Beginner Reader Books
Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems
Many already know of this hugely popular series, but I felt its inclusion on this list was merited anyway. The author of the famous "pigeon" books is back this time with two friends aptly named Elephant and Piggie. The friends get into all sorts of hilarious mischief while learning how to be better friends. Waiting is Not Easy is probably my favorite, but you really can't go wrong with this heartwarming, smart series.
To keep the laughs going, try Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems or Ah ha! by Jeff Mack.
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
I first came across Henry and Mudge when I was taking care of a two-year old girl so I can attest first hand to their child appeal. This cute series is about a boy named Henry and his best dog friend, Mudge. These books are cute and not nearly as pedantic as many of their Easy Reader counterparts. The other appealing factor is that they are available in successive reading levels. It starts with the Puppy Mudge books and moves up in difficulty until they are almost like very short chapter books. Having familiar characters is handy when children are ready to jump up to the next level.
If you like Henry and Mudge try Cynthia Rylant's other Easy Reader series Annie and the Snowball, Poppleton, or Mr. Putter and Tabby
Houndsley and Catina by James HoweThis series is about another pair of friends, in this instance a cat (Catina) and a dog (Houndsley). The storyline is very sweet without being cloying, but what I especially enjoy are the illustrations. This is a more difficult Easy Reader series and is not available in easier formats. It is really a very short chapter book. Older children and adults will remember James Howe from his "Bunnicula" series.
If you enjoyed this try Iris and Walter by Elissa Haden Guest or Pinky and Rex by James Howe
Gossie and Friends by Olivier DunreaI chose this particular group of books because it is one of the few level one Early Reader series that is actually what I consider level one. It is a story about a group of friends who go on adventures together, but the plot is very simple and there is a lot of word repetition, which is helpful for beginner readers. There are also picture book versions of the same characters, which is good for child appeal.
If you are looking for other Easy Readers that are very simplistic, try Real Kid Readers
Nate the Great by Marjorie Sharmat
This mystery detective series is a personal favorite from childhood. It is definitely advanced for an Easy Reader, but it makes an excellent precursor to early chapter books. Nate and his dog sludge solves mysteries a la Sherlock Holmes which will keep readers wanting to read to see how the child detective and his friends solve each new crime.
Looking for other advanced Easy Readers/easy chapter books? Try Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon, or Lulu and Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst.