Children as Emergent Readers and 12 Great Books to Read


A child learning to read is one of the biggest educational milestones. As a parent you are your child’s first teacher, and you play a large role in helping him learn to read. You also want to do whatever you can to help him succeed.


As your child begins to learn to read, he passes through several different stages. The first of these are known as the Emergent Reader stage. This stage can be further divided into the Early Emergent Reader and the late Emergent Reader stage. Below are some ideas of what you as a parent can expect in this stage, how you can help your Emergent Reader, and some of the most popular books for this stage.

Characteristics of Emergent Readers

Readers at this stage have a good grasp of early reading strategies such as reading directionality, one to one word matching and locating known words.  They now have a better understanding of the alphabet, and are developing a better grasp of word-attack skills and comprehension strategies. They have learned to recognize and read a significant number of high-frequency words, and will begin to rely less on pictures and use more information from print. Children in this stage will pay more attention to punctuation, as well as use phonetic clues to decode words. They also pay more attention to their own reading, attempting to self-correct when needed. They can recognize different types of text, particularly fiction and non-fiction. Late Emergent readers will also begin to engage in more detailed discussions about what is read.

Characteristics of Books for Emergent Readers

Books at this stage tend to have more lines of print per page, more complex sentence structure and a little less dependency on repetitive patterns and pictures. They still focus on familiar topics, but now go into more detail and depth.

Just like you did when your child was just beginning to learn to read, make sure she takes an active part in the process of reading together.  Find time to read together everyday. When you and your child sit down, before you even open the book, take a moment to look at the cover and then the illustrations. Let her guess what the story might be about, and then enjoy what actually happens. Before you get to the end, ask her to predict what might happen next, and when finished reading, review the story. Ask your child to talk about how the story relates to their own experiences they may have had. Ask her how she might change the ending, or even ask her to draw a picture about the story.

When she ‘reads’ on her own, give helpful prompts, such as: “Use the picture to help you” or “Does the first letter of that word match what you said?” and “Did that sound right?”.  Let her work out unfamiliar words for herself, encouraging her, but not outright telling her the word. Celebrate when she does well. “You didn’t know that word, but you used the picture to help figure it out!” That was great!”. And continue to give encouragement as she moves from emergent reading and into early fluent reading. “Sometimes if you get stuck, it helps to go back to the beginning of the sentence.”, and “Make sure to look all the way through to the end of the word”.

A List of Popular Emergent Reader Books


  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess
  • Go! Dog. Go! by P.D.Eastman
  • Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
  • How to Be a Cat by Nikki McClure
  • All by Myself by Mercer Mayer
  • Amy Loves the Snow by Julia Hoban
  • Bread, Bread, Bread by An Morris
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
  • Is This You by Ruth Krauss
  • Just Like Daddy by Frank Asch
  • Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchinson
  • The Teeny Tiny Woman by Jane O’Connor