Five year old Jack was eager to learn to read. He was beginning to sound out words while being read to. His mom wanted to help him to learn to read, but she wasn’t sure which books to choose. Choosing the correct level of books for your child can be confusing. Leveled books from different publishers are not always the same level. Leveled books from the same publisher often fluctuate.
For example, there are some great beginning reader books from Green Light Readers. When examining these books carefully, “Level 1” is clearly listed on the cover, but inside the book, or on the back of the book, “Guided Reading” levels are listed. The book Ollie by Olivier Dunrea has a Guiding Reading Level of “F” (which is a level a child should achieve at the beginning of first grade). Another Green Light Reader: Sam and Jack – Three Stories, has a Guided Reading Level of C, equivalent to a level a child should achieve mid-kindergarten. Within the Green Light Readers Level 1 series, the book Joe on the Go by Perry Anderson has a Guided Reading Level of I (end of first grade / beginning of second grade level).
You may need to experiment to see which books work best for your child.
- Beginner books often include repetition and rhyme for predictability, along with simple words.
- Encourage your child to try to sound out words, but if help is needed, provide it!
- Read the title to your child – the words in the title can go a long way with successfully reading the text of emergent reader books.
- It’s okay to read the book a few times out loud to your child before your son or daughter gives it a try.
- With your child’s help, make a word wall of the words your child knows to boost confidence and always have a few new words to learn posted as well. Use sticky notes or write words directly onto a large sheet of paper or poster board.
- If you’re looking for official Guiding Reading Levels, use the Scholastic Book Wizard or the Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Book Website. The Scholastic Book Wizard seems to work best as your child’s Guided Reading Level increases. There is a fee to access the Fountas and Pinnell site. The number of books that will come up in a Fountas and Pinnell search may be overwhelming. Also, a parent’s access to the beginner reader books listed on the Fountas and Pinnell site may be limited, as these books seem to come from reading / classroom sets, or the books may be out-of-print.
- Interested in getting a better feel for when your child should achieve a specific Guided Reading Level? Check out the Teachers College Benchmarks.
- Try to take first readers out from your local library so you can truly experiment. The books listed below can be found at the New York Public Library or Amazon.
First Books to Try
- Big Dog and Little Dog by Dav Pilkey
- Big Dog and Little Dog Going for a Walk by Dav Pilkey
- Big Dog and Little Dog Getting in Trouble by Dav Pilkey
- Big Dog and Little Dog Wearing Sweaters by Dav Pilkey
- Clara and Clem Take a Ride by Ethan Long
- Bathtime for Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (experiment with the Biscuit series – some are harder for emergent readers than others)
- I Like Bugs by Margaret Wise Brown
- A Big Surprise by Kristi Butler
- Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle
- I Want a Pet by Barbara Gregorich
- At the Beach by Alexa Andrews (Penguin Young Readers Level 1 Series – check out level A, B and C within Level 1)
- In the Forest by Alexa Andrews
- On a Farm by Alexa Andrews
- Cat Days by Alexa Andrews
- Joshua James Likes Trucks by Catherine Petrie
- Fall Leaves by Don Curry
- Roll Over! by Merle Peek
- Ladybug Girl – Who Can Play? by David Soman and Jacky Davis
- It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
- Sam and Jack – Three Stories by Alex Moran
- Family Pets by Lola M. Schaefer
- How Many Fish? by Caron Lee Cohen
- Silly Sally by Betsy Franco
- Trucks by Gail Saunders-Smith
- Go to Bed, Blue by Bonnie Bader
Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a speech therapist working with young children on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Please feel free to contact Stephanie with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.