September 20, 2017

Okay, you bought the book, you tried the program, and you did, indeed, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. YAY!!!! HIGH FIVE!! WASN’T THAT FUN?!

But… that doesn’t mean they’re fluent readers just yet. Now what? How do I help my child build fluency, improve comprehension, and continue to nurture a confidence in and love of reading from here?

As I told Ben giddily the other day, “This is MY domain. I didn’t really know how to start teaching reading from scratch, but now that she’s got her foundation down, it’s time for guided reading. I know alllll about this!”

Okay maybe that was a little over-confident, but I definitely felt more comfortable moving forward with this than I initially did with teaching the basics.

Guided reading is a core component of the Reader’s Workshop model that I was trained in and used in my years teaching third and fourth grade. During guided reading, you basically have a running conversation with a child as you read through text together. Usually, the child reads the text out loud and you pause him along the way and coach him through his thinking by posing questions and practicing various reading strategies. Learn more about it here!

At the end of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessonsthere is a suggested list of books for moving forward. The idea is that you can continue in the style of the last few lessons using these books as the reading text. Cool, I thought, they already found the perfect next-step books. So I logged into my library account to put them on hold. (By the way, did you know that you can go online, put books on hold, and SOMEBODY ELSE FINDS THEM AND PUTS THEM ALL IN A STACK AT THE FRONT OF THE LIBRARY FOR YOU TO PICK UP?! I discovered this a couple years ago and my mind was blown!!! Best. Service. EVER!!).

Of course some of the first books listed were not available at the library. Well, surely these must be just-right books since they only listed about twenty books, so… I will just spend the money and buy them on Amazon. And then Amazon only had a few “buy it used” options. What?? If these books were so perfect, then why were so few available? Where was my Prime, 2-day shipping option? I pushed away the voice of doubt and forged ahead.

So, for the first time in longer than I remember, I bought it used through Amazon. The last time I remember doing that was in college. And that was a long, long time ago. I even had to pay shipping. These books had better be GREAT.

They were not. Here is the COMPLETE TEXT of one of these books:

Let’s play. We hide and you seek.

We’ll play too.

Ready or not, here I come!

<9 pages of only illustrations>

Now I want my turn to hide.

Where are you? 

…WHAT?! I went through ALL THAT TROUBLE and waited SO MANY DAYS (okay, eleven days- please excuse the impatient millennial in me) for THAT?!

Here is the other one I purchased used and paid shipping for (!!) on Amazon:

Look what I can do!

I can do it too!

<lots of illustrations>

Look what I can do!

That was it.

Three sentences. Or two, if you’re looking for unique sentences.


I’m fine with books that focus on pictures, but when the entire point of buying the book is to practice reading, then I’m not so pleased when there are only SEVEN unique words in the entire book. The other book suggestions were slightly more helpful, but not by a lot. One book even has a theme of two kids trying to out-do each other with their beach toy, to the point where one is pulling down the other’s pants and they are both completely not noticing a boy who falls into the water and needs help getting back up. Even worse, the story concludes when they see a girl who has a cooler beach toy that sticks her tongue out at them, and one shouts, “I hate her!” and the boys bond over their shared dislike of this girl.

This is really not the kind of stuff I want my daughter to be reading.

So I decided it was time for me to figure out the best “just right” books myself. After a couple of library trips, I have now compiled a great list of books that are just right for the child who has completed this reading program. They are books that my daughter can mostly read independently. I found two series so far that are just right for her, and each day, we’ll go through a new book that she’ll read to me, and once I see that she’s got it down (usually in one reading), we add it to her “Books You Can Read On Your Own” box. She loves going through the box and reading to herself, and let’s be honest- WE LOVE IT TOO. It’s even better than TV, not just because it’s not TV, but because it lasts longer than a 22-minute episode of Dinosaur Train or Daniel Tiger or whatever it is I’m letting her watch these days. Hooray!

So here’s the list, very roughly in order of increasing difficulty. Again, these are affiliate links, which means that I get a small percentage of any purchases made through these links (even if they are not the linked item). Thanks for your support! I think there’s a good chance you’ll find some of these titles at the library, and if not, I KNOW Amazon has several of them for you!

…As I’m linking these, I can’t help but wonder why the Dear Dragon books are so expensive! Our library has supplied all of them so far- hope yours has them, too!

We’ve gotten a lot more books since I made this list (mostly Biscuit and Dear Dragon books) then, but I think this is plenty to get you started. At some point, your child will start being able to recognize which books are “too big” and which ones are “just right” on his own. Don’t worry if they keep going back to “too small” (i.e. too easy) books once in a while- this is just another way to build fluency and confidence.

I hope this list gets you all off to a good start in Phase II of teaching your child to read! We are a family of readers and it has been so fun watching her learn. It’s been a game changer in so many ways, and I hope you have a blast with it, too!


**11/02/2018 UPDATE**

She is zooming through books like a race car. We now max out both of our library cards regularly (the limit is 100 books on each) so that means sometimes I am keeping track of nearly 200 books from the library at once!! (See what I shared on how we keep our books from the library organized!). She’s gotten into non-fiction as well, and has dabbled in space, rocks and minerals, and animal books. I wanted to share a couple more tips that I have learned since this last post: 1) A great resource to find books at the right level for your kid, and 2) How to navigate the library to find a just-right book for your child.

  1. I just got a comment today asking what her favorite series were, early on. I mentioned the Dear Dragon books, above, but apparently Rita’s library only carries that series in Spanish. What other series might be appropriate? Well, I was scanning my brain for books and could only think of the Biscuit and Mittens series at first. Henry and Mudge, Annie and Snowball, Mr. Putter and Tabby came shortly after, but they were definitely later. I couldn’t think specifically of too many series, but I have come to learn that many books with the “I Can Read” banner across the top are a good fit for her:
    When she was still an early reader, I particularly looked for the ones with the yellow “My First (Shared Reading)” circle on it to indicate an emergent/early reading level. Today, I found this website, where you can find all the different levels offered. Scroll down to the red “My VERY First” or yellow “My First” circles and click the button to find many books that could work for your child! To get even more specific with the level, click on the alphabet levels on the left (the closer to “A,” the easier).
  2. Another option is to go to the “Early Readers” section of your library and find the “I Can Read” books with the red or yellow circle on it. Your best bet is to actually open it and look inside to see if the text size and words seem appropriate for your child. Once you find a book that works well, chances are the whole series will be a good fit for your reader. I didn’t even realize there were so many more books available in the yellow “My First” level we haven’t read, so I put a ton on hold today and look forward to bringing them home for her to read!



26 responses to “What to Do After You Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”

  1. Laine says:

    Thanks for this article. I just finished the lesson book with my daughter and have yet to get the second book in the list of 20. Glad to hear they aren’t worth the trouble since I was not impressed with the first book’s use of only three different sentences. I will follow your lead and try some of the books you listed.

    • joellen says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I wrote this article just for you! It makes me beyond happy to know that somebody is using this information! Thanks!! Feel free to email me if you want more book recommendations. My daughter is still a total bookworm and has so many series she has fallen in love with. Excited for you and your daughter!

  2. Dina says:

    Thanks for taking the time to make this list! We are just about to finish our 100 easy lessons book and I was wondering if there was a sequel. We will check these books out at the library next time we go!

    • joellen says:

      Congrats on making it through! It takes some perseverance haha. Hooray glad you found my blog with these suggestions! My four year old is reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade level now- just devouring the books. Hope this list works out for you guys!!

  3. Jaclyn says:

    Thank you so much for this! My five year old son is nearing the end of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and I’ve been trying to decide what to do after he’s done. Your post with a list of books to get to continue reading practice is super helpful. We LOVE ordering books from the library. ?

    • joellen says:

      I’m so glad you already know about this service! The library continues to be one of our favorite and probably most-visited places anywhere :D. Thanks for the comment, and happy reading!!!

  4. Carrie says:

    This is so helpful! Thank you for taking the time to do this! Our library actually delivers books right to our house. It’s amazing!

    • joellen says:

      WOW I can’t even tell you the number of times I have wished we had such a service!! Or even a corner drop-off/pick-up system. I am going to start pestering my local library to consider it 😀 I didn’t even think it was in the realm of possibility to hope for such a thing!

      • joellen says:

        I just checked online and it looks like the delivery service is available to homebound residents in the area. Ah. Well, that’s nice, too :).

  5. Rita says:

    Thanks for the information and the list of books. Unfortunately all the dragon books in our library are in Spanish.
    You mentioned above that your daughter fell in love with a few series. Would you mind sharing those. Thanks!

    • joellen says:

      Yes! Some of her early favorites were the Biscuit series (Capucilli), Mittens (Schaefer and Hartung), then onto Henry and Mudge, Annie and Snowball, and Mr. Putter and Tabby (All Cynthia Rylant). She *LOVED* the Elephant and Piggie series (Mo Willems) and honestly the whole family loves anything by Mo Willems, though I think that might need to be a shared reading activity at first. Here’s what I have discovered: When you go to the library, look for books with the “I Can Read” banner across the top. They should be in the “Early Reader” section (just ask the children’s librarian). There are several levels within the “I Can Read” books, but look for the ones with the yellow “My First I Can Read” circle badge on it early beginner/emergent readers. Don’t go to anything higher (like anything with numbers) just yet. I actually *just* realized there’s a website where you can filter and find exactly the level of “I Can Read” books you want here: https://www.icanread.com/levels/

      You should be able to find books to put on hold at the library though that link! But even within the yellow level, the difficulty level varies quite a bit, so I would go in person and just grab books from various series with the yellow label and find one that looks suitable (like Biscuit). Once you find one, then you should be able to check out any books from that entire series that will be at a similar level. I would say the Biscuit series is just a touch harder than the Dear Dragon series, but hopefully he can make the jump and then there’s a whole world of books from that publisher! Congrats, and enjoy!

    • joellen says:

      Oh one more thought: Have you tried signing onto your account online to put some of the Dear Dragon books on hold? If not, you might find better success there for two reasons: 1) Some other gung-ho parent might have cleaned out the Dear Dragon stock at your local library, so you wouldn’t have seen them on the shelves if you only checked in person. But if you put them on hold, then you can be notified if/when it’s returned. 2) Your library might be part of a network of libraries that all share books with one another. That might mean that there are a whole bunch of Dear Dragon books at another library. If so, then you can go to the online catalog, search the “Dear Dragon” books, and place a hold on books that might physically be at other libraries but can be delivered to yours (for free!). Hope that helps!