Finding an easy reader on the shelf is, well, pretty easy. These are the books that help readers build their skills.
- The book is well sized for children to hold (usually 6″ x 9″);
- Type fonts are big and the pictures colorful;
- Sentences are short and just a few to page.
- Some form of “I Can Read” is (usually) imprinted on the cover.
Easy readers fall into that category of series where a character moves from adventure to adventure, but each book is essentially a stand-alone story. That is a HUGE asset, because it doesn’t matter which book your kids read first. They can pick a book based on the sound of the title, a familiar character, or the illustration on the cover.
While identifying the book type is easy, the hard part is finding learning-to-read titles that are engaging. The Dick and Jane books that many of us grew up with just won’t cut it with today’s entertainment-savvy kids. Kids’ very first easy reader (the ones with just one word on a page) help encourage word recognition and are important, but it isn’t easy to find some that are fun to read and re-read!
Don’t despair! There are some AWESOME books that will have your reader-to-be giggling, laughing, and asking to read some more. They may not be ready to try the book on their own, so consider treating it like a picture book that you read with them.
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Book titles, book covers, and series titles listed below link to Smile.Amazon.com.
Very First Readers
Cat the Cat by Mo Willems. Each book in the series introduces a word “family.” [Words that sound alike or have similar base letters.] The illustrations are whimsical and colorful, and the repetitive text helps with sight words. Selected sample:
There is a lyricism to the repetitive names and phrases that kids will enjoy and also find encouraging. Fans of the pigeon will love finding their old friend in these new books. Reading Tub review here.
Great choice for: Kids who are just learning to read; practicing letter sounds; useful for helping toddlers for animal identification, too.
New + Developing Readers [aka Level 1]
Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems. These friendship stories offer a lesson told with humor. Simple illustrations and basic, repetitive text make this a perfect book for emerging readers. Short sentences and varying type styles guide readers in reading with emotion. Selected Sample:
Our daughter jumped at the chance to read this book. The colored word clouds and varied type sizes made it easy for her to add different voices and express emotion like we do when we read to her. Reading Tub review here.
Great choice for: kids who are ready for short sentences; love happy stories; and clever, surprise endings
Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold. A boy named Buzz has a pet fly named Fly Guy. Readers will love playing with the “z” sound that is Fly Guy’s “voice.” Note: Since we were first introduced to this series, Arnold has now added some non-fiction titles that feature Fly Guy. Selected sample:
Despite living among the garbage, Fly Guy is an endearing friend. Fun characters combine with an interesting story to give developing readers lots of confidence. Reading Tub review here.
Great choice for: readers still needing short sentences and sight word practice; readers (all ages!) who love to make noise and “act out” roles, as well as those who like plays on words
Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton. Fans of the picture book feline will jump at the chance to read Splat the Cat stories on their own! Sample selected:
A cute adventure that is easy to read. The illustrations offer readers more to explore – and giggle at – beyond just the story text. Great word play will have kids giggling and also proud that they figured out the humor.
Great choice for: kids who like to look at illustrations; kids who like adventure and funny stories. Readers ready for longer sentences, but still 1-3 per page.
BONUS! Splat the Cat easy readers are also available as audiobooks! This allows readers to follow along the page as they listen to the text.
Readers Ready for Longer Sentences [aka Level 2]
Aggie and Ben by Lori Ries. These have a classic boy-and-his-dog story with a voice that mirrors all kids ages 5 to 8. Aggie and Ben are more text-heavy, short chapter stories suitable for reading with younger children, and exceptional for new readers polishing their skills and building reading stamina. Sample selected:
Even though this is a book about a boy and his dog, our daughter immediately saw herself and HER dog in the stories. By breaking the story into three chapters, it helps readers process the content as they go along.
Great choice for: animal and pet lovers; kids building reading stamina (either as listener or reader); family read alouds
Mr. Putter & Tabby by Cynthia Rylant. A timeless series about the hapless Mr. Putter and his cat. Many of the stories illustrate literal and figurative concepts (e.g., dropping the ball). Some stories are broken into smaller chapters of 2-3 pages each. Sample selected:
Humor, cute characters, and lots of action will keep kids reading until they have the whole story. Reading Tub review here.
Great choice for: kids who like silliness and humor; readers ready for stories with more than 1 character and 2-3 sentences / page
Urgency Emergency! by Dosh Archer. Each story in this series takes a well-known fairy tale or nursery rhyme and turns it into something fun and new. Humor in pictures and words make this a fun story to share, and an exceptional choice for developing readers. Sample selected:
With the story told in dialogue, it is easy to take turns with partner reading, or creating a “reader’s theater” and turning it into a script. Reading Tub review here.
Great choice for: kids who love fairy tales and mixed up stories; readers who are ready for longer sentences and fewer repetitive phrases