Nurturing beginning readers is a delicate balance of finding the right books and not applying too much pressure! Both of my boys love books but they had very different experiences learning to read. My older child spoiled me by learning to read on his own when he was 3, but my youngest is now 6 and still working on sounding out words. He’s coming along and I’ve found may ways to encourage him without forcing the issue. (<– click there to read some of them)
His progress as a beginning reader is encouraging and I created this book list for beginning readers like him with summer reading in mind. Our summer reading style is very casual. No book logs, no page requirements, just tons of books scattered all over the apartment to inspire reading any time, any where. My 6 year old will be headed into 2nd grade in the fall, but this is more of a kindergarten and 1st grade book list as our cut off date means he would be headed into 1st grade almost anywhere else in the country (don’t get me started about that). (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
- Easy readers that are actually easy
- Easy readers parents and kids will both love
- Classic easy readers
Books for beginning readers
You Are Not Small. Whenever my son starts to read aloud a book with me without my begging and pleading, I know I have a winner. This clever and amusing book about comparisons was also this year’s Theodor Seuss Geigel award recipient. It is well suited for back and forth reading, so my son would read one character’s dialogue and I would read the other’s. He loved switching up the parts, and I loved how that got him to keep reading.
Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly. I am always on the hunt for silly, funny books because those are the ones that grab my emerging reader’s attention. He loves to laugh and find the ridiculousness in every situation. As a result, he loves this easy reader about twins.
Good Night, Knight. Betsy Lewin has a number of easy readers in the “I Like to Read” series. We particularly enjoyed this one about a knight and his horse who wear themselves out looking for golden cookies. If this book is a good level for your child, be sure to pick up some of the other books in the series.
The Littlest Leaguer. It’s always nice to have a classic on the list so parents can feel nostalgic while helping their kids learn to read. It’s also much, much longer than contemporary easy readers, although it also has a nice story arc to keep kids’ attention span. I’m still working on getting my son to read longer books so I’m hoping this story about a small boy with big baseball dreams does the trick.
The Watermelon Seed. I confess, I didn’t realize when I read this picture book a year ago that it would make a good book for beginners. The story draws upon the age-old facetious warning that if you swallow a seed, it will grow inside your tummy. Of course, any story about watermelon is perfect for summer reading!
Ah Ha! is an interesting challenge for new readers. The text uses only the letters “h” and “a”. Kids will have to really focus on decoding the sounds without relying on familiar words.
Brownie & Pearl Step Out is a cute series by the author of Henry and Mudge, and Mr. Putter and Tabby, (both of which your new readers should also read!). Brownie and her cat, Pearl, have uncomplicated, friendly adventures around town and at home. Pick up any or all of the books in the series.
Bink and Gollie: Two for One is the second book in the much beloved series, and it is also one parents will enjoy reading aloud, or listening to as their kid sounds out words. In this installment, Bink and Gollie visit the fair where, among other things, Bink tries to win the world’s largest donut! (yum)
Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! My 6 year old loves the TOON books and I love that he is reading a graphic novel that does not involve licensed superhero or Pokemon characters! In the Benjamin Bear books, each page is its own self contained comic so kids can read as much or as little as they wish.
Squirrel’s World, a fun story about a squirrel who tries to help all his friends has short chapters so beginning readers can take a break if they need to.
Ollie the Stomper. Dunrea’s books about geese Ollie, Gossie and Gerdie were originally board books, but they translate well to simple readers. My son loves the silly antics of Ollie and his friends.