This booklist picks up where I left off with 20 Fantastic Books for Kids Learning to Read. In “20 Fantastic Books for Kids Learning to Read,” I recommended books for kids just beginning to sound out words.
This coming week my daughter will be finishing up kindergarten. Like many kindergarteners, she has made amazing progress during the past year in learning to read. She can identify many sight words (yes, I, the etc.) and can slowly sound out more complicated words. However, she cannot yet pick out her favorite stories from the library and read them effortlessly. While she loves books, she is not yet hooked on reading.
Kids reach this stage — the stage where they can sound out words but sounding out words requires effort — at varying ages, from preschool to second or third grade. Here are some great books to share with your emerging reader this summer. I focus here on series because kids gain a great deal of confidence from reading series of books that have the same characters, structure and vocabulary.
The starred (*) books below are excellent choices for second and third graders who are learning to read, including kids who can read but are still gaining confidence and comfort with reading.
Yes! by Jez Alborough.* The first book your child will be able to read all by themselves! Author Jez Alborough has written three books about the lovable chimpanzee Bobo: Yes!, Hug and Tall. These three stories are told primarily via illustrations but also include ~5 words per book for your child to read (e.g. “yes” “no” “Bobo”). Ages 2+
Cat the Cat Who Is That? by Mo Willems. Mo Willems has written four books for the very earliest reader, starting with Cat the Cat Who Is That? Part concept book, these are perfect for precocious preschoolers who are learning to read. Ages 1+
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin.* The Pete the Cat books are very fun books for children who are just learning to sound out words to read together with an adult. An adult can read most of the text in these books and invite the children to read the simpler, bold words like “OH NO!” and “RED.” Ages 2+
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems.* Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books are hilarious. Out of the easy readers on this list, Willems’ books are the books that kids will continue to read long after they are accomplished readers. Because these appeal to older kids, these are fantastic books to share with second and third graders who are working on their reading skills. Ages 5+
Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes. Author Kevin Henkes has long used repetition for effect in his books. (See e.g. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.) In Henkes’ new series of books starring Penny, Henkes’ extensive use of repetition sounds stilted — until you get these books in the hands of an emerging reader and Henkes’ genius is revealed. See also Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble. Ages 3+
Ling & Ting Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin.* A fantastic easy reader! I hope Grace Lin writes more stories about Ling and Ting. The five stories in this book are both humorous and realistic. They are great for kids interested in reading stories about kids, rather than cartoons about elephants, piggies and flies. Ages 5+
Henry and Mudge: The First Book by Cynthia Rylant and Sucie Stevenson. This classic series of easy readers features stories about a boy named Henry and his dog Mudge. This is a wonderful series for kids who love dogs or dream of having a pet. Start with the first book in the series: Henry and Mudge: The First Book. Ages 3+
Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold.* These stories about a boy Buzz and his pet fly Fly Guy are full of off-beat humor that my kids cannot get enough of. Start with the first book in the series: Hi! Fly Guy. Ages 4+
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt.* These stories about a squirrel who is afraid of everything will have kids laughing out loud. The Scaredy Squirrel books have the look of graphic novels that are oh-so-popular with kids right now. Look for the latest Scaredy Squirrel book — Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping — published just in time for summer. Ages 4+
Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Renee Graef. One in a series of stories about the adventures of Laura Ingalls, a young girl who lived in Wisconsin in the 1800s, and Almanzo Wilder, who lived in New York at the same time. The My First Little House Books picture book series features stories taken from two of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s chapter books: Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy. Each story begins with the same introductory sentences — a great way to hook emerging readers. Ages 3+
George and Martha by James Marshall.* These stories about two best friends George and Martha offer a satisfying mix of wit and wisdom. George and Martha look out for each other, learn to balance telling the truth with being considerate of others’ feelings, and argue and make up. Author James Marshall crafted entertaining and memorable stories that are a mere five to fifteen sentences in length — the perfect length for beginning readers. Ages 3+
Fancy Nancy Spectacular Spectacles by Jane O’Connor. I love Fancy Nancy’s enthusiasm for “fancy” words like “spectacular” and “spectacles.” Do not be fooled by the fact that the Fancy Nancy books are labeled “Beginner 1” books. They includes significantly more advanced vocabulary than other books on this list. Ages 3+
Nate the Great and the Musical Note by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Craig Sharmat.* A great series of mysteries for young readers. Nate the Great books appeal to both boys and girls. If your child enjoys these, see also the Young Cam Jansen series by David Adler — another series of mysteries that stars a female protagonist. Ages 5+
You may also be interested in:
- 20 Fantastic Books for Kids Learning to Read
- 5 Things to Never Say to an Emerging Reader by Amy Mascott of Teach Mama
- How to Create a Writing Center by Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning