16 Easy Chapter Books to Encourage Emerging Readers
WHEN YOUR GRADE SCHOOL CHILD WANTS TO READ HIS OR HER OWN BOOKS
I’ve written a few booklists recently that went viral. Booklists of read alouds for young boys and girls. But what about books children can read on their own? Chapter books that make them feel a little more grown up?
Those of you who know me, know I have a special love for picture books. I believe they have great value and they should not be put aside even when our little children become big children. However, many picture books are created to be read by parents, not grade school children themselves. Today, let’s focus on some easy books that our emerging readers can hold in their hands and feel confident. Let them read aloud to you for a change.
Make sure to mix it up — hard books interspersed with easier books. The hard books will challenge them and the easy books will give them confidence. End any lesson with the easy book so that your child finishes feeling upbeat about reading.
Start with phonetic readers (first three on the list below) as they will tie into your phonics / phoneme lessons. Only follow with easy chapter books after your child has a solid foundation of reading skill. This is because you don’t want to train them to be “sight readers”. If their books include too many words they can’t yet sound out, you could end up discouraging them instead of encouraging them.
Many of the books on this list can be found easily at the public library. When picking your books from the library shelf, check out similar titles. Most of these books are just one of a series — see what else is in the library from a favorite series. This way your child can actively choose books to read on her own, and will take a more active (and fun!) role in her education.
Some of these are fairly long and your child may only read a portion of the book at each sitting. Don’t go too long if your child is struggling. Get a special bookmark to save your child’s place. This is good practice for future reading. (PS I would not buy these as digital books as the illustrations may not be included or may be of lower quality.)
If you click on the book titles below, they will take you to reviews and order information. (Some contain affiliate links.) If you end up purchasing online through these links, check the ordering pages for “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” or check out other books by the same author. This way you can discover even more book ideas for your child.
PS If you’re looking for a good reading program, especially if you have a struggling reader, I highly recommend True North Reading.
We’ll start with a few, simple phonetic readers and then move to easy chapter books, which are listed in order of difficulty.
Bob Books by Bobbie Maslen [Scholastic Books]
You don’t get more basic than Bob Books. They are perfect (IMO) for children just learning how to read. These were especially helpful for my struggling readers as they are so very simple.
Little Stories for Little Folks by Nancy Nicholson [Catholic Heritage Curricula]
I’m a CHC and Nancy Nicholson fan. Stories are printed on 8½”x11″ sheets your child can fold into little booklets. I would reward my child by letting him color the booklet once he mastered reading it. Note: It appears that you can no longer purchase just the readers and have to buy the whole phonics program.
Little Angel Readers by Linda Bromeyer [Stone Tablet Press]
These are personal favorites of mine. They are very colorful and faith-filled. I used Little Angel Readers with all seven of my children and plan to pass them down to my grandchildren.
Hop on Pop (I Can Read It All By Myself) by Dr. Seuss, 72 p.
Dr. Seuss’s first published book, The Cat in the Hat, like Hop on Pop, was a beginning reader, designed to be read by the child, not the parent. It was one solution to the ever-boring Dick and Jane books. They were intended to promote the “Look-Say” method of reading. I’m no a fan of look-say, but Hop on Pop, The Cat in the Hat, Fox in Socks, One Fish Two Fish … and Seuss’s other beginning readers still have a place on my shelf.
Go, Dog. Go! (I Can Read It All By Myself, Beginner Books) by P.D. Eastman, 72 p.
I still remember reading this and Are You My Mother as a child. They were my favorite books and P. D. Eastman probably played a part in my love of the written word. Published in 1961 it still plays well today. Other Eastman titles include Big Dog Little Dog, The Best Nest, and Flap Your Wings.
Dig, Dogs, Dig: A Construction Tail (I Can Read Level 1) by James Horvath, 32 p.
Cute little chapter book for your animal lover or LEGO builder.
I‘ll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Frith, 36 p.
This one is illustrated by P. D. Eastman, though not authored by him. It’s a fun rhyming book that also covers the importance of vocabulary and learning new things.
Henry And Mudge First Book by Cynthia Rylant, 40 p.
Part of the Ready to Read series and first in Rylant’s Henry and Mudge series. Sweet story about a boy and his dog.
Kate Skates (Penguin Young Readers Level 2) by Jane O’Connor, 32 p.
If you’re a Wittmann, you skate. So, this was one of the first easy chapter books assigned to my children in grade school.
Adventures of Frog and Toad (I Can Read Series) by Arnold Lobel, 76 p.
A collection of stories about best friends. A classic that’s been around almost 50 years.
Adventures of Little Bear (An I Can Read Book) by Else Holmelund Minaret, 160 p.
This is a collection of three Little Bear stories. This was a definite favorite when my children were little. If you’re a fan of the TV show, it’s a must to own.
Adventures of Amelia Bedelia (I Can Read Series) by Peggy Parish, 64 p.
I still laugh every time I think of Amelia Bedelia. These easy chapter books are simply a hoot. Amelia is silly and fun. And, boy, can she make a great pie!
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, 80 p.
This is the story of “the world’s greatest detective”. It’s a fun introduction to mystery stories for grade school children. Today Nate. Tomorrow Father Brown.
A Bargain For Francis (I Can Read Level 2) by Russell Hoban, 64 p.
A sweet little story about what it means to be a friend, a real friend.
A fun book that combines American history with reading practice. Other American history titles in this series, and at Level 3, we enjoyed are Abe Lincoln’s Hat and Sam the Minute Man.
I originally bought this book for no other reason than my emerging reader at the time is named Greg. However, it turned out to be a nice book to supplement our science lessons in addition to providing reading practice.
So, there you have it. These are just the tip of the iceberg — please share your favorites in the comments below.
A side note on audiobooks: I’m a big fan of audiobooks. However, I would not invest the time or money in audio editions of these books unless you’d like your child to listen while they read the physical book. The suggested books here do not bring great literary value to the table. They are simply useful for reading practice. Personally, I save my audio budget (or time borrowing from the library) for Narnia and Middle Earth.