One of the questions I am asked on a fairly regular basis is what readers do my kids use ? Honestly – any book that they enjoy is a great reader. My number one priority is always making sure that they enjoy reading, so for my daughter that means never giving her something which upsets her or makes her sad (and if she starts reading a story which is getting her upset we often stop – or I skip ahead and tell her how it ends). With my son the story has to interest him so big winners tends to be stories about animals or with some funny pictures in it. We often take the kids old story books and they read a sentence (my youngest) or a page (my oldest) and then I read a sentence or page and we take it turns like that. They love reading together.
But I have also used some more tradition readers with both kids. My son started off reading the BOB series (I used this with my daughter) but after he had finished the first Set he had, had enough. In my opinion the BOB books are great for the very first readers as they are VERY basic but my son did find them a bit on the boring side (my daughter lasted all the way up to Set 3 of the BOB books).
So we switched to some of the Songbird Readers that we had in the house (I used these with my daughter) and he definitely prefers these – I would say at the moment the Songbird readers are his favourite UK produced readers. He finds the stories more interesting and there is more variety (he does not enjoy every single story but most are hits). The photo below is an example of one of the pages from a story in the – Oxford Reading Tree Songbirds: Level 2. The Ox and the Yak and Other Stories. The level 2 songbird stories that we have include the th, sh and ch sounds but no long vowel sounds. The first time we saw the long vowel sounds coming into the stories was in level 3 – Oxford Reading Tree Songbirds: Level 3. Where Is the Snail and Other Stories
And we are mixing up the Songbird Readers with a South African reading series that my mom bought for my daughter – it is called the Cub Reading series. The beginning levels focus on a lion cub and his other animal friends so as far as beginner readers go these are perfect for my animal mad son. We even find him lying in his bed reading some of these readers to himself as he enjoys them soooo much.
He has also just starting the Fat cat on a mat and other tales (Phonics Readers Collection) (Usborne Phonics Readers). This book contains stories with words that use the long vowel sounds, so it is not going to be very first reader because the kids need to already be comfortable with blending and the more advance sounds (sh, th, ch, ee, ai etc) by the time the get it this book. But I think it is a great book for practicing those long vowel sounds as it also uses lots of words with magic e in them.
One of the things that I have done differently with my son is before we started reading basic books we did LOTS of word activities. Matching words to pictures, reading basic phrases, labelling objects, working out what sounds are missing from words. And we did lots of repeat activities. So even after I knew he could read some of the basic words I would keep inserting the words and pictures into our activities so he became very confident with his basic 3 letter words. (Twinkl have a lot of word and phrase matching cards that you can download as part of their free pages – what’s in the box cards -lots of different versions based on which sounds the kids have learnt and pictures and caption matching cards)
When I first started doing the readers with my daughter I was paranoid that if she missed a story in the sequence she might miss learning something important. But now after a bit more experience and confidence I realise that they do not need to read every story in the series. My biggest concern is are the kids enjoying the stories ? Are the stories ones that make them keen to sit and read ? With my youngest he is very determined and if he finds a story about animals that he really wants to read he will sit there and sound out the words and he will really try hard. He may even have to attempt the story a number of times but if he really wants to read it he will come back to it and ask one of us to help him.
So for us it is a mix of readers that seems to work best. And encouraging the enjoyment of reading by trying to keep the books interesting for the specific child reading it.
All the books mentioned in this post are books that I (or my mother) have bought for my kids to use. I have included Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same.