Beginning to Read

Welcome to the exciting world of helping your child learn to read. You may feel a little lost watching your child start to put sounds together; don’t worry, the library is here to help!

Beginning to Read Books & Kits

A beginning to read kit is displayed on a table along with the books it containsAt the Daniel Boone Regional Library, we call the books that were written specifically to help young children learn to read Beginning to Read books (BTR). These books have short sentences, repeated words and recurring text patterns to help build confidence. Many of them highlight sight words or focus on phonics. The wide array of BTR books can be overwhelming, so we’ve created Beginning to Read Kits to introduce new readers and their families to some of the popular options.

The library offers Beginning to Read Kits for Brand New Readers as well as First Chapter Books.

Finding More Books for Your New Reader

You can explore our entire collection of Beginning to Read Books by looking for the books on the shelf with the yellow BTR sticker, but we suggest you use the lists below to find books your reader will be most interested in. While experts recommend different approaches to reading, kids agree that their favorite books to read are the ones they pick out themselves!

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award List

Beginning to read books don’t always have the most entertaining plots, but some rise high above the rest. The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given annually to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished contribution to beginning reader books. Look to this award list for fun books with a compelling story.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are a great format for many beginning readers because the words are supported by the images. At our libraries, all children’s graphic novels are shelved together with the call number J GN. Try the “I Can Read Comics” series or explore our Easy Graphic Novels list.


Does your child love fact books? Visit the Easy Nonfiction section, where all of the books are organized by topic, and look for the Beginning to Read yellow labels. If your child loves sharks, for instance, start browsing at call number E 597.3. For sports, try E 796. Look up any subject area in the catalog to find a call number where you can start.

Books in the Same Series

If you find a book you like, library staff can show you how to find other books in the same series or how to cast a broader net. For instance, try searching for all of Scholastic’s Acorn books, which are written at a beginning reading level. Acorn books include the “Unicorn and Yeti” series as well as other popular topics like spooky stories, pet tales, fairy magic and ninja adventures.

Traditional Learn-to-Read Books

Traditional beginning reader books, like the “Dick and Jane” and “Bob Books” series, often focus on phonics or sight words. Some publishers like to build reading skills with a series of little readers. The library keeps these sets in Easy Nonfiction with the call number E428.6.

Read-Along Books

Some new readers like to listen to a story and follow along with the text. The library has read-along stories available in physical formats and digital ones available through a few different services. Here are our tips to exploring them all.

Read-Along Print Books

read-along books are shown on a library book shelfRead-alongs are print books with an audio book inside them. You don’t need a separate device to listen to these books! They have built-in audio to transform an ordinary print book into an all-in-one read-along. The library has a collection of read-along books that your young reader can listen to and follow along with, allowing them to practice reading books that are a bit above their current reading level.

TumbleBook Library

TumbleBook Library logoThe TumbleBook Library has online picture and chapter books. The program highlights the text of a story as it is read aloud. In addition to searching by author, genre, subject and length, TumbleBooks can also be searched by two different reading level systems: Accelerated Reader level and Lexiles.

OverDrive/Libby Read-Alongs

There are eBooks and there digital audiobooks, but have you ever seen the two combined? Meet OverDrive read-alongs! These eBooks are professionally narrated while you read along with the highlighted words. Using the OverDrive service in your web browser, you can also filter read-alongs by different reading level systems like ATOS levels and Lexiles. You can also find read-alongs in Libby, the mobile app from OverDrive.

See OverDrive’s help page for more about read-alongs.

hoopla Read-Alongs

Our online streaming service hoopla also offers read-along eBooks, including favorite series like “Star Wars,” “Pete the Cat,” “Finding Nemo” and Disney princesses. You can follow along as a narrator enthusiastically reads each individually highlighted word. This is perfect for kids who are learning a new language or for kids who can’t quite finish a book on their own. Also try hoopla’s mobile app.

Finding Beginning Chapter Books

Moving up to chapter books is an exciting milestone! Longer stories allow young readers to immerse themselves in other worlds. A huge array of chapter books are available at the library, but we can help you find books that challenge your new chapter book reader without overwhelming them.

Where Do I Start?

A beginning to read kit is displayed on a table along with the books it contains

Test the waters with different genres and series to help your child understand what kinds of books they like. Trying a variety of books also opens the door to talking about literary elements such as plot, characters and setting. Have them open up one of the chapter books in Beginning to Read First Chapter Books Kit and read a few sentences. Ask them to think about the following questions:

    • What do they like about the books (length, characters, illustrations, genre, text size, etc.)?
    • Does the story grab their attention?
    • Are they reading the book aloud or to themselves?
    • Are the words/sentences hard or easy to understand?

Kids agree that their favorite books to read are the ones they pick out themselves. While you want them to try a wide variety of titles, they don’t have to finish every book. Asking the above questions helps your child get a sense of what they like to read and their comfort level.

Chapter Books in the Picture Books Section

Transitional readers may find books in the E (Easy) section or the J (Juvenile) section. Check out the “Mercy Watson” book in this kit. The reader gets the feel of being a big kid with chapter breaks and fewer pictures, but with vocabulary that’s within their reach. For more great beginning chapter books hiding among the picture books, see our book list “Picture Books That Are Also Chapter Books.”

Classic First Chapter Books

Don’t forget these classic series that are great for beginners. Also, check out our book list “Classic First Chapter Books” in the library catalog.

Favorite Characters and Worlds

Does your young reader have a favorite movie, TV show or video game? There might be a book adaptation for kids! For example, we have chapter books about Star Wars and Disney characters.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are a great format for many beginning readers because the words are reinforced by the images. All children’s graphic novels, even ones for beginners, are in the youth graphic novel section, cataloged under the call number J GN.


Does your child love fact books? Don’t forget to visit the nonfiction section! Nonfiction has numerical
call numbers corresponding to topics. For example, you can find cookbooks at 641, dinosaurs at 567.9 and science experiments at 507.8. So, you’ll find dinosaurs in the Easy Nonfiction section at E567.9. Or, if you feel ready to tackle a higher level book, you can find dinosaurs at J567.9 as well.

Books in the Same Series

Many young readers enjoy the familiarity of book series where they know the characters and what to
expect from the author. When you find a book you like, library staff can show you how to find the rest of the series or others like it.

More Library Support for Parents

Find books on teaching reading by searching the our online catalog for the subject “reading parent participation.”

And, don’t forget, our staff are here to support you, both in the library and online. Talk with staff at your library or onboard the bookmobile, chat, call or send us an email for more resources on helping children learn to read.

New Reader Terminology

Sight Words
Half of all English text consists of just 100 words that reading specialists suggest we learn to recognize by sight.

Nearly 84% of the words in the English language are decodable, which means they follow a “phonemic” pattern and can be sounded out.

Leveled Books
Publishers, educators and educational software developers have different systems to indicate reading levels of books, including Accelerated Reader (AR), ATOS, Book Adventure, DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), GRL (Guided Reading Levels) and Lexiles. Each system levels books differently and no system categorizes all books. Library staff can help you find books on your child’s reading level.