Best Books for Beginning Readers

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When children begin to learn how to read, it is important they can practice their new skills with books that are appropriate for their reading ability. If a book is too hard, the experience of reading can become overwhelming and frustrating. Picture books are an important part of helping a child develop their vocabulary and developing pre-literacy skills, but most picture books are created for an adult to read to a child and may not be the best option for a child who is just learning how to read.  

At Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, we have a special section of books called READERS with a pink spine label that are uniquely designed for children who are learning how to read. They contain a controlled and limited vocabulary, often repeat words, and contain many of the high-frequency words that commonly occur in the English language.  

There are many ways to use these types of books to help your new reader. Most kindergarten students will begin working on learning high-frequency words as they begin to learn to read. As students learn a word, pick that word as magic “word of the day” that they can read in a book while the adult does the rest of the reading.  Hunting for the words they know is a great way for beginning readers to feel successful.  

Another way that students learn to read is using phonics or the decoding skills to combine the sounds in words to “sound out” a new word. Decoding skills are very important for learning new words and understanding letter-sound patterns. Most student start with the simple three letter word families such as: cat, hat, rat, mat, fat, sat, nat.  Once a student learns the “at” pattern they can change the initial letter sound to repeat the pattern. Hunting for words that fit these type of three letter patterns in books is another great literacy activity for beginning readers. There are several great beginning three letter patterns, here are a few: “it” [sit, fit, pit, hit, bit, nit] ; “ig” [pig, fig, rig, gig, dig] ; “et” [set, pet, met, net, let] ; “an” [pan, ran, can, tan, fan, man] ; “am” [Pam, ham, ram, Sam]. 

Below you will find some of my favorite books that your beginning reader might like to read. I tend to like the silly, ridiculous and outright funny books, so be prepared to laugh your way through these. I always recommend that reading a book multiple times is good for reading development, and students will learn to recognize more words on the 2nd, 3rd or 5th time around.  

The Itchy Book!

Triceratops, Pterodactyl, Brontosaurus, and T-Rex each have an itch, but Dino-Mo reminds them of the sign with a very important rule: Dinosaurs do not scratch. 

My Friends Make Me Happy!

Invites readers to guess, along with Sheep’s friends, the mysterious thing that starts with the letter F that makes Sheep happy. 

Pass the Ball, Mo!

With the big game coming up, Mo Jackson, the shortest member of the basketball team, is determined to learn how to pass the ball in time to help his team win.