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5 Must Have Early Reader Books

Early Readers

Early reader books are what I recommend, when I'm asked "Can you recommend some books for my 7 year old to read by themselves?" or "Can you recommend books for 6 year olds to read independently? 

These books, sometimes known as 'first reading books' or 'beginning reader books' are generally a next step after picture books. Now, there are a few things to say about this (sorry!). Firstly, I NEVER recommend 'moving on' from picture books. We are NEVER too old for picture books, there is too much to learn from picture books and many have several layers of complexity appropriate for older readers too. Also, children can get a lot of comfort and pleasure from reading familiar and simple picture books. So please, I entreat you, do not dispose of your picture books yet and pass no judgement if your children want to read picture books even as they attempt early reader books. Ok, rant over! 

Secondly, early readers have many similarities with picture books. Both formats have simple vocabulary, an engaging story and plenty of illustrations. But early readers are also different from picture books in that they are smaller in overall size, generally more rectangle in spare, with a smaller font size, chapter breaks and more pages. Whereas picture books generally have about 32 pages, early readers tend to have between 40 and 100 pages. And children are acutely aware that these early readers are more 'grown up'. But there is a danger in rushing ahead too quickly at this stage and it's important to get the right level for your child. And technically, they are not learn-to-read books but of course they are an important part of becoming a more confident reader.

Early readers are generally for ages 6 to 8 but clearly all children are different. For instance, my daughter age 6 has only recently become a free reader and really enjoys choosing new 'chapter books' as she calls them. But we've had to try quite a few different books in order to get the right level for her. Though Clarice Bean is one of her absolute favourite series, the language proved too tricky for her to read independently and we ended up agreeing to save it for when she's a little older. She has loved however, the Daisy books and the Horrid Henry early readers.

Generally early readers are read after children have gone through the various book bands but some, for example our Cereal Superfan book below, are at the far end of book bands (lime) so there are no hard and fast rules!

5 Must Have Early Reader Books
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Two Sides

Lula and Lenka are best friends and total opposites - Lula is a Dog Person and Lenka is a Cat Person; Lula is super messy and Lenka is neat and tidy; Lula likes talking to people and Lenka likes watching people - but together they make the perfect pair. Until The Day that Everything Goes Wrong ... and suddenly the girls are no longer friends. What started as a day like any other ends with Lula and Lenka ignoring each other and sitting on opposite sides of the classroom. As the days go by Lula makes a new friend who talks almost as much as she does, while Lenka just plays on her own. In spite of feeling lonely, neither one is prepared to listen or forgive ... or to say sorry. Will it be this way forever?

A thoughtful story exploring friendship and the importance of listening and keeping an open mind.

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Little Rabbit's Big Surprise

Little Rabbit is bored. Her brothers and sisters are busy with chores and her friends are out collecting worms. Her grandfather, Big Rabbit, offers to make her his assistant for the day - he's got lots of work she can help him with. Little Rabbit laughs; her grandfather doesn't have a job - he spends all day with his friends. "Why don't you come with me and see?" replies Big Rabbit.
First they visit Mole, who has a problem with his dark tunnels, before hopping over to visit Granny Hedgehog, who's suffering with a rather nasty cold. As they're leaving they meet Dormouse who's struggling to keep his babies happy while he forages for twigs for their nest. The last stop is Squirrel's den, but the usually acrobatic Squirrel has sprained her paw. After helping her, they head home - what a busy day! In the morning Little Rabbit wakes to find her grandfather has left her a list of things to collect. Little Rabbit's excited, certain that the things are for making a kite, but she's in for a big surprise...

A heartwarming story about helping others and spreading kindness.

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Splash Day!

Splish, splosh, splash! It's Splash Day and everyone is ready for a water fight! They've got their trunks and wetsuits, some wellies and rubber rings, and Mrs Rose even has a great big hose! Join in with all the splashing fun in Nick Sharratt's beautiful debut Little Gem. Bursting with lots of rhyme, rhythm and energy for little ones to enjoy, it's the perfect book for a young reader's first steps on the path to reading independence.

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Cereal Superfan: A Bloomsbury Young Reader

Stephen Rice is a cereal superfan. So when his supply of Cracklewheat, Corncrunch, Toastyoats and Choc-o-not-hoops runs out, Stephen is devastated. But there's a competition to win a lifetime supply - if Stephen can build the perfect cereal...

This hilarious story from one of the nation's most loved writers, Julia Donaldson (author of The Gruffalo), is perfect for children who are learning to read by themselves and for Key Stage 1. It features engaging illustrations by Garry Parsons and quirky characters young readers will find hard to resist.

Bloomsbury Young Readers are the perfect way to get children reading, with book-banded stories by brilliant authors like Julia Donaldson. They are packed with gorgeous colour illustrations and include inside cover notes to help adults reading with children, as well as ideas for activities related to the stories.

Book band: Lime

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Alfred and the Blue Whale

An early reader about a little boy who is scared of just about everything, especially speaking in front of lots of people. A task to speak about the Blue Whale in front of his whole class just about defeats him. However the more Alfred learns about the Blue Whale, the braver he becomes.


1st February 2019

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