Chapters as is in keeping with the publishing philosophy of Blue Apple Books, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. “As a small publisher, we like to find a niche and go where there’s an open space in the market,” she said. “There are plenty of well-established series of text-heavy easy readers, and so many stories featuring girls’ friendships. That is the place where most publishers go, and I don’t want to compete with that. With Jump-into-Chapters, we’re trying to provide a fun, successful reading experience for children with a product that isn’t out there in the thousands.”

Okay, Andy! by Maxwell Eaton III. Blue Apple, $12.99 Jan. ISBN 978-1-60905-350-5

Mr. Ball Makes a To-Do List by Michael Townsend. Blue Apple, $12.99 Jan. ISBN 978-1-60905-365-9

Scribbles and Ink Out of the Box by Ethan Long. Blue Apple, $12.99 Feb. ISBN 978-1-60905-366-6