Hearing your child read words aloud for the first time is a lot like watching a baby take their first steps. There is the thrill of the milestone ("He can read all by himself!") balanced by the knowledge that there's still a long road ahead. Your child can use all the help and support you can muster to understand her true potential.
Thankfully, there are plenty of first reader books and early reading titles that have been created to meet newly independent readers (typically kids in kindergarten through 2nd grade) right at their level, with easy-to-follow plots, simple vocabulary, and lots of sight words. But the most important thing you can do to support your early reader is to help them love reading, and that means offering them a variety of book choices at their reading level to see what they gravitate towards, says Katie Carella, a former teacher and executive editor at Scholastic who oversees the Acorn and Branches book series for early readers. "When I was teaching, that moment where I saw kids light up about a book was when I knew I'd made a difference," says Carella. "If you miss that window in the first, second, or third grade, kids go on to say, 'I'm not a reader' and 'I don't like reasding.'"
Here, with input from Carella, Scholastic Parents has crafted a varied list of early reader books that will get your growing bookworm saying, "I love to read!"
For Kids Who Just Started to Read: Try a Simple Series
The books in the Acorn line provide kids an entertaining window into topics they care about (like friendship, pets, and magic), with engaging characters created by award-winning children's book authors and illustrators. They grow reading confidence with short chapters, each of which can be read as a stand-alone story. Each book has a Grade 1 Scholastic reading level, but is designed to appeal to kids in kindergarten through second grade. "As a teacher, it was hard to find fresh and engaging stories for this age group," says Carella, who conceived of and launched the Acorn line. "I wanted to create books that could really light a fire in kids." One tip for parents looking to help a new reader along? Trade off reading the speech bubbles for each character with your child.
The first books in the Acorn line feature the laugh-out-loud A Crabby Book: Hello, Crabby, about a cranky crab who drives his friends crazy with his refusal to be cheered up; Unicorn and Yeti, a magical exploration of friendship; Hello, Hedgehog: Do You Like My Bike?, which offers emotional/social lessons, such as identifying how a friend might be feeling based on their facial expression; and Dragon: A Friend for Dragon, who goes through some hilarious mishaps that are the trademark of author Dav Pilkey of Dog Man fame. (The second book of many of these series is due out in September, so keep an eye peeled!)