Finding books with engaging content for brand new readers is tough. If you regularly read high-quality picture books aloud to your child, she can easily become frustrated with the simple storylines in easy readers that she reads herself. But practice makes perfect, so it is important to press on and encourage your child to find books she enjoys that she can read independently.
Below you will find some of our favorite books for brand new readers. And by brand new, I mean a child who is just learning to decode (sound out) words. Various publishers (and authors) have different ways of leveling “beginning readers” and it is difficult, as a parent, to know which books to start with. Level 1 in the 1 Can Read books, for example, are WAY too hard for brand new readers.
The most important thing to look for when finding a book for a brand new reader…
The book must be decodable. When your child is just beginning to decode, you’ll want to find books with short vowel sounds without digraphs (/th/, /sh/, /ch/) or tricky phonics rules. As your child progresses, you can slowly add these phonics skills.
What exactly is a decodable book? A decodable book is any book that incorporates the phonics pattern taught to your child up to that point. Because of this, what is decodable for a second grader is not decodable for a kindergarten-age child.
We do NOT want to encourage our kids to guess words based on picture clues. This develops some very poor habits. Guessing also takes away the opportunity for the brain to map the sound-symbol connection that will eventually lead to the development of a sight vocabulary and fluent reading. The decoding component is tedious but critical!
Lastly, keep reading engaging picture books aloud to your child at least 20 minutes each day even after your child has started reading on his/her own. Even though your child needs time to practice her new skills, she also needs to be encouraged while you model fluent reading, with rich vocabulary. One trick that works well for us is a tit-for-tat routine. I’ll read Big Brother a book if he also reads one aloud to me. Before we know it, we’ve both read 3 or 4 books to each other!
This set of 14 decodable books are perfect for kids just beginning to decode. The storylines are engaging. The inside of most of the books are black and white but there are two nonfiction books that feature full-color illustrations. These books have the child read the decodable sentence at the top and the parent/teacher read the bottom paragraph to build background knowledge.
What are your family’s favorite books for brand new readers???