Good Books for Beginning Readers

Dear Reader,

Another question I see a lot: “What good books can my kids read after phonics but while they are still beginning readers?”

Let me start by saying that I love the Bob Books. These are really learning-to-read books. The simplest ones are very simple. They manage to tell a story with very few words and with words that beginning readers actually can read. None of those more difficult words thrown in to through your little one off.

Once they are a little more proficient Arnold Lobel’s books make wonderful choices. The Frog and Toad books and Owl at Home are some of our favorites, though he has others as well. They are divided into very short, manageable chunks. They tell a humorous story and often convey ideas as well. Living books in simple language.

Lobel’s books are part of the “I Can Read” series. There are other books in this series that you will see recommended. Some I am not a big fan of. Amelia Bedelia comes to mind. I remember reading these as a child but as an adult, I just can’t take them. Puns are fine in moderation only and I just want to slap Amelia most of the time. I am also not a fan of Berenstain Bears (some of which are done as “I Can Read” books). But Syd Hoff’s books Danny the Dinosaur and Sammy the Seal are worth a read. As with most living books — older is better. Else Holmelund Minarik‘s Little Bear books are charming as well.

If Maurice Sendak illustrated it (as with the Little Bear books) or wrote it , you can bet it is worth a look. Some of Sendak’s books are harder to read or even of more mature content (Brundibar is a favorite of mine) but some like Chicken Soup with Rice and Pierre are more easily readable.

Cynthia Rylant is a prolific author of series for beginning readers. I am not a fan of all of them, but I do like The Lighthouse Family and the Cobblestreet Cousins series. Both is these might appeal more to girls than boys.

Don’t forget those classic Dr.Seuss books — the smaller ones like Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks can work well for beginning readers.

While newer readers are often happier with shorter books, Little House in the Big Woods is actually pretty easy reading. I gave up reading lessons for my older daughter when at 4 years old I caught her reading it on her own (don’t be jealous; of 4 kids, she was my only reading prodigy).

If you are looking for short chunks, Thornton Burgess’ shorter books are wonderful. Look for ones with titles like “The Story of . . .” and then an animal’s name, like “Sammy Jay.” Chapters in these books are often just a page or two yet the story moves along. His Bird Book and Animal Book are wonderful too but are not easy reading.

A more recent author — Dick King-Smith’s books are great stories as well. He wrote Babe  and The Water-Horse, both of which have been made into movies (the latter is nothing like the book), as well as many more. I think they all contain animals, sometimes as speaking characters, sometimes as pets.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachan was a favorite of my daughter when she was still pretty young. There are sequels as well.

Need more suggestions? Check out these older posts:

Book List for a Reluctant Reader

Book Series for Tween and Teen Boys

Book List for Girls

Happy Reading!



One response to this post.

  1. […] true with those who are newer readers. It can be hard to find good books for this stage (but see this post) and it can be hard to motivate some children to read on their own at all. What kind of reading we […]


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