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Expert-Approved Books for Beginning Readers

Here’s how to support your child’s growing skills and plant the seed for a lifelong love of reading.

FEB. 07, 2020
AGES: 4-8

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 balanced by the knowledge that there’s still a long road ahead. 

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.

The most important thing you can do to support your early reader is to help them love reading, 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 reading.'”

Here is a varied list of early reader books, with input from Carella, 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 with an entertaining window into topics they care about. 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 launched the Acorn line. “I wanted to create books that could really light a fire in kids.” 

The Acorn line includes the laugh-out-loud A Crabby Book: Hello, Crabby, about a cranky crab who drives his friends crazy by refusing to get cheered up, and Unicorn and Yeti, a magical exploration of friendship. There’s also Dragon #2: Dragon’s Fat Cat, which explores some hilarious mishaps — a trademark of author Dav Pilkey, of Dog Man fame. 


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