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!
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
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.
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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.
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?
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Great list! The Frog and Toad series was one of our favorites.