Best Books for Reluctant New Readers
This week Ada will be starting 4K in the afternoons. She has been looking forward to this ever since she accompanied Jake on a 4K field trip to the school forest with Aly two years ago.
While Ada will be gone in the afternoons, we’ll still have a whole morning together to play and learn. Part of that learning will be practicing reading together.
Ada has successfully made it through all 5 levels of Hooked on Phonics, but not without multiple starts and stops, and a little bit of bribing.
The problem isn’t that she doesn’t like stories. She loves to be read to and listen to audio stories.
The problem isn’t that she can’t read. When she has a positive attitude she’s a great reader and feels really proud of herself.
The problem is that reading isn’t easy for her. She wants to be proficient but she’s not there yet. Reading is hard work in those early stages.
I’ve read some research that says if parents make the learning-to-read process overly stressful, it can have negative effects on life-long reading habits. While I keep that in the back of my head, I also know that I can’t let Ada just quit something because it doesn’t come easy.
Instead, I’m trying to fun books that are easy enough to not stress her out, yet FUN to read (honestly, not a whole lot of easy reader books fall in that category).
1. We Both Read
We Both Read is a set of books that are designed for parents to read with their kids. On one page, parents read (set at a 5th grade reading level) and on the other page, the child reads. Each book is designed for a different level (Prek- Grade 2/3). Books come in English and Spanish, fiction and non-fiction. Our library carries most of them and I bet yours does to. By reading together, the story can be interesting and with a thicker plot, while allowing an early reader to participate in the reading.
2. Books that repeat the same phrases over and over
I’m sure there is a fancy word for this kind of book, but I don’t know it. These books build on top of one another, repeating all the lines from the page before OR use the same phrase heavily over and over. Good examples of this include:
- The Napping House
- Silly Sally
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
- Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
- The Foot Book
3. Mondo books
Our school uses the Mondo reading system, so I decided to pick some up from the library for Ada to read. The stories aren’t amazing, but what I like about these books is that the spaces between the words are bigger, allowing early readers to clearly see the word they’re decoding and the font used is clear and easy to read. I’ve been surprised how some fonts make it much harder for Ada to read. Mondo books also use the repeated phrase to build confidence in readers.
4. Elephant and Piggie
We don’t buy a lot of books, but this set is one we have invested in. We love Elephant and Piggie! A bonus is that they are interesting and easy for Ada to read. There are only a few words on each page, but the storyline is still interesting! We like to each choose a character and be in charge of reading that character’s words throughout the whole book. I think Ada gets so intent on not missing her lines that she doesn’t realize she’s reading :).
5. Board Books
Sometimes we’ll ask Ada if she’d like to read a board book to Anaya. She often says yes, I think for a few reasons. 1. She adores Anaya. 2. She feels big reading to her little sister 3. Anaya isn’t going to know if Ada gets a word wrong (no pressure) 4. Board books are short.
Hopefully one of these suggestions helps your reluctant reader in building confidence in his or her reading abilities!