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Classic Easy Readers

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

Can we start a list of the classic children's books that are good options for kiddos who are reading at a K-2 level?

Our son (he'll be five in February) blew me away last night by struggling his way through most of a picture book version of the movie Toy Story. This afternoon, he struggled his way through most of "Where the Wild Things Are"--it is too hard for him, but he did really well with one of the Harry the dog books. (He has been showing signs of reading readiness for years, but refused to read to us until very recently--so busting out with most of a Maurice Sendak book was rather shocking, 0 to 60 in 1.5 seconds.)

I can't remember all of the sweet stories like that one. I know there are tons. We have a couple of Frog and Toad books, and a couple of Little Bear books, and Danny and the Dinosaur, a bunch of the Dr. Seuss ones, and Harold and the Purple Crayon. We also have a handful of the "Step into Reading" type books, but I really hate them, and don't want to buy a bunch of those to litter up our house.

Little Bear

Frog and Toad

Danny and the Dinosaur

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harry the Dog

post #2 of 32

We also like Read with Dick and Jane, Amelia Bedelia, and Margaret Hillert books.

post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

Here's an added wrinkle--our son is mixed race (black and white), Jewish, and has two moms.


We really don't want a stack of books (like Dick and Jane--not to pick on Dick and Jane) that are all heteronormative, white, middle class families.


Little Bear and Frog and Toad and some of the Dr. Seuss books are appealing because they are animals--even though when parents are mentioned it is a mom and a dad. Harold is appealing, even though he is white, because there are no parents --the rest of the family is missing.

post #4 of 32

My son liked the 'Little Critter' books esp 'When I get bigger' Gosh we read that book a bazillion times when he was little.

He also liked the 'I Spy' books.  Those are great for reading and finding, building memory skills, etc

Also the Eric Carle books were a hit when he was beginning to read.

post #5 of 32

We owned almost nothing in this difficulty range because my kids blasted through the beginning reader stage in the space of a couple of weeks to a couple of months. You may find the same: reading level increasing every couple of days, no way to keep up with the need for material and challenge. I would suggest just using your library. So many of these easy books are of negligible literary value and aren't worth purchasing. Kids typically fly through a lot of them: they take 5 to 30 minutes to read, and they're thrilled with their new reading ability, so they are keen to read lots. The library is the perfect place to fill this need.


Arnold Lobel's (Frog and Toad, etc.) early readers are I think the only early reader books we own. 


At a slightly higher reading level I would recommend Cynthia Rylant's "Lighthouse Family" books, Ursula LeGuin's "Catwings" books and Jackie French Koller's "Dragonling" stories. These would be late 2nd to 4th grade reading level, with appeal for younger kids. The first two are about love and acceptancde between animals, the latter about a fantasy world and a boy who challenges societal norms and village political institutions in the hope of building understanding between people and dragons.



post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 

I went through his shelves this evening, and pulled all the books at the same approximate reading level out and put them in a basket. We told him that we will continue to read anything on the shelves to him, but that if he wants to read the books in the basket (which include some of his favorite titles) he has to read them to us. I was actually amazed at how many books in our collection fit that range--probably 50 or so--and all but a small handful are "real" literature, not the schlocky "Step Into Reading" stuff littered with Disney characters. The small handful are the schlocky stuff, but he really does love it, so we won't trash it. Yet.

post #7 of 32

Here are a few ideas -- some are 'easy' reader and others picture books, but all are good lasting kids books! My girls return to these time after time....


I spy books---both easy readers and classics


Curious George  (caucasian man and monkey)


Biscuit ( Caucasian girl and dog)


Henry & Mudge (boy & dog) & related series  Annie and Snowball (single dad and girl)


Pat Hutchins - author- (Rosies Walk, Ten Apples, etc) good author, fun pics, books are not related- mostly animals


Little Bill books (based on young bill cosby) good books!


Bereinstein Bears (mom/dad family- but bears)


Minnie and Moo-- cows, series of easy readers


anything by Ezra Keats -author- (good simple books that follow a young african american boy's life)


Corderouy series-- collection of 3 or 4 books about a young girl and her teddy bear (a mom is in some stories)


Barbar books (elephant series)


Llama, llama series (a young llama and his mom are featured doing everyday things)


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and the rest of the books by Bill Martin


Carl the dog series


anything by Richard Scarry (features animals)


How do Dinosaurs.....series by Jane  Yolen

post #8 of 32
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

if he wants to read the books in the basket (which include some of his favorite titles) he has to read them to us. 

Assuming what's on the shelves is at a higher reading level than what's in the basket, you may have inadvertently created a powerful disincentive for him to progress in his reading. You've told him that you will no longer read to him the books that he is capable of reading himself. It would be quite understandable for him to extrapolate and worry that once he can read fluently you won't be willing to read to him at all, from anything. I've heard of this fear developing in many children. Just a cautionary note.



post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 

That was certainly his belief for the past couple of years--but, we have added chapter books to his shelves, and his bedtime story will never be "you read to us" time--so right now, the time he reads to us is "extra" reading time because it has not supplanted the other times in the day when we read to him.


There are also some books on the shelves that are "too easy" for him--if he chose one of his board books from toddlerhood, I would be happy to read it to him.


thank you for the reminder, though. Right now, that dynamic doesn't exist--the books in the basket were placed there more to give him easy access to books he *can* read, instead of choosing things that are way over his reading level, which is what normally happens. He thinks he can't read because he can't read the words of the books we read to him--ignoring the fact that there are 50 or so books that he can, in fact, read.

post #10 of 32

Fun!  We are white & hetero, but lack of diversity bugs the heck out of me too, fwiw. 


I love Commander Toad in Space, but DD never got too into it.  Jane Yolen, the author of that series, has written a ton of other great books, including the "How Do Dinosaurs" series, which has racial diversity at least. 


We love the Dragon books by Dav Pilkey. 


Tomie dePaola has written some excellent books, including the Bill & Pete series, which stars a young alligator & his toothbrush from a hetero family (but the family scenes are limited, and the father is missing & presumed dead most of the time).  His works tend to feature Italian families (for obvious reasons) but he's got some diversity.  The Walking Coat is a good one. 


Let's see...Steven Kellogg has some good books (A Beasty Story is a recent favorite of ours).  Bernard Most (e.g., The Cow That Went Oink) is a recent discovery, and he has a lot of animal books. 


DD loves Berenstain Bears & Amanda Pig, but they are gender-role heavy.  She loves Fly Guy (and anything by Tedd Arnold), but I don't think they are very diverse. 


There are tons of easy reader non-fiction books.  We found lots in the K-2 range at our library. 


All in all, I agree with Miranda that you're better off getting these sorts of books from the library than buying them.  We absolutely could not have afforded to keep up with DD's habit when she was at that level without the library (and still can't, actually). 


Oh, and may I also suggest that your new rule (refusing to read a book to him if it seems like he could read it himself) may backfire.  It didn't happen with DD (probably because we didn't have that rule), but some kids end up pretending that they can't read (or can't read as well as they can) for fear that their parents will stop reading to them, and that's no good. 

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 

I appreciate the warning, but we're hardly strict or unwavering in this house.


We told him, "this is the box of books you are able to read, so when you want to read, pick one from there. When you want us to read to you, pick one from the shelves." It's not like we sat him down and said, "Welp. It's the end of the line for you. Once all your books are in the box, it's curtains on mommy and mama reading to you. Enjoy it while it lasts, bucko."


It's like when I was teaching, and I had the books labeled and grouped by reading level, and told kids, "Go find a book with a purple, green or blue sticker because those are at your level." If a kid was begging to read a book that was "too hard" we still found a way to help them with that--but for their independent reading, they picked one they could read independently.


I'm such a bookworm that I can't imagine ever stopping reading to and with him.

post #12 of 32


There were a few old threads in Multicultural Families about picture books for children that reflect diverse families. You may want to try a search for titles there. 


They won't fit your search for diversity, but we had a bunch of old Ladybird readers from the UK when my kids were small. They were charming little illustrated stories about children finding wizards and monsters in their neighbourhood.  On one page, an adult read more complicated text and on the facing page, a child could read a shorter sentence with simple words that summarized that moment in the story. They were great for reading together and not as deadly dull as most early readers. I know Ladybird is still publishing, but I don't know if that specific series is still around.


post #13 of 32

Ezra Jack Keats' books are full of diverse characters. I love the artwork and the stories, too.

post #14 of 32

How about the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems? 

post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 

Ezra Jack Keats is still a little advanced for him to read independently--we read EJK all the time and LOVE him!


Somebody else suggested Elephant and Piggie to me--I'll have to check Mo Willems out. We still have a couple of nights of Hannukah to shop for.


having taught middle school aged struggling readers in a past life, my knowledge of "easy readers" is totally different--high maturity/low level, as opposed to finding stuff that is appropriate for younger readers.

post #16 of 32

Oh, Mouse & Mole is good too.  And the Mole Sisters, while I'm thinking of moles. 

post #17 of 32

Here is my list. Frog and Toad are classics and so are Lobel's other books, but I agree that now is the time to use your library.


The Fire Cat—Esther Averill

Go, Dog, Go!—P.D. Eastman

The Best Nest—P.D. Eastman

Are You My Mother?—P.D. Eastman

Frog and Toad series, Owl at Home, Mouse Soup—Arnold Lobel

Yoko's World of Kindness—Rosemary Wells

Young Cam Jansen series—David A. Adler

Nate the Great series—Marjorie Sharmat

Oliver Pig series—Jean Van Leeuwen

Little Bear series—Else Holmelund Minarik

Henry and Mudge series, Mr. Putter and Tabby series, Poppleton series—Cynthia Rylant

Fox in Love series—James Marshall

The Frances series—Russell Hoban

Rotten Ralph series—Jack Gantos

Harry the Dirty Dog series—Gene Zion

Moon Boy—Barbara Brenner

Ant Plays Bear—Betsy Byars

Iris and Walter series--Elissa Haden Guest

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series—Erica Silverman

Commander Toad in Space series-- Jane Yolen

Animals Do the Most Amazing Things series

post #18 of 32

Oh, and of course Seuss has some great easy readers--Cat in the Hat (this was the first book DD read to me), Cat in the Hat Comes Back, some others. Not all of them, obviously, are easy readers.

post #19 of 32

First of all, with just the title of your post, I thought of Nate the Great, one of my son's favorite series.

And, related to that, we read the Christmas-y Nate the Great story last (I never picked it up from the library before that because we're Jewish and I didn't see the need for yet another Christmas book) - and we see in that story that Nate is Jewish!  At the end after he solves his Christmas-related mystery, he goes home to his house with a lighted menorah in the window. 

post #20 of 32

Gilberto and the Wind is a sweet book, and the main character is brown.

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