Early Reader Books for Emergent Readers Learning New Words

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Looking for the best early reader books for your child? You’ve come to the right place! This post is the next in our series that addresses reading readiness skills by age group.

When my children were learning to read, I struggled to find books that were the correct reading level and would maintain their interest.  Books like Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss are classics but, after a few read-throughs, they quickly lose their appeal.  I really wanted to find books that gave my kids a sense of accomplishment. 

Creating a Libary of Early Reader Books

We have compiled a list of books that start at the very early stages of reading and progress to more advanced levels.  I really like these books for many reasons.  The stories themselves are very age appropriate and many of them have pictures on the page.  This can really make reading a chapter book a much less daunting task initially.

The early reader books that we included progress in level of difficulty. Every child learns and their own pace. The most important skill children develop is the love of reading. If you are looking for books for beginning reader, you can have a look at our post.

Early Reader Books for Emergent Readers

These are books with a lot of repetition and/ or rhyming to help new readers develop an awareness of sounds and words.  Many of these contain humor and the pictures provide perfect cues for the characters, story, and setting.  They are perfect stepping stones to give confidence to new readers.


Baby Monkey Private Eye by Brian Selznick

Who is Baby Monkey?
He is a baby.
He is a monkey.
He has a job.
He is Baby Monkey, Private Eye!
Baby Monkey can help… if he can put on his pants!
Baby Monkey’s adventures come to life in an exciting blend of picture book, beginning reader, and graphic novel. With pithy text and over 120 black and white drawings accented with red, it is ideal for sharing aloud and for emerging readers.

Ducks in Muck (Step into Reading, Step One) by Lori Haskins

Ducks in muck. Ducks stuck in trucks. Trucks stuck in muck. How will the trucks and ducks get unstuck?

Discover what happens to a group of friendly ducks when they play in the muck and then are taken away in a truck!

What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan

What this story needs is a pig in a wig, on a boat in a moat with a frog, a dog, and a goat on a log. . . .

As a panda in a blouse, a skunk on a trunk, and more hop on board, it becomes clear that what this story really needs is a bigger boat! Join Pig on an exciting boat ride as she discovers that life is more fun with friends in this fantastic funny read-aloud with cumulative text from author-illustrator Emma J. Virján.

See Otto (Ready to Read Adventures of Otto) by David Milgrim

Otto runs, runs, runs in this Pre-level 1 Ready-to-Read by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator, David Milgrim. This is part of the award-winning, star-reviewed The Adventures of Otto series.

Meet Otto, an excitable robot who seeks adventure—and finds it—when he falls off his spaceship and lands on Earth, directly in front of a very cranky rhinoceros. Otto runs, but the rhino runs faster…Run, Otto, run!

This Pre-level 1 Ready-to-Read with bright illustrations and minimal text is perfect for the true emergent reader.

Usborne Phonics Reader Ted and Friends by Usborne

Created in consultation with a language expert, the stories have been especially written to help your child learn to read. The stories not only take into account recent research on the most effective ways of teaching reading, but are also great fun. There’s also a listen-along CD that brings the stories to life through charming readings. This exciting edition contains twelve titles from the popular Phonics Readers series. Included titles: Fat Cat on a Mat. Ted in a Red Bed. Big Pig on a Dig. Hen’s Pens. Fox on a Box. Frog on a Log. Ted’s Shed. Sam Sheep Can’t Sleep. Shark in the Park. Toad Makes a Road. Goose on the Loose. Mouse Moves House.

Elephant and Piggie Biggie by Mo Willems

Mo Willems, a #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, celebrates ten years of Elephant & Piggie in this special bind-up collection: Today I Will Fly!Watch Me Throw the Ball!Can I Play Too?; the award-winning Let’s Go For a Drive!; and I Really Like Slop!

Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

“A fly was flying. He was looking for something to eat. Something tasty. Something slimy. A boy was walking. He was looking for something to catch. Something smart. Something for The Amazing Pet Show.”

The boy and fly meet and so begins a beautiful friendship. Er, and so begins a very funny friendship. Using hyperbole, puns, slapstick, and silly drawings, bestselling author/illustrator Tedd Arnold creates an easy reader that is full of fun. With an eye-catching holographic cover. This is the first in a series of four.

Pete the Cat by James Dean

Don’t miss the first and bestselling book in the beloved Pete the Cat series!

Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes!

What’s Your Sound, Hound the Hound by Mo Willems

Join spunky Cat the Cat as she introduces the very youngest readers to her world, where a surprise is waiting in every book.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

“Pre-schoolers will meet their match and fall in love with this award-winning, laugh-out-loud picture book about the demanding but adorable Pigeon.” – Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor

When a bus driver takes a break from his route, a very unlikely volunteer springs up to take his place-a pigeon! But you’ve never met one like this before. As he pleads, wheedles, and begs his way through the book, children will love being able to answer back and decide his fate.

In his hilarious picture book debut, popular cartoonist Mo Willems perfectly captures a preschooler’s temper tantrum.

Early Reader Books for the Decoding Reader

These picture books and early chapter books have great pictures on each page and very readable stories without being overwhelming to new readers.  While many beginning readers have the skills to recognize words and understand stories, too many words on a page can seem like an insurmountable task.  The picture books that we included in this list are completely hilarious and can be enjoyed by older children as well,

I Lost My Tooth by Mo Willems

Mo Willems, creator of the revolutionary, award-winning, best-selling Elephant & Piggie books, is back with another breakout beginning-reader series. An ensemble cast of Squirrels, Acorns, and pop-in guests host a page-turning extravaganza. Each book features a funny, furry adventure AND bonus jokes, quirky quizzes, nutty facts, and so, so many Squirrels.

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Join the world’s greatest detective, Nate the Great, as he solves the mystery of the lost picture! Perfect for beginning readers and the Common Core, this long-running chapter book series will encourage children to problem-solve with Nate, using logical thinking to solve mysteries!

CAN NATE SOLVE THE CASE FOR HIS FRIEND ANNIE?

Nate the Great has a new case! His friend Annie has lost a picture. She wants Nate to help her find it. Nate the Great must get all the facts, ask the right questions, and narrow the list of suspects so he can solve the mystery.


Wallace and Grace by Heather Alexander

The Read & Bloom line offers high interest, character driven stories for newly independent readers that feature full-color illustrations throughout and will transition kids from leveled readers to a lifetime of reading.

In this charming series, perfect for newly independent readers, kids will be treated to simple whodunit mysteries as an utterly delightful owl duo put their heads together. In their first adventure, Wallace and Grace meet a rabbit who is sure he saw a ghost! But the clues lead them in a different direction. Something is spooking the garden . . . can Wallace and Grace solve this case?

Cam Jansen by David A. Adler

Can Cam help catch the diamond thief? Cam and her friend Eric are sitting at the mall when the jewelry store is robbed. Cam sees the thief, but the police arrest the wrong person. Now it’s up to Cam to catch the real criminal!

The Cam Jansen books are perfect for young readers who are making the transition to chapter books, and Cam is a spunky young heroine whom readers have loved for over two decades.

Princess in Black by Shannon Hale

Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret — she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! From the award-winning writing team of Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrator LeUyen Pham, here is the first in a humorous and action-packed chapter-book series for young readers who like their princesses not only prim and perfect, but also dressed in black.

Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant

This series is part of Scholastic’s early reader line, Acorn, aimed at children who are learning to read. With easy-to-read text, a short-story format, plenty of humor, and full-color artwork on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and fluency. Acorn books plant a love of reading and help readers grow!

Meet Poppleton — he’s the new pig in town! He makes friends with his new neighbor, Cherry Sue. He goes to the library every Monday to read adventure stories. And he helps his friend Fillmore take his medicine when he is sick.

Early Reader Books for More Confident Readers

Many of the books in this part of the list are “Branches” books by Scholastic.  These books are unique in that they provide a stepping stone from the leveled readers to the traditional chapter book.  These books each have pictures but they also have exciting storylines.  There is something kids who love humor, adventure or a little bit of fear factor as well.

Dragon Masters by Tracey West

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo

To Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Mercy is not just a pig – she’s a porcine wonder. And to the portly and good-natured Mercy, the Watsons are an excellent source of buttered toast, not to mention that buttery-toasty feeling she gets when she snuggles into bed with them. This is not, however, so good for the Watsons’ bed. BOOM! CRACK! As the bed and its occupants slowly sink through the floor, Mercy escapes in a flash – “to alert the fire department,” her owners assure themselves. But could Mercy possibly have another emergency in mind – like a sudden craving for their neighbors’ sugar cookies? Welcome to the wry and endearing world of Mercy Watson – an ebullient new character for early chapter-book readers in a series that’s destined to be a classic.

Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Alexander has just moved to a new town where he is about to uncover all sorts of monsters! He finds an old notebook with the word “DOOM” inscribed on the front cover. The Notebook of Doom, which Alexander now holds, contains top secret information about monsters! In this first book, Alexander goes up against spooky balloon goons–unique and twisted arm-waving balloon guys! This book is full of humor, engaging black-and-white illlustrations, and of course . . . monsters!

Heidi Heckelbeck by Wanda Coven

Now readers between the ages of five and seven can read chapter books tailor-made for a younger level of reading comprehension. Heavily illustrated with large type, Little Simon’s young chapter books let young readers feel like they are reading a “grown-up” format with subject, text, and illustrations geared specifically for their own age groups!

Heidi Heckelbeck seems like any other eight-year-old, but she has a secret: She’s a witch in disguise. Careful to keep her powers hidden (but excited to use them all the same), Heidi’s learning to live like any other kid—who just happens to be witch. And with easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, Heidi Heckelbeck chapter books are perfect for beginning readers. More…”

Ready, Freddy by Abby Klein

Watch out, Junie, there’s a new kid on the block! It’s Freddy Thresher, a first grader who knows it’s a jungle out there. A new chapter book series written by an elementary teacher who’s seen it all!

Freddy Thresher has a problem: a really, really, big problem. He’s the only one in his class who hasn’t lost a tooth! All of the other students in Mrs. Wushy’s first grade have signed their names on the Big Tooth, and Freddy’s determined to get his name on it, too. So when Max “The Meanie” Sellars calls Freddy a baby, Freddy decides he’s going to lose that tooth one way or another, e

My Weird School by Dan Gutman

With more than 11 million books sold, the My Weird School series really gets kids reading!

In the first My Weird School book ever, second-grade teacher Miss Daisy is in over her head. She doesn’t even know how to add or subtract! But the kids have other things on their minds. Principal Klutz has promised that if they read a million pages in books, they can turn the school into a video-game arcade for one whole night!

Perfect for reluctant readers and word lovers alike, Dan Gutman’s insanely popular My Weird School series has something for everyone. Don’t miss the hilarious adventures of A.J. and the gang.

Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Haggis and Tank by Jessica Young

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Tank is a clumsy, outgoing Great Dane. Haggis is a dapper and grumpy Scottie dog. In the first book in the series, Haggis and Tank set sail as pirates. More…

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

Barbara Park’s #1 New York Times bestselling chapter book series, Junie B. Jones, has been keeping kids laughing—and reading—for more than twenty-five years. Over 65 million copies sold!

Meet the World’s Funniest Kindergartner—Junie B. Jones! Remember when it was scary to go to school? In the first Junie B. Jones book, it’s Junie B.’s first day and she doesn’t know anything. She’s so scared of the school bus and the meanies on it that when it’s time to go home, she doesn’t.

Critter Club by Callie Barkley

Introducing The Critter Club! Amy and her friends solve a canine caper in this start to a pet-friendly illustrated chapter book series.

It’s Spring Break in Santa Vista, and everyone has big plans…everyone except for Amy, that is! As her best friends head out of town on exciting adventures, Amy resigns herself to helping out at her mom’s vet clinic. At least she’ll be around cute animals! But when Santa Vista’s cold and elusive millionaire, Marge Sullivan, brings her puppy Rufus for a check-up, Amy encounters an unexpected mystery. After her friends return home, the girls get to the bottom of what happened to Rufus—and discover a way to help other lost and lonely animals in their town.

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, The Critter Club chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.

Pug Pals by Flora Ahn

Two pugs. One beloved toy bunny. What could go wrong?

Sunny’s new little sister, Rosy, is getting her paws into everything. When Rosy takes Sunny’s favorite toy, Mr. Bunny, and loses him, Sunny is barking mad.

But when Rosy sets off on her own to find and rescue Mr. Bunny, Sunny starts to worry. Rosy’s never been outside by herself before. Sunny will have to gather all the canine courage she has and go after them — before Rosy and Mr. Bunny are both lost fur-ever!

Narwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.

A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever — even though it doesn’t have any words…or pictures! Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship, the benefits of working together and the power of imagination in the delightful Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea.

Kingdom of Wrenlyby Jordan Quinn

Welcome to the Kingdom of Wrenly—a new chapter book series full of fantasy and adventure.

Meet Lucas, the eight year-old prince, and Clara, the daughter of the queen’s seamstress. Lucas is an only child who longs to make friends and go on adventures. Clara knows the kingdom well, so she and Lucas team up and explore the lands of Wrenly!

In The Lost Stone, Lucas and Clara search for Queen Tasha’s missing emerald. On their exciting adventure, they travel to all the main attractions of Wrenly: Primlox (the island of fairies), Burth (the island of trolls), Crestwood (the island of dragons), Hobsgrove (the island of wizards), and the beautiful Mermaid’s Cove. King Caleb has promised to reward the person who finds the precious stone, and Lucas and Clara are determined to search the entire kingdom until they find it!

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, The Kingdom of Wrenly chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

Meet Ivy and Bean, two friends who never meant to like each other: This boxed set, Ivy & Bean’s Secret Treasure Box (Books 1-3) is a delightful introduction to these spunky characters. It includes the first three books in the Ivy and Bean series, and a secret treasure-hiding box with a cool surprise inside!

Chapter Books and Beyond for Early Readers

These readers are considered a reading level of second grade and beyond but, that does not mean that an older child cannot enjoy these books or that a younger child is too young.  Each of these books has age-appropriate storylines.

Stink by Megan McDonald

In honor of Judy Moody’s younger “bother,” the creators of the award-winning series have put themselves in a very Stink-y mood.

Shrink, shrank, shrunk!

Every morning, Judy Moody measures Stink and it’s always the same: three feet, eight inches tall. Stink feels like even the class newt is growing faster than he is. Then, one day, the ruler reads — can it be? — three feet, seven and three quarters inches! Is Stink shrinking? He tries everything to look like he’s growing, but wearing up-and-down stripes and spiking his hair aren’t fooling anyone into thinking he’s taller. If only he could ask James Madison — Stink’s hero, and the shortest person ever to serve as President of the United States. More…

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy

Help Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose solve mysteries from A to Z! 

Kids love collecting the entire alphabet and super editions! With over 8 million copies in print, the A to Z Mysteries® have been hooking chapter book readers on mysteries and reading for years. Now this classic kid favorite is back with a bright new look!

A is for Author . . . A famous writer is coming to Green Lawn! Dink rushes to the bookstore to meet his favorite author, Wallis Wallace, and get all his books signed. But the author never shows up! Where is Wallis Wallace? It’s up to Dink and his friends Josh and Ruth Rose to track him down.

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osbourne

The #1 bestselling chapter book series of all time celebrates 25 years with new covers and a new, easy-to-use numbering system!

Where did the tree house come from?

Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark…or will they become a dinosaur’s dinner? Did you know that there’s a Magic Tree House book for every kid?

Upside Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski

It’s never easy when your magic goes wonky.

For Nory, this means that instead of being able to turn into a dragon or a kitten, she turns into both of them at the same time-a dritten.

For Elliott, the simple act of conjuring fire from his fingertips turns into a fully frozen failure. For Andres, wonky magic means he’s always floating in the air, bouncing off the walls, or sitting on the ceiling. For Bax, a bad moment of magic will turn him into a . . . actually, he’d rather not talk about that. More…

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

They sound like bad guys, they look like bad guys . . . and they even smell like bad guys. But Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are about to change all of that…

Mr. Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys’ first good mission. They are going to break two hundred dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr. Snake please stop swallowing Mr. Piranha?!

Nancy Drew and The Clue Crew by Carolyn Keene

Eight-year-old Nancy Drew has her first case to crack! Can you help?

Nancy and her two best friends, George and Bess, are so excited! They have been invited to Deirdre’s sleepover party! There will be pizza, cake, and even a pajama fashion show. But the most exciting thing is that the party has a City Girls doll theme. All of the guests are bringing their dolls with them!

But then Deirdre’s City Girls doll — Hollywood Heather — goes missing. Is her sleepover ruined? Or is there a detective in the room who can make sense of this mystery?

Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton

Who Is Geronimo Stilton?
That’s me! I run a newspaper, but my true passion is writing tales of adventure. Here on Mouse Island, my books are all best-sellers! What’s that? You’ve never read one? Well, my books are full of fun. They are whisker-licking good stories, and that’s a promise!

Book 1
It all started when my sister, Thea, discovered a mysterious map. It showed a secret treasure on a faraway island. And before I could let out a squeak of protest, Thea dragged me into her treasure hunt! In no time at all, we’d set sail for the island. It was an adventure I’d never forget….

The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson

A forgotten door on an abandoned railway platform is the entrance to a magical kingdom–an island where humans live happily with mermaids, ogres, and other wonderful creatures. Carefully hidden from the world, the Island is only accessible when the door opens for nine days every nine years. When the beastly Mrs. Trottle kidnaps the Island’s young prince, it’s up to a strange band of rescuers to save him. But can the rescuers–an ogre, a hag, a wizard, and a fey–sneak around London unnoticed? Fans of Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, and E. Nesbit will delight in this comic fantasy.

Black Lagoon Adventures by Mike Thaler

A new trade release of the hugely popular book club series by Mike Thaler and Jared Lee. These fun-filled chapter books mix school, monsters, and common kid problems with hilarious results.

Oh, no! It’s the class trip from the Black Lagoon. The kids have no idea where they’re going but they imagine a day full of ferocious animals, maniacal monsters, and scary aerial acrobatics. And their teacher, mean Mrs. Green, is going to quiz them on everything! When the kids stop letting their imaginations run wild they soon realize that they’re going to a very cool zoo. But that won’t change the fact that there’s never a dull moment in the Black Lagoon!

Hilde Cracks the Case by Hilde Lysiak

Real-life super-sleuth and media sensation Hilde Lysiak’s reporting skills are put to the test in this fun early chapter book mystery series!

Nine-year-old crime reporter Hilde Lysiak is starring in her very own early chapter book series — inspired by news stories Hilde wrote in real life! In this first book, there’s been a break-in on Orange Street! Cupcakes have been stolen, and soon a pie goes missing, too. Hilde and her sister/photographer, Izzy, must interview witnesses and follow the clues. Can Hilde crack the case in time to post her news story online? Joanne Lew-Vriethoff’s personality-filled illustrations appear on every page, bringing Hilde’s adventures to life for young readers!

Time Jumpers by Wendy Mass

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line, Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Chase and Ava find an old suitcase filled with strange objects. One of the objects looks like a dragon-headed doorknob… Suddenly Chase and Ava find themselves jumping back in time to King Arthur’s castle! They meet the king’s wizard Merlin and soon discover what the dragon-headed doorknob really is. It turns out they have an important job to do: They must save the king! But a bad guy is after them… How will Chase and Ava get back home? They will need to act fast to find out! Oriol Vidal’s engaging illustrations appear on every page. Newly independent readers will eat up this time-travel series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Mass!

Magic on the Map by Courtney Sheinmel  and Bianca Turetsky

Travel around the United States of America with twins Finn and Molly in this new chapter book series that highlights a different state in each book!

Magic and mystery from sea to shining sea!

We must be dreaming! That’s what twins Finn and Molly Parker think when they discover a camper in their driveway–and it talks! When the RV transports them to a cattle ranch in Colorado, the twins know something magical has happened. Then the camper disappears, leaving Finn and Molly to wonder . . . how are we going to get home?

Each Magic on the Map book includes a map of the US, a map of the state that Finn and Molly visit, and 10 amazing facts about that state!


My New Team (Little Rhino #1) by Ryan Howard and Krystle Howard

A new chapter book series from Major League Baseball’s 2006 National League MVP, Ryan Howard!Every day when Little Rhino comes home from school, he finishes his homework, grabs his bat, his glove, and runs outside to meet Grandpa James. They always practice catching and hitting in the backyard. Playing baseball with grandfather is Little Rhino’s favorite thing to do, especially when he pretends to be a real Major League homerun hitter.One afternoon, after a long day of second grade, Little Rhino comes home to find out that Grandpa James has signed him up for a baseball league! Little Rhino will finally be a part of a team! But Little Rhino will quickly learn that is not always so easy to a good teammate, especially when there’s a bully wearing the same uniform as you.From Major League Baseball superstar Ryan Howard and his wife, Krystle Howard, a former elementary school teacher, this exciting new series is a fun read for sports and book fans alike!

Did you find any books for your early reader? Let us know if you need more personalized recommendations.

The post Early Reader Books for Emergent Readers Learning New Words appeared first on Beyond the Bookends.

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