The Best Books For Beginner Readers
Finding the right books for beginner readers is a critical step to ensuring their academic success.
If you have a Kindergartener or Pre-K child, then you’ve already begun thinking about how to prepare him or her for school. Gone are the days of simply packing a lunch on the first day of Kindergarten and saying a tearful goodbye, knowing that your kid (like all the other kids) will be taught everything he or she needs to know by the teacher.
Nope. These days, your kid needs to be ready for Kindergarten.
And it’s your job to get them ready.
There are lots of lists floating around out there (many provided by the school itself) about what your child should know and be able to do before entering Kindergarten. And almost all of those lists include having a basic understanding of phonics, sight words, and other beginning reading skills.
Not only that, but reading ability is one of the best indicators of future academic success for kids across the board. The ability to read well matters more than socio-economic status, race, gender or a parent’s education level.
Every mom feels the pressure to make sure her child is a “good” reader.
But most of you aren’t teachers, are you? You’re moms who may be great at taking care of little ones, or running your house, or closing real estate deals, or managing an office. But teaching a kid to read? Don’t you need special training for that?
It’s one thing to teach your sweet little three-year-old about letter sounds, but how on earth are you supposed to teach her how to actually read?
It’s a little scary to start down that path when you’re not sure where to begin. You might try visiting the early readers section of the library, but in my experience, it’s really challenging to weed through everything the library offers to find the books that are really meant for beginners.
I mean, I’m a homeschooling mom, and I still find it hard to sift through the overflowing shelves of children’s books to find the ones at my child’s reading level.
But with the right books for beginners (and believe me, some books are much better than others), getting your child ready for reading, teaching him or her to read, or advancing their skill level can be a fun and, dare I say, easy process.
Here are my favorite books for beginners. They can help you teach your younger child to read and keep your advancing reader engaged, setting the stage for a lifelong love of reading. Because that’s the real goal here. Give your child the gift of reading, not just for school, but for the rest of their lives.
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Books for the Total Beginner
For the beginner reader, there’s nothing I recommend more than the BOB Books Series. What can I say? I used them to teach my sons, and they were so easy to use. They begin at the VERY beginning and give your child the confidence to read on their own from the start.
The first few book in the blue box set feature the characters Mat and Sam. They have very brief sentences on simple pages, such as “Mat. Mat sat. Cat sat. The End.” In my opinion, they are THE BEST books for beginners.
What I Love: The first set features very few sight words, so if you can show your child some very basic phonics (“a” says “aaa” like apple, “c” says “k” like cat), then you can teach your young child to read these books. Most of the words are simple consanant-vowel-consanant combinations the are easy for children to sound out. The kids get an amazing sense of confidence when they realize they are able to read an entire book (albeit a short one) by themselves.
What I Don’t Love: The illustrations are very simple and usually in black and white. This might also be a benefit, since they don’t distract from the words, but they are a little boring.
Scholastic Phonics Ready Readers
This is another amazing set of short, simple story sets that are perfect for first-time readers.
What I Love: The stories and illustrations are slightly more interesting than the BOB Books, but the words and sentences are still simple enough for very early readers to read on their own. Again, building confidence in new readers is key to their success.
What I Don’t Love: Our copies of the series were a hand-me-down from my aunt. They are harder to find these days, and therefore a little expensive. But I still highly recommend them as a next step after your child has mastered the BOB Books.
First Little Readers
These sets are a great substitution if you can’t find the Phonics Ready Readers I mentioned above.
What I Love: Repeating words, simple stories, and the progression of sets from easy to more challenging. Excellent books for beginners!
What I Don’t Love: Some of the words in the beginner set are a little more challenging for very young children to sound out, and they will need more guidance. They feature more sight words (not a bad thing, just not based on phonics, so they require more help from a parent or teacher).
Books for the Intermediate Beginner
Usborne Easy Words To Read
If your child has mastered the simple phonics books and is starting to learn more complex letter combinations, I recommend the Phonics Readers from Usborne.
What I Love: Engaging story lines, great illustrations and simple sentence structure. These books also feature fun fold-out flaps and each book emphasizes one new letter combinations (“oa” or “ee” for example). These are great for kids who are ready to move beyond basic phonetical spelling books.
What I Don’t Love: Some of the words are too complex for a beginner. Depending on how quickly your child is able to pick up new sight words or sound out more difficult words, these books can be a little frustrating. My oldest son could read these easily in Kindergarten, but my middle son has a harder time with all the new words.
Scholastic Reader (Level 1)
There are many stories in this series to choose from if you like this level. I’ve featured the ones we have at our house (about Noodles the adorable puppy).
What I Love: Fun story lines, simple sentence structure, and (usually) words that are easy to sound out.
What I Don’t Love: Several of these books feature contractions (“won’t,” “don’t,” “let’s”) which might be a little confusing for young readers. And Noodles sometimes exhibits naughty behavior (not sharing, being disobedient), but things always work out in the end 🙂
I Can Read! My First (Shared Reading)
These are the beginner level of the I Can Read series. They are targeted at emergent readers and meant to be read along with a parent.
What I Love: These books feature characters the kids love, sweet stories and several words little ones can read. The illustrations are fantastic! Who doesn’t love Pete the Cat or Biscuit?
What I Don’t Love: As I mentioned these are meant to be read with an adult, so don’t expect your 5-year-old to read them alone. You can tell from the titles that some words would be difficult for a child who’s just beginning to read.
Puppy Mudge (Scholastic):
This is a really fun series from Scholastic. Puppy Mudge is a favorite at our house.
What I Love: While the words are still fairly simple, the stories are a little more interesting for kids who are bored by the more basic “See Jill run. Jack can go.” books.
What I Don’t Love: The books are little on the masculine side (which works great in my house of boys, but probably not for everyone).
Books for the Advanced Beginner
I Can Read! Level 1
The next step in the I Can Read! series is Level 1, meant for children who are ready to read more complex books on their own.
What I Love: Again, these feature some beloved children’s book characters, such as Splat the Cat and Fancy Nancy. They do a great job of taking well-known read-aloud stories and simplifying them for young readers.
What I Don’t Love: Don’t be mislead by the Level 1 category. Your child should have a pretty firm grasp of most phonetic blends and vowel combinations to read these on his/her own.
Hello Reader (Level 1)
What I Love: These are much more complex stories, perfect for advancing readers that may not be ready for chapter books yet. They are still great books for beginners – short enough to hold the attention of a Kindergartener or 1st grader without sounding babyish.
What I Don’t Love: There seems to be a wide variation in what the publisher considers Level 1 in this series. Some books are very easy to read while others are fairly challenging.
Get Started Today!
So there you have it! My ultimate list of books for beginner readers. I hope this list is helpful to anyone with a new reader. The world of children’s books can be a little (or a lot) confusing, so I hope this gives you a great place to start!
Let me know what you think and if you have any other great books for beginners.