As a Zoobean curator and mom, I’m always on the prowl for a good children’s book. For me, I’m looking for engaging artwork and an interesting re-readable story.
And then our oldest started learning to read.
Early reader books were nothing like the “good” kids books I had been looking for. It’s a very different, transitional stage for the child who benefits from a restricted set of vocabulary. The art tends to be ok to bad, and the stories are seldom worth reading more than once. That said, here are resources that were helpful to us in the early stages. While not exhaustive, the list below includes those that we liked most from what was available to us via the library and recommendations from other moms. If you’ve come across other resources that have been helpful for your family, please share with our Facebook community or leave a comment @zoobeanforkids!
1. Bob Books We got these used from another family, and it kicked things off for our oldest. The vocabulary is well controlled in each book, providing focus and practice on particular sounds.
2. Starfall.com Another resource we learned about from others. Our oldest really liked the site and picked up the lessons quickly. It’s got a 90s website vibe to it, but most of the site is free. So free and engaging, can’t really beat that.
3. Mo Willems Of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fame, Mo Willems’s early readers from Cat the Cat to Elephant and Piggie have a remarkable ability to convey a lot with a very small, repetitive vocabulary. Gerald and Piggie, in particular, get caught up in antics that are quite entertaining and have a relationship reminiscent of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.
4. Dr. Seuss It’s easy to forget that these well-loved classics are also early reader books. They also do a lot with a small, repetitive vocabulary while adding elements of rhythm and rhyme which provides a lot of practice for the early reader but they are usually much longer than Mo Willems’ books. Requires some stamina to make it all the way through.
5. Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown Zany characters with fun illustrations, these tend to be very early reader books and have been fun for both our reader and younger not-yet-a-reader. Granted, our not-yet-a-reader is a bit truck obsessed.
6. Olivia (Ready-to-Read Series) It turns out that Olivia is a Nickelodeon character in a television show of the same name. I didn’t know this when we came across her. These early readers have nice illustrations and more interesting stories than most.