Entice your kids into more reading time with these fun holiday-themed Early Reader (ER) books & tips that are perfect for beginner readers!
I’ve shared before about some of the struggles we had when our kids first started reading independently.
If you have kids who are learning to read on their own then you know any parent who makes it through this stage deserves a freakin’ medal of honor!
I am not kidding about this — the loooong sessions on the couch, the tears and yelling “I can’t do this”, the way the kids will voluntarily offer to clean their room instead of doing 5 minutes of reading homework — it’s all true.
Helping kids learn to read can be one of the most challenging activities a family needs to do.
Did you catch that word? NEEDS — yep, a totally necessity.
Because once a child learns to read independently, a whole new world opens up to them!
And that other word – family.
Learning to read independently will not “just happen” during school hours. It’s so important for parents (and every other adult in a child’s life) to assist with this activity.
But back to the issue — learning to read is a struggle. So how can we make it more enjoyable and entice the kids to WANT to practice?
The Best Early Reader Books with Seasonal Themes
One thing that worked in our house was using seasonal books.
Kids are always looking forward to the next big holiday or seasonal activity. Our kids ask about Halloween in mid-September. And don’t even get me started on birthdays!
Plus, seasonal books always have those beautiful illustrations that remind you of all the fun connected with various holidays.
How did we use seasonal books to encourage reading practice?
There were three things I did consistently —
First, I would check out a huge variety of early reader books from the library each week and put them in a basket.
The kids would help choose some of them and others I would choose on my own so there were ‘surprise’ books in the basket. I would let the kids choose which book they wanted to use each day for reading practice.
And no, they did not have to FINISH reading the book. If it didn’t catch their attention than we just grabbed a different book the following day.
Second, I would NOT make the kids read every word!
When they first began learning to read, I would just have them read the small words (and, the, a, at) and I would read the rest of the words. When kids are learning to read, they just hear a bunch of words being said aloud and it’s hard to follow the story so we would compromise in this way (then they enjoyed the book).
Use your finger or a pointer when reading so kids can easily follow along while they hear/see the words you are reading.
Third, I would use their sight word list each week and have them go through the book and find any words from the list.
Kind of like an I-spy game with words. This would give them extra time with the books and the repitition of finding and sounding out the words was very helpful.
One fun tip for this activity: give them a stack of Post-it tabs and let them place the tabs right next to the site words (very colorful and kids always enjoy using their hands while reading). Then stick the post-it’s back together to use for the next book.
So today’s booklist is a compilation of the Early Readers (also called Easy Readers) that we’ve really enjoyed over the years.
I’ve identified which books are a part of a series so if you find one the kids like, you can continue on with others in the series. You can also find affiliate links for each that lead to Amazon where they have more detailed reviews of the books. Most of these should be readily available at your local library!
Autumn Books for Early Readers
Pinky and Rex and the Perfect Pumpkin – the Pinky and Rex series is a very “this is like real life” book. Kids will identify with the issues and feelings of the two main characters as they experience all the ups and downs of daily life. ER Series
Apples and Pumpkins is a perfect Autumn reader about some of the kids’ favorite fall fruits – seasonal illustrations are great!
Henry and Mudge under the Yellow Moonis part of a wonderful ER series. Henry and his large dog Mudge have quite a few adventures. This is one of our favorites because it includes chapters that cover Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving. ER Series
Fall Leaf Project (Robin Hill School)– we love the kids at Robin Hill School! And these fiction readers weave in some great non-fiction details. ER Series
Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2) I really love the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science readers — they are a wonderful balance for all the fiction readers and really appeal to kids who like to read about real life. ER Series
Great Halloween Reads
OLIVIA Loves Halloween– I usually don’t recommend tv-themed books HOWEVER when it comes to Early Readers, I’m actually ok with this connection. I think that kids look forward to reading with some of their favorite tv characters. This one is particularly good because it also introduces the concept of ‘thinking outside of the box’.
Scared Silly (Bunnicula and Friends)is for kid who like a little bit of scary in their Halloween reads. Bunnicula is a character who is part bunny/part vampire. His friends (two dogs and a cat) enjoy many fun adventures in the Monroe household. ER Series
Pumpkin Patch (Robin Hill School)– a class trip to the pumpkin patch was never so fun! Pair this up with the school field trip for extra incentive to read. ER Series
From Seed to Pumpkin – a nonfiction science reader that illustrates how pumpkins grow. A great connection for reading & science! ER Series
Aunt Eater’s Mystery Halloween– these were my daughters absolute favorites since she loves a good mystery (and honestly, there aren’t that many great Early Reader mystery books). This anteating sleuth has just the right amount of colorful thrills for younger kids. ER Series
A Know-Nothing Halloween – a funny book about four friends who don’t seem to know much about holiday details. Kids will get a good laugh out of what they propose to do and will love yelling out the “correct” way to celebrate Halloween. ER Series
Arthur’s Halloween Costume – a classic book series parents may remember from childhood. This is a great pic from the series as it highlights the idea that sometimes kids want to be unique and also deals with some of the everyday problems kids encounter. ER Series
Minnie and Moo and the Haunted Sweater – a silly book about two cows who think a sweater is haunted (it’s actually a funny plot). My kids always like the off-the-wall humor in this series. ER Series
In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories – definately a book for kids who enjoy being scared (I would NOT recommed this for kids who have nightmares). These are nice stand-along stories instead of a book with chapters that tie together.
Perfect for Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving (Robin Hill School) – Oh no! As the kids dress up to celebrate Thanksgiving, the fire alarm at school goes off!
Silly Tilly’s Thanksgiving Dinner – another fairly silly (and more classic) book series. Silly Tilly has memory problems and can’t seem to find her recipes (along with many other mishaps) as she tries to get ready to make Thanksgiving dinner for her friends. ER Series
The Know-Nothings Talk Turkey – if you thought the Know-Nothings didn’t know Halloween, wait until you see how they get ready for Thanksgiving! Kids will really enjoy offering up the right way to give thanks as they read these mixed-up alternatives. ER Series
It’s Thanksgiving! – is a book of poems for kids learning to read. We really enjoyed it because there is a great variety of poetry and some nice illustrations.
Thanksgiving Mice! – one of the best illustrated Early Reader series that we’ve read! These adorable little mice are putting on a Thanksgiving play for all to enjoy.
Noodles: I’m No Turkey!– Noodles, a cute dog, does NOT want to be the turkey in the Thanksgiving parade. Find out what happens as he gets creative. ER Series
Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey – you just have to love Amelia Bedelia 🙂 All her crazy stunts and the trouble that ensues create a “can’t wait to continue reading” desire for young kids. ER Series
Fluffy’s Thanksgiving – a fun guinea pig with a knack for getting into trouble decides he wants to be part of the Thanksgiving play. Lots of silliness and great for kids who love animals! ER Series
More Snacks!: A Thanksgiving Play – a fun and super easy reader about some cute ants who put on a funny play!
Winter Holiday Favorites
Fluffy, The Secret Santa– Fluffy is getting into the holiday spirit as he learns about the spirit of giving. ER Series
Secret Santa (Robin Hill School) – personally, I think this is one of the best in the series! On Secret Santa day at school, Katie chooses the name of a classmate who makes fun of her. Kids will learn how you can be nice to someone who has been mean to you (great lesson). ER Series
Aunt Eater’s Mystery Christmas– mysteries abound in the neighborhood as Aunt Eater tries to finish her holiday shopping (but gets caught up in solving mysterious circumstances instead). ER Series
Arthur’s Christmas Cookies – Arthur wants to make Christmas cookies as a special gift but they turn out as hard as rocks. What will he give for a present now? ER Series
Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia – tons of merry mix-ups that the kids will love to laugh at in this classic series! ER Series
Is it Hanukkah, Yet? – there aren’t many ER books about Hanukkah but we have found one that does a great job of sharing some of the wonderful traditions that kids look forward to enjoying each year.
Poppleton In Winter– Poppleton the pig has some creative ideas — like growing an icicle garden! Kids will enjoy reading about some of the things that make winter so much fun. ER Series
Messy Bessey’s Holidays – another series that my kids enjoyed (I think because Bessey does so much on her own). One of the things I really like about this series are the word banks included with each book (and this one also has a recipe for cookies in the back too). ER Series