Category: Literacy & Language

Best Books for New Readers

Best Books for New Readers

Not too long ago, a friend reached out to me for some new book recommendations. Her oldest daughter is getting ready for Kindergarten, and she wants to be sure that their family library has a variety of books for new readers. As parents, we often hear a lot about books for babies and great books for reading aloud, but finding “just right” readers for our five and six year olds that aren’t boring or dry can be tricky.

Note: I strongly believe we should continue reading to our children long after they become readers themselves. There are lots of beautiful picture books for older children, so don’t be too quick to rush into chapter books exclusively!

Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

Children who are learning to read have lots of internal motivation…at first. As parents, our goal is to make sure that our children have access to humorous, high-interest books. You know, books that our children actually want to read. Keep in mind that some children will LOVE stories, while others will be drawn to non-fiction or how-to books. (One of my students, a reluctant reader, fell in love with joke books during third grade. He read every humor book the library had on the shelf before moving on to higher-quality literature in his fourth grade year.)

As the mom of a new reader myself, I try to keep a healthy balance between “easy reader” books and higher quality literature for my 1st grader. Honestly, I see it as being similar to checking out a Nicholas Sparks book and a classic by one of the Bronte sisters for myself. Sometimes, it’s nice to kick back with an easy “beach read.” Good readers read a lot, so new readers need lots of books to choose from.

Organizing Books for New Readers

Our home library used to be organized by author’s last name, similar to the public library. Once my youngest became an independent reader, I reorganized the shelves by reading level. It was a lot of work at first, but I’ve seen her confidence grow. It’s nice that she can quickly find a book that she wants to read from a tub of books she knows she can read. Scholastic has a Book Wizard tool that makes leveling most books a cinch!

Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

Best Books for New Readers

This is not an exhaustive list, and your children might find other books they prefer! Hopefully it will give you a good starting place when you go into the library or book store. If you would like a printable copy of the list (with even more book ideas!), just fill out the form below. It will arrive in your inbox immediately.

(Just a reminder that Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here.)

Maisy books by Lucy Cousins

We read a LOT of Maisy when our girls were younger. There are lots of titles available, and the text is usually simple and silly.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (and sequels) by Doreen Cronin


I believe strongly in the power of humor to keep new readers motivated. If your child doesn’t know the Click Clack series, add these to your library list!

Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola is incredible. I adore all of his books (and there are LOTS), but this sweet autobiographical series is a must-have for new readers. Tomie’s childhood is laugh-out-loud funny and sweet.

mouse books by Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum and Owen are our two favorites, but Lilly’s adventures are fun, too! Kevin Henkes knows how to write for children, so you can’t really go wrong with any of his books.

Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin

When Pete the Cat first arrived in bookstores and libraries, children and adults alike were smitten. For some reason, James Dean (the creator of Pete) and Eric Litwin (the original author) have split ways and the newer books aren’t as memorable or fun to read. I Love My White Shoes and Four Groovy Buttons are great!

Everything written by Leo Lionni

Lionni is a gifted artist, and most of his books feature animals, a sure kid-pleaser. Little Blue and LIttle Yellow is different from most of his books, which oddly makes it my favorite. A Color of His Own and Swimmy are other beloved books in our house.

Frog and Toad collection by Arnold Lobel

I remember reading these books as a child, and I love sharing them with my own girls.

Anne Rockwell

As I mentioned above, my second daughter much prefers non-fiction books. Anne Rockwell’s stories are a good balance–lots of facts and simple illustrations! These two were big hits in our family.

Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is a fantastic author for new readers. Henry and Mudge is one of two series she’s written that I often recommend for young children. What’s better than a series of early reader books featuring a boy and his dog? (P.S. When I Was Young in the Mountains is one of my favorite picture books of all time!)

Mr. Putter and Tabby books by Cynthia Rylant

This is another sweet series of books for new readers. Try the first two books from the library and see if your family enjoys the characters.

Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems

Mo Willems has been a favorite author of mine since Knuffle Bunny came out. The Elephant & Piggie series is laugh out loud funny, while still talking about some of the BIG feelings that our new readers struggle with. Best of all, there are lots of choices to keep your kiddo giggling.

What are your favorite books for new readers?

Best Books for New Readers | best books for kids, reading lists, recommended books, early readers, learning to read, printable list, free download

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Early Literacy Tips For Parents of Toddlers | Video Training

Early Literacy Tips For Parents of Toddlers | Video Training

Toddler Literacy Tips: Free Video Training | toddler literacy activities, fun learning ideas, reading at home, tips for parents, language development, listening activities, nursery rhymes, tot school, preschool at home, parenting

If you have a busy toddler, you know how tricky storytime has become! There are fun ways to keep your little mover interested in books, and we’ll talk about them in this free ONLINE video training about raising readers. Get five simple toddler literacy ltips that you can use immediately to set a good foundation for raising a reader!

Scroll down for all the resources mentioned in this training.
Click on the image below for more information about our online class for little ones & their caregivers!

Join us LIVE for an online get-together to chat literacy and language for our little ones.  Bring your baby or toddler for songs, stories, and a little bit of sign language. Meet other parents and enjoy our online community.


Get ideas for an educational playlist for your toddler here! Listen and learn while you move and play.

Books and resources mentioned in this video:

(Rolling Prairie Readers does use affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you purchase any items we recommend. For the full disclosure policy, you can click here.) 


  • Toddlers learn by doing. Allow them to move while you’re reading or choose quiet toys for reading time. (We love bristle blocks.)
  • It’s okay to flip through the pictures with an impatient toddler–attention spans are only about two-minutes long at this time!
  • But don’t give up on reading! The more you do it, the more stamina your child will have.
  • Use audio books or personal recordings so your toddler can listen “on demand.”

Read and re-read favorite books. Young children are obsessive about their favorite toys, T.V. shows, and friends—books are no different. (We often let our girls pick a book and we pick something new/more literary to complement our reading time.) Click here for more on the importance of repetition!

  • Make story time at the library a priority! Use the time to meet other local families, meet the librarian, participate in family reading challenges, and check out books each week.
  • Choose interactive books at this age: lift-the-flap, books that make noise, and flashlight books. (All Better is one of our favorites.)
  • Leave small groups of books in each room your child is in. You will be amazed what “strewing” can do to pique interests.
  • Choose lots of interest-based books for daytime reading. (Construction books near the matching toys, etc.)

Grab our FREE Guide for Parents of Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers!

Grab our FREE Guide for Parents of Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers!

Raising children who love reading doesn’t just happen. So let’s be more intentional together, okay?

25 “Must-Have” Read-Aloud Authors

25 “Must-Have” Read-Aloud Authors

Welcome to our Read-Aloud series!

25 "Must-Have" Read-Aloud Authors | great books for kids, recommended books to read aloud, library tips for families, read aloud books for preschool

I think it’s no secret that our family loves the library. We are there three to four times a week: attending story time, participating in book club and LEGO time, and playing with friends in the children’s area.

But can I tell you a secret?

We have the biggest struggle when it comes to finding great books to check out and take home.

I have fond memories of the years we spent borrowing board books for our girls. At both of the libraries we’ve lived near, the books for toddlers were stored in open bins. We’d plop down on the floor and look for new favorites together.

And then our oldest moved up to picture books. Instead of browsing through open bins, now the books were lined up neatly on shelves (or sometimes packed tightly in). Choosing items to take home became sort of “hit and miss” as we’d move slowly down the aisle, looking for interesting titles. We would find a favorite author and check the same books out over and over again.

Those were the years of Maisy, Spot, and all the Liesbet Slegers books we could find.

Now that our youngest daughter is a confident reader, we are spending more and more time looking for beautiful picture books to enjoy together. My husband asked me to make a list of suggested authors to browse when he takes the girls to the library, so I thought I would share that with all of you.

Note: these 25 (+1) authors are just a slice of a huge “pie” of incredible children’s literature waiting to be discovered by your family. I would love for you to leave a comment with any others you would recommend!

25 "Must-Have" Read-Aloud Authors | great books for kids, recommended books to read aloud, library tips for families, read aloud books for preschool

Recommended Read-Aloud Author List

  1. Ludwig Bemelmans
  2. Sandra Boynton
  3. Eric Carle
  4. Doreen Cronin
  5. Tomie dePaola
  6. Olivier Dunrea
  7. Lois Ehlert
  8. Mem Fox
  9. Don Freeman
  10. Kevin Henkes
  11. Ezra Jack Keats
  12. Steve Light
  13. Leo Lionni
  14. Eric Litwin
  15. Bill Martin, Jr.
  16. Il Sung Na
  17. Lori Nichols
  18. Patricia Polacco
  19. Peter H. Reynolds
  20. Cynthia Rylant
  21. Alice Schertle
  22. Dr. Seuss
  23. Samantha R. Vamos
  24. Judith Viorst
  25. Mo Willems
  26. Karma Wilson

You may have noticed I couldn’t quite narrow it down to just 25! And I’m sure I missed a few great ones along the way…don’t forget to leave me a comment with YOUR must-have read-aloud authors.

Get your FREE printable book list: 52 Best Books for Babies

Be sure to grab our FREE 52 Best Books for Babies List–just fill out the form below: