Books for Brand New Readers

Books for Brand New Readers


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!


Pathways to Reading Homeschool decodable books

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.

BOB Books Set 1

BOB Books Beginning Readers

What are your family’s favorite books for brand new readers???



  1. My 3 year old loves for me to read to her. Her favorite thing to do is find the letters in bold and yell out, “I found another letter!” So cute. But how to tell if she’s ready to start recognizing words?

  2. The Oxford Reading Tree books are great. That is what we use at school and the kids love the characters, stories, repetition, and easy words. There are quite a few levels to so if you start with them you can use them for a few years.

  3. What a great list! I love your explanation of the importance of finding very easy but interesting books to engage emergent readers, especially those who love the complex and fascinating picture books that we read to them, which often brings disappointment when they try the dull “easy readers” on their own.

    I will share some of these ideas with the teen reading mentors in the library enrichment program that I coordinate.

    I agree that the Rookie Readers are a very good series; it’s nice that many of them rhyme and that some are on nonfiction topics as well. Some are even whimsical, which I love in an easy reader book!

    Perhaps my favorite series for early readers is Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie–so cute and silly! Plus, since they’re all dialogue, it’s easy for a child to read them aloud with an older person.

    Looking forward to checking out the other ones you recommend–thank you for this list!

  4. Have you seen Usborne Books & More’s set Very First Reading?
    It is a fantastic set that the first books you read together so you still have great meat to the story while allowing the child to build confidence in reading. Each book also tells you what sounds to work on and if there is a word that may be difficult… I had the Bob Books but I too did not like how simple the pictures were and the stories had no life in them to encourage the joy of books… My daughter who is not even 4 yet is reading the Very First Reading set and loving them… You really should check them out… If you are interested please contact me… I have some great deals…

  5. Sometimes book can get closer to kids if the school does some activities around it. Even if the child has not read the book, he/she will learn about it and get motivated to actually read it. We have to make books our children’s friends. Very often reading is presented as a kind of punishment simply because the parents consider it so.

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