Easy Readers are books for children who are becoming independent readers, also called emergent readers. These are typically books which are read during the transitional learning stage between picture books and chapter books.
Emergent readers are children who still need the support of phonetic vocabulary and short sentences to read independently. They also depend heavily on illustrations which match the text. However, the emergent reader is less dependent on repetitive patterns found in many picture books.
Parents who look carefully at Easy Readers often note that the stories don’t seem to have the same depth of plot or rich vocabulary found in many picture books. The reason for this is that picture books are meant to be read to the child, while Easy Readers are read by the child. The language may be stilted and difficult for a fluent reader to read with expression.
Easy Readers give the emergent reader the sense of being ‘grown-up’ in the format of the books themselves as they mimic the look and feel of chapter books. The stories are often divided into three to six short chapters or may be a collection of stories with similar themes. Many Easy Readers are part of a series and are often leveled by publishers. But don’t get overly concerned about the levels as each publisher uses different criteria for leveling their books and a level 1 in one series may be similar to a level 3 in another series.
One of the best tools in determining if a particular book is a good match for your child is the child him/herself. Is the story/subject appealing? Can the child read 90% of the words with ease? Are the remaining 10% of the words easily decoded through phonics or illustration clues? Can the child sustain independent interest for the entire book? Only you and your child can answer these questions well enough to determine if he/she is ready to move on to Early Readers.