If you’ve got a child in primary school, then you know what home readers are. Every week my children would bring home three or four cute little books in their library bags and every week, I would sit down and bribe them to read them.

Some children love reading these picture books, but my kids did not. In fact, my son was so uninterested he used to bring home the same one every month or so simply because he couldn’t even bother choosing a different one.

According to Misty Adoniou, an Associate Professor in Language and Literacy and is the author of Spelling It Out, this is actually quite common.

As Misty tells Mum Central

There are lots of reasons to read, including for enjoyment, to learn, to laugh, to share an experience, to imagine and escape. But when children are learning to read, the little readers they bring home don’t seem to do any of these things.” 

You see, ‘Readers’ are designed specifically to teach children the basic skills of sounding out words or practising common words that can’t easily be sounded out. This can be important for helping children learn to read but it kind of loses the whole ‘fun factor’.

An interesting and engaging story is often missing, which can make reading time a bit of a hard slog,” Misty explains.

But good news ladies and gents! Misty has shared a few of her fave books that allow children to practise those important skills and still have a fun and meaningful story that reminds our children that reading is a joy. Here are Misty’s recommended picture books (both classics and new books) that do the job of home readers, only better!

For practising sounding out skills

Look for books that have lots of words that are easy to sound out loud. Dr Suess’ classic ‘The Cat in the Hat’ is a good example, but Jon Klassen’s ‘I Want my Hat Back’ is an award-winning new classic – and it will give parents and children a laugh. FIND IT HERE

I want my hat back - picture books for kids


For practising common words through repetition

Look for picture books that have a rhythm and repeated refrains. ‘Brown Bear Brown Bear’ is a delightful classic by children’s book legend Eric Carle, as is ‘Where is the Green Sheep’ by Australia’s own legendary children’s book author Mem Fox.

Brian Wenzel’s recent New York Times bestseller ‘They all saw a Cat’ is a terrific new book for supporting young readers to become independent readers and it has a great message about how we all see things differently.  FIND IT HERE.

they all saw a cat - picture book for kids


Reading for the big ideas and building new vocab

The size of your child’s vocabulary is the best predictor of educational success, so it is important to read books with your child that contain new vocabulary – words that they wouldn’t normally hear in the spoken conversations around them.

Margaret Wild is a brilliant Australian writer whose stories don’t talk down to children and cover thought-provoking topics through poetic language. All her books are wonderful, but try ‘Fox’ which is accompanied by Ron Brook’s vibrant artwork.

It tells the story of a fateful friendship triad between a magpie, a fox and a dog. Don’t worry about the betrayal and cliffhanger at the end. Young children are very optimistic about what happens next and there is much to discuss when reading this book. FIND IT HERE

fox picture book for kids


‘The Night Walk’ by Marie Dorleans, a recent French children’s book prize winner, is a lovely story of a family setting off in the dark of night just before the dawn, through the town, and the local landscape to make it to the top of the hill just in time to see the first rays of a magical sunrise.

As you read together, make plans for your own special walk. What will await you at the end? You may be inspired to write your own story that describes your walk – and have an engaging new book for your child to practise reading. Children love reading their own stories!  FIND IT HERE

the night walk picture book


Reading to learn

‘Koala’ by Claire Saxby, with artwork by well-known Australian illustrator Julie Vivas, is a part of a series of information books about Australian animals. One of the great joys of reading is learning new things, and children particularly love learning about animals.

This series of books presents the information in two ways. Across the top, there is a story about the animal, and below there are little fact captions.  FIND IT HERE

The next time you’re at a book store or library, keep these stories in mind and add them to your nightly reading list.

Looking for more book ideas for children of all ages? Check out:


About Misty Adoniou

Misty Adoniou is an Associate Professor in Language and Literacy and is the author of Spelling It Out, a book that encourages children and adults to nurture a curiosity about words, discover their history and, in so doing, understand the logic behind the way they are spelled.

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