Helping youngsters read books that they can enjoy while progressing as a reader is a great goal for parents, teachers and families. This week I’m reviewing outstanding books for beginning readers through level 3. I’ll conclude next week with early chapter books. All of these books are good for ages four to seven, depending on the child’s individual proficiency.
Look for the following in beginning level books: short simple sentences, repetition and fun interesting stories children can enjoy. As the level goes higher in number, so does the difficulty. Be careful not to push your child ahead too fast as they might become frustrated and possibly lose the enjoyment of reading.
Sesame Street: Brand New Readers is a boxed set of 10 smallish-sized books that have to do with Sesame Street characters that new readers will immediately recognize and enjoy reading about. There’s also an incentive chart and stickers for children to keep track of what they’ve read. The tips and strategies for parents are excellent and easy to follow.
Curious George Learning Library, by Margret and H. A. Rey, is a boxed set that includes alphabet cards with letters on one side and a picture and word representing that letter on the other side. There are also five books inside that feature Curious George. One of the books teaches numbers, but my favorite two books are “Little Book of Curiosity All Around You” and Little Book of Curiosity People and Places”. Both books take a tour of familiar places and items and labels each with the word that describes what it is. This is an excellent tool for beginning readers. (This boxed set isn’t available until May.)
Let’s Go For a Drive! (An Elephant & Piggie Book), by Mo Willems, is one in a series about Elephant and Piggie. These books are fun and funny and easy to read. Kids love to read and reread these books as the story-line is humorous and kids can easily identify with the story – and the pictures are hilarious!
Pete the Cat: Play Ball! and Pete the Cat: Pete’s Big Lunch, by James Dean, are the two newest books in this series about the coolest cat around! Both books have Pete attempting to come up with solutions to problems that kids will really enjoy!
Katy Duck and the Tip-Top Tap Shoes and Katy Duck Meets the Babysitter, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, and illustrated by Henry Cole, are the newest books in this delightful series that involves friendship and adjusting to new experiences.
The I Spy series is another wonderful way to introduce youngsters to words, spaces and picture clues. I Spy School, I Spy Letters, I Spy A Funny Frog, I Spy Numbers and I Spy Animals are the newest editions.
Level 2 books include more words, new vocabulary and a more involved plot, but still simple. There’s a Fly Guy In My Soup, by Tedd Arnold, is a kid’s favorite in this series because of all the crazy antics Fly Guy gets himself into. Fly Guy Presents: Sharks is the newest book in this popular series.
Martha Speaks: Funny Bone Jokes and Riddles, based on Susan Meddaugh’s creation, are just what kids love to tell each other. And to read jokes in a book? They will be anxious to share with any and all who will listen to them read each joke! Martha Go, Go Goes Green! is the newest publication.
The Talent Show and Fishing, both by Keith Baker, are the newest in the “A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure” series featuring this alligator couple as they experience fun and interesting adventures.
Justin and the Bully, by Tony and Lauren Dungy, and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, is a great little book that showcases how to deal with kids that tease. Justin wants to play soccer but another teammate teases him. This book will open discussions. The authors both like writing books that teach good character traits. The Missing Cupcake Mystery deals with honesty.
A Pet Named Sneaker, by Joan Heilbroner, and illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre, is about a very unusual pet snake. When he’s finally adopted from the pet store by Pete, Sneaker proves to be quite amazing! Kids will love this book and reread it over and over!
Level 3 books involve a more complex story-line, vocabulary and sentence structure. The Big Something, by Patricia Reilly Giff, and illustrated by Diane Palmisciano, involves two kids and Fiercely, the dog. This book is a good introduction to mysteries as the children try to discover what is being built next door.
Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, by Cece Bell, has two very unusual friends: Rabbit and Robot. Rabbit isn’t prepared for what Robot wants for dinner: nuts and bolts. Kids will enjoy this funny story.
Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, by Melissa Wiley, and illustrated by Sebastien Braun, is a story about fighting over a piece of cheese. But this Aesop fable-type story has much to teach.
I want to end this review with a few unusual books, along with a great read-out-loud book (which is an excellent way to teach youngsters many reading elements which include direction of words, increasing vocabulary and attention span). What Happens Next? and Who Lives Here?, both by Nicola Davies, and illustrated by Marc Boutavant, are easy to read books filled with flaps to discover the answer to each question posed.
Goldilocks Variations by Allan Ahlberg, and illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, has not 3 bears, but 33 bears. And Goldilocks must make the bed she slept in along with washing the bowls that she ate out of. This clever book even has a tiny book inside which is actually a play and there are also pull-tabs throughout. This book is a delight!
Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book!, by Mo Willems, is actually an activity book that is easy to read as youngsters follow directions to make, create or complete mazes. This would be a terrific traveling companion.