BYU Radio

Reading Independence

There is something wonderful about the ability to read. It is a wonder that we can see marks on a page and decode them into language that has meaning. As a librarian and teacher, I love to see the world of reading open up to children. Reading begins with the connection between oral sounds and written words, or with children “memorizing” and repeating things they hear. From there we move onto the mechanics of decoding where children really start interpreting the written word. This is a marvelous point in children’s reading development when they move into a realm that offers them more independence as a reader.

However, even as children become more independent in their reading, they have not acquired a complete mastery. For this reason, children at an earlier level may not be quite ready for highly complex books with lots of words. To meet the needs of readers at this developmental stage, the publishing world offers a lot of great books that are just right! In the field of children’s literature, we call these books easy readers, or beginning readers, to broaden out intermediate readers. Each of these designations indicate a group of books that contain more words than a typical picture book, but they still have pictures that support the text. 

A lot of easy readers are also divided into brief chapters to help children begin learning the structures that they will experience when they move into novels. Even though you may not have known what these books were called, I’m pretty sure you’re already familiar with classics like Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat or Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series; or even one of my childhood favorites, Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff. All of these books are still classics today, and we have some amazing modern easy readers as well. 

One of the big trends in the market today is for publishers to take a beloved picture book character and translate them into an easy reader format. Among the beloved characters who have transitioned from picture books to easy readers are Fancy Nancy and Pete the Cat. Readers who grew up with these characters will be delighted by their new adventures as they continue to grow. Along with these familiar friends, there are also some great characters that just appear in easy readers. Among my favorites are Elephant and PiggieCork and Fuzz, and Ballet Cat. So no matter if it’s a classic, a favorite, or even a brand new friend, there is no limit to the amazing books out there that can help readers build skills and confidence while they enjoy a great story at the same time!


By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING

Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. Random House, 1957.

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel. Harper Collins, 1970.

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. Harper Collins, 1972.

Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff. Harper Collins, 1958.

Fancy Nancy: Time for Puppy School by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Glasser. Harper Collins, 2017

Fancy Nancy: Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Glasser. Harper Collins, 2014

Pete the Cat: Play Ball! Created by James Dean. Harper Collins, 2013.

Pete the Cat: Pete’s Big Lunch! Created by James Dean. Harper Collins, 2013.

Elephant and Piggie: Today I Will Fly! By Mo Willems. Hyperion Books for Children, 2007.

Elephant and Piggie: There is a Bird on Your Head! By Mo Willems. Disney-Hyperion, 2007.

Cork and Fuzz: Finders Keepers by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by Lisa McCue. Viking Books, 2009.

Cork and Fuzz: The BabySitters by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by Lisa McCue. Viking Books, 2010

Ballet Cat The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea. Disney-Hyperion, 2015.

Ballet Cat What’s Your Favorite Favorite? by Bob Shea. Disney-Hyperion, 2017.



At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

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