The Children's Book Compass

Great Choices for Beginning Readers

Posted on: April 23, 2010

Children who are becoming readers need to be exposed to a wide range of books and experiences.  First, they need to hear books read aloud by teachers and parents.  Then they need to have a variety of books to read themselves.  They especially need books that will match their interests and their reading capabilities.  The following books are great examples of the variety of books that will appeal to young readers and support them in becoming successful readers.

Three Little Bears Play All Day by David Martin.  Illus. by Akemi Gutierrez.  (2010).  Pages not numbered.  Candlewick Press.   Grades P-3.  Beginning Readers.

The four slim books in this slip-jacketed set are part of the “Brand New Readers” series – excellent choices for children just taking their first steps as independent readers.  The “Brand New Readers” series features four short books in each set.  Each booklet is no longer than eight pages.  The four books in each set are all about the same character(s) and their adventures.  Each book includes tips for parents and teachers to guide them on supporting their “brand new reader.”  This set is about three sibling bears but not the characters we know from Goldilocks’ adventure with the three bears.  The text is simple and the pictures provide clues to the reader in order to be successful.  One of the four titles is “Three Little Bears Eat.”  It reads: “Brother Bear and Sister Bear eat peas./ “Green food is yucky!” says Baby Bear./ Then they eat broccoli.  “Green food is yucky!” says Baby Bear./ Then they eat mint ice cream./ “Green food is yummy!” says Baby Bear.”  The other three titles in the set tell about more fun with the bear siblings.  Children who read these books are excited because they have read a book!  Go to the website: http://www.brandnewreaders.com/ to read some of the books in the series online and to view the illustrations.

When Jack Goes Out by Pat Schories.  (2010).  Pages not numbered.  Boyd Mills Press.  Grades P-3.  Wordless Book.

This is the fifth book about Jack, an adorable puppy.  The wordless story features an evening encounter between Jack, who has been chained to his dog house, and visitors from outer space.  The same characters were featured in Jack and the Night Visitors. This time the space men unchain Jack to romp, play and swim him.  Then they decide to chain him to their space ship and take him away into space, but Jack figures out a way to escape.  Children love to tell the story carefully observing the animated illustrations.  This is a book to encourage early reading skills of observing details, understanding characterization and building a sense of story.

I Am Going! by Mo Willems. (2010).  57 pages.  Hyperion.  Grades P-3.  Beginning Reader.

Elephant and Piggie are back in another comedy that tickles the funny bone.  This story is just as much fun as the ten others about the two friends.  This time, Piggie announces, “I am going.”  Immediately Elephant assumes that “I am going,” means Piggie is leaving forever.  The silliness unfolds as the two keep miscommunicating until they finally achieve understanding with Piggie saying, “I am going to eat lunch.”  They end up sharing an elaborate picnic lunch.  Willems is a master of understatement in his text and expressive, spare line drawings that feature the two friends.  The careful use of different font sizes helps new readers give expression to their reading.  When I read this one to the second grade class, I asked them – “We have enjoyed so many stories about Elephant and Piggie, but I am wondering how they became friends?”  The children then created a whole back story of how Elephant and Piggie could have become friends.

Mouse and Mole Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee.  (2009)  Houghton Mifflin.  Grades P-3.  Beginning Reader.

Here is another humorous story about two friends, Mouse and Mole.  This new one is the fourth in the series.  This time Mouse and Mole combine their talents to create a bird book through their careful observations of the winged creatures.  However, whenever they get close to a bird they scare it a way.  They can’t make their sketches or observations for the books unless they can get close to their subjects.  Then Mouse comes up with an ingenious disguise that will allow them to get very close.  The book they create features Mouse’s poems and Mole’s sketches.  Yee shows the fun of doing careful observations, creating a book and working together.  The illustrations add humor and details to the story.  The author’s use of onomatopoeia enriches the text, “Critch-CRUNCH! Mole stepped on a dried leaf.”  Young readers will feel very accomplished in reading this book because it is a chapter book.  Guide the students in enjoying the other books in the series.

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1 Response to "Great Choices for Beginning Readers"

Have you gotten a chance to read “Cat the Cat” yet? I haven’t been able to find it here yet, but the whole series looks GREAT!

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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