I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

The BEST Emergent Readers for Phonics-Based Reading

Last week, when I confessed my opinions of those popular emergent readers that we all see gracing the shelves of the library and the bookstore, I think I hit a raw nerve with so many mommas. 

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Emergent Readers???!  

...we've all been asking ourselves while scratching our heads in confusion.  


Those popular trade-show readers written and produced by the BIG-NAME authors and publishers are no more appropriate for a true emergent reader as the Lynn Austin novel currently flopped on my couch. With their captivating pictures and intriguing plots, they ARE great books and SHOULD BE read, but not by emergent readers just embarking on the learning-to-read journey. (In case you've forgotten, here's why...)

So, what's a momma to do when her eager learner wants to hold a story in his very own hands...a story that he can read ALL.BY.HIMSELF?

Whip out one of these phonics-based emergent readers sets!

Here's the Best of the Best in Emergent Readers

(While several of these sets are currently out of print, I'd highly recommend searching out used-versions of each.  I have dozens of sets all bought used at garage sales, used book sales, and online used curriculum sites.  They are well worth the investment, especially if you have other soon-to-be-readers coming up the line.  If money is tight, and if your library does not have these titles, that you suggest that your librarian purchase them.  My librarian has NEVER not purchased a book I've requested.)

All of these sets start with books that contain one or two one-vowel-words on a page.  They are leveled which means that the content will increase in difficulty within each set and from set to set. Most sets contain around 10 little paperback books.  

While I enjoy and find value in all of them, my children's favorite sets have always been the ABeka sets (because they have full-color pages) and the Now I'm Reading Readers (because the stories are the most captivating).  

That's my list.  What's on yours?

For more great book suggestions, be sure to head to iHomeschool Network and check out the Massive Guide to Homeschool Reading Lists!


  1. I agree with your choices, we have most as well. May I also recommend the first vol reader from level 1 of All About Reading. Simple c-v-c words, clean pages, beautiful hardcover book!

  2. Thank you for this list! My DS really likes BOB Books & I wasn't sure what other similar products were out there. He tends to just memorize the BOB Books, which is good for his confidence, but makes it difficult for me to "gauge" where he's at.

  3. The McGuffey Readers and Pathway Readers from Rod and Staff are also good ones.

  4. I don't teach sight words at all. Finding readers for my kids is difficult. I like the bob books because it uses very few sight words and most of the ones they use I just explain the rule that goes with it and then we move on. Even if it's not a rule that we have gone over yet.

  5. The kinder level of Sing Spell Read and Write have true early readers as well:)

  6. We oh so many, and have loved BOB books and all the HOP books, but my personal favorites are the 1998 Scholastic At-Home Phonics Reading Program readers. Are those the same ready readers you mentioned? (Go! Go! Go!, etc.)

  7. We really like the readers from McRuffy press. You can purchase them separately from the Language Arts Curriculum. They are phonics based (if you buy the curriculum, they line up with the weekly lessons) and entertaining for kids and grown ups. Some of the same characters reappear later (my son loves Super Pork and his various adventures) which is fun. I was given a different LA curriculum for 2nd grade which we are going to try next year as it is free (I would switch back to McRuffy if this one doesn't work). But I recently bought the 2nd grade McRuffy reader set with another order I was placing so we would have them I think I'll have him read one a week over the summer to keep up his skills, and I don't think he'll object.

  8. We LOVED Bob Books and my 6 year old zoomed through them starting at age 4. Now we're wondering what to do next!!

  9. Thanks so much for this post! I have been searching for books like these.

  10. Hey Jamie, I have an unrelated question to ask. I have two kids (ages 4.5 and 2.5) who both love to learn, especially love to read. Our 4 year old has been reading since she was three and is now quite amazing at it. She and our little guy love to do, "Learning" time every day where we work together to learn new things (primarily focused around language arts right now, a tiny bit of math, and some fun science-y stuff mixed in). But just recently, I've noticed our 4.5 year old getting kind of unwilling to learn. I try not to force her because she's technically not in "homeschool" yet, but that's pretty much what we're doing if we are gonna call a spade a spade :) So I'm a little worried if I don't call out this attitude thing now and sort of assert myself not just as the mommy but also as the one God's entrusted with their learning, this attitude could lead to some damaging things in the years to come. Any ideas how to help a young one overcome not wanting to do "learning time", no matter what age?? And maybe this is totally MY problem! Any ideas how to help a mom in this department, no matter what (gulp) age?

    1. Not sure if you still need help at this point, Krista, but maybe instead of trying to do individual subject studies, try a unit study approach where she picks something she is interested in (my 6 year old daughter currently wants to know everything about the weather) and incorporate the reading, science, art, even meals around that topic. Include some educational videos, maybe music, etc. peppered in too. Learning time doesn't always have to be books and reading. Pinterest has a ton of unit study topics if you need inspiration. It's a good approach for children of different ages, too. My son is almost 4 and he can be included on most things we learn.

  11. Half Pint Books are amazing!!!! I have watched non-reading first and second graders go nuts over these books. I can NOT say enough about these books. You will not regret buying these books.