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!

FREE Audio Books for Kids

These audio books from LibriVox are always free! There is an app that might make these easier to access for your kids. The Pro version with no ads is $2. Sometimes the narrators are unpleasant to listen to since they are all volunteers and don’t always have good recording equipment, so you need to check first. I’m including ones that seem pretty good from the samples. If you don’t like a particular narrator, check the site/app to see if there is another version you would like better. These are all books we did use in our homeschool or would have used if I’d known about them. The age ranges are just my best guess and may not be right for your particular children. If they aren’t used to listening to audio books, start with those meant for younger kids. I did try to note any that I remembered being somewhat scary. Don’t skip the ones with “princess” in the title if you have a boy. These are great stories for all!….



My Father’s Dragon (This is the most adorable thing you will ever hear!)

Collection of Beatrix Potter Stories (Dramatic Readings by a cast of children)

When We Were Very Young (delightful poetry by A.A. Milne)

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Poems Every Child Should Know

The Aesop for Children (various narrators)

Aesop’s Fables

The Adventures of Peter Cottontail

The Adventures of Reddy Fox

The Adventures of Sammy Jay

The Adventures of Bobby Coon

The Adventures of Buster Bear

The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel

The Adventures of Bob White

The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk

The Adventures of Johnny Chuck

The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer

The Adventures of Old Man Coyote

The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad

The Adventures of Paddy Beaver

Blacky the Crow

Bowser the Hound

Mother West Wind “Where” Stories

Raggedy Ann Stories

Fifty Famous Stories Retold

Just So Stories



The King of the Golden River

The Reluctant Dragon

Five Children and It

Five Children and It (Dramatic Reading)

The Phoenix and the Carpet

The Story of the Amulet

The Railway Children

The Railway Children (Dramatic Reading)

The Magic City

The Book of Dragons

Rikki Tikki Tavi (short story)

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (Greek Myths)

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (another version)

The Light Princess and Other Tales

The Princess and the Goblin (possibly scary for sensitive children)

The Princess and Curdie

At the Back of the North Wind

Puck of Pook’s Hill

Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books (some stories are scary for sensitive children)

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Hans Brinker (or The Silver Skates)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (The whole series is available on the site here.)

Eight Cousins

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew

Understood Betsy (This is especially good for fearful/shy children to listen to!)

Jack and Jill

Teddy’s Button

A Little Princess

A Little Princess

Little Lord Fauntleroy (Dramatic Reading)

The Secret Garden


Heidi (Dramatic Reading)


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Tales from Shakespeare

Black Beauty

Our Island Story, Part 1

Our Island Story, Part 2

Peter Pan (Dramatic Reading)

The Wind in the Willows

The Jungle Book

The Story of the Treasure-Seekers




The Children of Odin

The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tales of Troy

The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles

Children of the New Forest

The Story of Rolf and the Viking’s Bow

The Story of Mankind

The Story of the Other Wise Man (Christmas story)

What Katy Did

What Katy Did at School

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Avonlea

Rilla of Ingleside

Grammar-Land (Good intro to parts of speech)

Under the Lilacs

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Treasure Island

The Prince and the Pauper

Black Beauty

The House of Arden

The Song of Hiawatha


Ages 14+  (I haven’t read all of these, but all are on trustworthy lists for high schoolers.)

The Innocence of Father Brown

The Wisdom of Father Brown

The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

Oliver Twist

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

The Black Arrow

She Stoops to Conquer

Pride and Prejudice

A Tale of Two Cities

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Twelve Years a Slave

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Up From Slavery

Alexander the Great

The History of Julius Caesar

Margaret of Anjou

Richard II

Richard III


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Silas Marner

Jane Eyre


Unknown to History



Books we haven’t read but I thought looked interesting

The Book of Art for Young People (This would be good for art study during school!)

Little Bear

Our Little English Cousin

Royal Children of English History

KayRay’s Storytime

Stories of Great Composers for Children

A Little Brother to the Bear

Uncle Wiggily on the Farm

Uncle Wiggily and Old Mother Hubbard

The Story of Abraham Lincoln

Historical Tales

American Fairy Tales

Bird Stories from Burroughs

Squirrels and Other Fur-Bearers

The Magic World

History of France



And here is a list of books for you to find in your library app if possible

  • Winnie the Pooh
  • The House at Pooh Corner
  • Just So Stories
  • Books by Thornton Burgess
  • Farmer Boy
  • The Blue Fairy Book by Lang (may be scary)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  • Peter and the Wolf (music and story)
  • Fifty Famous Stories Retold
  • Little House in the Big Woods
  • The Little Duke by Yonge
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • Homer Price
  • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
  • Otto of the Silver Hand (child loses a hand, combat to the death)
  • Along Came a Dog
  • The Door in the Wall
  • The Light Princess by Macdonald
  • King of the Wind
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • The Secret Garden
  • Peter Pan
  • A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales by Hawthorne
  • All-of-a-Kind Family
  • Five Children and It
  • The Hundred Dresses
  • Pippi Longstocking
  • Children of Noisy Village
  • The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle
  • The Indian Captive
  • Little Britches
  • Day Boy and Night Girl
  • The Princess and the Goblin
  • Call It Courage
  • Stuart Little
  • The Cabin Faced West
  • The Sign of the Beaver
  • Bud, Not Buddy
  • A Bear Called Paddington
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and sequels
  • Ben and Me
  • Mr. Revere and I
  • Rabbit Hill
  • By the Great Horn Spoon
  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
  • Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang
  • The Great Turkey Walk
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • Understood Betsy
  • A Little Princess
  • Our Island Story

Newer Publications

  • The Green Ember and sequels
  • American Tall Tales by Osborne
  • The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
  • The Borrowers
  • The Moffats
  • The Saturdays
  • Redwall
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (and others by Grace Lin)
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and sequels
  • The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
  • TumTum and Nutmeg series
  • Wonder
  • The Wild Robot
  • Because of Winn Dixie
  • The Phantom Tollbooth

Great Book Lists

Most of these are book lists I have used and enjoyed for our family while homeschooling through the years! When you have one or more voracious readers, you’ve got to stay ahead of them! There was no way I could preview all books before my daughter read them. These are the lists I trusted (or would trust if I’d known about them at the time) to give me high quality selections that promote the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. (That doesn’t mean there is nothing ugly or evil in these books. Far from it! But sometimes you need to see how dark evil is in order to see the true strength and light of the Good.)

A little plug: Our family owns and operates BiblioHaven.com where we sell vintage children’s books! After looking through the lists below, you can find many of the books for sale on our website so please check it out and support our small business!  🙂

1000 Good Books

Read Aloud Revival

Charlotte Mason Plenary

Well Educated Heart

Reshelving Alexandria (now free to the public!)

Sonlight (Christian)

Bookshark (secular)

Sabbath Mood Living Science Books

Living Math Books

Ursa Minor (7th-12th grade)

Ambleside Online (check especially the literature and read aloud sections)

Wildwood Curriculum