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Don’t you think that beginning reading is kind of a tough stage? It’s a little painful for both the reader, having to sound out words, and the listener, having to endure it, ha, ha!

Good think it’s exciting, too! It always feels, to me, like a whole new world is opening up to this emerging reader. A world where we are only limited by our imaginations–nothing is too big or too hard or too far away or out of reach!

It’s critical to offer our children wonderful books that will delight and entertain them and entice them back for more–it makes the whole process so much easier! Here are a few of our very favorite beginning readers: 


The books are clickable links to the actual product on Amazon.


Meet Little Bear, a friend to millions of children. And meet Mother Bear, who is there whenever Little Bear needs her. When it is cold and snowy outside, she finds just the right outfit for Little Bear to play in. When he goes to the moon, she has a hot lunch waiting for him on his return. And, of course, she never forgets his birthday.

This classic from Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak was written in 1957 and remains as beloved today as it was then. An ALA Notable Children’s Book, this Level One I Can Read is full of warm and lovingly playful stories that are perfect for children learning to sound out words and sentences.




Little Bear is so pleased with the picture he has drawn that he asks Hen to take it to his grandmother. Grandmother is so happy with it that she sends him back a thank-you kiss.

How the kiss is passed from Grandmother to Hen, to Cat, to Little Skunk, to a pretty girl skunk, and back to Little Skunk, and how eventually it comes again to Hen and finally to Little Bear will delight children just learning to read.

Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak, the creators of the first Little Bear book for beginning readers, once again blend their extraordinary talents in a tender story filled with warmth and laughter.

This beloved classic is an ALA Notable Children’s Book and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book.





When Papa’s seven little mouse boys ask for a bedtime story, Papa does even better than that—he tells seven stories, one for each boy!

This Level Two I Can Read is geared toward kids who read on their own but still need a little help.

This sweet bedtime tale is from Arnold Lobel, the beloved author and illustrator of the Newbery Honor and Caldecott Honor award-winning Frog and Toad books.






Share the adventures of best friends Frog and Toad as they fly a kite, resist the temptation of cookies, and search for a lost button. No matter what kind of situation they find themselves in, one thing is certain: Frog and Toad will always be together.

This reading collection is a Level Two I Can Read, geared toward kids who read on their own but still need a little help.

The classic Frog and Toad stories by Arnold Lobel have won numerous awards and honors, including a Newbery Honor (Frog and Toad Together), a Caldecott Honor (Frog and Toad Are Friends), ALA Notable Children’s Book, Fanfare Honor List (The Horn Book), School Library Journal Best Children’s Book, and Library of Congress Children’s Book.





 The Princess in Black Collection 4 Books Set (The Princess in Black, The Perfect Princess Party, The Hungry Bunny Horde, Takes a Vacation)

I purchased these books for my five-year-old daughter because she wanted to be like her sisters who read every night. Not only did she love them, but they made the rounds of our family and my eight-year-old daughter loved them, as did my ten-year-old son. They’re funny enough that even my older children and I enjoyed them.





Mr. Putter and Tabby continue to enjoy their twilight years together in a beginning reader that combines simple, lyrical writing and gentle humor. This time out, it’s the holiday season. Concerned that his neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, devours so much heavy fruitcake, Mr. Putter decides to bake her “a light and airy” cake. After several mishaps, with Tabby at his side he finally delivers a beautiful cake on Christmas morning–then promptly falls asleep in Mrs. Teaberry’s chair. Howard’s relaxed, mixed-media pictures catch the nuances of the cozy, affectionate relationship between an old man and a cat with all the right moves. Julie Corsaro- Booklist

All of the Mr. Putter and Tabby books are truly delightful. You will like them as much as your little reader does, making the whole learning-to-read process much more enjoyable for both of you. I love that Mr. Putter sets a joyful, kind example and that all of this series’ relationships are so well-drawn.




 Mr. Putter and his fine cat, Tabby, love to take naps — too many naps. What they need is a sport! Luckily Mrs.Teaberry and her good dog, Zeke, know of a baseball team they can join. It’s not long before Mr. Putter is ready to play ball, but will his creaky knees cooperate? And can Zeke avoid wreaking havoc on the field?

Win or lose, this baseball team will never be the same!






Mr. Putter wants Mrs. Teaberry’s birthday to be extra special this year. So how about a trip to the Conservatory to see the beautiful trees and plants and flowers? It will be heavenly. And it is! Mr. Putter and Tabby and Mrs. Teaberry and Zeke sniff the air. They smell the roses. They learn the plant facts. It’s the perfect celebration . . . until Zeke finds the banana tree.

The Mr. Putter & Tabby early reader series has been long beloved by children, parents, and teachers. This new volume is as funny and endearing as ever.





 The endless line of moral dilemmas presented by Willems’ Elephant & Piggie series continues with this ode to the classic conflict between generosity and greed. Wow, is Elephant ever excited about his ice cream cone! But should he find Piggie and give her some before it all melts? Swift changes in text and image size provide much of the humor, though nothing is funnier than Elephant’s rationalizing: “Sharing a flavor Piggie does not like would be wrong.” Is it even possible to get tired of these books? – Daniel Kraus Booklist”

There is a whole series of Elephant & Piggie books, each funny and wonderful and perfect for beginning readers AND their parents!




When Uncle Jake builds Henry a beautiful tree house, there is a big problem-Mudge cannot climb trees. Unwilling to hurt his uncle’s feelings, the boy tries staying in the structure for short periods, then getting down to be with his dog. When the grown-ups notice what is going on, they come up with the perfect solution-the tree house is rebuilt in Henry’s bedroom so boy and dog can enjoy it together. The family dynamics are sensitive, warm, and funny. Pen-and-ink and watercolor art illustrates the action, and the final spread on which the tree house is next to Henry’s bed is just unexpected enough to elicit giggles. A welcome addition to a deservedly popular series.






Henry and Mudge, aided by Henry’s father, participate in a snowman-building contest. Although up against some strong competition, their unconventional offering brings chuckles and a third-place prize for creativity. Rylant has a great sense of rhythm and pacing, alternating one or two lines per page with larger blocks of text. Mudge’s dog antics effectively introduce the concept of simultaneous storylines, and three subtly defined chapters, with numbered and occasional text-only pages, gently ease kids into traditional book format and inspire reading confidence. The story communicates that contests should be fun, regardless of who wins, particularly when the excitement is shared with loved ones. Humor, simple sentence structure, and bright, detailed pictures again prove a winning combination in this wonderful book. You will love all of the Henry and Mudge books!





Sammy the Seal is a classic that I remember liking as a kid. It is still amazingly well-liked today. Sammy, the adventurous seal, leaves the zoo for the day and ventures into the big, busy city. Along the way he finds a school full of kids and new things to do—and he even learns to read!








Another Syd Hoff beginning reader, this book is perfect for every child who wishes they had a horse of their own. Like all of Syd Hoff’s books, it is very sweet with a happy ending.








Chester, a wild horse who wants to be tame, comes to the city looking for a home. Syd Hoff’s books make reading fun. His word choice and sense of pacing make this book race along.








 Frances is a fussy eater. In fact, the only thing she likes is bread and jam. She won’t touch her squishy soft-boiled egg. She trades away her chicken-salad sandwich at lunch. She turns up her nose at boring veal cutlets. Unless Mother can come up with a plan, Frances just might go on eating bread and jam forever! You and your children will laugh at Frances’ antics and humor, but you will also be able to discuss good values and character after the story is finished.








Thelma always seems to get Frances into trouble. When she tricks Frances into buying her tea set, it’s the last straw. Can Frances show her that it’s better to lose a bargain than lose a friend?

I’m a sucker for children’s books with a moral, and it’s even better when the book is also entertaining so that my children enjoy it and request it on their own!

All of the Frances beginning readers deserve a place on your shelves.





Frances doesn’t think her little sister, Gloria, can be her friend. But when Frances’s friend Albert has a no-girls baseball game, Frances shows him a thing or two about friendship—and a thing or two about what girls can do. Along the way, Frances discovers that sisters can indeed be friends . . . maybe even best friends.







With five young Amelia Bedelia stories inside, this boxed set is ideal for introducing new readers to the literal-minded little girl’s funny adventures. It includes: Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend, Amelia Bedelia Sleeps Over, Amelia Bedelia Hits the Trail, Amelia Bedelia Tries Her Luck, and Amelia Bedelia Joins the Club. Take this little suitcase of Amelia Bedelia’s literal and age-appropriate humor and vocabulary fun with you on the road, or enjoy it at home.






Loved by generations, this “simplest Seuss for youngest use” is a Beginner Book classic. See Red and Ned and Ted and Ed in a bed. And giggle as Pat sits on a hat and on a cat and on a bat . . . but a cactus? Pat must NOT sit on that!

This classic beginner book is filled with basic, phonetic, consonant-vowel-consonant words that will build your child’s reading confidence and make him beg for more! There are lots more fun Dr. Seuss beginning readers, too.






Life lessons? Romance? Literary instruction? Go, Dog. Go! offers all this and more, wrapped up in one simply worded, warmly hued package. Using single-syllable words in rhythmic repetition, and introducing colors and prepositions, this Seuss-styled classic has been an early favorite of children since 1961. For those looking for deeper meaning in a beginning reader book, here you’ll find nothing less than a microcosm of life. Green dogs, yellow dogs, big dogs, little dogs. Dogs who prefer cars, dogs who favor skis. All represent the diversity a child will find in the world. And the slow-to-bud romance between the cheerfully oblivious yellow dog and the mincing pink poodle explains more succinctly than most self-help books what goes on in many grown-up relationships. Nonetheless, Eastman takes the concept of “primary” to heart, with his simple silly phrases and solidly colored illustrations.

Not only will this book inspire peals of laughter in kids, it will also help them make the magical connection between those mysterious black squiggles on the page, and the words they hear and speak.





Who Is Geronimo Stilton?
That’s me! I run a newspaper, but my true passion is writing tales of adventure. Here on Mouse Island, my books are all best-sellers! What’s that? You’ve never read one? Well, my books are full of fun. They are whisker-licking good stories, and that’s a promise!

Book 1
It all started when my sister, Thea, discovered a mysterious map. It showed a secret treasure on a faraway island. And before I could let out a squeak of protest, Thea dragged me into her treasure hunt! In no time at all, we’d set sail for the island. It was an adventure I’d never forget… 

Enter the world of Geronimo Stilton, where another funny adventure is always right around the corner. Each book is a fast-paced, engaging adventure your kids will love. This series is appropriate for advancing beginning readers.



Several of my kids have also loved The Magic Treehouse books, but I chose not to include them here because I find them to be less well-written. I also don’t appreciate potty humor or disrespectful children and I tend not to purchase pop-culture-type books. The books on this list are the absolute best I have been able to find for my children, but that’s just my opinion.


Did I miss any of your favorites? 



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  1. I loved all of these, either as a child myself or as a mom reading with my kids. Such great picks, Amy!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Happy to hear that! 🙂

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