Beginning Readers for Kindergarten to Grade 3 July 2016 Picks
Best Beginning Reader Picks for July 2016


Among this month's beginning reader books, I’m really pleased with the number of spooky, Halloweeny-type books in the mix.  Too early for Halloween, you say?  Well, you might have a point.   We did decide that it was July, didn’t we?  However, two things… First off, I LOVE Halloween.  I love the season – the cool fall air, the leaves, the sweet smell of the leaves.  I love carving pumpkins, apple cider, dressing up, and marveling at the neighbors’ costumes and decorations while trick-or-treating.  I love the spookiness.  It’s all so much fun.   And if Christmas basically lasts from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas day, then it seems completely appropriate for Halloween to begin roughly now.  Right?  smiley

Second (and perhaps an actual reason), spooky books are motivating to a new reader.  I often declare a love for humorous books and graphic novels as choices for beginning readers.  For some, learning to read is a monumental task.  Discovering little motivators within early reader books can be an absolute lifesaver.  Humorous stories can help by breaking the tension and, even in the midst of a struggle, can create a joyful experience.  A wonderful graphic novel can basically take those sparse beginning words and transform them into an actual story – deep, rich, and meaningful, by leveraging powerful illustrations.  Spooky stories are also naturally motivating.  There’s a bit of a thrill in that eerie mood, knowing that something might jump out and surprise you, but at the same time, you’re completely safe.  It’s just so fun.

On the topic of spookiness… I sometimes chuckle when coming across Amazon’s “spine chilling horror” label when a book for very young readers has fallen into that category.  Know that your kiddo’s spine is not going to be chilled.  If you have an extremely sensitive child, as I do, it’s always helpful to read over a book before handing it off – just to be sure.  Most children won’t react to these books in which the spooky factor has been appropriately scaled for little ones. 

I hope you find a book that your early reader might enjoy.  And, as always… Please tell us what you’re reading.  We’d love to hear!!

 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. 

The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer Book Cover
The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer . . .
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Davide Cali
illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
published July 5, 2016

What really happened over the summer break? A curious teacher wants to know. The epic explanation? What started out as a day at the beach turned into a globe-spanning treasure hunt with high-flying hijinks, exotic detours, an outrageous cast of characters, and one very mischievous bird! Is this yet another...READ MORE

The King of Kazoo Book Cover
The King of Kazoo
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Norm Feuti
published July 26, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

Scatterbrained Cornelius, King of Kazoo, and his resourceful daughter, Bing, explore a mysterious cave at the top of Mount Kazoo. There they discover a famous alchemist named Quaf is planning a dangerous and forbidden experiment. Now Cornelius, Bing, and the brilliant royal inventor Torq must go all out to stop...READ MORE

Pug Book Cover
Approximate Reading Level: Kindergarten,
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Ethan Long
published July 30, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winner Ethan Long uses his trademark wit and energy to make this simple story for the newest readers memorable and hilarious.

Yap, yap, yap! Pug sees Peg through the window. He wants to join her! Why won t anyone take him on a wonderful snowy walk? Mom...READ MORE

Ollie's Halloween
Ollie's Halloween
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Olivier Dunrea
published July 19, 2016

 “Dunrea's ink and watercolor images beget an understandable and cozy world, this time with just a hint of spookiness and autumnal gloom.” —Publishers Weekly 


This Halloween, Gossie is a wizard and Gertie is a chicken. Peedie is a dragon and BooBoo is a bunny. Ollie is a mummy who thinks sharing...READ MORE

Slow, Slow Sloths Book Cover
Slow, Slow Sloths (Penguin Young Readers, Level 2)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Bonnie Bader
published July 19, 2016

This adorable book all about sloths is perfect for young animal-lovers!

This fact-and-photo-filled book features one of the cutest and most unique animals out there--the sloth! Did you know that sloths sleep up to twenty hours a day? Did you know they descend from their trees once a week...READ MORE

Bramble and Maggie Spooky Season Book Cover
Bramble and Maggie Spooky Season (Candlewick Sparks)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Jessie Haas
illustrated by Alison Friend
published July 12, 2016

Bramble, a persnickety but lovable horse, and Maggie, her patient owner, build an even stronger friendship as they brave the surprises of autumn.

In their third adventure, Bramble and Maggie explore a new season together — fall! Leaves crunch underfoot. Acorns ping off rooftops. It all makes Bramble feel...READ MORE

Apple Picking Day Book Cover
Apple Picking Day! (Step into Reading)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Candice Ransom
illustrated by Erika Meza
published July 26, 2016

Who doesn’t love to go apple picking at the first sign of fall? A sister and brother celebrate autumn with a trip to a local apple orchard in this simple, rhyming Step 1 early reader.
The kids bound with glee through the rows of trees, and race...READ MORE

Commander in Cheese #1: The Big Move (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Lindsey Leavitt
illustrated by Ag Ford
published May 31, 2016

Imagine The Borrowers in the White House! This fun new chapter book series follows a family of mice as a new president moves into their home! 
If you are a mouse, then you might know about Ava and Dean Squeakerton. They are kind of famous, for mice. That’s because Ava and Dean...READ MORE

The Science Fair is Freaky Book Cover
The Science Fair is Freaky! A Branches Book (Eerie Elementary #4)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Jack Chabert
illustrated by Sam Ricks
published June 28, 2016

Pick a book. Grow a Reader!

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!


Up Book Cover
Up (I Like to Read)
Approximate Reading Level: Kindergarten,
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Joe Cepeda
published July 30, 2016

Pura Belpre honor recipient, Joe Cepeda, brings magical realism for the beginning reader!

Two brothers are asleep in their bed when a pinwheel flies through the window and into the hand of the younger boy. He stands in front of the window, and soon he s flying through the sky...READ MORE


I am so delighted to have found you today! I tutor primary-aged children and am always looking for just the right books to encourage reading. You have given me such a broad spectrum here. I am thrilled! Thanks.

Add new comment

Share This Page

Hello there!

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

Sarah's Photo

Let's Keep in Touch!

  • Find us on Facebook
  • Find us on Pinterest
  • Follow us on Twitter