Ten Books for Learning How to Read

December 28, 2020 | Heather

Comments (4)

Your brilliant child knows how to write their name, can read “Stop” and "Sale" and knows the sounds of the letters of the alphabet. 

How can they make the leap to reading a book on their own?

Ease your child into reading by providing a book that is just right for that first step. The books on this list are delightful and engaging. They have few words per page, with simple text, rhythm and repetition.

Be sure to read the book to your child several times before asking them if they would like to try. Above all, keep it fun and relaxed. Help your child when they ask for it. Enjoy the journey!


Funny Favourites

The hilarious Elephant and Piggie books are my top recommendation for children learning to read. Show your child how much you enjoy books by reading expressively. Whisper the words in the tiny print, and shout out the words in large print. Point to the words as you read them. After reading the book to your child a few times, ask them to read it to you. 

Cover image of There is a bird on your head!

Also in the funny category is Shh! We Have a Plan! by Chris Haughton. In this award-winning book, a group tries to capture a bird and learns that the gentlest approach is best. The repetitive, simple text is just right for early readers. If your child likes this, try Chris Haughton’s other books from our collection.

Cover image of Shh! We have a plan


Bring out the Rhythm and Rhyme

Rhyming books like Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss and Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman are incredibly effective at teaching little ones how to read. My children all learned to read with these two books. Bring out your silly voice and declare “Stop! You must not hop on pop!” The rhyming words will help your child unknowingly learn phonics. 

Hop on pop

Cover image of Go, dog. Go!


Rebus Books

We Love Our School is a rebus book, meaning some of the words are replaced by small pictures. You can read the words while your child “reads” the pictures and enjoys the experience of reading together. For more rebus books, try The House that Jack Built, I Love You: A Rebus Poem, or Mother Goose Picture Puzzles.

Cover image of We love our school! : a read-together rebus story


Best for Preschoolers

For those with very young emerging readers, choose stories with familiar plots, engaging images and very few words per page. Repeated phrases will help your little one decode the printed words.

I'm a big fan of The Maisy books for early readers. Children are drawn to Lucy Cousin's child-like art. The text is simple and the stories are enjoyable.

Cover image of Maisy goes camping


Before Dav Pilkey wrote Captain Underpants, his Big Dog and Little Dog entertained children with their cute antics. Pilkey captures complex emotions in his simple line drawings. The repetition in the text will help your young reader recognize and remember words. 



A favourite early reader in our house is Here are my Hands by Bill Martin. “Here are my hands, for catching and throwing, here is my head, for thinking and knowing. Here are my knees for falling down, here is my neck for turning around.” I love the rhymes and vibrant illustrations.



Now I Am Big by Stephen Krensky and Sara Gillingham is another great choice. I love the vintage colour palette, flowing rhythm, and positive message. Krensky’s other books in this series are just as appealing.

Cover image of Now I am big! / by Stephen Krensky ; illustrated by Sara Gillingham.


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is catchy, classic poem that your child will soon memorize. Your preschooler will be happy to turn the pages and read the book to you.



Bonus Books #11 and #12: One-Word Books

For children who are very hesitant to read on their own, one-word books are a great way to boost their confidence. Two of my favourites are Hug! by Jez Alborough or Moo! by David LaRochelle.

Cover image of Moo!

Cover image of Hug


Your child will learn to read when they are ready and willing. We advise you to never rush the process. Make some of these books available along with your other favourites, and let your child choose the book at storytime. Once your child is able to read, don't hang up your storytime hat. Your child will still love to be read to by you for many years to come. And trust me, you'll miss it when they stop asking you to read them a story! Happy reading, everyone!