Hi there! It’s Luke (blog co-author, age 3.5).
New readers are a special breed: we are older than babies yet younger than school kids. We’re in the middle, and our books need to be the same way. We can read baby books, but the subject matter is too infantile. We want to read chapter books for school kids, but our reading level isn’t quite there. Here are a few books that I’ve found that do a good job of meeting us half way. They are listed from simplest to most complex. Also, even if your child isn’t quite ready to read independently, these books still make great read alouds with a parent–it’s how they started for me! Enjoy!
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain: With only a few words on each page, a generous dose of repetition, and a spoooooky storyline, this book is really fun to read. My favorite parts are when the bears get the shivers–Mama likes to hug me and make me shake along with them!
Come Back, Ben (I Like to Read®) by Ann Hassett and John Hassett: Another book with very simple text, lots of repetition to help new readers feel successful, and a delightful storyline. Ben’s balloon takes him for a ride, and as he travels up and up and up, objects like a window, a tree, and a mountain plead, “Come back, Ben!” Illustrations are simple, yet full of expression. The ending is a nice surprise, too. Cute book!
I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (Beginner Books) by Dr. Seuss: This book was my Mama’s favorite book when she was a kid (Jake the Snake and Foo Foo the Snoo were her favorite characters). This is a classic that uses a wide variety of words, but they are everyday words that new readers will quickly learn to recognize. My favorite page is the one with all of the signs at the end of the book–I love to play “can you find” with the signs (click on the “can you find” link to see a description of the game)!
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman and Michael Emberley: This book is one in a series of books that directly facilitates partner reading. Different colored text makes it easy to alternate readers, and the stories are very short yet high interest. “I Like” is my favorite story!
I’m a Frog! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems: As I wrote in my Mo Willems post, he is a children’s book genius. All of the Elephant and Piggie books are hilarious, but they are also absolutely perfect for beginning readers: very few words on the page; simple, kid-friendly story lines; and exaggerated text that helps new readers get a feel for inflection. And they are hilarious–oh, I already said that. It bears repeating!
The Big Honey Hunt, 50th Anniversary Edition (The Berenstain Bears) by Stan and Jan Berenstain: Brynn and I both like this book (although she can’t read quite yet). The reason? A bee. A buzzing bee. That Papa Bear and Baby Bear follow throughout the entire story as Papa Bear attempts to show Baby Bear how to collect honey (and fails…over and over and over again in most hilarious fashion). Nice repetition, fun rhyme and rhythm, and easy sight words make this book a good one for beginners. Buzzzzzzzzz!
The Big Wet Balloon: TOON Level 2 by Liniers: I’ve recently become interested in these TOON books–basically comic books for little kids. Not all of them are very good, but I really liked this one (we borrowed it from the library for about twelve weeks!). Two sisters, about five and two and a half years old, find all kinds of fun things to do on a rainy day. The big sister is clearly in charge, and she does a great job teaching her sister Clemmy all about puddles and umbrellas and rainbows. The relationship between the characters is fantastic, and the illustrations are very expressive.
Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold: The Fly Guy books are technically chapter books, but the chapters are very short, more divided in order to be called “chapter books” than for any structural or story telling reason. Fly Guy is a pet fly, and he can say his owner’s name, Buzz. Buzz and Fly Guy go on all kinds of adventures, usually smelly, gross, and involving garbage or road kill, but they’re also funny. Really! These books are great! Simple words, short sentences, and quick-moving, big-kid action are all appealing for the slightly older beginning reader (kindergarten).
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman and Betsy Lewin: The books in this series are also chapter books, and they ARE divided into chapters for a reason. The chapters are all linked (but not necessarily chronological) in order to tell a longer story, thus making the stories more involved with more character development. Words and sentences are more advanced than the Fly Guy series, too. Cowgirl Kate is a spunky girl whose horse is her best friend. Cocoa is a character who gets into all kinds of mischief and plays tricks on Kate. Their interactions are quite amusing!
Buster & Phoebe: The Great Bone Game by Lisze Bechtold: There is a book before this one, Buster, and although I liked Buster, I really really really like Buster & Phoebe (Mama actually bought this book for me since we checked it out of the library so many times). This book is also a chapter book, and while the chapters are linked by a common theme (bones!), they are actually mini stories. Phoebe is the older dog, and she is selfish, greedy, and all about tricking Buster into giving up his bones. She’s hilarious. And Buster, well, he’s the younger dog, and while he’s trusting and gullible, he’s also smart and gives Phoebe a run for her money. Their interactions are laugh-out-loud funny, and the illustrations perfectly capture Phoebe’s slyness and Buster’s innocence. Great book!
Pinky Dinky Doo: Where Are My Shoes? (Pinky Dinky Doo Series) by Jim Jinkins: Pinky Dinky Doo is a storyteller. She makes up crazy stories for her little brother. In this book, everyone shows up to school with a different kind of food on their feet because they can’t find their shoes. Within the stories you will find zany multiple choice questions, a few big words (Mr. G., Pinky’s pet guinea pig, looks up the definitions), a longer story with longer sentences, and a kid-friendly plot. Probably best for slightly older readers (kindergarten or first grade).
-Luke, blog co-author (age 3.5)
Clicking on the book will take you to Amazon.com, and if you decide to buy the book, a portion of your purchase comes back to me. I, in turn, will use the profits to purchase books for our local library or for a children’s literacy project.