By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd 

It is exciting to watch toddlers sit down with a book and flip the pages, proudly proclaiming they are “reading” as they comment on each of the pictures. This is the first step children take to becoming independent readers. After mastering sight words, becoming comfortable figuring out the meanings of words with pictures and sentence context, and “chunking” or breaking down words for pronunciation, many children are ready to tackle early readers.

In addition to being called early readers, this category of books is also known as beginning readers, emerging readers and easy readers. These titles are used interchangeably and refer to books that have similar characteristics: large font, short sentences, pictures that provide clues for the reader, text with repetition, rhyming words and word families. These books range from having a handful of words on a page to several short sentences. The length of text per page increases as the reading level increases.

The more time children spend reading these books and going back to the same ones again and again, the faster they will hone and sharpen their reading skills and improve their fluency. As is the case with many things in life, practice is key. Children who are devoted to reading on a regular basis will see improvement with leaps and bounds. Make a point to introduce your children to books about topics that pique their interest as that will encourage them to read and foster a love of reading. Whether your readers are fans of princesses, trucks, science, biographies or silly stories, you will find early readers that feature their likes.

However, just because children are well on their way to becoming independent readers does not mean parents should stop reading to them. In fact, experts recommend that parents continue to read aloud to children for as long as possible. Reading aloud does so many great things for their brains. Being read to is a relaxing, bonding, enjoyable experience that will actually encourage children to read even more on their own.

The day your children independently read their first book is definitely a big day. As a parent, listening to your children read each page with enthusiasm and confidence undoubtedly finds your heart brimming with pride. Even more rewarding is knowing that your children are surely excited beyond measure. May this milestone put your children on the path to becoming lifelong readers and book lovers!

Suggestions for Early Readers:

Box Sets (these are some of my favorites among the many sets for early readers)

– Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems

– BOB Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen and illustrated by John R. Maslen

– First Little Readers by Scholastic by Deborah Schecter

– Pete the Cat Phonics Box by James Dean and Kimberly Dean

– Scholastic Guided Science Readers Set by Liza Charleswort

– Fancy Nancy’s 12-Book Fantastic Phonics Fun! by Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser


Additional Book Suggestions

The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat (a fun “book within a book” that features Elephant and Piggie in the beginning)

Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Emily Hughes

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter and illustrated by Qin Leng

– Ling and Ting Series by Grace Lin

A Friend for Dragon by Dav Pilkey

Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman

Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us by Lauren Castillo (best for the more advanced early ready)

Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.

May I Please Have a Cookie by Jennifer E. Morris

Fantastic Frame by Lin Oliver (the author is the Executive Director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)

Fox & Chick by Sergio Ruzzier

– Henry and Mudge Series by Cynthia Rylant

The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Get the Giggles: A First Joke Book illustrated by Bronwen Davies

– Zoey and Sassafras Series by Asia Citro and Marion Lindsay

Clara Clem in Outer Space by Ethan Long

Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold (first in a series)

Puppy Parade by Jill Abramson and Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Deborah Melmon

The Berenstain Bears: We Like Kites (the Step into Reading series) by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Snail & Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kuglar

Monster and Boy by Hannah Barnaby and illustrated by Anoosha Syed

We are Growing! by Laurie Keller

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Micchiko Florence and illustrated by Elizabeth Vukovic

– Dragon Masters Series by Tracey West

Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi and illustrated by Hatem Ali


Ellen Bryant Lloyd is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue. Please visit and to learn more about Freckles. Ellen writes a blog about her perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She lives in Greensboro with her husband and has two children.