Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Books for early readers

What do you look for in a book for an early reader? I look for short sentences and simple vocabulary, but I also look for humor, stories and illustrations that grab readers. One of the problem that many parents talk about is that their children love listening to much longer, more compelling stories than they can read. This seems particularly true of 1st and 2nd graders who are working hard on decoding.

Dinosaur Hunt (Max Spaniel) is a fun book that really does work for 1st graders. It is funny and silly, and the pictures make you want to keep reading. There are only one or two sentences on each page. The winners of my contest have just been notified: Erika, Marie, Carol, Taralazar and Dawn will receive copies from the publisher soon! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Some other great books for early readers that come to mind are:

Elephant and Piggie series, by Mo Willems. Are You Ready to Play Outside? makes us laugh every time. Mo Willems creates such fun characters, and packs so many emotions into very few words. He's a true genius. Here, Piggie becomes despondent when she wants to play outside and rain threatens to ruin her plans. Her true friend Elephant tries to help her, but it's really two little worms who show her how much fun playing in the rain can be. Every time I read this it makes me laugh.

Henry and Mudge series, by Cynthia Rylant. I love reading about this friendship between Henry and his big dog Mudge. It is so real, so comforting, so funny in a gentle way. We've had fun reading about sleepovers, camping trips, visiting relatives - all through these books. Henry and Mudge books have more text than the Elephant and Piggie books. They have about 4 sentences per page, and four chapters per book. I also really enjoy Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter and Tabby series, about the friendship between an older man and his cat. If you're looking for a book for an earlier reader, try the Puppy Mudge books, also by Cynthia Rylant.

Do you have other early readers that you love? One of my biggest frustrations is finding early readers that feature children of color and multicultural schools. I would love any suggestions you have.

Best wishes for the start of school!


  1. So excited to win the giveaway, Mary Ann! Thanks!

    One early reader series that comes to mind that features children of color is The Little Bill series written by Bill Cosby

    I'm not familiar with any that feature multiculutral schools, but will be on the lookout now!

    It's so important for our children to realize how diverse the world really is and equally important for children to see themselves reflected in the pages of a book!

    - Dawn

  2. A reader and parent sent me a great list of early reader books with children of color. I'm going to start checking these out and will post about them soon! Here are her suggestions:

    Here is a list of some of the books that Regan read last year (1st grade) that featured ethnic characters:

    My Best Friend, by Pat Hutchins: Mostly pictures with one to two sentences per page. Nice very early reader

    Catch That Goat: A Market Day in Nigeria by Polly Alakija: Also mostly picutres with one to two sentences per page.

    Mommy's Bed by Sonia Black: Level 1 "Just for You" book that has very short sentences (sometimes only a word or two) per page.

    Only the Stars by Dee Boyd: Level 2 "Just for You" book that has a couple of sentences per page.

    My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman: A little more sophisticated in terms of themes and length but Regan loved this book. 6-12 sentences per page.

    Jamal's Busy Day by Wade Hudson: Easy reader. 2-4 sentences per page. Great black family pictures.

    Nina Bonita by Ana Maria Machado: One of our very favorite books that celebrates black/dark skin. I read it to my daughter when she was younger and she read it to me many, many times last year in 1st grade. 4-10 sentences per page.