Beginning Readers for Kindergarten to Grade 3 April 2016 Picks
Best Books for Beginning Readers April 2016 Picks


I’m really excited about all the great graphic novels that are coming out for beginning readers.  I have a ton of sympathy for kids who struggle with reading at first.  It can be so painful, so torturous, and feel so very, very important – as if everyone is holding their breath, waiting for the poor kiddo in the spotlight to spit out a single word.   Then, oh joy… there’s another word.  And here we go again.  Ugh!  Graphic novels (similar to a comic book layout) have a way of lightening things up. 


One of this month’s graphic novels, The Great Pet Escape, was written by Victoria Jamieson.  Last year Jamieson wrote Roller Girl, a huge hit of a graphic novel for tweens.  This time around, Jamieson’s poured her talents into an early reader – suitable for about second grade.  The Great Pet Escape tells the story of how one hamster maps out an elaborate scheme to free himself from his captors – a class of second graders.  The question is, will his co-conspirators help or hinder him in his flight to freedom?  This book promises to be full of action and humor.

The Real Poop on Pigeons is also a graphic novel and by golly; I believe I’m hooked from the title alone.  It is actually a book containing interesting facts about pigeons.  For example, did you know that pigeons can fly faster than a car drives and can fly farther than a small airplane?  Fun facts are paired with humor in this beginning reader, meant for around a second grader.

Another interesting book phenomenon is the glut of awesome non-fiction picture books that are coming out lately.  There are a number of inspiring biographies among them, many about women, but there are other subjects mixed in there too.  Though in a picture book format, the target audience and reading level is generally right around third or fourth grade.  I’m just speculating here, but it seems like the boost in the publication of these great picture books might correlate to the implementation of the Common Core Standards, which emphasize reading non-fiction.  I’m thinking I might just need to devote a list to these exceptional books.

Anyhow… Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea is one of these excellent non-fiction picture books.  It’s about a woman scientist who is the first person to successfully map the ocean floor.  Inspiring, right?  I want my teen daughter to read this one.

I’m also really looking forward to A Complicated Case.  I love a good mystery.  Also, my Life in Pictures because it looks so, so sweet.

Aaannnd…  I would love to hear what your little readers are digging these days!  Are they into a series?  Maybe they just discovered a favorite author?  cool

** This post was mentioned on Literacy Musing Mondays and The Homeschool Nook. 

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

 Seeing stars?  Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books.  More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding. 

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Robert Burleigh
illustrated by Raul Colon
published January 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews

Filled with gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón, this illustrated biography shares the story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor.

Marie Tharp was always fascinated by the ocean. Taught to think big by her father...READ MORE

The Real Poop on Pigeons Book Cover
The Real Poop on Pigeons: TOON Level 1 (Toon Books)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Kevin McCloskey
published April 19, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

Did you know a pigeon can fly faster than a car and farther than a small airplane? Or that they have something unusual in common with penguins, flamingos, and even the dodo? With his trademark mix of humor, well-researched facts, and artistry, Kevin McCloskey delivers the straight poop on these...READ MORE

Get A Hit Mo Book Cover
Get a Hit, Mo! (Mo Jackson)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by David A. Adler
illustrated by Sam Ricks
published February 16, 2016

A companion to the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winning Don't Throw It to Mo!

Mo Jackson is a small boy with a big passion for sports. He may not be the biggest, the fastest, or the strongest kid on the team, but he won't let that stop him from playing!

A Complicated Case Book Cover
A Complicated Case (Detective Gordon)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Ulf Nilsson
illustrated by Gitte Spee
published March 1, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews

There is something going on among the forest animals that's making everyone unhappy. Detective Gordon and police assistant Paddy have a new case to investigate! A humor-filled follow-up to the well-reviewed The First Case.READ MORE

Waylon! One Awesome Thing Book Cover
Waylon! One Awesome Thing
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Sara Pennypacker
illustrated by Marla Frazee
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist

Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like teleportation, human gills, and attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it's impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when he's experiencing his own personal Big Bang. 

Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two...READ MORE

The Great Pet Escape Book Cover
The Great Pet Escape
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Victoria Jamieson
published February 16, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist

The class pets at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School want OUT . . . and GW (short for George Washington), the deceptively cute hamster in the second-grade classroom, is just the guy to lead the way. But when he finally escapes and goes to find his former partners in crime,...READ MORE

Weekends with Max and His Dad Book Cover
Weekends with Max and His Dad
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Linda Urban
illustrated by Katie Kath
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageBulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Max and his dad love their weekends together. Weekends mean pancakes, pizza, spy games, dog-walking, school projects, and surprising neighbors! Every weekend presents a small adventure as Max gets to know his dad’s new neighborhood—and learns some new ways of thinking about home.

        Acclaimed author Linda Urban deftly portrays...READ MORE

Not Me! Book Cover
Not Me! (I Like to Read Books)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Valeri Gorbachev
published February 15, 2016

"I like the beach," says Bear. "Not me!" says Chipmunk and for so many reasons. The sun is blinding. It s hard to stay upright in an inner tube. The sea life isn t always friendly. As many times as Bear proclaims his love for beach activities, Chipmunk responds with...READ MORE

Vroom Zoom Bud Book Cover
Vroom, Zoom, Bud (Penguin Young Readers, Level 1)
Approximate Reading Level: Kindergarten,
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Patricia Lakin
illustrated by Cale Atkinson
published March 22, 2016

Vroom zoom with Bud as he tries to win the race!

Bud always loves to be muddy. When he enters a race, he gets distracted by a mud puddle! Should he jump in, or finish the race?READ MORE

My Life in Pictures Book Cover
My Life in Pictures (Bea Garcia)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Deborah Zemke
published March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal

Fans of Amelia’s Notebook and Judy Moody will love this friendship story bursting with doodles and pictures
Bea Garcia is an artist. She draws anywhere and everywhere—but mostly in her own notebook.  When Bea’s first and only best friend Yvonne moves to Australia, not even drawing makes Bea feel...READ MORE


Such a great list! I have Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea out of the library right now, but I'm definitely going to need to check out the others! Especially the one about pigeons. That looks like fun. :) Thanks for sharing!

Thank you Beth! I agree, the pigeon one does look fun. :) Thank you for your kind comments. :D

These look great. I'm always on the look out for good non-fiction books for young kids, and I'm excited about the pigeon book and the solving the puzzle under the sea book. Thanks!

Hi Meg! Oh good. I'm so glad you found something that interests you. I love the artwork and humor in the pigeon book. :)

I bet my daughter would enjoy drawing right along with Bea. Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.

Hi Leslie! Aww. I love that your daughter likes to draw. It's one of those things that can be hard to enjoy as a grown-up, probably because we're just so hard on ourselves. :) I hope she likes the book!

Hi Mother of 3! It's so cool that your son's into non-fiction books! And from your ah-mazing blog, it seems like you guys have a love for beach outtings. I can see how Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea could fit well there. :D

Oh, these look good! I love finding new book lists with books we've never really! Thanks!

Hi Erin! I'm so glad you found some new stuff! Actually, that was one of the reasons I kinda went down this road. After leaving my librarian job, I was having trouble finding good new books for my kids. There were a lot of lists of 100 books to read, but it wasn't easy to find what was good and just coming out. It does take some digging, so somewhere along the way, I wondered if other parents might be able to use this info too. :) I hope your kiddos enjoy these!
And... I just checked out your blog. I love it! Looking forward to reading more about your unschooling adventures.

Hi, thanks for rejoining us on Literacy Musing Mondays. I think the "Not Me" book looks so funny.

Hi Mary! Thank you so much for letting me post on Literacy Musing Mondays. There's always great people and great resources to be found at your blog parties. I agree! The Not Me book does look funny. It's amusing to imagine a chipmunk curmudgeon. :)

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Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of two -- a teen daughter and a preschooler son.  We love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

This site is all about discovering great books to share with kids and teens. ...Read more

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