Parents say these are the best learn to read books for kids, because they've been tested and approved by their own beginning readers!
Teaching your child to read doesn't have to be a daunting task. These are parent-favorite programs and beginning reader books to teach reading in an approachable way, preparing kids to move on to more complex books before you know it.
Tell us about the early reader books or other learn to read programs that worked best for your kids by reviewing your favorites or adding to the list below!
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BOB Books Series
Hannah Scott: Originally created by Bobby and John Maslen, the BOB series has become nearly synonymous with learning to read books -- and with good reason! Each book in Set 1 focuses on a few letters at a time, teaching the entire alphabet (except Q) by the end. Subsequent sets focus on teaching important "sight words" through consistency, repetition, and context clues.
BOB Books can also be found at most public libraries!
Usborne Very First Reading
Kelly R.: I had a lot of success teaching both of my kids to read with these learn to read books from Usborne! The 15 stories in the set are entertaining, creatively illustrated, and more exciting than a lot of beginning reader books tend to be. The books progressively introduce new sounds and challenges to build on each other. The earlier books take a collaborative approach with the adult and child each reading their own parts, and the child's share of the story increases until they are reading the last 8 books on their own.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Hannah Scott: This is a go-to book to teach reading for many parents. Each lesson is designed to be completed in only twenty minutes a day, and your child will be reading second grade level books by the end of the 100 total lessons. Clear instructions are provided for you as the parent to guide your child through each lesson, so the process is simple and stress-free.
First Little Readers
Hannah Scott: These first reader books include 25 stories that will help your little one begin their reading journey. Each page features just one line of simple text so kids can move through the books without feeling overwhelmed. A helpful parent guide is included so you can make the most of each reading session. This set is for complete beginners (Guided Reading Level A), but more levels are available when your child is ready for learning to read books that are a bit more advanced.
Key Words with Peter and Jane
Hannah Scott: Did you know that just 12 words make up 25% of the words we read and write every day, and just 100 words make up 50% of the words we read and write every day? Pretty amazing! Those "key words" are the foundation of these beginning reader books. If your child can learn to read and identify the key words, they'll be well on their way to more advanced reading skills! This boxed set contains 36 books at three different levels (A, B, and C).
Wow! I'm Reading! Fun Activities to Make Reading Happen
Hannah Scott: Great for kids with alternate learning styles, Wow! I'm Reading! by Jill Frankel Hauser introduces reading skills through activities beyond opening a book. Games, imaginary play, songs, and arts and crafts projects are just a few of the engaging activities that will turn even the most reluctant readers into enthusiastic participants. This book is a fantastic companion to any other learn to read books.
Guided Science Readers
Hannah Scott: A refreshing alternative to the typical phonics stories, these beginning reader books use nonfiction topics in the 16 book set. Illustrated with full-color photos, topics include animals, plants, and seasons. A corresponding activity book and stickers are included, as well as tips for parents. This set is for complete beginners (Guided Reading Level A), but more advanced levels are also available when your child is ready to move on.
Vanessa M.: Some of the first books I reach for when my children are learning to read include the Biscuit series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. The adorable illustrations and engaging stories draw emerging readers into the easy-to-read books, starring Biscuit the puppy. The books are short enough to keep a young child's attention while also delivering a sweet story in each book. We use Biscuit books to reinforce sight words with our little reader! Woof woof!
Elephant & Piggie Series
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Elephant & Piggie Series by the talented Mo Willems (formerly worked on Sesame Street) features easy to read text, repetition, comparisons and lots of fun and humor for young kids learning to read. The stories have many beginner vocabulary words with not too much text per page, and lots of funny and big illustrations. These books are also good for reading practice, learning compare and contrast and various word and grammar forms, such as big, bigger, biggest and yours, mine, ours.
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Author Mary Ann Hoberman offers multiple books where the parent and child alternate reading to help a young child learn to read and help a child take on the role of reader for his or her pages. The text actively teaches through repetition, rhymes, alliteration and short sentences on topics of interest to children such as short stories, fables and fairy tales. This is a delicate way to transition from a parent reading to a parent and child reading together.
The Ultimate Dick and Jane Storybook Collection
Katie G.: Don't let the size of this thick book intimidate your early reader. It includes six stories from the Dick and Jane series following the adventures of siblings Dick and Jane and their family. The series, originally written from 1930-1965, was used in schools to help budding readers and was especially popular in the 1950s. The stories include simple word repetition introducing one new word on each page and no more than five per story with illustrations reinforcing the words on the page. This is a perfect book to help your early reader strengthen sight words and master reading skills.
Let's Read: A Linguistic Approach
Hannah Scott: If you'd rather not deal with the hassle of dozens of tiny little learn to read books, this may be the perfect resource to teach your child to read. This system introduces letters and sounds in a specific order based on how often they appear in the English language. This creates a logical sequence for learning and allows your child to quickly build on their growing knowledge.
Let's Read includes lessons, sight/vocabulary words, and reading passages connected with each lesson, so it truly is an all-in-one experience.
Meg and Greg Series
Michael Farina: After moving on from the Bob series, I struggled to find something for my first-grader to read every day. This series is Goldilocks – not too long/short, easy/challenging, or picture/word intensive. Each book has several stories, broken into chapters. Each chapter is 6 pages, and every other page is a comic strip. Since each book has 20+ of these chapters, they are perfect for the family that wants to do a reading assignment each day, without having to get new books weekly.
This series claims to be aimed at older students in remedial reading, but I think it's great for a 1st-3rd grader trying to learn.
Primary photo: Anita Jankovic on Unsplash
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