Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quality Books for Beginning Readers

It isn’t easy to find good books for beginning readers. We start with the Nora Gaydos incremental phonics books until the boys get the hang of reading, but then we need a great selection of books in that transition time between basic phonics and chapter books. There are certainly excellent picture books to enjoy, but many of them (especially the great ones!) have an advanced vocabulary that can be daunting for new readers. I find leveled readers to be extremely accessible and easily handled by young readers, but so many of the leveled readers fail in the content or charm department.

Over the years, I’ve searched and sifted, and have amassed quite a collection that the boys have read and read and re-read. I particularly like non-fiction or rich and lovely fiction stories. I like the fact that they stand up to quite a bit of use, fit nicely and uniformly on book shelves, are easy to grab and go, and also can be plugged into our history studies.

I know I’ve posted a very similar list before, but I thought it might be helpful to post it again. I’ve indicated the reader series with abbreviations at the end of titles. (Also, if you look up any of these books on Amazon, you can find other similar titles in the collections.)

SIR = Step Into Reading
DK = Dorling Kindersley Readers, Eyewitness Readers
ICR = An I Can Read Book
RTR = Ready-to-Read
Puff = Puffin Easy-to-Read
AAR = All Aboard Reading

Level 1:

Mister Bones: Dinosaur Hunter by Jane Kurtz (RTR)
Harry the Dirty Dog (series) by Gene Zion (ICR)
Wonders of America (series) (RTR)
Nature/science series (Clouds, Wind, Rain, and Snow) (RTR)
There Is a Carrot in My Ear and Other Noodle Tales retold by Alvin Schwartz (ICR)
Johnny Appleseed by Patricia Demuth (AAR)

Level 2:

Little Runner of the Longhouse by Betty Baker (ICR)
All stories by Arnold Lobel! (Mouse Soup, Frog and Toad, Mouse Tales, Grasshopper on the Road…) (ICR)
Little Bear (series) by Else Holmelund Minarik (ICR)
Amelia Bedelia (series) by Peggy Parish (ICR)
Big Max (series) by Kin Platt (ICR)
Mouse and Mole (series) by Wong Herbert Yee
Journey of a Pioneer by Patricia J. Murphy (DK)
Red, White, and Blue: The Story of the American Flag by John Herman (AAR)
Egyptian Gods and Goddesses by Henry Barker (AAR)
Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner (SIR)
The Statue of Liberty by Lucille Recht Penner (SIR)
Get Well, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas (Puff)
Tales of Oliver and Amanda Pig (series) by Jean Van Leeuwen (Puff)
Henry and Mudge (series) by Cynthia Rylant (RTR)
Annie and Snowball (series) by Cynthia Rylant (RTR)
Dodsworth (series) by Tom Egan
Childhood of Famous Americans series:
Paul Revere and the Bell Ringers by Jonah Winter (RTR)
Helen Keller and the Big Storm by Patricia Lakin (RTR)
Ben Franklin and His First Kite by Stephen Krensky (RTR)
Thomas Edison to the Rescue! by Howard Goldsmith (RTR)
Sacagawea and the Bravest Deed by Stephen Krenskey (RTR)

Level 3:

Listen Up! Alexander Graham Bell’s Talking Machine by Monica Kulling (SIR)
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford (SIR)
The True Story of Pocahontas by Lucille Recht Penner (SIR)
Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky (SIR)
Little Sure Shot: The STory of Annie Oakley by Stephanie Spinner (SIR)
Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President by Shirley Raye Redmond (SIR)
Eat My Dust! Henry Ford’s First Race by Monica Kulling (SIR)
The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward (SIR)
Goerge Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy (SIR)
Johnny Appleseed: My Story by David L. Harrison (SIR)
The Dog That Dug for Dinosaurs: A True Story by Shirley Raye Redmond (RTR)
Leaving Vietnam: The True Story of Tuan Ngo by Sarah S. Kilborne (RTR)
Daniel’s Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla (ICR)
The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley (ICR)
Chang’s Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
Greg’s Microscope by Millicent E. Selsam (ICR) (and excellent science reader!)
Small Wolf by Nathaniel Benchley (ICR)
Seasons: A Book of Poems by Charlotte Zolotow (ICR)
Clara and the Bookwagon by Nancy Smiler Levinson (ICR)
Snowshoe Thompson by Nancy Smiler Levinson (ICR)
Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
Dust for Dinner by Ann Turner (ICR)
The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad by F.N. Monjo (ICR)
The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
The Long Way to a New Land by Joan Sandin (IRC)
The Long Way Westward by Joan Sandin (ICR)
Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner (ICR)
From Slave to Soldier by Deborah Hopkinson (RTR)
Billy and the Rebel by Deborah Hopkinson (RTR)
Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legend by Justine and Ron Fontes (DK)
Spacebusters: The Race to the Moon by Philip Wilkinson (DK)
The Story of Chocolate by C.J. Polin (DK)
Aladdin and Other Tales From the Arabian Nights by Rosalind Kerven (DK)
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address by Jean Fritz (AAR)
Amistad: The Story of a Slave Ship by Patricia C. McKissack (AAR)
Stories of Famous Americans series:
John Adams Speaks for Freedom by Deborah Hopkinson (RTR)
Albert Einstein: Genius of the Twentieth Century by Patricia Lakin (RTR)
Clara Barton: Spirit of the Red Cross by Patricia Lakin (RTR)
Teddy Roosevelt: The People’s President by Sharon Gayle (RTR)
Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier by Stephen Krensky (RTR)

Level 4:

Space Station: Accident on Mir by Angela Royston (DK)
D-Day Landings: The Story of the Allied Invasion by Richard Platt (DK)
Trojan Horse by David Clement-Davies (DK)
Secrets of the Mummies by Harriet Griffey (DK)
Horse Heroes: True Stories of Amazing Horses by Kate Petty (DK)
Flying Ace: The Story of Amelia Earhart by Angela Bull (DK)
Ice Mummy: The Discovery of a 5,000-Year-Old Man by Mark Dubowski (DK)
Thomas Edison: The Great Inventor by Caryn Jenner (DK)
Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares: A Math Reader by Frank Murphy (SIR)
Thomas Jefferson’s Feast by Frank Murphy (SIR)
Pompeii..Buried Alive! by Edith Kunhardt (SIR)
Barry: The Bravest Saint Bernard by Lynn Hall (SIR)
Discovery in the Cave by Mark Dubowski (SIR)
Tut’s Mummy Lost…and Found by Judy Donnelly (SIR)
Escape North: The STory of Harriet Tubman by Monica Kulling (SIR)
First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers by George Shea (ICR)
Dinosaur Hunter by Elaine Marie Alphin (ICR)
Prairie School by Avi (ICR)

Not Leveled and Beginning Chapter Books:

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka (series) and Snipp, Snapp, Snurr (series) Maj Lindman
Billy and Blaze (series) C. W. Anderson
The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac (SIR-5)
Commander Toad series by Jane Yolen
Flat Stanley (series) by Jeff Brown
The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron (Guatemala)
The Magic School Bus Chapter Books
Akimbo (series) by Alexander McCall Smith
Nate the Great (series) by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
26 Fairmount Avenue (series) by Tomie DePaola
The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson
Tippy Lemmey by Patricia C. McKissack
McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm by Sid Fleischman


Terri H said...

Thank you! I am always looking for help to dig through the beginning reader section at our library.

Lisa said...

Thank you for providing this list. It is difficult to find quality readers. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this post.

Lauren said...

Thank you so much! What a great list! I know that took a lot of time to put together. And you're right, the leveled readers often do leave a bit to be desired, so this is so helpful.

Jennifer said...

Thanks you for this very thoughtful, very full list!

intelligentbeauty said...

Thanks you much for this! It is right on time for my boys;-)

Hannah said...

Excellent, Heidi. This is such a challenge, finding quality reads for the little ones. Maybe I missed it on your list, but I believe the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems deserves a place in the Level 1 category. My 6 year old and I have enjoyed them more than anything else she's read to me. :-)

Vanessa said...

Thank you so much for sharing your list as a resource for the rest of us. I have a beginner reader, and I find myself at a loss at the local library is choosing quality beginner reader books.

CC Jen said...

Thank you so much for sharing this list! It can be such a struggle to find quality books for my beginning readers, and so many leveled readers make are just insipid. We'll be doing a lot of reading off this list in the coming months ;)

pinkdaisyjane said...

This list is such a blessing. Thank you.