Here’s a huge list of the best books for 5- and 6-year-olds including phonics books and easy readers levels 1 and 2 for boys and girls in kindergarten and first grade.
If you’re looking for the best phonics books and easy readers for 5- year old and 6-year old boys and girls in kindergarten and first grade, this list will help.
**Go HERE for easy beginning chapter books for 6- and 7-year old boys and girls.
Keep in mind that every publisher has a little different way to level their books so some may be more or less challenging when compared with a different publishing company.
Find easy readers in level 1 and level 2 below.
1) Easy Readers / Phonics Books / Level 1 Readers
I am super picky about recommending easy readers and phonics books. Why? Because so many of them are really terrible. Like mind-numbing, don’t have a story, insult your child’s intelligence terrible. Just wait, you’ll get some of these sent home from school. You’ll see what I mean if you don’t know already.
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can practice phonics and learning new words without killing a child’s interest in reading. You can have quality easy readers. Here are my favorite choices:
Learn to Read with TUG THE PUP and Friends Box Set 1 Guided Reading Levels A – C
These aren’t your average dull as dirt easy readers. (Thank, God!) The little books will keep your child’s attention with interesting plots, lovable characters, and engaging illustrations. Each box set contains 11 stories, 1 parent guide, and stickers.
Learn to Read with TUG THE PUP and Friends Box Set 3 Guided Reading Levels E – G
Last in the phonics guided reading set… The credit for this new beginning reader series goes to the writer, Dr. Julie M. Wood, former director of the Jeanne Chall Reading Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She knows all about reading and what kids like. Each box set contains 11 stories, 1 parent guide, and stickers.
Set 1 – Beginning Readers (12 books)
Set 2 – Advancing Beginners (12 books)
Set 3 – Word Families (10 books)
Set 4 – Complex Words (8 books)
Set 5 – Long Vowels (8 books)
I really like the Bob Books and how they made reading accessible for my daughter. Plus, these easy reader books are short and sweet. I like that the last pages of each book tell you what the book introduced, for example in Cat and Mouse from Set 4, some of the new concepts listed are: “blends: sn – snap, th – that, st – stop, lp – help, ck – back.”
Have you seen Bob Books? Physically, they’re small. The illustrations are line drawings with only a few splashes of one color per picture. I wondered if the illustrations would be a turn-off for JJ but she liked them — and LOVED them on the iPad because reading the word correctly meant the pictures got colored in.
Curious George Math and Science Readers
10-Book STEM Reading Program (Grades K – 1)
I really like this easy reader series. It’s content-rich about topics like: shapes, growing a garden, the weather, patterns, the number 10, healthy bodies, and more. I appreciate how readable these books are, with only simple sentences on each page accompanied by a colorful illustration on the opposite page. Each book includes a glossary at the front of STEM words, sight words, and study words. Finally, because each book has a card of information for you to help extend the learning. Buy these books! They not only help kids practice learning to read but they teach important, age-appropriate STEM concepts, I’m impressed.
Pug by Ethan Long (Easiest Easy Reader)
Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly by Mo Willems
We adore this easy reader series because they’re silly and readable!
Big Cat by Ethan Long
Adorable illustrations pair with simple, repetitive text such as, “Big Cat can hide.” This is a great book for the earliest of readers with only one sentence per page.
Let’s Go For a Drive by Mo Willems
Gerald has the great idea of going for a drive! But first (and second and third), Piggie thinks of what they need to bring along. Silly fun about two best friends with big personalities.
We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
I love this Elephant and Piggie book — but they are all awesome. You’ll notice the first page starts with “Thank you” which you’ll only understand once you read it. It is hilarious! These are the BEST beginning reader books because they’re not dumbed down; they’re hilarious and they’re engaging.
Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin, illustrated by Brian Selznick
My Toothbrush is Missing by Jan Thomas
Dog tells his friends that his toothbrush is missing. Donkey asks Dog to describe it. Which leads to hilarious fun! Because for every description Dog shares (bristles, long handle), Donkey thinks he’s found it — but he finds other things that also fit those descriptions (Fat Cat, a broom, an egg beater, …) Entertaining dialogue, brilliant brightly-colored comic-style illustrations, and a funny, funny ending. Perfection. (Can you tell I love Jan Thomas?)
What Is Chasing Duck? by Jan Thomas
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas
The ball went into the doghouse. Who will get it out?
“Cow will! Cow is BIG. Cow is BRAVE. // MOO? // Cow goes into THE DOGHOUSE. But cow does not come out.” Next Pig goes in and doesn’t come out either. Then Duck. Yikes! What is going on? What happens to the friends after going into the doghouse? It seems scary but you’ll laugh when you find out what’s really going on! I LOVE this series of books. If you have children who are learning to read, these are must-own books.
Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories
The Biscuit books are classic early readers that give kids successful reading experiences. Biscuit is a cute, playful puppy who lives with his little girl and her family.
LEGO City: All Aboard (Level 1 Reader) by Sonia Sander
These are a favorite for any LEGO enthusiast! This book about trains is just one in this recommended easy level 1 reader series.
We Are Growing by Laurie Keller
Gran on a Fan by Kevin Bolger, illustrated by Ben Hodson
What a fun easy reader book! Each page is like a cartoon with easy-to-read words and easy sentences using those words. Fantastic illustrations.
Lazy Bear, Crazy Bear by Kevin Bolger, illustrated by Ben Hodson
So many bears! Bear with plates. Bear on skates. And sheep. And mice. Well, you get the picture. For each long vowel sound, there’s another zany adventure with eye-catching cartoons.
Ice Cream Soup by Ann Ingalls
A little boy makes an ice cream cake that turns into soup because of everything he adds. I like the rhyming text because it helps cue early readers.
May I Please Have a Cookie? by Jennifer Morris
Alfie really wants to eat the cookies but his first attempts to get a cookie aren’t very polite. His mom helps him figure out that he should ask nicely.
LEGO Star Wars: A New Hope by Emma Grange
Read the exciting story of the original Star War (Episode IV ) movie retold using mini-figures and sets. (These DK readers are a favorite at my school library!)
Steve & Wessley in The Ice Cream Shop by J.E. Morris Scholastic Level 1 Reader
Steve cannot get into that Ice Cream Shop. He pushes and pushes the door but it doesn’t work. You’ll laugh when you realize with Steve’s mistake. These simple stories are funny and perfect for beginning readers.
Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh
I love the informational but simple text matching each beautiful photograph. These books are bright, colorful, and factual — just perfect for any beginning reader.
In, Over and On the Farm by Ethan Long
Basic text and fun lift-the-flaps teach kids prepositions using the silly antics of farm animals.
See Pip Point by David Milgrim (Pre Level 1 Reader)
Pip points at Otto’s balloon. But what happens when Otto shares the balloon? Pip floats away so Otto must help. Easy-to-read and funny. (See more in the series here.)
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan
Look at all the animals that join the pig in a wig on a boat! But it’s getting crowded. What will the pig do?
Fox on a Box by Phil Roxbee Cox
This is a great beginning reader phonics story to read again and again.
Sam Sheep Can’t Sleep by Jenny Tyler
Another beginning reader book in the Usborne Phonics Readers that we really love.
Big Dog and Little Dog Wearing Sweaters by Dav Pilkey (Green Light Level 1 Readers)
Very simple text tell the story of Little Dog who helps Big Dog get his own sweater . . . vest. Parents, you’ll like that the last few pages have fun activities — a maze, word search, story sequencing, and sentence to picture matching.
Little Big Horse Where’s My Bike by Dave Horowitz Scholastic Level 1
Pablo takes Little Big Horse’s bike. And breaks it! But it’s only a flat tire and Little Big Horse knows what to do to fix it. Very simple text, great illustrations, and an engaging story make this a new early reader favorite.
Tiny Goes Back to School Penguin Level 1 Reader by Cari Meister, illustrated by Rich Daivs
This is a great beginning reader with only a few words per page. It’s about a dog who doesn’t know commands such as “sit” and has to go back to doggy school.
Jungle Animals DK Level 1 by Camilla Gersh
In a word, perfect. This little book packs a big punch with the perfect balance of colorful visuals (photographs) and leveled informational text. Fantastic!
Ninja on the Farm (Moby Shinobi) by Luke Flowers Scholastic Level 1 Reader
Baseball Buzz (Sports Illustrated Kids Level 1 Readers) by CC Joven
Rat Attack by Molly Coxe
The rats try to steal Gram’s jam but Ann, Fran, and Stan have a plan. The story practices the short “a” sound but even better, there is an actual story. Plus, the photos of the stuffed animal characters and settings are fantastic. (Not all of the stories in this series are as good as this one due to the overlay of dark text on busy photos — you just can’t see all the words.)
2) Easy Readers/ Level 2 Readers
Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
Fly and the boy meet in this first book of a super hilarious series. Fly becomes the boy’s pet and friend. In this story, the boy enters his fly in an amazing pet contest, dazzling the judges, and winning the show. This series is EXCELLENT!
Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth! by Mo Willems
Fans of Elephant and Piggie will recognize the familiar dialogue bubbles and quirky humor as well as the many hilarious double meanings in this new, longer book about Zip Squirrel who has lost his tooth. Luckily his squirrel friends are there to help. Misunderstandings make this dramatic toothy adventure totally hilarious. Look for the “emote-acorns” on the pages when the squirrels have BIG feelings. Peppered throughout the story are three “Acorn-y” jokes (get it? corny?)– ha, ha! You’ll also read informational text in the back sharing fun facts about both human teeth and squirrel teeth.
Curious George in Follow That Hat! by H.A. and Margret Rey
I really like this Curious George adventure told in dialogue bubbles and charming illustrations about a day in the park. While playing catch, George and Sam notice the yellow hat moving on its own. What is happening? Sam and George follow the hat, chasing it all the way up a tree, where they discover that a squirrel was underneath.
Petal and Poppy by Lisa Clough and Ed Briant (series)
What a fun and funny early reader book written in comic book style! Petal and Poppy are best friends that live together in a lighthouse. When Poppy the elephant starts to practice her tuba, Petal, the rhino, hates it so much she decides to go scuba diving. Well, both friends go out on the boat, tuba and all, and worrywart Poppy can’t stop thinking something bad is happening to Petal. It all works out in the end with lots of hilarious hijinks and silliness to get there. You’ll love that there are more Petal and Poppy books: Petal and Poppy and the Spooky Halloween and Petal and Poppy and the Penguin.
We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey
I love, love, love this early reader book! It’s a Toon Book Early Reader with eye-popping illustrations and one sentence of text per page that explain something about the worm — sometimes he has kids asking questions which the worm answers. McCloskey painted on recycled grocery bags which makes for a gorgeous, earthy feeling throughout. I just can’t say enough good things about this short little book! (This book is on my BEST CHILDREN’S NONFICTION BOOKS OF 2016 list.)
Monkey and Elephant Get Better by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illustrated by Galia Bernstein
Hooray, another early reader that doesn’t stink! Clever adventures of friends, monkey and elephant, with bright, bold illustrations.
Guinness World Records Daring Dogs (Reading with Help 2) by Cari Meister
Impressive dogs and their feats will grab animal lovers attention and keep them reading in this engaging early reader book.
Slow, Slow Sloths by Bonnie Bader Level 2 Penguin Young Reader
I LOVE the photographs in this informational beginning reader. They make the nonfiction text pop so your child will learn while he or she is reading and viewing the photos. Even I learned a lot about sloths from this little book! Highly recommended.
Fly Guy Presents Sharks by Ted Arnold (series)
Visit the aquarium with Buzz and Fly Guy to learn about sharks in this terrific easy non-fiction reader. I LOVE how Arnold combines cartoons with photographs!
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson (series)
Henry and his big dog, Mudge, are the best of friends. And every story tells a relatable adventure any child can imagine. Better yet, the books are just perfect for 6 year old readers.
Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton
(Easy Reader Level 2)
Kids will love this silly caper written in rhyme with simple words about Ed, Ted, a dog called Fred, and a whale named Ned — well done!
Mr. Putter & Tabby Drop the Ball by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard (series)
Would your 5- and 6- year olds enjoy this book? So many kids love these sweet stories about Mr. Putter and his “fine” cat named Tabby.
The Party and Other Stories (Fox and Chick) by Sergio Ruzzier
Charming watercolor illustrations in comic-panels accompany three stories of friendship that are filled with dry humor. I love how Ruzzier’s artwork captures nuances of emotion and personality which accompany the stories. Brilliant. Sure to be a favorite easy reader book.
Scribbles and Ink Out of the Box by Ethan Long
I’m such a big Ethan Long fan — he must have some sort of mind meld with kids, his books are perfect for kids in kindergarten and first grade. In this easy-to-read (very easy first chapter book) adventure, Scribbles and Ink (a cat and mouse) find that a box is a really cool thing to play with — it can become so many things (a race car, a mask, overalls). Unfortunately, the duo begins arguing about who gets the box and the box rips in half. After working out their differences, they think of a boxtastic solution.
Aggie the Brave by Lori Ries, illustrated by Frank Dormer
Colorful illustrations match the basic sentences which tell the story of Aggie the dog who must go to the vet to get spayed, stay overnight and heal at home. The story teaches about the process at the vet as well as what to expect – like the stitches and cone she must wear post-surgery. I love the way the little boy owner imagines that Aggie is not a cone-head but a LION.
Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel (series)
Giggle and share in the daily life of two best but very different friends. Enchanting and a first grade favorite!
Elephant Joe, Brave Firefighter by David Wojtowycz (Step into Reading Comic Reader 2)
Dragon gets stuck in a tree but his friend, Elephant Joe saves him. This is a decent story with unique paper cutting and cartoon dialogue bubbles.
Lunch, or WHAT’S THAT? Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Kids will easily relate to this book about the curious (gross, terrifying) foods served in the school cafeteria. I’m impressed with this funny story.
Snails Are Just My Speed! by Kevin McCloskey
McCloskey begins this book with one large sentence of factual information per two page spread “With mucus, they can travel on any surface.” Then, the cartoon illustrations have dialogue bubbles of speech with more details. “My mucus can be like oil…” and “or like glue!” Later pages in the book are set up a bit differently with a bit more text. If you’re looking for a quality nonfiction easy reader, this is an excellent choice.
Fish Are Not Afraid of Doctors (Maud the Koala) by J.E. Morris
Maud is nervous about seeing the doctor. She wishes she were a fish then imagines it — that she has two floppy fins and a swooshy tail. Soon, she’s swimming in the deep blue sea in her daydream. Before she knows it, the appointment is over. When her mom compliments Maud on her bravery, she replies, “…fish are not afraid of doctors.” Appealing comic-style panels invite readers into this relatable childhood experience and hopefully will help kids with a strategy for nerves at the doctor’s office. I think it’s a great topic, don’t you!?
Easy Readers Level 3+
Snowball Run by Lisa Harkrader, illustrated by Lynne Avril
STEM – Simple Machines
It’s a snow day so Emmie, her little brother Owen, and Booker are sledding at Booker Hill. But Owen easily tires of climbing back up the steep hill and he’s too heavy for Emmie and Booker to pull him up more than once. But, Emmie has a great idea. With her mom’s help, they make a pulley — and it works! Now they can sled all day long, even when Owen gets tired.
Rafi and Rosi Pirates! by Lulu Delacre (level 3, early fluent)
This book is also in Spanish: Rafi y Rosi Piratas
Set in Puerto Rico with Spanish words mixed into the text, tree frogs and siblings Rafi and Rosi with big imaginations. These three stories take place at Morro Fort in San Juan. The children explore and play — pretending to be pirates, finding real gold coins, and imagining a sea monster attack.
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!