As I mentioned in the first weekly roundup of easy readers, lots of easy readers fit into some standard character categories. Here is the rough breakdown in which many early readers fit:
- Cute stories involving one main protagonist–usually animals (i.e. Little Bear books)
- Stories about two best friends, usually animals and usually incompatible and/or quite different at first glance (i.e. Frog and Toad)
- Super simple words/text and, sometimes, zany plots/illustrations (i.e. Dr. Seuss books)
- Person + Pet: the more unlikely the “pet,” the better (i.e. Danny and the Dinosaur)
Today, let’s examine some of the “cute stories involving one main protagonist.” There aren’t as many of these as there are of the friends or person + pet, but the ones that do exist are worth finding. Note: updated 5/04/12 to add Penny and her Song and Frances–how could I forget Frances??!!
Little Bear books
Else Holmelund Minarik
If you’ve never read these, you must remedy that ASAP. And no, the TV shows won’t do. The best read aloud of the set, in my opinion, is Little Bear’s Visit–particularly “The Goblin Story.” I love it when authors know just how much to scare little children and still make it fun. These are especially nice for children who are starting to read at a very young age (3-4) because Little Bear is a 4-year-old in disguise (this is my professional opinion, having had 3 4-year-olds in quick succession these past couple of years).
One of the few non-animal-main-character easy reader series out there, these are classics. Kids need to be able to recognize the irony in Amelia Bedelia’s constant misunderstanding of words; usually by the time they’re 5, kids recognize what the words are suppose to mean and enjoy the humor.
Curious George Flies a Kite
H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey
There are some easy reader Curious George stories out there, and they are worth seeking out. Many are older (and I MUCH prefer the older stories–that’s worthy of another post, though). There’s an ABC book, a book about flying a kite, a book in which Curious George wins a medal, and so forth. The easy reader George books are usually identified as such.
Much more recent than these others on the list, Dodsworth is a strange little animal who travels the world. I could perhaps put him in the unlikely best friends category, but I’m not sure his relationship with the quirky duck really counts as “friendship.” And, unlike the friends books, the duck never makes the title; only Dodsworth is in the title. These books are favorites with my kids, but the world famous cities and their tourist attractions go right over the kids’ heads.
Another easy reader winner by Cynthia Rylant, this series is about a pig named Poppleton and his adventures with his friends (all different animals) in their small town.
Penny and Her Song
Henkes’ first foray into easy reader land is a nice addition! Another endearing little mouse character like Lily, Owen, and the rest, Penny wants to share her song with the world…. (Note: this is BRAND new; it’s at stores such as Barnes and Noble, but not yet in many libraries.)
A Bargain for Frances (and other Frances books)
Russell and Lillian Hoban
In A Bargain for Frances, Frances learns a lot about the ins and outs of friendship. Some Frances books are “picture books” and at least this one is a “beginning reader.” No doubt, if your child loves Frances, he or she will soon be able to read the picture books if they’re tackling this easy reader.
All cover images from goodreads