Input Needed: Early Reader Book Recommendations



Hiya, Friends!  Can you help a mama out?  My boys’ reading is taking off.  They were slow readers, but it’s kicking in, and they are reading some easy chapter books and Level 1 and 2 Easy Readers. I have PLENTY on our Favorite Read-Aloud List, that we are working our way through. Currently we are in the middle of Hero Tales and Prince Caspian and soaking them up, but I need some good suggestions for their read-aloud and individual reading time.

Is it just me or are there a lot of terrible easy readers?  I get discouraged at the inconsistency of the levels, the length variance, and just the poor story line quality in so many of them.  The movie/tv character ones are the worst!  You can tell they are selling it just on the image, because the writing is awful.

I’m still a first time mom, I’m just going through it all at once, so could you give me a hand navigating good book choices? Will you fill my comment section with your favorites so I can fill up my library bag full?  You guys are the best. 


Related Post: 65 Favorite Read-Alouds for Boys




21 thoughts on "Input Needed: Early Reader Book Recommendations"

  1. Kate Sullivan says:

    When my nephew was a reluctant reader, we discovered the FLY GUY series by Tedd Arnold and Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. They kept him laughing and asking for more! It’s exciting to see them turn ON to reading! Good luck!

  2. Deanna Bowman says:

    I follow the blog Home With the Boys…she has great suggestions for books.

  3. Catherine says:

    My boys are in 2nd grade, and I agree, many early level readers are awful. We have enjoyed the Frog and Toad books, I’m Going to New York to Visit the Lions, Danny and the Dinosaur, Arthur books by Lillian Hoban (not the PBS character), The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat (may be too easy), the Little Bear books, George and Martha books, Henry and Mudge books, Caps for Sale, and Harry the Dirty Dog to name a few. One of my boys really seems to prefer non-fiction, so he’s really enjoyed National Geographic readers that we’ve picked up – books about animals, planets, weather, bugs, etc.

    1. These are GREAT! Thanks so much, Catherine!

  4. Kellie says:

    My daughter loved Magic Tree House Books and my son (1st grade) is starting to enjoy them. They are chapter books, but the early books in the series (1 through about 12 or so) are easier for young readers. Fun story lines – dinosaurs , the Amazon, medieval times, etc.

  5. Jennie says:

    I was going to recommend Magic Tree House as well, but Kellie beat me to it. 🙂

  6. Jamie says:

    Fly guy, elephant and Piggie, and Magic Tree House Books are our favs.

  7. MH says:

    Mom to twin 9 yr old boys – Magic Tree House books are a great suggestion, as are those National Geographic nonfiction books. Encyclopedia Brown. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Maybe not quite yet, but soon. Collections of comics like Garfield or Snoopy, or Guinness Book of World Records types – things with shorter snippets of reading. Also to improve their fluency reading rhyming books like Dr Seuss outloud is good. When my boys were beginning and somewhat reluctant readers I would read the first chapter or two outloud and then they would take the book and finish it without me.

  8. ES says:

    My second grader loves The notebook of Doom series. He actually was reading them last year in first grade. The name sounds scary, but the books aren’t 🙂 they have plenty of pictures, short chapters, and good endings :). There are currently 5 books in the series, with two more coming out in the next few months.

  9. Nicole says:

    The Mercy Watson series and Judy Moody and Stink books also great ones! And then when they are ready to transition, the Stink books are pretty good too.

  10. Danielle Barton says:

    My daughter is really into A-Z mysteries. WE got a couple on CD for bedtime and after hearing a few, she is hooked! She just finished the last letter of the alphabet. I guess the calendar mysteries are similar but simpler version featuring the main character’s (from A-Z) little siblings.

    I started reading a few Magic Tree House books with the kiddos but they weren’t my favorite because of some of the magic that I wasn’t too thrilled about. Not the “wow were transported by magic through history” parts, but other parts that may have been only from one specific book – I’m not sure.

    Favorites (non series): Big & Small by Elizabeth Bennett
    Chicka chicka boom boom by Bill Martin
    Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin
    Liar, Liar Pants on Fire by Diane De Groat (and other books by her!)

    Thats all I have for now! I hope you’ll share new favorites here when you make a list. I have a 2nd grader reading at 4th grade level but really only comprehending at 2nd or 3rd. And a 2nd grader reading at a basic 2nd grade level. And a first grader struggling to read. So we have a wide range of readers over here!

  11. Ameliah Bedialiah books… they drove Tony crazy but Truly and Rock both liked them.

  12. Kathy Waclaw says:

    I agree with many of the previous comments, Stink, A to Z Mysteries, Magic Tree House to name a few. I would also like to add to the list, Horrible Harry series by Suzy Kline, The Black Lagoon Books by Mike Thaler, The Polk Street Gang Series by Patricia Rilley GIff, I particularly like The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room by Giff, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by John Scieszka, Tornado by Betsy Byars, and the My Weird School books by Dan Gutman. I love this exercise. I’ll try to think of some more. Happy Reading!

  13. I’m right there with you, Jen. It’s really difficult to gauge the quality of the early reader books. It seems like either I can’t stand them (the movie/TV character genre) or Eli can’t stand them (too dull/terrible story lines and illustrations). If the boys are at all into graphic novels, though, we’ve found some winners there. Eli LOVES the Binky the Cat books. Check out the Toon Books on Amazon, too. Right now we’re reading aloud “Fortunately the Milk” by Neil Gaiman and it’s wonderful! Reminds me of modern Roald Dahl.

  14. Crystal says:

    Jack DIGS The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne…he loves them so much that that’s what we take away when he gets in trouble! 🙂

  15. Kori Gammon says:

    Magic Treehouse Series. My seven year old loves them and it doesn’t really matter if you read them in order or not. They are pretty much historical fiction for an early reader. My son learned to LOVE reading because of this series.

  16. Katie says:

    If you’re looking for good nonfiction sources, check out the Magic School Bus series, anything by Seymour Simon, and the National Geographic “Face to Face With” series.

    Suggestions for fiction: Frog & Toad. Berenstain Bears. Boxcar Children series. Henry&Mudge series (or anything else by Cynthia Rylant).

    Other good authors: Mo Willems (Pigeon series, Elephant & Piggie series),Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby, etc.), Jean Craighead George, Gary Paulsen, and Kate DiCamillo. Also anything by Chris VanAllsburg (such as Jumanji, The Polar Express, etc.).

    You should ask at your public library if they offer access to the online database “Novelist K-8Plus”, put together by Ebsco. It’s a great tool to find read-alikes! You can search by author/title/series/age and much more.

  17. Sarah says:

    My son really likes Juny B Jones books, and a friend recently recommended Captain Underpants books, but I haven’t checked those out yet.

  18. Holly says:

    We enjoy the Mr. Putter and Tabby series, especially Make the Soup and Pick the Pears. They’re similar reading level to the Fly Guy series.

  19. Lynda Lanter says:

    The Boxcar Children is a favorite at our house. Also The Happy Hollisters are being reprinted and sold on Amazon. Geronimo Stilton, Capitol Mysteries and Shel Silverstein’s Runny Babbit and others.

  20. Diane says:

    I really enjoy it when you post to get input from your readers. I often get great ideas from them. 🙂 My second graders are readers, too, and I have some ideas for you. When our older son was young I struggled to find good books, because finding books that would challenge his reading level wouldn’t bring appropriate content for his age. I also have a really hard time with the books that show disrespectful (portrayed as funny) characters. What goes in comes out!!
    These are some my kids have really enjoyed: Geronimo Stilton, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Rush Revere series, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Hank the Cowdog, Amelia Bedelia. I know there are so many more that we like, but these are just a few that came to mind. I didn’t have time to read previous posts, so if these are what others already posted, I apologize. I hope you have a great day!!

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