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MPMK’s “Learning to Love Reading” Book Lists: Beginning Readers

I’m so excited to announce a new series starting today – MPMK’s Learning to Love Reading Book Lists.  Several of you have written me requesting book recommendations lately.  So I contacted my cousin Lisa and asked if she’d be willing to do a post or two on summer reading for the kids.  


Lisa is a fantastic resource because she’s currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Literature for Children and Young Adults at The Ohio State University. She reads everything from board books for babies to novels for young adults.  She also has two daughters, ages 14 and 16, both of whom are avid readers.  


And here’s the best part – she’s graciously agreed to do an entire series of summer reading lists for MPMK, broken down by age.  Along with her book recommendations, I’ve also asked Lisa to provide us with lots of good info. on how to choose the best kid reads.  Today we’re starting with beginning readers… take it away Lisa!


Books for Beginning Readers
Books for beginning readers help support children’s phonemic awareness and word recognition. They offer beginning readers an opportunity to explore reading independently.


Book series offer children who are just beginning to read a great place to start with choosing books. Once they have read the first book in a series, readers are then familiar with the characters and author’s writing style. This familiarity can support readers as they encounter subsequent books in the series.
When searching for a good early reader series, look for active, engaging characters that readers can relate to. The best series reflect experiences that children themselves have, such as interacting and playing with family, friends, pets, etc. If your child is interested in reading more books in the series, then you know you’ve got a winner. 


Series for beginning readers should also have large illustrations that focus on the activities of the main characters. Minimal text should offer simple sentence structure with repeated patterns of text, context clues for decoding unknown words and a strong focus on sound play.  Writers of good early reader series don’t let the restrictions of word choice and length stop them from writing excellent books. 


A wonderful resource is the Geisel Award, which is given by the American Library Association to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished U.S. book for beginning readers each year. I’ll be featuring many of the winners in the next installment of this series.  

Thanks so much Lisa!  Click through for all of her picks for beginning readers.

Cat the Cat series, written and illustrated by Mo Willems, HarperCollins

Mo Willems, who was a writer and animator for Sesame Street, is the author of the funny Pigeon books. He also created an engaging easy reader series, the Elephant and Piggie books, for which he won two Geisel Medals. 

His Cat the Cat series for beginning readers features Cat, who has lots of fun with her animal friends. The large, bold text with words that repeat and rhyme offers beginning readers a great deal of support. Check out Mo’s Knuffle Bunny for a lovely picture book to read aloud. Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator!  is Mo’s newest book, a fascinating hybrid of a picture book and chapter book.

Follow this link to hear Mo Willems introduce his Cat the Cat series. It’s a delightful introduction to early readers for children who are just beginning to read.


Happy Honey series, written by Laura Godwin & illustrated by Jane Chapman
Simon & Schuster, Ready-to-Read: Pre-Level 1, Ages 3-5
Happy is a large, playful dog, and Honey is a little, energetic cat. The book’s illustrations are focused on the antics of the two animals, making the characters very appealing.

Happy Christmas, Honey! (#4)


Puppy Mudge series, written by Cynthia Rylant & illustrated by Isidre Mones
Simon & Schuster, Ready-to-Read: Pre-Level 1, Ages 3-5
For new readers with older siblings who have discovered the Henry and Mudge books, this series allows them to join in the fun. Beginning readers follow Mudge, who is Henry’s dog, during his playful puppy stage. Cynthia Rylant is an award-winning author, and her stories are very engaging.

Puppy Mudge has a Snack


Tiny series, written by Cari Meister & illustrated by Rich Davis
Penguin Books, Viking Easy-to-Read: Level 1, Ages 4-7
This series is about a little boy and his best friend Tiny, who is a dog. The boy and Tiny, who is not a tiny dog at all, have many adventures together. This series pairs well with the Puppy Mudge series.
Biscuit series, written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli & illustrated by Pat Schories
HarperCollins, I Can Read: My First, Ages 4-8
Biscuit is a playful puppy who is always looking for a new adventure. The first book in the series is Biscuit. See the author’s website for a complete list of the Biscuit books. The author also has Biscuit board books and Biscuit’s Holiday Celebrations books. Additionally, the Biscuit books are being translated into Spanish.

Biscuit’s New Trick



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