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Great Books for Kids Learning to Read

Teaching children to read is an exciting adventure.  For first time readers there’s almost an endless supply of early reader books for preschoolers to choose from. But which of these are the right books for preschoolers? With so many choices wouldn’t it be amazing to have a friend come along who has already sifted through hundreds of beginning reading books and share a list of the very best for you to start with?

Well, friend here’s your list!

This list contains favorite books preschoolers love. This book list is made up of picture books I’ve used with my family as well as with preschoolers I’ve taught over the years. They all have common features that make them an excellent choice for beginning readers. Features like:

  • interesting content
  • short sentences
  • familiar and easy words
  • rhythmic and/ or rhyming text

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Great Books for Kids Learning to Read

In the United States, some of the most popular beginner reader books series are Step Into Reading, Scholastic’s Hello ReaderMy First I Can ReadPenguin Young Reader, and Dr Seuess’ Beginner Books.

The back cover of some Early Reader books shows the targeted age group or grade for each level. Use these as a guide. Let your child work their way through these levels regardless of their age or grade level to avoid creating frustrated or reluctant readers  Remember the goal is to instill a love of reading. 

This list of recommended books focuses on beginning reading level books for preschoolers. Young readers will succeed more quickly if they have been exposed to some common sight words. Some beginning reader books include a list of these words. If the book you’re using doesn’t list these words you may want to find the high-frequency words in the book you’ll be using and write them on index cards for your child to go over before introducing new books.

Book cover of I Like Bugs by Margret Wise Brown a boy with buts around his head

I Like Bugs by Margret Wise Brown

I Like Bugs is a beginning reader written by Margret Wise Brown the author of Goodnight Moon. This story is told in easy words and short rhyming sentences about ….well, bugs!

Book cover of There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems. A pig is looking at a elephant who has a bird on his head

There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems

There is a Bird on Your Head is a fun story with easy text and short sentences making it a great book for beginner readers. It’s from the Elephant and Piggie book series.

Book cover of Big Shark, Little Shark by Anna Membrino. A Big shark and a little shark are swimming in the ocean

Big Shark, Little Shark by Anna Membrino

Big Shark, Little Shark is a favorite! It’s a story of two sharks who are both hungry. This story is told in short sentences with repetitive text and fun words like CHOMP! and YUM! that preschoolers will love to read.

Book cover of Toad on the Road by Susan Schade. A toad is driving a car.

Toad on the Road by Susan Schade

Toad on the Road is an older book but a fun one. You never know what memories your child’s gonna hold on to. My daughter actually quoted her favorite line from this book, when she grew up and got her driver’s license – “Hands on the wheel. Eyes on the road. I am a careful driving Toad.” – lol

Book cover of Old, New, Red, Blue (Disney Cars) by Melissa Lagonegro. A fire truck a tow truck and two cars.

Old, New, Red, Blue (Disney Cars) by Melissa Lagonegro

Old, New, Red, Blue features illustrations from the Disney movie Cars. The text uses short familiar words focusing on colors and opposites. Books with favorite characters like this have great appeal to young children making them a great way to get little ones interested in reading.

Book cover of Sleepy Dog by Harriet Ziefert. A dog is sleeping on a bed with a cat at his feet.

Sleepy Dog by Harriet Ziefert

This is an early reader book that introduces short chapters to young readers. It’s a story about a sleepy dog getting ready for bed. It makes a great first chapter book for emerging readers.

Spot Book Series

Spot Books are another one of my favorite series to use as early reader books. They have several features that make them great books for preschoolers. They have memorable characters, the books have lift-a-flap pages with easy short sentences and there is usually some type of little mystery the reader needs to find the answer to.

Kingdom of Color (Disney Tangled) by Melissa Lagonegro

This book is a great book for reading color words. It uses pictures from the Disney movie Tangled with text to describe the colors Rapunzel sees around the kingdom.

Too Many Cats by Lori Haskins Houran

This is an ideal beginner reader book for preschoolers to start with. The text is more simpler than most. It uses simple repetitive text along with color and descriptive words.

Go, Go, Go! by Melissa Lagonegro

This is Step into Reading Book book is naturally a big hit with Car fans. The text describes a variety of vehicles like, a blimp, a train, a bulldozer, a combine, tractors and a 4 x4.

May I Please Have a Cookie by Jennifer Morris

This has a fun storyline with simple repetitive text that your youngster will not only enjoy reading but also teaches them manners.

Book cover of Big Egg! by Molly Coxe, A chicken holding a big egg.

Big Egg! by Molly Coxe

This book has short sentences and easy text with a fun, mysterious storyline about a hen who discovers an egg that isn’t hers and sets off to find the owner.

Book cover of Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. A dog driving a car.

Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

Go, Dog. Go! is a classic and probably one of the most popular beginner reader books of all time. It is from the Dr. Seuss I Can Read it All By Myself series. This book is packed with easy beginner words including color, number, and position words.

Book cover of I Spy Lightning In The Sky by Jean Marzollo. Lighthouse during a thunderstorm.

I Spy Lightning In The Sky by Jean Marzollo

This is a fun interactive book for preschoolers. They can play I Spy and learn to read at the same time.

Cat Days by Alexa Andrews

Cat Days is an emergent reader book. This book doesn’t have much of a storyline but I’d still recommend it for preschoolers who are just starting to read. Most of the text is made up of simple site words and short 3 letter words that can be sounded out phonetically.

On a Farm by Alexa Andrews

This book explores things you find on a farm. the book is told in simple text with photos as picture clues It is divided into three sections: Animals, Food, and On a Farm. Each section repeats a phase and adds one new word which helps build success in beginner readers.

For instance, the first section repeats the phrase “lives on a farm” and each page features a different animal that lives on the farm


Download Your Free List

Download your free printable list of the Books for Kids Learning to Read.

Be sure to check out more Preschooler Activities:

Debbie Brown Tothood 101

Hi! I’m Debbie Brown. I created Tothood 101 because I’m passionate about sharing preschool activity ideas, and resources that I’ve gleaned from 20+ years of experience teaching preschoolers at home and in the classroom. My goal is to encourage, guide, and help inspire you to make learning SUPER FUN for your preschooler at home! Check out the ABOUT page to learn more.


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