Inside: Are you looking for the best books for beginning readers in your homes or classrooms? Good, because we are thrilled to tell you that you have landed in the PERFECT place, and we are so excited you are here! We know it can be challenging to find amazing books for beginning readers because the selections seem endless. Our goal at Happily Ever Elephants is to make it easy for you to find meaningful and magical stories for your new readers, right here, all easily categorized just for you!

Books for Beginning Readers!

The night I knew we were ready for books for beginning readers…

I’ll never forget the night Pickle picked up The OK Book and — just like that — began to read to Bo. They were each tucked into their beds, the day outside was fading to darkness, and both had their respective blankets snuggled up next to their cheeks. Pickle spoke slowly, his voice unsteady, but his excitement was palpable. No joke, the light in his eyes was brighter than any night light I could have bought for their dim room. He read the whole book. I helped a lot, of course. But still. He READ.

Pickle was so proud. I was so floored. It seemed like just yesterday we were reading the best books for toddlers while he was snuggled up with me on the glider, his tiny hand wrapped around my pinking finger.

The next day, like any good mom who is obsessed with books, I ran to Books & Books, Miami’s amazing indie book shop, and I scoured the selection of beginning reader books. Now, I’m a reader. I’m a writer. I’m a children’s librarian, for goodness sake. But I was still fairly new at my job, I work in a small school with a small library and a beginning reader section that’s even smaller. To say I was completely overwhelmed is an understatement.

Beginning Readers! Early Readers! Easy Readers! Emergent Readers! Books for Pre-readers! I Can Read! Step Into Reading! Level One Books! Level One Before the Real Level One! Easy Books that are Even Easier than the Easiest of the Easy Books for New Readers!

Um, what?!?!

I had to make sense of all of these books for beginning readers!

If it was tricky for me to navigate, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for a parent who is NOT totally book obsessed and who has no real background or foundation in children’s literature. So I did what any good librarian would do. I bought a bunch of books, went to the library and got even more books, and then Pickle and I read and read and read.

And now? Here we are, with the Ultimate Guide to Books for Beginning Readers!

Books for Beginning Readers!

So without further ado, here’s the million dollar question:

How do I know which books for beginning readers to get for my new reader?

First things first. If you have a new reader in your house, CONGRATULATIONS! There is nothing quite as magical as watching your child begin to read on his own. But, wait, I know the question you may be asking yourself, because I’ve been asked it both by HEE readers and my students’ parents. How do I know if my child is reading or has just simply memorized a couple of her favorite books?

You’ll know if your little one is starting to read — and will benefit from books for beginning readers — if they are doing the following:

  • recognizing all the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lowercase,

  • exhibiting phonological awareness, such as the ability to identify rhyming words or words that begin with the same initial sounds,

  • learning and mastering high frequency or “sight” words,

  • beginning to decode unknown words, often through chunking the text (breaking words up into smaller components),

  • building their fluency to make their reading smoother and less robotic, and

  • self-correcting when the word they are reading doesn’t make sense.

    Does this sound like your little one? Awesome! We have just the books for you! Here’s where to start:

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Emergent Reader

This is our first list of the best books for beginning readers and includes stories with large text, simple sentences, and illustrations that often provide supporting clues to the reader. The text typically contains a lot of repetition, and the words are fairly simple and easy to decode. Our list moves from the simplest books for emergent readers to books that get a bit more challenging as readers progress.

Emergent Reader

Looking for more beginning books for your new readers? Here is a list of 33 MORE phenomenal stories. Our first list was so successful that we came back with another one - and this one includes both fiction and nonfiction titles! If you have a little one who can’t get enough of facts and trivia, he will love this new list which contains books about the body, our world, famous people and famous places.

Looking for more? We also love the Bob Books series for beginning readers, especially if you want to start super simple and before your child is truly learning how to read in school (if this sounds like you, we love Reading Rockets for awesome tips on teaching kids to read, whether you are a parent or a teacher!) The Bob Books were great for my oldest son, and even once he became stronger in his reading skills, we turned back to them often to build his confidence and fluency.

What comes after my child “graduates” from these super easy books for beginning readers?

Great question! It sounds like your little one is ready to tackle easy chapter books, and luckily we have a bunch of favorites here for you! This is where we really need to hook our kids on stories to prevent them from turning their backs on books when they hit 8 and 9 years old and have so many more “exciting” things competing for their time. Check out the following lists!


Emerging Reader

These are some of our favorite easy chapter books for your beginning readers who are now reading solidly on their own. From stand-alone books to series, we’ve got you covered here with a bunch of our favorites, each containing lively, unforgettable characters with whom your kids will fall in love!

Emergent Reader

Best Books for 7 Year Olds

Here is another fabulous list of some of the best books for 7 year olds, many of whom are just mastering reading on their own and can’t wait to tackle chapter books. Here you’ll learn why a good series is so valuable to children and get a list of more than TWENTY of our very favorite series your kids will love. There is something for everyone on this list!

When it comes to beginning chapter books, we absolutely love the Scholastic Branches series. These books have hooked so many of my students, and they have a wide range of series that appeal to kids with a multitude of interests!

My child has flown through all of these books for beginning readers, including the chapter books! Now what?

Sometimes, we have young children who master beginning books and easy chapter books so quickly, and they are begging parents and teachers for more. But it can be challenging to find books that are age appropriate for this group of young, advanced readers! Before we recommend moving to our list of novels for tweens, check out this list!

Emergent Reader

Typically, advanced readers are those whose reading skills progressed rapidly soon after they learned the fundamentals of reading. These kids often read voraciously! The problem? These readers are still so young, so we need to find them books that are challenging enough so they don’t devour an entire series in two hours, yet have age appropriate content. We love these!

Before you go…

Now that your kids are reading, we encourage you to do everything you can to create a reading culture right in your own home. Looking for awesome tips on how to develop reading habits and raise readers? We’ve got your back. Check out this post!

Books for Beginning Readers!

Developing Reading Habits in Kids

How do I develop a reading habit in my child? Here are Happily Ever Elephants 10 Essential Tips for Raising Readers, from keeping books all around your house to modeling reading yourself. Check it out!

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From Books for Beginning Readers to Independent Readers: Single Book Reviews!