Raising Readers: Favorite Easy Readers

Sep 4, 2013

A few weeks ago, I promised to share some of our favorite easy readers.

But as I considered what to include on my list, "easy readers" seemed like too broad of a term; I found myself overwhelmed as I thought about including everything from the Bob Books all the way up through Mercy Watson.

So I decided to just focus on the level Aaron is at right now (which seems to be about late first grade/early second grade). I'll have to save the easier books for another time and list.

I'm going to call these "early chapter books," but someone please tell me if I'm using this label incorrectly. I'm a little confused by "early readers," "easy readers," "early chapter books," "transition books," etc. In general, the books I'm featuring in this post have a word count that ranges anywhere from 500 to 2000. The books are divided into several chapters and include a picture on almost every page.

Mr. Putter & Tabby by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard
This series highlights the adventures of Mr. Putter (an elderly man), his faithful companion Tabby (a cat), his neighbor Mrs. Teaberry (an elderly woman), and her trusty friend Zeke (a dog). You wouldn't think two old people and their pets could have very exciting adventures, but you might be surprised. One of our favorites is Mr. Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch, but we still have many in this fantastic series that we haven't read yet.

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo, illus. Chris Van Dusen
We fell in love with this series long before Aaron could read them on his own. Mercy is the beloved child of Mr. and Mrs. Watson. She's also a pig. (Er, I mean, a "porcine wonder.") She loves toast with a great deal of butter on it and a good chase. Somehow her adventures always seem to involve the fire department, as well as Eugenia and Baby Lincoln (next door neighbors), and one or two others. I've commented to Mike before about how I am amazed at what memorable characters Kate DiCamillo created with relatively few words. (And Chris Van Dusen's illustrations definitely don't hurt.)

Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
These are probably the simplest and shortest books on this list, but oh, how all three of my boys love them. Bradley has taken to calling every fly he sees Fly Guy. And several times I have found Aaron reading them to his brothers without any prompting from me. I feel like they are definitely boy books since all of Fly Guy's adventures seem to include rotting food or violent attacks or being ingested. However, unlike a lot of boy books, I haven't found these ones to be filled with potty jokes, so I'm definitely a fan.

Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes
These ones are short and simple, too, but geared more toward girls, but so far, my boys have made no complaints about them. In fact, they'd forgotten what Penny and Her Song was about (we read it quite awhile ago), so they were thrilled to come upon it in the library the other day. Penny is a sweet little mouse who looks at life quietly and thoughtfully. The language is simple but sophisticated. So far there are three in this series (Penny and Her Marble just came out this year and is my personal favorite), but I'm hopeful more will follow.

Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
I remember my brother loving these books when he was a kid, and it's so fun now to see my own child reading and enjoying them. There's obviously something enduring about a boy and his big, slobbery dog. They're written in such a matter-of-fact, down-to-earth way. Kids can instantly relate (even if you don't (and probably never will) own a big, slobbery dog).

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Another much beloved series of my brother, this one features Nate, a kid detective with super mystery-solving skills. We've only read two so far, but Aaron loves trying to figure out the end before Nate does.

Frog and Friends by Eve Bunting
We only discovered this series last week, but I'm already adding it to our list of favorites. So far, I have found Frog's stories to be interesting and unique without being formulaic in the slightest. In the first book, Frog and his friends find an orange balloon and hypothesize (incorrectly) that perhaps it is a hippopotamus' egg. The balloon pops before they figure out what it is. They give it a proper burial, but then in Chapter 3, Frog meets a hippo and wonders with fear if the hippo is looking for his egg. It just struck me as funny, and I wasn't expecting that connection between the chapters. Really delightful.

What are your favorite early chapter books? We definitely need more ideas!

P.S. Are you wondering where Frog and Toad is on this list? Well, in spite of being featured in the above photo, the truth is, Aaron hasn't actually read Frog and Toad yet (yes, the photo was staged). I have nothing against Arnold Lobel (in fact, Aaron just read Grasshopper on the Road and loved it--definitely should have included it on this list, so just consider it mentioned). We'll get to it sometime in the future.

I shared this post at Mom's Library


  1. Little Bear is another classic. Russell Hoban has some "easy readers," too--some of the Frances books are published in that format. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Yes, I actually just checked out one of the Frances books for him to read. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. No clue. But this is a great list I'll be saving for future reference. I know you hear that a lot from me. ;)

  3. this is a great list! next up: magic tree house!

    1. I don't know whether to cheer or groan. :-)

  4. I haven't read any of these! I'm pinning this to remember these later though.

  5. We've enjoyed Nate the Great and Hi! Fly Guy!! Will have to check out the others soon!

  6. Amy this list brings back memories. I remember the time DD would behave exactly as Penny and make up her own songs! It was so much fun. And the Mercy Watson books elicited so many giggles!Frog and Friends was nice too but DD was more tickled by the Fly Guy stories.
    Thanks for sharing! :)
    -Reshama @StackingBooks.com

  7. I struggle with the label, "early chapter books." I usually use it to describe books just above the level you are featuring here, but I've seen it used for both. The Cyblis awards categorizes these books as easy readers as does my library but teachers and publishers call them early chapter books. In the end, though, there is such a wide variety of levels in both categories!

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one confused, and I think you're probably right that the term "early chapter books" should be reserved for the level just above this one. I'm still feeling it out. I think I'll know a little better how I want to define it once Aaron reaches the next level of books.

  8. The book labels are very confusing for parents starting out, aren't they? And it seams every publisher has its own labelling as well. Thank you for sharing this selection on Mom's Library, I'll be featuring it this week at Crystal's Tiny Treasures.

  9. My girls and I have really liked "My Father's Dragon" lately. There are 3 in the series and they are perfect for my 4 year old, but my 7 year old sits close while we read...silly and simple, but engaging and fun.

  10. These books are perfect for my 5 year old. We picked up several at the library today and he's been quietly working his way through them for over an hour. Thanks for the suggestions!


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