Early reader books are not always the most engaging books on your shelf. When my son was reading them I bought the huge packs of books from a discount store, and he blew through them never wanting to pick them up again.
They were just too boring.
Writing a good early reader is an art. The words need to be simple, repetitive, and easy to decode, yet the story still has to grab the reader. That is why you see so many character-driven books and series for early readers. The stories are lacking, but the characters ensure that kids will pick them up. But will they pick them up again and again?
The books selected here achieve that important goal. For your new reader to really shine, they need practice. And if you can get a few readings (the more the better) out of the same book, your child will have a better chance of refining his or her skills. New readers want to read, and when we as parents provide them with engaging books, that desire to read will strengthen along with their reading skills.
Here are five books that won’t bore your early readers:
1. I Spy Fly Guy — Buzz and Fly Guy like to play hide-and-seek, but when a garbage truck takes the garbage can Fly Guy is hiding in, Buzz must come to the rescue. This entry in the Fly Guy series will make your kids laugh, and the illustrations, while comical, also help the early reader by supporting the text beautifully. The words repeat often but do it well without feeling like constant repetition. And reading a chapter book (even if the actual chapters are brief) will help your child feel all grown up.
2. Nate the Great — Boy detective Nate solves many cases. In this book, he's on the hunt for his friend Annie's stolen painting. Simple language and declarative sentences make Nate sound like a hard-boiled detective, and make this book ideal for early readers. Plus, mysteries put lots of important skills on display — like creative thinking, fact-gathering, and making observations — and make reading through to the end essential. (After all, you've got to complete the book to discover how Nate solves the case.)
3. Clementine — Clementine, the chatty, spunky heroine of this illustrated chapter book, is not having a good day. Make that a good week. Your kids will be laughing along with the well-intentioned but rambunctious Clementine as she narrates her week's mishaps. Recommended for fans of Junie B. Jones, Ramona, and other quirky female characters.
4. We Are In A Book (An Elephant & Piggie Book) — My son is nuts about Mo Willems and why shouldn’t he be? Willems’ books are amazing. This particular title is funny, engaging — and chock-full of literacy learning opportunities. Elephant and Piggie notice that a reader is reading this book, and throughout the story they teach the reader (without saying it in so many words) all about print awareness while also being incredibly funny. Grab this book and others in this series for a surefire hit with your little bookworm. Other favorite Elephant & Piggie titles include A Big Guy Took My Ball! (about friendship and the many sides to every story), Let's Go for a Drive! (about how plans can go awry), and I Really Like Slop! (which teaches a lesson — sweetly — about trying new foods and being kind to friends).
5. The School Is Alive! — In the very first book of the Eerie Elementary series, hall monitor Sam Graves discovers there are maleovelent forces present at school. With help from his friends, Sam must keep the school — and students — safe. Full of fast-paced action and broken up with beautiful black-and-white illustrations, this series stands out because of its evocative writing. Here, for instance, is a description of the school custodian: "His face looked like a piece of paper that someone had balled up and then tried to flatten again." Along with the action and the world-building, this descriptive language means this early reader is anything but tedious. One warning: As is fitting in a series with "eerie" in its name, these books can be a bit scary — so avoid sharing if your child dislikes spooky books.