One of the questions I am asked the most is how to teach kids to read. I wrote a lot about the Montessori method for teaching writing and reading a while ago, so today I wanted to share some of our favorite books for beginning readers!
Most of those beginning reader books that say “Step 1” or “Level 2” on them actually aren’t that great for beginning readers — unless you have a grown-up alongside you to fill in the words that you definitely can’t sound out yourself. I personally have never been able to figure out how the creators differentiate between levels, as there aren’t any of those books that a beginning reader would be able to read entirely independently in the first place.
Many Montessori teachers begin with BOB books — and I did, as well, for my first child. The main reason I chose BOB books for Lila was that they were available for free at my local library. The beginning books contain only CVC words with a few sight words, which makes them ideal for new readers to read independently. But do you want my honest opinion? BOB books are super boring. The characters are unrealistic — often just shapes with hands and feet attached — and the storyline is almost non-existent.
Our new library doesn’t have the full BOB books collection, which turned out to be a good thing for me because it forced me to look elsewhere and find this series that I absolutely LOVE. The Peacekeepers books by Montessori Services correspond perfectly to the pink, blue, and green series — and they’re not boring. There is a clear storyline, featuring many familiar Montessori materials, and it teaches a grace and courtesy lesson in the process! Nora began with these instead of BOB books, and we are very happy with them.
Once your child is past the very beginning stages of reading and is ready for a bit more of a challenge, I highly recommend these Phonetic Planet books! We have the one about the kestrel, and it has lasted us several years. Nora is not quite ready for it yet as it mixes a bit of the pink, blue, and green series, but Lila read it many times during the beginning of her reading journey.
Once your child is confident with pink, blue, AND green series level words, I recommend seeing what your local library has in their early reader section. Many of those books will be the ones with “stage 1”-type labels, but your child will be ready for them now.