The Last Laugh by Jose Aruego
Approximate Level B
This is a story told in cartoon format with multiple frames on each page. The story is told using only three words – “hee, hee” “hiss” and “quack.” While we were reading this book, my son was laughing so hard his sister came to see what it was about. Both kids enjoyed it. I think they liked it because the faces of the animals were really expressive. And the character causing all the ruckus learns his lesson without anyone getting hurt. Even though it didn’t teach any sight words, I think there is value in reading books like this with a beginning reader. My son did need to use some decoding skills, and it was an enjoyable book that he could read all the words to. Those are hard to find at such a low level.
Approximate Level J
A mouse is tired of being scared and mistreated, so he summons his courage and asks the mightiest beast of all for help. Includes great illustrations and a surprise ending.
A true adventure written at a low reading level. A mama duck walks across a grate in the road and her ducklings fall in. Despite the obstacles, the mama is reunited with her ducklings in the end. Sweet.
Approximate Level B
Look! tells the story of a boy enchanted with television who, with the help of a lovable ape, eventually discovers how to love books too. Mainly a wordless picture book, this story uses only the words look and out in various combinations. A great way to add two more sight words to your beginning reader’s list.
Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
Approximate Level B
This story might be more appropriate for a very young beginning reader. A young girl pretends to visit other animals with her favorite stuffed monkey. There isn’t much of a plot, but the pictures are sweet, and the text is rhythmic.
Moo! by David LaRochelle
Approximate Level A
My son and I love this story of a cow on a joy ride. How many sentiments can a cow express with just one word? Read and find out. Perfect for beginning readers to practice reading for punctuation and voice inflection. And it’s just plain funny.
My Favorite Pets by Jeanne Birdsall
Approximate Level J
A mischievous boy writes a cheeky essay on sheep for a school report. He causes a bit of trouble while doing his research. The font the illustrator chose really helps with readability. This helps make it a great book to use as shared reading for those who cannot access the entire text on their own.
My Teacher is a Monster! by Peter Brown
Approximate Level I
Peter Brown’s sense of humor makes this story fun for adults and children. It tells about the relationship between a boy who likes paper airplanes and his teacher who only likes them when they are appropriate. There are a number of speech bubbles that make it worth reading it to readers who cannot access the entire text on their own.
Night at the Zoo by Kathy Caple
A boy and his grandpa fall asleep at a zoo. The animals take their phone and create ruckus. It’s a funny story line, and the illustrations will make you smile.
No Dogs Allowed Written by Linda Ashman and Illustrated by Kristin Sorra
Could be Level A if focusing only on the words yes and no
This story could almost be considered a wordless picture book. There are about 30 words total, but a reader could easily get the essence of the story without those 30 words. That being said, my son took great pleasure in reading what was added to the sign each time we turned the page. The story takes place at a restaurant with outdoor seating. A character walks up looking for a bite to eat, but is refused service because he has a dog with him. The waiter writes, “No dogs allowed,” on the sign outside the restaurant and figures that will be that. But the story doesn’t end there, of course. The waiter’s sign needs constant amending as more and more characters show up with their various pets. The ending is warm and brings all the characters back together to enjoy a much more inclusive environment. This was another story both of my children enjoyed. A tale sure to be enjoyed by animal lovers of all kinds.
No Nap! Yes Nap! by Margie Palatini
Approximate Level D
Great illustrations by Dan Yaccarino make this story of a toddler and her worn-out mom enjoyable for all ages. This is a great story if you’re focusing on the sight words yes and no, or the word families –ook or –ap. My son enjoyed this book, even though I thought it was aimed at a younger audience.
Pig and Pug by Lynne Berry
Approximate Level G
Pig gets angry when Pug calls him a pug. After a couple tries, the two work out a solution. The illustrations are pretty funny.
Pig Has a Plan by Ethan Long
The pictures are so silly, and there is actually a story line to follow. The pig just wants to sleep, but all the other barnyard animals are making noise. Pig comes up with a way to drown out the noise only to find the other animals were working on a surprise for Pig all along. The sight words focused on in the book are want and to. Most of the other words in the book are easy to decode (nap, gab, pop). And even if the word want is not likely to be found in many beginning readers at a Level B, the fact that my son wanted to read this book again made me a big fan.
Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
Approximate Level F
This is a funny story about a panda who just wants to share his doughnuts with someone who is polite. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for the reader!) he has a difficult time finding that polite someone. My son found the panda’s expression hilarious, and though it is written somewhere around a level F (I’m really guessing here…definitely not an expert on leveling books), it did have enough patterning in it that my son felt comfortable chiming in throughout the book. This should be considered shared reading for a brand new reader, but the text is so accessible in places, I felt it deserved a mention. Plus, it has a really cute lemur!
Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen
Could be used with readers at Level C or above
This book could nearly be considered a wordless picture book, but the few words that are included add to the story. My son and daughter really enjoyed reading about the little fish who, in the end, shows he can take care of himself. Though my beginning reader couldn’t read the book on his own, he was able to read some of it the first time through, and the story was engaging enough that I found him looking through the book on his own after we had read it together. Obviously the book was not intended for beginning readers. The vocabulary is not controlled in any way, there’s no pattern to it, and some of the text is written in cursive. But the story got both my kids giggling, and there were portions of the text that my beginning reader felt he could tackle on his own. It wouldn’t be a book I’d go out and purchase if you’re looking specifically for a book to teach a beginning reader, but it’s worth a check-out from the library for sure. Even if your beginning reader cannot access any of the text, it is a delightful story.
Pug by Ethan Long
A tenacious pug is going to get to see his friend by whatever means necessary. I don’t know a kid out there who wouldn’t laugh at the lengths Pug is willing to go to get his way. Long’s expressive characters add so much to the story. Told with a total of 7 sight words and simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words like Peg, Tad, and yap, Pug is perfect for beginning readers.