Many parents and grandparents today immediately recognize “Jane runs. See Jane run. Run, Jane, run!” because they grew up learning to read using Dick and Jane books. These books provided simple text and literally taught multiple generations how to read. They were widely used from the 1930s through the 1970s. However, they were rather dull books. They served the purpose of teaching children how to read but did not necessarily provide the spark for learning to love reading.
A new generation of readers is learning through books that also provide simple text but that text is funny and exciting. Meet Gerald and Piggie created by Mo Willems. Gerald is an elephant and Piggie a pig. They have very different personalities. Gerald is a worrier whereas Piggie is risktaker and the stories revolve around their friendship. The conversation between the two characters is shown using bubbles and incorporates numerous sight words on the kindergarten and first grade reading list. The books give children learning to read the opportunity to feel successful reading words they recognize but also joy as they see the story unfold. Children learn to read and at the same time learn to love to read. The Easy Reader Elephant and Piggie series debuted in 2007 and currently number 20 books.
Mo Willems is a #1 New York Times Bestseller who started his career as a writer and animator on Sesame Street. He creates picture books as well and has been awarded a Caldecott Honor three times. His Elephant and Piggie books have also won awards including the Theodor Suess Giesel Medal in 2008 and 2009 and Geisel Honors in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
The Elephant and Piggie books aren’t the only well-crafted Easy Reader books for this generation. The Biscuit series by Alyssa Capucilli includes 18 ‘My 1st I Can Read’ books that tell the story of a dog who often finds trouble. In addition, Tedd Arnold has created a dozen books in his Fly Guy series which follow a boy and his pet fly. The Fly Guy series provide a slightly more challenging level of reading for young readers.
If you are looking for Easy Readers to help your kids learn to read feel free to pick up a Dick and Jane book to relive your memories. After all they taught generations to learn to read and can teach your kids as well. However, make sure you also get Elephant and Piggie, Biscuit and Fly Guy books to show your children how fun books can be.