Expert-Approved Books for Beginner Readers

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

Apr 12, 2023



Expert-Approved Books for Beginner Readers

Apr 12, 2023

There are many early reading titles that have been created to meet the needs of newly independent readers (typically kids in kindergarten through 2nd grade), with easy-to-follow plots, simple vocabulary, and plenty of sight words, including those in the Raise a Reader sets

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 turn your child into an avid reader.

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Try a Simple Series

The books in the Acorn line provide an entertaining perspective on topics kids care about. Your child will grow their reading confidence with the 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 sweet read A Friend for Dragon, by author Dav Pilkey of Dog Man fame and the exciting new Adventure Friends series. 

Revisit Favorite Books

Reading already-familiar books is a great way to build early reader confidence, according to Scholastic Parents contributor Christie Burnett, an experienced early childhood educator and a mom of two.

Kids already have a strong emotional connection to these books, and early childhood books share many commonalities with early reader books, like simple sentences and easy-to-decipher pictures.

Even if your child can read these books from memory, "every word read, in each and every book, is valuable to their beginning literacy skills," says Burnett. These so-called "baby books" are great options to revisit once your kids start reading on their own.

Try Scholastic Level 1 Readers

The education experts at Scholastic use the latest research on children's literacy to develop leveled readers (levels 1, 2, 3) designed to build reading confidence throughout elementary school.

The Level 1 readers tell an engaging story with simple sentences and a mix of familiar words and new vocabulary. A beloved character like Clifford helps kids feel even more connected.

Shop the full list of Scholastic Leveled Readers.  

Find more expert-approved kindergarten books, tips, and resources at our guide to getting ready for kindergarten

Explore Branches Early Chapter Books

Branches books are specifically designed to help early readers work their way up to traditional chapter books. Branches books have more illustrations than chapter books, but offer more complexity than other early readers.

With accessible text, fast-paced plots, and plenty of cliffhangers, Branches books encourage kids to keep reading. If kids can connect to the first book in the series, they have a ready-made trove of reading material they'll love.

"A lot of parents will tell me, 'We read the first book together, and then they stayed up all night reading the next three on their own,'" says Carella. 

Shop more Branches books below! You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store

Age 8
Age 7
Age 6
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Age 4