Fantastic Books for Young Readers: Information for Parents & Teachers

Written by Gen

As a public school educator I am a 10-month employee which affords me the incredible opportunity to make “mom” my full-time job for eight weeks every summer. That doesn’t mean, however, that I turn off my literacy specialist frame of mind! I started reading daily to my first child when she was three months old and now, at almost four years old, she is quite the book connoisseur. We make weekly trips to the public library to keep a fresh rotation of books in our repertoire, and over the last eight weeks I’ve noted what has really captured her interest and what has lead to some poignant literacy learning for our preschooler.  Following are her “top picks” for other young readers:

Elephant & Piggie series, by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie

As a parent, I love them because…

Many know Mo Willems for his Pigeon books, such as, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! This series contains two more lovable characters, the pragmatic Elephant Gerald and the enthusiastically optimistic Piggie (and here’s a fun fact, the pigeon is hiding somewhere in the end pages of every Elephant and Piggie book!).  The stories are short, older readers will be able to read them independently, they are engaging, funny, and heartwarming. Many of them address social issues that young children would relate to, such as, sharing, including others in play, and supporting your friends and their feelings. These books are fun for an adult to read aloud because the story relies heavily upon your expressive tone.

As a literacy specialist, I love them because…

The books are written in a conversational format with all of the text appearing in speech or thought bubbles. Each speech bubble is the color of the character, making it very clear to the young reader who is talking. The conversational nature of the books makes the use of good intonation and inflection of the voice necessary for understanding the story. Children learn to make the voice go up at a question, down at a period, and to reflect the feelings of the character throughout. The sentences are simple, and children will incidentally learn some words after sharing the book with an adult a few times.

Time to Say Please, by Mo Willems

Time to Say Please

As a parent, I love it because…

While we’re on the topic of Mo Willems, you should check this one out. This book explains the concept of using phrases like, “please,” “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “excuse me” in the most child-friendly way. It also has Willem’s signature humor embedded as children are urged by cute little mice to use their manners.

As a literacy specialist, I love it because…

It demonstrates to children that text can be found in many different formats, not only in the traditional straight lines at the bottom or top of a page. Some of the words in this book can be found floating in balloons! Children will want to read this book on their own after experiencing it with an adult a few times since it contains simple sentences and the concepts are so child-friendly. Children will be inspired to write their own books and to experiment with text placement. Reading and writing are reciprocal processes: one strengthens the other. Writing like a favorite author will not only be enjoyable, but it will help children grow as both a reader and a writer.

Boo Hoo Bird, by Jeremy Tankard

Boo Hoo Bird

As a parent, I love it because…

What kid can’t relate to how it feels to have a boo-boo? This book follows a sweet little bird who has been bonked on the head during a game of catch and shows how all of his friends try to help. It is expressive, the illustrations are bright and engaging, and you can’t help but fall in love with that adorable little bird who can’t stop crying!

As a literacy specialist, I love it because…

Children will fully understand the character’s feelings in this book and that can be used to read the dialogue with the appropriate expression. Reading with intonation by interpreting a character’s feelings is a crucial understanding about fluency that children can develop early on in their lives by hearing it from the adults in their lives.

Byron Barton Books

byron barton books

As a parent, I love them because…

Children are drawn to these books because of their bright illustrations. The stories are about things kids can relate to or would want to know about: cars, airplanes, buses, astronauts, etc. My preschooler loves looking at these books by herself because the illustrations and topics are so engaging.

As a literacy specialist, I love them because…

They contain simple sentences and the stories can be easily retold by young children as they are emerging as readers. These simple sentences are also useful to demonstrate how readers look at print. They can be pointed to as an adult reads, showing children where sentences start, and to reinforce the purpose of print and how it works with illustrations.

Count the Monkeys, by Mac Barnett & Kevin Cornell

Count the Monkeys

As a parent, I love it because…

The problem is that different people and animals keep scaring away the monkeys! This book invites children to participate by helping to get rid of bears, wolves, and crocodiles so the monkeys can be counted. My preschooler asks to read this book over and over again (even as I am writing this, in fact!) because it she loves being a part of the story. There is a little bit of wonder in her eyes as she wonders if she really is the one who scared away those bears…

As a literacy specialist, I love it because…

Engagement is key! If we want to our children to love reading in the future, then it is our duty to expose them to fun books that they like early on. Silly stories, books that rhyme, song books, books with inventive characters and plots, anything that catches children’s attention and makes them want to sit and read with you are so very important for their future literacy instruction. For our family, this is one of those books!

Jump, by David McPhail


As a parent, I love it because…

Well, because my preschooler loves to jump! Any book that has to do with jumping always makes it into our book basket. This is a simple story that is highly engaging to youngsters who like to move. Children who are not inclined to sit for lengthy books will love this one.

As a literacy specialist, I love it because…

Preschoolers will enjoy reading this book on their own after sharing it with an adult because the text so nicely matches the pictures, allowing young readers to read for meaning as they begin to attend to print. We want children to view themselves as readers from the very beginning. If we send them the message that you’re not a reader until you know all of the words, that will delay their reading identity, causing potential difficulties down the line, so books like this will support their efforts to “read the pictures.”

Pete the Cat Books, by James Dean & Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat Books

As a parent, I love them because…

With start of school right around the corner, we have recently been enjoying Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes, but many Pete the Cat books have become favorites in our house. One thing I love about Pete the Cat is that there are books for every age and experience from board books to early readers, so our preschooler has been reading Pete the Cat books since she was a baby. This cool cat is practically a family member!

As a literacy specialist, I love them because…

Many Pete the Cat books have repeated text that is lyrical in nature. This allows children to participate once they know the pattern of the text, making them perfect for shared reading. Since these books are so engaging, children will want to hear them over and over again. We know that repeated readings are crucial to develop fluency skills. Reading fluency develops best when children hear it, see it, and experience it. Sharing Pete the Cat books allows parents and teachers to read them to children, show them where the repeated parts are in the text, and to invite children to read or sing along. These types of fun experiences lay the foundation for future fluent readers.

Flavor of the Day

These book picks are by no means the extent of our favorite reading experiences but they are the books that have helped to fill our final weeks of summer. If you found this post to be useful, you might be interested in:

Closing the Reading Gap Early in Low Socioeconomic School Districts

The Meaning of Reading

Check back in the coming weeks for the following post coming soon:

Reading to Children: Tips for Parents & Teachers



3 thoughts on “Fantastic Books for Young Readers: Information for Parents & Teachers

  1. Pingback: “Suriously?…Just Sayin’”: YouTube Sensation & Educator Advocate, Gerry Brooks, Visits Western New York – Literacy Pages

  2. Thank you for introducing these wonderful collections of books for us!
    Interesting post!
    Definitely, this post is very useful for all the kids and mothers out there!
    Thank you once again for sharing this good content with us!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s