I’ve found that looking for books for new readers can be a hit-or-miss process. The “level number” on the front of a lot of books in the easy reader section may or may not really mean anything, as there is so much variation in what those level numbers designate. A lot of books I randomly find in the easy reader section at our library seem designed to promote guessing based on clues from the pictures or memorizing “sight words” — which is not particularly helpful if you are teaching reading through phonics rules and phonograms.
Here are my top ten picks for easy-reader books that I have found helpful and engaging for my early readers who are learning via phonics:
1. Now I’m Reading books by Nora Gaydos: These sets of small books are great starter books (at level 1), and progress gradually. At least in the first couple levels, the books start out with just a couple words on the first page, and build to longer sentences.
2. BOB Books: These popular little books are also great for kids just starting out — Though for some reason neither of my kids (who have learned to read so far) have really “clicked” with the first set as beginners. I used sets 2 and 3 from the library with both Miss M and Mr. E, and I just got sets 4 and 5 from the library to use with Mr. E once we finish up a few other books we’ve checked out.
3. Flip-A-Word Books by Harriet Ziefert and Yukiko Kido: We found this fun word-family based set of books at the library. They have bright/bold illustrations and fun “cut outs” that reveal new related words.
4. My Phonics Readers (Various Authors, New Forest Press): This is another series we discovered at the library. My favorite feature of this series is a box at the beginning with “difficult words” that appear in the book. I love that they don’t call these “sight words”! Mr. E has read several of these and I appreciate being able to review these tricky words before he begins reading.
5. Sounds Like Reading: This Series by Brian Cleary each focuses on a word family, sound or type of word. Each two page spread first gives the focus words for that page individually, then the words appear in a sentence. Many of the sentences are funny, which is appealing to my kids!
6. Wonder Books Phonics Series: This is yet another series we discovered at the library. Each of these books focuses on an initial consonant, vowel sound or blend. I don’t like this series quite as much because it mixes some surprisingly harder words in with words easy for beginners, but as a plus in their favor, each page has one short sentence in fairly large print. Mr E gets easily overwhelmed with too many words on a page, even words that he already knows.
7. Get Ready-Get Set-Read series by Gina Erickson: We only have one book in this series so far (that we found at a used book store — our library doesn’t have these), but I like that they are phonics based with just a few challenging words.
8. I See Sam: I recently wrote about this set of free printable books. I love having a set of books I can print out when we run out of library books to read. These seem somewhat repetitive to me, but Mr. E finds them funny! I like that the books in this series we used so far focus on words like “that”, “who” and “what” — common words that are just a bit trickier than CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, and introduce new words and phonograms slowly and logically.
9. Dr. Maggie’s Phonics Readers: We own several of these phonics readers, but mostly the later ones in the series. Mr. E hasn’t liked this series quite as well as some of our other series due to longer sentence length and more words on each page. But I think they are a solid series for readers who are ready for them (and I haven’t seen the first books in the series, so they may have fewer words per page).
10. Reading A to Z decodable books. Reading A to Z is a pay-for-subscription site, but they offer a seven day free trial, and also have an annual “try it out” day for educators. I’ve downloaded and printed several of their decodable books a few years and used them with both Miss M and Mr E. I don’t think I would get enough out of the site to pay their annual subscription rate, but I do like this particular printable product.
Have you found other series of phonics-based readers that your new readers have enjoyed?
I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday!