Learning How To Read: A Beginning Reader Booklist

Learning How To Read A Beginning Reader Booklist - This list is broken up into 4 small lists to help build reading confidence in kids

Do you remember the first book you read by yourself? For those of you with older readers, what was the first book your child read independently? Venturing into the beginning reader section of a library or bookstore is overwhelming. Each publisher has their own reading level categories and don’t even get me started on all the different types of leveled reading assessments. How do you make time to skim each and every book while chasing kids around the library? This is my attempt at troubleshooting that experience of finding books for the just-started-learning-how-to-read reader. The below booklist is broken up into pre-reading stages of wordless books and one-word books, to build picture and print recognition, and then dives into books with only a few words to each page, working on word families and phonetic awareness, and the last list of books focuses on one sentence to two sentences per page, max.


wordless picture books for beginning readers

Did you know that one valuable pre-reading skill is to look at picture clues to interpret a story? Wordless picture books (books without words) are a powerful tool with emergent readers. These are a few of our favorites:

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley
Journey by Aaron Becker
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Flotsom by David Wiesner
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu
Where’s Walrus by Stephen Savage
ABC Dream by Kim Krans
Shadow by Suzy Lee
Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Pool by Jihyeon Lee
Float by Daniel Miyares


picture books with one word

Let’s build some print recognition! This each book in this list only have one word that’s often times repeated throughout the entire story:

Hug by Jez Alborough
Moo by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Banana! by Ed Vere (this one actually has two words in it)
Ball by Mary Suliavan
Ah Ha! Jeff Mack
Look! by Jeff Mack


Books for Beginning Readers

These are books that only have a few words on each page. They work on phonics and word families and gaining a comfortability with comprehension. I found these titles to be the perfect just-started-learning-how-to-read books:

Home  Grown Books (start with The Play Book Pack!)
Flip-A-Word Books by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Yukiko Kido (This is the first series my daughter started reading by herself. Big fans of filp-a-word books!))
I See and See (I Like to Read) by Ted Lewin
Cat on the Mat (Cat on the Mat Books) by Brain Wildsmith
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
I Have a Garden (I Like to Read) by Bob Barner
Dinosaurs Don’t, Dinosaurs Do (I Like to Read) by Steve Bjorkman
Sid and Sam (My First I Can Read) by Nola Buck
Oh Cats! (My First I Can Read) by Nola Buck
I Like Stars by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Joan Paley
City Cats, Country Cats (Step-Into-Reading) by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Pam Paparone
Hot Dog (Step-Into-Reading) by Molly Coxe
See Me Run (I Like to Read series)
Wow, It’s Worm! (Brand New Readers) by Kathy Caple


books for kids learning to read

After the reader starts gaining some confidence reading books from the lists above, these titles bulk up with a few more words per page, a little bit longer sentences and some more challenging words, but continue the trend of repeat words and phrases with an overall relatively low word count. Many of these books are a part of a series, so if one seems to work out really well, check out the rest of the series:

Colorful Days (DK Rearders Learning to Read) by DK Publishing
Big Dog and Little Dog series (Green Light Readers) by Dav Pilkey
Whose Hat Is It? by Valeri Gorbachev
When Andy Met Sandy (An Andy & Sandy Book) by Tomie dePaola
The Chicken Said, “Cluck!” (I Can Read) by Judyann Ackermann Grant, illustrated by Sue Truesdell
Big Brown Bear (Green Light Readers) by David McPhail
Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories
Gossie (Gossie & Friends series) by Olivier Dunrea (series)
Cat the Cat Who is That? (Cat the Cat series) by Mo Willems
Rhyming Dust Bunnies Jan Thomas
What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig (series)  by Emma J. Virjan
I Spy A Funny Frog by Jean Marzollo
Hop, Bunny! (National Geographic Kids Pre-Reader) by Susan B. Neuman
Big Red Apple by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Judith Hoffman Corwin
Puppy Mudge Takes a Bath (Ready to Read) by Cynthia Rylant


These are some great additional resources to checkout for early literacy advice and book recommendations:
Reading Rockets
10 Things You Can Do to Raise a Reader
Geisel Book Awards
CLEL Bell Awards
What to Do When Your Child Hates Reading


Learning to read is an exciting time and each child learns at a different pace. Everyone has different opinions on when a child should learn to read. To me though, the most important ingredient is to just cultivate a love of reading early, regardless of age. Read stories aloud, visit the library, allow the child to choose the stories- Even if they find a dictionary appealing, look up a couple words together. Just like adults, children have reading preferences– Nonfiction, graphic novels, picture books, fairy tales… Find what they enjoy and let that be your guide. This list is just the tip of the iceberg of all the options available for emergent readers. Take your time, good luck, and happy reading!





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