High Quality Early Readers

For some reason, there is a very popular idea out there that it doesn’t matter what children read, as long as they are reading. I strongly disagree with this! It does matter because what they are exposed to develops their taste. Some books ARE better than others. Below are some early reader books that I did or would keep in my home.

Let your child read at the level he is comfortable with. This builds fluency. And PLEASE forget about what AR level you were told he is at. I have heard way too many stories about that system failing kids. Let him read what he wants to read within (moral/ethical) boundaries. Don’t limit him to books within his “reading level.” Read alouds and audio books (especially if you do narration) will build his vocabulary and reading comprehension. Right now the main purpose of reading books like those below is building fluency in decoding and encouraging a love for reading!

Some tips for helping your child become fluent:

Do “buddy reading” where you take turns reading every other sentence or every other page so your child doesn’t get fatigued too quickly.

If she is working so hard on decoding that you can tell she wasn’t able to hold the entire sentence in her mind and understand it, read it aloud to her before moving on to the next page. This way she can still follow the story while working on building up the skill of reading for herself.

Help him sound out longer words by reading one section of the word at a time. It might help to cover over the part you don’t want him to read yet with your finger or a small slip of paper.

If you know phonics rules, it might help to throw a little reminder in now and then. (“C says /s/ when it is before an E.”)

It’s okay to sometimes just tell her the tricky word if she is doing well reading through a section. Keep in mind the goal of building a love of reading. She’ll run up against that word again at some point and have to sound it out.

Keep reading practice SHORT! A little bit every day is much better than a long chunk of time less frequently for most kids.

If he is really fighting you on this or isn’t making progress, put it aside for a few weeks or months before trying again. In the mean time, read aloud to him lots and lots of high quality books.


Easy Readers

Henry and Mudge series

Billy and Blaze series

Frog and Toad series

Books by Millicent E Selsam

Little Bear series

Mr. Putter and Tabby series

Go, Dog, Go!

Are You My Mother?

Gerald and Piggie series

Dr. Seuss books

The Fire Cat

Greg’s Microscope

Amelia Bedelia series (If you have an early reader, she may not fully understand the humor in these!)

Daniel’s Duck

Carrot Seed

Mouse Tales

Frances series

The Bravest Dog Ever

Nate the Great series

The Big Blue Book of Beginner Books

“I Can Read” books (vintage ones are great!)

Treadwell and Free Primer

Abe Lincoln’s Hat

The Big Balloon Race

Mouse Soup

Clara and the Bookwagon

Hill of Fire

The Long Way to a New Land

The Long Way Westward

Wagon Wheels

Put Me in the Zoo

My First Little House series

Books by Syd Hoff

Commander Toad series

Mr. Pine books

Books by Joan Heilbroner

This is My Home, This is My School

Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature

Science books by Robert E. Wells

Owl at Home



Almost Ready for Chapter Books

(This is a good time to pull out your picture books. Some have vocabulary that is too difficult, but many are perfect for readers at this stage!)

Mercy Watson series

Marco Polo by Graves

Amigo by Byrd Baylor

Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out books

Usborne Beginners books

Treadwell and Free 1st and 2nd Readers

A Question of Yams (Christian)

The Titanic

Tut’s Mummy

Prairie School

Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln

Little Sure Shot

Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares

The Snow Walker

The Trojan Horse

Pompeii – Buried Alive

Snip, Snapp, Snurr books

Flicka Ricka Dicka books

Grace books by Hoffman

Ling and Ting books

Mother Goose

Poems to Read to the Very Young

Nonsense Poems by Edward Lear

When We Were Very Young

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

George, the Drummer Boy

Sam, The Minuteman

The Josefina Story Quilt

The Drinking Gourd

A New Coat for Anna

Nate the Great books

George Washington’s Mother

George and Martha books

Least of All

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

Snowflake Bentley




Early Chapter Books

The Magic Treehouse series*

The Cul-de-Sac Kids series (Christian) *

A Grain of Rice

The Boxcar Children (books #1-19)

Dolphin Adventure

Dolphin Treasure

The Last Little Cat

Books by Clyde Robert Bulla

Stone Fox

Li Lun: Lad of Courage

The Arrow Over the Door

Linnea books by Bjork

Books by Beverly Cleary

Little Pear


Milly Molly Mandy

There’s an Owl in the Shower

Because of Winn-Dixie (emotionally intense)

Childhood of Famous Americans series

“The Adventures of…” books by Thornton Burgess

Janette Oke’s Animal Friends series*

Grace’s Letter to Lincoln

Thomas Alva Edison by Davidson

Mary on Horseback

The Light at Tern Rock

Tornado by Byars

Morning Girl by Dorris

The Story of Holly and Ivy

The Year of the Dog and sequels by Lin

Jake Drake


Biographies by D’Aulaire

Step Up book series (most are titled “Meet ….”)

Anna Hibiscus books

My Father’s Dragon and sequels

Water Buffalo Days

Owls in the Family

A Toad for Tuesday

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain

The Hundred Dresses (bullying)

The Story of Holly and Ivy

Fables by Lobel

Flat Stanley

A Bear Called Paddington and sequels

The Courage of Sarah Noble

Books by Marguerite de Angeli

The Matchlock Gun

The Ordinary Princess

Twenty and Ten (possibly scary for sensitive children)

The Sword in the Tree

“All About ….” books (vintage)

Books by Jeanne Bendick

Fairchild Family series

A Nest for Celeste

Tumtum and Nutmeg series (intense)

Find the Constellations

The Enormous Egg

Cobble Street Cousins series

The Whipping Boy

Tales from the Odyssey, Volumes 1 and 2

The Minstrel in the Tower




Look HERE for more great book lists for all levels of readers!