Tag Archives: beginning reader

Early Readers – Big Surprise in the Bug Tank

Sam and Leo are thrilled when their entomologist mother lets them keep giant hissing cockroaches as pets. But their delight turns to anxiety when they find baby roaches in the bug tank. A few baby cockroaches is not a problem, but if the bugs keep multiplying, the tank will be filled to overflowing. Their mom assures them that the library has the solution to the problem. The brothers set out to give away the baby bugs, but – big surprise- none of the adults want the insects, or will let their kids have them as pets. Even a contest at the library doesn’t help. But there are other resources at the library, that just might be what the boys need.

This book is a Dial Easy-to-Read Level 3. It is intended for readers who are comfortable reading alone, but are not quite ready for chapter books yet. There are four or five sentences on each page, or, in many cases, seven or eight sentences on one page, with a full-page illustration on the opposing page. The text includes compound sentences and dialog. The illustrations, done with watercolor, gouache, and acrylic paints, are bright and energetic. They reflect the text.

This book is notable not just for its quiet humor as the boys attempt to give away cockroaches, but also for its subtle reminder that solutions can be found in books. Having more information about a subject is a great first step towards solving a problem. Children ready to read this book on their own are just entering the stage at which they will be able to independently research topics on their own as well, and it’s great to see this book encouraging that behavior.


Early Reader – 100 Monsters in My School

Jane is the only normal child in her school, the Frank N. Stein Elementary. There are 100 monsters: witches, vampires, ghosts, and werewolves. But that is not the reason that Jane dreads the 100th day of school. She simply can’t think of anything to bring. All of her friends and classmates have something – from 100 bats to 100 fangs to 100 spooky stories. But Jane is at a total loss. Can she find something during lunch break?

This book is “station 2” in the “All Aboard Reading” early reader series, meaning that it is intended to be read by children who are reading with a little help. There are 5-8 sentences on each page. While succeeding as a beginning reader book, it also helps to introduce some basic math concepts. Every child has 100 things, but each child presents them in different groups. For example, 5 sets of 20 cat-related things or 10 sets of 10 types of fangs, or 2 cages with 50 bats each.

The illustrations are good. I particularly enjoyed the disgruntled expression on an annoyed witch-girl. The pictures are done in watercolor, and are fully colored, including a general background color. Small details, such as a skull-shaped doorknob or a venus fly trap on the windowsill are particularly well done.

Early Reader – My “B” Sound Box

Jane Moncure has made a name for herself in the early reading community with her Sound Box Books. This, the first in the series, focuses on the letter A. It features a little boy named “Little a”, who has a box. He decides to put things that begin with the a sound in the box. Next follows his progress from ants to astronauts, all words with the short a sound. On the last page, the author introduces the idea that sometimes “a” says its own name, with a handful of words with the long “a” sound.

The sentences here are simple, as befits a beginning reader book. There are one or two sentences on each page. Every page also has a simple colored illustration. The pictures match the text, helping struggling readers to make meaning from the words. While the story is not exactly riveting, this is often the case with very simple early readers, and by comparison the story is fairly interesting.