As kids gain confidence in reading they will progress to simple chapter books but, even in this category, the range is enormous. We choose 6 of the best kids books for entry level reading – just right to encourage eager readers without scaring them off.
The move from being read to, to tracking the page and sharing the reading with parents is a huge one for children and generally happens at some stage in reception or Year 1. But knowing how fast and how far to push it is tricky. Unless you hail from the tiger school of parenting, the chances are your child will initiate the move towards independent reading, so have a few simple chapter books scattered around and they can dip into them when they are feeling brave.
We’ve chosen the best kids books for encouraging aspiring readers. Not so complex that they dart straight back to The Gruffalo, but enough to challenge newly independent readers.
- Pirate School: Just a bit of Wind by Jeremy Strong
Every child likes a bit of silliness from time to time, and Jeremy Strong can always be relied upon to produce wonderfully laugh-out-loud tales. The children of Pirate School live in fear of their hideous headteacher, the superbly named Patagonia Clasterbottom, but when poor Patagonia falls overboard, her pupils have to rescue her: and they discover something about the headteacher that surprises them all. This is a great book for developing readers- they will swiftly complete it, and can bask in their sense of achievement.
- The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith
Schools favour this book when a child transitions to independent reading. It’s easy, accessible, short, a good introduction to chapters, and a well loved tale. Max, a hedhehog, wants to cross a busy road to the park: and suffers a nasty bump to his head on the way, resulting in him mixing up his words. Of course, with the help of a lollipop lady, Max discovers a safe way to cross the road to the park. A sweet little story whose analogies won’t be lost on developing readers.
- Diary of a Killer Cat by Anne Fine
Most children humanise their toys and animals, so this much-loved tale from Anne Fine, originally published in 1994, but published now as another fabulous Puffin Classic, will captivate your child from the start. Told from the perspective of Tuffy the cat, we find ourselves immersed in the narrative of great mouse-hunting, caterwauling and cuddles. The text is very accessible for young readers, and again, allows children to employ a persona and “voice” when reading, particularly for the part of Tuffy.
- Mr Majeika by Humphrey Carpenter
Again, the Mr Majeika series is one that your children at Primary school may already be familiar with, as it is much favoured by Year 1 teachers. Perfect for children who are familiar with school surroundings, Carpenter’s tales take place in a school where not all is as it seems. Mr Majeika is a teacher who flies through windows on his magic carpet, uses special powers to teach children how to behave, and makes lessons and learning positively magical. Children will adore the renegade antics of this carpet-borne teacher, and will particularly love the way nuisance children get their come-uppance.
- The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
A hugely popular first independent reader, which has stood the test of time for very good reason. The Iron Man allows children to be introduced to the genre of Science-Fiction in a gentle, thought-provoking way. It is also a story which deals with the theme of appearance versus reality in a serious fashion too: perfect for children beginning their journey of independent thought. The Iron Man, a giant metallic creature, arrives on earth and human inhabitants initially fear him and misinterpret his actions. However, the tables are turned when a truly threatening monster arrives on earth, as it is The Iron Man who ultimately saves mankind.
- Spring Story (Brambly Hedge) by Jill Barklem
There are four seasonal stories in this Brambly Hedge series, available as individual books, or as the collection. Spring Story is a super one to start with: all children will simply adore being transported into the miniature hedgerow world of Wilfred and his family: in Spring Story, Wilfred has a birthday: and the inhabitants of Brambly Hedge have something wonderful planned for the young field mouse. The Brambly Hedge characters allow children to begin experimenting with intonation and expression: and all children love animals who can talk! Barklem’s illustrations are superbly detailed and will have young readers absorbed for hours.