Expert-Approved Books for Beginning Readers

These titles make great first reader books for kids who are just starting to read on their own. They'll hone skills, inspire stamina, and most importantly, plant the seed for a lifelong love of reading.



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!)

Shop Books Created Just for New Readers!

For Kids Who Just Started to Read: Revisit Favorite Childhood Books

If you lived for the cuddles of a daily read-aloud routine with your littles, get ready to reap a serious payoff now. Revisiting already-familiar books is a great way to build reader confidence, according to Scholastic Parents contributor Christie Burnett, an experienced early childhood educator and a mom of two. Kids already have a strong emotional connection to these books, and early childhood books share many commonalities with early reader books, like simple sentences and easy-to-decipher pictures. Even if your child can read these books from memory, "every word read, in each and every book, is valuable to their beginning literacy skills," wrote Burnett in an ode to board books.  These so-called "baby books" are great options to revisit once your kids start reading on their own.

Childhood Books Early Readers Love and Cherish

For Kids Who Just Started to Read: Try Scholastic Level 1 Readers

The education experts at Scholastic use the latest research on children's literacy to develop leveled readers (levels 1, 2, 3) designed to build reading confidence throughout elementary school. The Level 1 readers tell an engaging story with simple sentences and a mix of familiar words and new vocabulary — perfect for readers just beginning their literacy journey. A beloved character like Clifford, Noodles or Peppa Pig helps kids feel even more connected. Shop the full list of Scholastic Leveled Readers at the Scholastic Store Online.  

Fall In Love With Reading With Level 1 Readers!

For New Readers Ready to Build Stamina: Try Branches Early Chapter Books

If your early reading is breezing along, nailing sight words and reading aloud at a natural-sounding clip, a Branches book series may be the perfect next step for them. Branches books are specifically designed to help early readers build stamina and work their way up to traditional chapter books. Branches books have more illustrations than more mature chapter books, but they offer more complexity than other early readers. The books have a Scholastic Grade 2 reading level, and are written to appeal to grades 1 to 3.  With accessible text, fast-paced plots, and plenty of cliffhangers, Branches books encourage kids to keep reading and reading.  

One great way to get your kids into the book: Trade off reading chapters. If kids can connect to the first book in the series, they have a ready-made trove of reading material they'll love. "A lot of parents will tell me, 'Oh, we read the first book together, and then he stayed up all night reading the next three on his own," says Carella, who oversees the Branches series. With 20 Branches books in print, you're sure to find a character and storyline that will fascinate your early reader. Shop the full Branches series at The Scholastic Store Online.

Early Chapter Books That Build Stamina and a Love of Reading