5 Books to Entice a New Reader

This is not a list of best early readers for kids who have already started to read. Instead, this is a list of books to share with your three to six-year-old non-reader to introduce them to sounding out words. In my experience, the trick to teaching a kid to read is finding entertaining books that kids are motivated to read. Here are five entertaining books that I have been sharing with my 3 1/2-year-old daughter to get her excited about reading.

For those of you with young readers, what book first got your child excited about sounding out words?

Hug by Jez Alborough. This story of a young chimpanzee looking for a hug is told with engaging illustrations and only two words: hug and Bobo. Once you have taught your child to sound out these two words, they will be off and running, reading their first book. Ages 2+

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. While author Robert McCloskey did not intend this to be an early reader, he chose names for the eight ducklings in this story that are perfect for your budding reader to sound out: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and Quack. Once your child has mastered the duckling names, she can try reading the captions. Ages 3+

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. The fanciful scenes depicted by Dr. Seuss are hilarious to many young children who have recently learned that eggs are not green, fish do not belong on trees, and fox do not really wear socks. Hop on Pop begins with words that are accessible to a child who has never sounded out words before: “UP PUP Pup is up…” Each page of Hop on Pop contains a stand alone joke, so your new reader is immediately rewarded when she is able to sound out a few words. Age 3+

Toot and Puddle: Puddle’s ABCs by Holly Hobbie. Puddle’s ABCs is an alphabet book that, like many alphabet books, is useful for teaching your child the sounds that letters make. In addition, Puddle’s ABCs contains a story in which Holly Hobbie’s adorable character Puddle teaches his friend Otto the letters of the alphabet and how to write his name. This story conveys the excitement of learning to read and write and encourages children to begin looking more closely at words. Ages 3+

My First Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Renee Graef and others. The My First Little House Books are a series of books adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s wonderful Little House chapter books. This series includes stories about Laura’s life in the big woods of Wisconsin and Almonzo’s life in the New York State countryside around 1870. Both my son and daughter love these stories about life in the 1800s. Each of the My First Little House Books begin in the same way – either by introducing Laura’s family or by introducing Almonzo’s family. I read the beginnings of these stories slowly and let my kids “read” the names of the characters by sounding out the first letters of the names and guessing. Ages 3+

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9 Responses to 5 Books to Entice a New Reader

  1. Erica says:

    I would suggest a newer book “Pete the CAt I love my white shoes”. Lots of repetition, humor, and even a downloadable song to go with it. My kindergartener loves it and my 20 month old “reads” some parts along with him.

  2. I have such fond memories of the Hop On Pop book on tape my sister and I shared as kids. And Make Way for Ducklings is another favorite. Wonderful choices!

  3. I’m starting to think about helping my 4-year-old start sounding out words, so these are some great suggestions. Hop on Pop was one of my 6-year-old’s favorites when she started sounding things out. I found that the Dr. Seuss books sometimes felt a little long (for a really slow reader, anyway), but they are the best!

    • Amy says:

      I agree that it is unrealistic to expect a very new or soon to be reader to stick with it for an entire Dr. Seuss book. I like Hop on Pop because each page has a stand alone joke for the reader who is able to sound a handful of rhyming words. When I read all five of the books on this list with my daughter, I invite her to sound out only a handful of words in each book. In Hug, there are only 5 words. In Make Way for Ducklings, I invite her to sound out the duckling names and read the rest to her. In Hop on Pop, I invite her to sound out one page of the book that has a familiar word on it, and I read the rest to her. Often she’s not in the mood to sound out any words, and that’s fine too.

  4. Erinn L says:

    Reading series books that follow a pattern are really great for pre-reading, like Curious George. The stories all start the same, so you can leave out words and the kids can fill them in. “This is _(George.)_ George was a good little _(monkey)_ and always very _(curious.)_ One day he was out with his friend, the man with the _(yellow hat.)_”

    The Magic Treehouse series is great for this with older kids. The first chapter in each novel starts somewhat the same so you can do a similar activity. And the books each follow similar developmental patterns. It really helps kids with prediction and understanding story structure which then enhances their own writing and story telling skills.

    Sorry for going off on a nerdy tangent. I just love your blog! What a great idea!

    • Amy says:

      This is great! Thanks for the informed comment.

      • Amy says:

        My daughter really enjoys the Little House picture books — the books that she just happens to be reading in the picture above. The Little House books all start by introducing Laura and her family, and my daughter can “read” along. When I point to the names throughout the book, Edie can figure out which name it is by sounding out the first letter.

  5. le corre says:

    make way for ducklings used to be my favorite cos it reminded me of boston, along with the midnight ride of paul revere

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