Best Beginning Reader Books of 2016 (So Far)
Best Early Readers of 2016

Intro

These books were chosen as the best beginning reader books of 2016 using a combination of critical reviews (such as those in the American Library Association's Booklist magazine) and Amazon and Goodreads ratings and reviews.

There are more great beginning reader books set to be published in 2016, so this list will continue to grow.  

If you have favorite early reader books from 2016, please let us know in the comments!

 

 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. 

Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat (My First I Can Read)
Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat (My First I Can Read)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by James Dean
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: January 5, 2016

New York Times bestselling author and artist James Dean brings Pete the Cat’s world to life under the sea in this new I Can Read book.

Pete the Cat is going scuba diving! Before he hits the water, Captain Joe tells him about all the sea creatures he can encounter, and...READ MORE

All Paws on Deck Book Cover
All Paws on Deck: A Branches Book (Haggis and Tank Unleashed #1)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Jessica Young
illustrated by James Burks
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: January 5, 2016

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches, which is 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!

Tank is a clumsy, outgoing...READ MORE

Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet Book Cover
Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Nick Bruel
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: January 5, 2016

When Kitty is happy and healthy, everything is perfect. She jumps around, eats everything in sight, and has the energy to keep slobbering puppies in their place. But when she's sick, all she can do is lie in her bed. Looks like it's time for this sick kitty to go...to...READ MORE

The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde Book Cover
The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Shannon Hale,
by Dean Hale
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: February 9, 2016

Princess Magnolia and her unicorn, Frimplepants, are on their way to have brunch with Princess Sneezewort, an occasion Frimplepants enjoys more than anything in the world. But just when he can smell the freshly baked bread and the heaping platters of sugar-dusted doughnuts, Princess Magnolia’s glitter-stone ring rings. The monster...READ MORE

The Great Pet Escape Book Cover
The Great Pet Escape
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Victoria Jamieson
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
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

A Complicated Case Book Cover
A Complicated Case (Detective Gordon)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Ulf Nilsson
illustrated by Gitte Spee
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
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

Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic Book Cover
Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Ursula Vernon
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers,
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
Published: March 15, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews

Princess Harriet is nobody’s hamster damsel in distress! Book two of this series for Babymouse and Princess in Black fans is filled with even more action and twisted fairy tale fun

Princess Harriet has absolutely no interest in brushing her hair, singing duets with woodland animals, or any other typical princess activities....READ MORE

Little Dee and The Penguin Book Cover
Little Dee and the Penguin
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Christopher Baldwin
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers,
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
Published: April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews

Graphic novel fans will love this hilarious animal adventure by webcomic creator Christopher Baldwin—perfect for readers of Dan Santat’s Sidekicks, Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl, and Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County

When Little Dee meets a motley crew of animals deep in the forest, she knows she’s found the perfect set of new friends....READ MORE

Waylon! One Awesome Thing Book Cover
Waylon! One Awesome Thing
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Sara Pennypacker
illustrated by Marla Frazee
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
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

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
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
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

The Thank you Book Cover
The Thank You Book (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Mo Willems
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In The Thank You Book!, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone . . . someone...READ MORE

The Robber Hotzenplotz Book Cover
The Robber Hotzenplotz
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Otfried Preussler
illustrated by F.J. Tripp
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: May 10, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal  

The Robber Hotzenplotz is a merry tale of two scoundrels, two friends, a toad-fairy, and an unforgettable escapade.
 
The Robber Hotzenplotz works hard at his job, waking early to hide in the woods and waylay new victims. One morning Kasperl’s grandmother is sitting in the sun outside her house,...READ MORE

Owl Diaries Eva and the New Owl Book Cover
Eva and the New Owl (Owl Diaries)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Rebecca Elliott
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: May 10, 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! 
In...READ MORE

Hilo Saving the Whole Wide World Book Cover
Hilo Book 2: Saving the Whole Wide World
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Judd Winick
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: May 17, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews

HILO’s BA-ACK—in this funny, New York Times Bestselling, full-color new middle-grade graphic novel series that Bone creator Jeff Smith calls “delightful” and Lincoln Peirce says “every kid will love!” 
 
DJ and Gina are TOTALLY ordinary kids. But Hilo . . . isn’t. HILO is just settling into life on...READ MORE

See Pip Point Book Cover
See Pip Point (The Adventures of Otto)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by David Milgrim
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: May 24, 2016

Otto must rescue a friend who is swept away by a gust of wind in this Pre-level 1 Ready-to-Read byNew York Times bestselling author/illustrator, David Milgrim, part of the award-winning, star-reviewed The Adventures of Otto series.

Meet Otto’s friend, Pip. Pip wants Otto’s balloon. Otto’s balloon is very, very big. Pip...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
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
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

Where Are You Going Baby Lincoln Book Cover
Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume Three
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: August 2, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist

What if timid Baby Lincoln broke free of her bossy sister and set off on an unexpected journey? Kate DiCamillo presents a touching new adventure set in Mercy Watson’s world.

Baby Lincoln’s older sister, Eugenia, is very fond of telling Baby what to do, and Baby usually responds by...READ MORE

Judy Moody and the Bucket List Book Cover
Judy Moody and the Bucket List
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Megan McDonald
illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: August 2, 2016

Drumroll, please: Judy Moody is about to become a poop-scooping, hinny-riding, one-girl band extraordinaire as she takes on her very own Bucket List.

Judy is visiting Grandma Lou one day when she accidentally finds an uber-mysterious list of activities — a Bucket List! Which gives Judy an idea: How rare...READ MORE

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree the Sea Pony Book Cover
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Ellen Potter
illustrated by Qin Leng
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: August 16, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

Move over Junie B. Jones! Get to know Piper Green as she discovers the ordinary magic right outside her front door.
 
Piper Green is in for another adventure when she finds an unusual whistle hidden inside the Fairy Tree in her front yard. But Piper doesn’t want a whistle......READ MORE

Dog Man Book Cover
Dog Man: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man Book 1)
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Dav Pilkey
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: August 30, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star ImageBooklist Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Publisher's Weekly

New from the creator of Captain Underpants, it's Dog Man, the crime-biting canine who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!

George and Harold have created a new hero who digs into deception, claws after crooks, and rolls over robbers. When Greg the police dog and his cop companion...READ MORE

Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye Book Cover
Benny and Penny in How To Say Goodbye: TOON Level 2
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Geoffrey Hayes
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 13, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist

Why won't Benny help? Penny found a dead salamander, but her brother Benny is refusing to help her bury it. Is it silly to hold a service for Little Sallie, or could this tiny salamander mean something more to the siblings? Geisel Award–winner Geoffrey Hayes shares this gentle tale of...READ MORE

The Cookie Fiasco Book Cover
Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! The Cookie Fiasco
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by Mo Willems,
by Dan Santat
illustrated by Dan Santat
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 20, 2016

Four friends. Three cookies. One problem.

 

Hippo, Croc, and the Squirrels are determined to have equal cookies for all! But how? There are only three cookies . . . and four of them! They need to act fast before nervous Hippo breaks all the cookies into crumbs!READ MORE

Dory Dory Black Sheep Book Cover
Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Abby Hanlon
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 20, 2016

Dory the rascal turns learning to read into a hilarious adventure through the power of imagination 
 
Ever since Dory met Rosabelle, a real true friend whose imagination and high spirits match her own, school has been pretty good. But now the class is learning to read, and it's...READ MORE

Juana and Lucas Book Cover
Juana and Lucas
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Juana Medina
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: September 27, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Horn Book

Fans of Judy Moody and Clarice Bean will love Juana, the spunky young Colombian girl who stars in this playful, abundantly illustrated new series.



Juana loves many things — drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love...READ MORE

Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea Book Cover
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Ben Clanton
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: October 4, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Star Image School Library Journal

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.

A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring...READ MORE

The Stone Forest Book Cover
Hilda and the Stone Forest
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Luke Pearson
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: October 4, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist

Hilda may be grounded, but that won’t stop her from heading off on another daring adventure! But everything is thrown off course when her mother catches her and is dragged along for the ride. Furious with each other, the bickering pair find themselves lost in the land of the trolls,...READ MORE

Pete the Cat Snow Daze Book Cover
Pete the Cat: Snow Daze
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by James Dean
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: October 4, 2016

New York Times bestselling author and artist James Dean brings readers along for a fun, surprising, snowy adventure with Pete the Cat! In Pete the Cat: Snow Daze, school is canceled, and Pete cannot wait to play in the snow with all his friends. Imagine a day filled with snowball fights, hot...READ MORE

Ratpunzel Book Cover
Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 3
by Ursula Vernon
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers,
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
Published: October 18, 2016

Rapunzel gets a rodent twist in book three of the critically acclaimed and uproariously funny series that’s perfect for fans of Princess in Black and Babymouse

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone does not like sitting around at home. How’s a princess supposed to have any fun when her parents are constantly reminding her to be careful...READ MORE

Moo Dog Book Cover
Moo Dog
Approximate Reading Level: Kindergarten,
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 1
by David Milgrim
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: October 25, 2016

This Level One reader is a follow-up to the sweet and funny Moo Bird in which Bird says "moo" instead of "tweet." In this book, Dog says "moo" instead of "woof!" The other animals laugh at Dog. They don't understand why he is different. Can friends Dog and Bird show the other...READ MORE

Bramble and Maggie: Snow Day
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Jessie Haas
illustrated by Alison Friend
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: November 8, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist

Bramble the horse and her devoted girl, Maggie, face a major snowstorm in their fourth adventure.

The sky is white, the air is cold, and snowflakes are falling, tickling Bramble’s back. By bedtime, Maggie and her family are ready for the storm: they’ve shopped for supplies, covered Bramble’s hay with...READ MORE

The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation Book Cover
The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation
Approximate Reading Level: Grade 2
by Shannon Hale,
by Dean Hale
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Audience: Kindergarten to Grade 3 -- Early Readers
Published: November 8, 2016

Even monster-battling princesses get tired sometimes! But a peaceful time away is hard to find as the humorous New York Times best-selling series continues.

After battling monsters all night, a sleepy Princess in Black decides that she needs a vacation. After all, the Goat Avenger, a new hero who looks oddly familiar,...READ MORE

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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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