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The Best Books for Beginning Readers

Updated on August 27, 2013

The Best Books for Emergent Readers: Teaching your Child to Read

One of the most amazing things to watch is a child learning to read. However, finding appropriate books for emergent/beginning readers can be difficult. Many of the Level One readers are not simple enough for very early readers; in my opinion, they are too long and have words that are too difficult. The other problem is there aren't enough books in one level for mastery and confidence building.

I have taught all three of my girls to read before they started kindergarten. Since I was an elementary school teacher before having kids, I have the skills to easily do this, but anyone can teach their child to read today with the books available. I have three book set recommendations for emergent readers:

  • Bob Books
  • Primary Phonics
  • Brand New Readers

Bob Books Box Set

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers
Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers

I think this is the best set of books to learn to read. Your child will quickly go through the box sets, but rereading is an important step in reading fluency.


Bob Books: The Best First Books to Learn to Read

I love Bob Books because they are short and follow a phonetic pattern. They are the best first books for new readers because:

  • The first books have very few words per page (as little as two)
  • The words are phonetically based, e.g., Mat sat. The short vowel sound is easy for children to read and the rhyming helps.
  • There are picture clues to the text. Good readers use context clues when they are reading. Encourage your child to look at the picture if they are stuck on a word and see if they can figure out the word based on the picture.
  • The books are short in length so that children can complete a book in one sitting and have the feeling of finishing a book.
  • They are great for rereading. Once your child has mastered the book encourage them to reread the books for fluency. It's okay if the book becomes memorized. Children want to read with the speed of their parents, and rereading is the way to get there!

Primary Phonics: My Favorite Early Reader

I love the Primary Phonics box sets. They are leveled one through six with the first two levels having an A and B set. Our daughters' Montessori school introduced us to these books and I haven't looked back. While the Bob Books are great starters, the real reading begins when your child starts the Primary Phonics books. Here are the reasons that I love the Primary Phonics books:

  • They are also phonetically based. The first books starts with the short vowel sounds and the books build from there.
  • Each book focuses on one phonetic schema, e.g., long vowels, short vowels, two vowel combinations (ea, ie, etc), silent e, etc. Children learn patterns and can easily identify these different schemas when they are repeated.
  • Additional books build on early learnings for review, e.g, the long vowel books will also cover the short vowel sounds.
  • The first books have only a few words per page to build confidence and the length increases as the child becomes more fluent.
  • The books are around 10 pages per book so that readers feel the satisfaction of finishing a book.
  • The stories are interesting. Many early reader books have plots that are not complete and are incredibly boring. Parents won't be bored to death reading these over and over.
  • The different box sets of these books go from early emergent readers (kindergarten) to early fluent readers (grade 2).
  • I have bought all of the sets for my girls, but you could probably find them in your local library. I like owning the books because my girls reread them for fluency.

Brand New Readers on Amazon

Brand New Readers Red Set
Brand New Readers Red Set

These books are great with vibrant pictures and fun text. Our oldest daughter loved these books.


Brand New Readers Box Sets

Brand New Readers are comprised of five sets of books, with ten short books per set. I recommend this set of books for the following reasons:

  • The pictures are great; they provide context clues if they reader gets stuck and the language matches the pictures perfectly.
  • The sentences follow patterns and repetition for confidence and predictions.
  • Even though the books are short, the stories are engaging. We look at the pictures; our daughter reads the book; I read the book; then we read it together for mastery.
  • There are only about eight pages with one short sentence per page. There is also a parent book to help you teach your child how to use the books effectively.
  • There is a sticker/achievement chart that keeps track of the books your child has read.

These books really build confidence and our daughter loves them. Since beginning to read these books, she is much more likely to sit down and read to herself. She knows that she can read and is more confident in her abilities.

There's an example of one of the books below. All of the box sets are about the same reading level.

Here's an example of the Brand New Reader book "POP POP POP POP"

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Pre-reading Skills

Before beginning to learn to read, your child should be able to:

  • Understand how a book is opened and how pages turn
  • Be able to sit for at least 10 minutes
  • Recognize all of the letters in the alphabet in their upper and lowercase form
  • Know the sounds of all of the letters in the alphabet

Tips on Teaching your Child to Read

I loved teaching my three girls to read. While I was a teacher and was trained to teach children to read, anyone can do it. Here are a few of the things that I learned over the years that might help in teaching your child to read:

  • Take a deep breath and be patient. This is my biggest piece of advice because it can and will get a bit frustrating and this should be a fun experience for you and for your child!
  • Choose the right books to start. I found that the scholastic books or early reader books that weren't in the box sets were too difficult and frustrating. The first book your child should read has one or two words per page. The Bob Books are perfect.
  • Resist the temptation to jump in and tell your child the word. Allow them to sound out the words and make mistakes. They are more likely to remember the word the next time they see it if they sound out the word themselves.
  • Good readers use pictures to help them decode words that they don't know. Encourage your child to look at the pictures.
  • Discuss the different phonetic schemas as you read, e.g., short vowels, long vowels, silent e, sh, ch, th sounds, etc.
  • When possible use movement to remember blends, e.g., for the "sh" sound, bring your fingers to your lips and make the sound, for the "ch" sound pretend you are a train.
  • Find a rhythm or pattern in your books. Our pattern is, the child reads the book, I read the book, then we each read one page. By the time we are done, we have read the book three times and the book is mastered.
  • Lastly, be positive! This is an exciting time and you have a direct impact in your child's love for reading. Encourage them to keep at it and it will eventually click and you will have a reader on your hands!

Questions & Answers

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      • pacrapacma profile image

        pacrapacma 6 years ago

        I love Brand New Readers too!

      • chabrenas profile image

        chabrenas 9 years ago from middle of France

        Excellent review, Robin - and showing contents of one book should make a huge difference to the number of people who commit to buying the sets.

        I've been on e-bay recently, buying out-of-print children's books for rather older children. There are some good new books, but some of the classics are still superb.

      • mothersguide profile image

        mothersguide 9 years ago from Malaysia

        Thanks for sharing. Especially the illustrations. It's always nice to be able to see inside a book. Over here in Malaysia, everyone seems to like Ladybird Keywords. I think it's because there aren't many other options when it comes to finding a good set of books for emergent reading.

      • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

        Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

        That's how we love to remember our Dad, I think, Robin!

        I enjoy the bedtime reading so much that I'm so upset if my teenager decides to skip it sometimes to go to Facebook or somewhere. I do it not only for them, but for myself, too. Patty, I'll adopt anyone who can listen to my bedtime stories, you're welcome!

      • Robin profile image

        Robin Edmondson 9 years ago from San Francisco

        Kenny and Patty,

        Thanks for the comments. Kenny, these books would be great for your little one to read to the family if he/she is of age. I still love to be read to. I remember my dad reading Grimms Fairy Tales to us when we were young. We LOVED them! ;)

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

        Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

        Lovely Hub!

        Kenny, you read to everyone in your family? Will you adopt me? :) haha My mother could not read very well, but my first grade teacxher read to us every week, sometimes every day.

      • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

        Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

        We have a gala bedtime reading session every night, when I read to my wife, teenager and little one!

        I haven't read these, but will see if I can get them. Thanks for the delightful pictures, that's a bonus!

      • singingmommy profile image

        Candace Green 9 years ago from OKLAHOMA

        Thanks for the info, I agree it is hard to find confidence building readers:.)

      • profile image

        Karen Alexander 9 years ago

        This is so true I thought I was only one who thought this. Its good to know am not alone. Thanks for the help.