Books for Just Starting to Read

Updated on March 01, 2008
A.B. asks from Northfield, MA
34 answers

Hi All
My son is 4 (almost 5) and is just beginning to read short, predictable text. I am really excited because, I used to teach first grade / reading. Yay! Anyway, this may seem strange because I am a teacher, but I am appalled at the lack of readable books for this age/reading level in the library. (At school we had a book closet full of little books just right for this stage of reading) My son's preschool teacher seemed a bit taken aback when I wondered if I could choose a few titles from the school's book closet to read with him. I wonder if anyone knows of any resources for this type of book. There are a few titles we have found that are simple enough at the library, but they are mixed in with all the rest.
After my brief conversation with my son's teacher, I went home and began making books using pictures of my kids. (ex:"I like building. I like sliding. I like cooking", you get the idea) This can be a bit labor intensive, but fun. But it really seems there should be more available to the general public for this stage of reading.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all! So many responses to my request for reading materials for a very beginning reader. I really appreciate the time you took to respond. I have checked out several of the websites so far and like some of the printable materials I have found. My little guy enjoys the novelty of coloring in his own books, then reading them. I particularly like the starfall.com website and found a few appropriate titles at dltk-teach.com/minibooks. On dial up here it would have taken me ages to find all the sites you mentioned.
I haven't checked out the Bob books yet, though I am familiar with many of the Scholastic series. I just haven't been happy with them for truly beginning readers, because you tend to go in thinking they will all be readable and appropriate, but they often have little oddities in the text that make it hard for beginners. Since my son is so young I don't want him to be discouraged by any of that. Nonetheless I thank each and every one of you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom on this subject.

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A.Z.

answers from Boston on

A friend gave me this book for our baby shower and I really like it. It talks about why it's important to read to children (with a section for educators). But most important, it has a list of recommended books based on reading level.

http://www.amazon.com/Read-Aloud-Handbook-Sixth/dp/014303...

You can also check out the website related to the book:

http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/

A.

2 moms found this helpful
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S.H.

answers from Hartford on

A., My son (now Harry Potter age - those books were a long time ago!) loved his subscription to Babybug magazine - the youngest version of Cricket - we got as a gift. Also, some public libraries have a great section of these in the kids section - I'd call around and see if a nearby town does separate them out into levels instead of just lumping them in together. - S. H.

1 mom found this helpful
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R.B.

answers from Providence on

enchantedlearning.com has lots of early literacy books that are printable. I use them with my ESL kids. also, if you don't mind spending the money, readinga-z.com is another resource i use.

1 mom found this helpful
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S.B.

answers from Boston on

A.,

I am an Usborne book educational supervisor, and helping people is what I like doing best! Usborne has many books for all ages, including beginning readers. Visit my website at www.UsborneSarah.com. Look for the phonics readers, and also the young readers series, as there are some great books in there for beginning readers. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

S. B.

1 mom found this helpful
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L.C.

answers from Providence on

There are two things I can think of ...

you can check out http://www.learningpage.com/free_pages/home.html

I love this website for free printables for education.. there might be some reading ones there.

Or if you have some books around the house - you wouldn't mind "swapping" - check out paperbackswap.com - it is a great resource to take some of your old books and get new ones for "free" - you pay postage on the books you mail out. They carry books that others post - I have recieved some of the American Girls books and some "read to me" books from there.

Good Luck
L.

1 mom found this helpful
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S.T.

answers from Boston on

A., I found myself in a similar situation with my kindergartener recently. I found a TON of the scholastic sight reader sets on Ebay pretty reasonable. Since you have a younger son as well, the investment would certainly be worth it. When you are done with them, you could just resell them. I sure since you were a first grade teacher, you know the series I am referring to. They are absolutely wonderful. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful
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R.H.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.
There is a whole set of this type of book at Walmart (or other stores maybe too) . I know what you mean , they're not at our library either. The ones I am referring to are Fisher Price- I Can Read ..and have numbers on them for the reading level..Danny the dinosaur, books on sharing, feelings, and some ones that go with the new movies too like Ratatouille...etc..

Maybe you can request they get some, or maybe you have found your new job- writing children's books! Someday you could be in the library :) Sounds like a good match if you ask me! All the best.
R.

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B.S.

answers from Boston on

that's impressive that he's already reading! I ordered some "beginner reader" books from a book order at the elementary school. The school might let you in on it if you go to the office and request?

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W.D.

answers from Boston on

Hop on Pop and Go Dog Go were the books my daughters preschool teacher encouraged me to get and she was reading pretty fast with them. My 4 year old has even started to memorize them after only reading them once to him (as you remember, memorizing books is the start to prereading).. also, use your resources as a teacher! Didax.com, learningresources.com, all those school supply companies have reading and pre reading catagories.. teach him at and all the words you can make using at. it's a fun time!!

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L.B.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.!

You might try looking up the Robinson Curriculum. It is a set of books (old books no longer in print) that are scanned on disk. You print them out, which as you said can be fun. Your child can make book covers or you can just put them in a 3 ring binder. It has everything from handwriting and very beginning reading, on up to heavy science. When I got the set a few years ago it was $99.00 but there are sooo many books to choose from.

If you are interested and can't find it on the internet ( I believe it is robinsoncurriculum.com) send me an email to [email protected]____.com and I will help you out.

Hope that it helps. L.

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R.L.

answers from Boston on

My daughter loved the series about Frog and Toad, by Arnold Lobel. She was introduced to them at the stage when I was reading them to her, and she effortlessly memorized them - maybe a little younger than your son. So I'll bet that if you read one to him, and he has begun to challenge himself with real reading, he would enjoy figuring out the words for himself.

My daughter is 36 now - but I would be surprised if these books aren't still in use at school and at the library.

R. L.

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M.W.

answers from Bangor on

I had the same problem. (also a stay at home mom who was a teacher) I looked on Ebay for "leveled readers" and had some luck. I also found some at a children's consignment store.

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J.S.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.,
There is a great little series from Scholastic titled "Bob" Books. The books are phonetically based and build on skills so children can use them to learn to read. The pictures are engaging simple line drawings. These books can be purchased at a book store or via Amazon. They come in sets of 12 in a great little box. I'm a children's librarian and mother of a 5 and a 7 year old. I've spent a great deal of time helping other parents with your very same question. Hope this helps.

J.

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C.P.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.,

My daughter is in kindergarten and we had the BEST book to get her started with reading at the beginning of the school year. It's a hard cover Dick and Jane book full of short stories. The stories start out very simple with as few as 2 or three pages per story. The words are repetitive, which is great. As you get deeper into the book, the stories get longer. The book is over 100 pages long. Another good book to start with are the Bob books.

Good luck!

C. P.

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B.J.

answers from Providence on

Hi A., Being a teacher myself I have found those types of books in the teacher stores. There are several around. One in the Emerald Mall , in Garden City and plenty online. I have been out of teacher for 13 years, but when I was in I used these types of books which I purchased at the teacher stores. They are great! Takes you back to Jane ran. Jane ran fast. When we were kids. Good luck! And let me know how you make out. kindly B.

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B.K.

answers from Springfield on

Hi A.,

My 5 year old is in the same place- has about 100 sight words and is looking to put them together into stories!

My suggestion: Scholastic Book Clubs- I am sure you did a ton of them while teaching and they really do have a great line of books that are stage appropriate. If your son's teacher does not offer the book club (which she really should because she would get books for free!) give them a call and sign back up- tell them you are home schooling (not a lie, you are teaching them at home!) and you can sign up yourself to get their catalogs.

You cannot beat the value of their books!

I also did ask our Children's librarian for suggestions and she had a handful, but there wasn't really much for sight words. I will probably just donate all the ones I have just bought to the library when my 3 year old is done with them!

Best of Luck!

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E.H.

answers from Boston on

Hello,
I found these books written by Nora Gaydos. They are short books that offer parent guidelines and reward stickers. they are SUPER!!! There are many different levels. My daughter is in kindergaren and is making her way through them. The company is Innovative Kids. I bought them at Brainwaves in Hampton, NH. Let me know if you need any other info on them
E.

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C.T.

answers from Boston on

My son loved the Dick and Jane books. You might try the Scholastic website for beginning reader packs. I bought Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, etc. for my daughter. I'm sure they have others.

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J.S.

answers from Boston on

Hello,
I am an Usborne Book Consultant and I can not say enough about how wonderful these educational books are. My children are ages, 5, 4 and almost 3. Our favorite Usborne books are the dual reader books. These books engage all age readers at the same time. Feel free to visit my website and search for the "dual reader" books, they are fantastic. If you need book recommendations, please feel free to contact me.
www.FamilyBookNook.com
###-###-#### (cell)
[email protected]____.com
Happy Reading!
J.

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L.P.

answers from Hartford on

I used to teach special education and I understand what you are talking about. What about the BOB book series? You can find them at most book stores and some libraries. Our library system (CT) is linked and you can do ILL to get books from around the state and return them anywhere. Also, the Biscuit book series are good for beginners. Finally, look on the internet - I found a good site called hubbardscupboard.org that offers free printable booklets just like the ones you are making up (less work) that your child can color in too (unlike a library book). Hope that helps.

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P.B.

answers from Boston on

I agree..so I went online and if you look up printable booklets they have the same kind of books you are making..but I am sure they are not as nice..but they are similar to the little booklets my daughter is bringing home from school..good luck

P.

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J.R.

answers from Boston on

Hi,
I did not have that problem when my children were young, there was plenty of books at the library.
But now with grandchildren and a great granddaughter I found a dollar store that carries the simple, hard cardboard books that children love. They have colors, letters, numbers, animals, etc, which the childern love. My daughter now has a small library of them and when the children outgrow them she will donate them to her public library.
Hope this helps.
J.

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M.B.

answers from Lewiston on

What about board books? There are quite a few that are very simple that he may be able to read on his own. Also our library has a whole section of early reader books and the ones I like the best (though I can't get my son to read them - he's six) are the Lighthouse books by Rigby. I found some on Amazon - you might be able to find them elsewhere - I would try ebay. They are very small - I personally wouldn't spend more than 2 dollars on one. I also agree with all the others about the early reading sets from scholastic and the BOB books.

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A.B.

answers from Boston on

Try Usborne books. I believe the website is usbornebooksathome.com. They have great books for all ages and they are well made with great illustrations. The web site is set up by age level so it's pretty easy to use. You can find a consultant and have a book party and get lots of free books or just order on line!! Good luck!

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C.K.

answers from Boston on

THere is a series of books called "BOB BOOKS". My son is reading through them now. Each set comes with 12 (Small) books, and each page is only a few words. A book uses the same words then as youmove through the series, it adds another word throughout the book, and then each series adds different word combos in it. There are a total of 4 series.

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K.C.

answers from Boston on

If you live near New England Mobile book Fair (Newton) they have a great (huge) selection of books for this level!

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A.C.

answers from Providence on

I am sure that as a former teacher you already know about these, but I have heard a lot of good things about the BOB series of books. My son is also 4 and is starting with word recognition and reading sentences that we write that include his name and some of his more familiar words. We are also checking out books that he might be able to read. I kept all the baby board books for that purpose and it seems to be working for us. He gets very excited when he reads a whole book to his sister (2). Good Luck.

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L.M.

answers from Springfield on

Hi A., let me just say that although those homemade books may be time comsuming I think that is a GREAT idea. I pretty much started reading to my son when he was still in the womb and he is 9 now, he used to love the A book, go dog go, etc. although I always read all levels of books with before bed and if he knew certain parts or he remembered certain words we would take turns reading, even if I said the whole sentence and pointed to the last word for him to read, sometimes we would even read together. We just finished the last Harry Potter book together and he still loves His bedtime story. I agree with some of the other people about going to used book places, there are some great stories out there you won't find at Barnes and Noble or Borders. Good Luck.

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K.P.

answers from Boston on

I have a 5 year old boy who also is reading very well for his age. We have a box set of Curious George books with simple text and lots of repetition. Also, we love the Eric Carle books (Brown Bear Brown Bear) I have luck at the local Borders they have a decent pre-school reading section. The Sandra Boynton books are ok as well. Sesame Street books are always right on target. Some of these you may need to help him with a little, but so what, it's still easier than making your own books :) You could probably find them at your local library (if you look hard enough). Hope this helps!

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C.M.

answers from Boston on

My daycare provider sells Usborne Books at Home. If you live in New England I am sure she would do a party for you to earn free books, but you could still order them online. I checked them out and theyhave all sorts of books for kids of all ages and interests. Her website is www.ubah.com/R2029.

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B.R.

answers from Burlington on

I work for a children's book author, Stephen Huneck. Many first grade teachers, (including my Mother-in-law) love his simple style and imagery, and read them to their classes. The subject is his adventurous black lab "Sally". I am quite sure you can find him at the library,or a local bookstore.
Hope that is helpful!
B.

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M.M.

answers from Lewiston on

Hi there,
I am a 4th grade teacher, and I've heard many times from the K/1 teachers that kids have very little appropriate reading material at home, not b/c parents don't want age-appropriate books, but because they can't find enough of them. Our school actually lends the Reading A-Z books to kids. It might be worth visitng the school your son will go to next year and ask for their advice.

My son willl be 5 in June and is also reading many sight words and predicatable names and locations. I've started buying the beginning reader books at Walmart with all the popular characters (Diego, Backyardigans, Sponge Bob, etc.) He LOVES Thomas the Train, so he is very motivated to read those. Our local library has many of those too. How about asking your library to do inter-library loans to widen your selection?

I also read more difficult material and have him read a sentence after me or I just chose certain words for him to read. Before long, our kids will be reading short chapter books, and it won't be an issue any more!
Goodluck!

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B.A.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.,

I am a special ed teacher (also a Mom to a 2 1/2 and a 4 year old). I read the type of books you're talking about all the time with my kids at school. Books are leveled based on reading ability and the ones at the first levels A&B are similar to what you described. I like Fruit, I like Lunch, etc with repeated patterns and phrases. There are whole sets that you can order from the scholastic web site but I've seen some of them through the scholastic book club. We get the book club flier each month from my son's Preschool teacher. There is a list of the titles at each level at:
http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/guidedreading/fict...

A step up from those are the level 1 Step Into Reading series. You can find them all over but I found them cheapest at the Christmas Tree Shop.

I hope this helps !
B.

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W.S.

answers from Hartford on

Try going to 2nd hand stores. The Goodwill in Norwhich has an entire area of childrens books.
Also, I read to my children out loud from the point that they could snuggle up and not squirm. We spent a lot of time with the Chronicles of Narnia & similar books. While they were not reading themselves at that level, they could certainly follow the story line. Both my children became avid readers and to this day still devour books, (even with the high competition of video games). ( I recall a day that the furnace repair man listened in for over an hour and didn't want to leave when he was finished because he was engrossed in the story).
Anyways, look for the older books in used book stores. The story lines are much more interesting than the modern stuff I've seen in the stores.

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