Best Children's Books for:
Guided Reading Level A-E / DRA Level A-8

Below are the best early reader books that are written at Guided Reading Level A-E / DRA Level A-8 books. (It's the same level--just some schools use the one book leveling system and others use the other.)  In general:

  • Kindergarteners read books at Guided Reading Level A-C / DRA Level A-4
  • First graders read books at Guided Reading Level C-E / DRA Level 4-8 in the first three months or so of first grade, and then ideally progress all the way up to level J/16 by the end of first grade. (Hit back to access those levels).

Note: Since every child is different, you might want to check with your child's teacher to determine his/her exact level.

As teachers ourselves, we sincerely hope this information will be a helpful resource for teachers in need of books for their classrooms or parents looking for books for their own children to read. And if we've left your favorite off our list, please do let us know!  We love book recommendations.

This page lists:
   (1) discount sets of early reader books all written at this level
   (2) individual books at this level (with links to buy on Amazon)
   (3) word decoding strategies beyond "just sound it out"
   (4) skills to help early readers develop at level A-2 / 1-8

Best Books on these levels
Guided Reading Levels A-E / DRA A-8

Below is a list of the best Level A-E / DRA A-8 children's books that we could find that are available to buy on In our experience, you can't just buy any books written at this level.  Because word choice is so restricted, many books written at this level are dreadfully dull or super awkward. But not the books below.  They all pass our 'teacher test' AND kids really like them too. :)

Please note that as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Go, Dog. Go!
We LOVE this classic Dr. Seuss book, featuring dogs of all colors, shapes, and sizes doing all manner of zany activities. Kids never outgrow it--loving it for years to come!
(Level E / DRA 8)

Bears on Wheels
A fun Berenstain Bears early reader that also teaches a little math thru increasing numbers of bears on wheels! Fans of P.D. Eastman's Go, Dog. Go! will likely want this one as well. :)
(Level D / DRA 6)

David Smells
Join a toddler-version of the hilarious No David character as he explores with his senses--
touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting funny things around him.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Pete the Cat: Too Cool for School
Kids LOVE Pete!  In this fun early reader, kooky, Pete  can decide what to wear to school, so he comes up with a perfectly-Pete solution!
(Level E / DRA 8)

Wake Up, Sun!
Kids get such a kick out of this goofy story about barnyard animals who go a little nuts when they think the sun has forgotten to rise. (Note: There's a gun in the story.)
(Level E / DRA 8)

Biscuit Feeds the Pets
We love Biscuit books! In this one, puppy Biscuit works hard to make sure each pet gets the right food, but then things go awry at playtime.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Best Friends
in the Snow

Two best buddies have a fun day playing the snow--sledding, having snowball fights, making snowmen, and more.
(Level C / DRA 4)

Bear Hugs
A cute rhyming book about a little bear who loves hugs from his momma bear and pappa bear. Just right for this level.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Bathtime for Biscuit
We love Biscuit!!  This spunky puppy loves to run around and play and get dirty, but...a bath? Such a cute one!
(Level C / DRA 4)

Big Egg
When hen finds an extremely large egg in his nest, he sets out to find its mama. A silly book with a sweet message.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Can You See
What I See?

A whole series of reader-sized versions of the popular search and find books. Kids love these!
(Level D-E / DRA 6-8)

Ducks in Muck
Based on working in -uck family words, this book is great for teaching word families and looking for chunks you know.
(Level B / DRA 2)

I Like Bugs
A cute simple book with lots of repetition (ie: I like bugs. Black bugs. Green bugs...)  Great for building confidence in early readers.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Duck Duck
Dinosaur: Perfect Pumpkin

When the trio search for the perfect pumpkin, dino Spike keeps 'squishing' their fun. :)
(Level D / DRA 6)

Have You Seen
My Cat

A early reader version of Eric Carle's classic book about a boy meeting all kinds of felines as he searches for his cat.
(Level B / DRA 2)

Dragon Egg
Adorable!  A big egg creates quite a stir as it rolls down a hill and into town. What could be inside?  While the title and cover gives the mystery away, kids still love it!
(Level E / DRA 8)

The Adventures of Otto series
All six books in this cute series are very early readers, levels C-E / 6-8, making it a perfect first series for beginning readers.
(Level C-E / DRA 4-8)

Max and Ruby Play School
Big sister Ruby is ready to 'play teacher' to her little brother Max...if only she could get him to pay attention!
(Level E / DRA 8)

Grow a Pumpkin Pie
A perfect first reader for fall! Teaches early readers about how pumpkins grow and then get turned into yummy treats!
(Level C / DRA 4)

Gus Gets Mad
Gus is getting frustrating. He is supposed to be having fun at the park, but nothing is working out the way he wants.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Gus Grows a Plant
Perfect for spring! Gus must learn to be patient as he waits for his plant to grow. By the illustrator of Froggy books.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Duck Duck
Dinosaur: Bubble Blast

A cute dino must convince his two duckling buddies how much fun taking a bath can be.
(Level D / DRA 6)

Babar's Little Circus Star
Little Isabel learns that being the smallest in the family doesn't mean she can't be a circus star!
(Level E / DRA 8)

Itty Bitty Kitty: Firehouse Fun
Will crazy Itty Bitty the kitty behave on his first trip to the firehouse?  We love the illustrations.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Pete the Cat:
Play Ball

Pete's team isn't doing to well in the game. Will Pete get mad? (Fans surely already know!) Teaches sportsmanship!
(Level E / DRA 8)

Monkey Play
Such a cute rhyming, rhythmic book about adorable monkeys being crazy! Even includes a little counting.
(Level E / DRA 8)

Dinosaurs Dance
A fun book that has dinosaurs twirling, flipping, dancing and roaring all through the pages. Kids will love to do the actions along with the dinos! :)
(Level E / DRA 8)

Look for the Lorax
A super cute early reader featuring the Lorax. (Note: Not an early reader version of the well known story.)
(Level E / DRA 8)

Puppy Mudge series
Puppy Mudge series books are all levels C/4 - E/6, making it a great first series for beginning readers.
(Level D-E / DRA 6-8)

The Ball Game
Kids love this cute, simple book about a little baseball player who is giving it his all!  This book has been around for awhile, but kids still love it.
(Level E / DRA 8)

I Am Water
Very well done early reader on water in all its different forms (steam, ice...) and uses.  Part of a good non-fiction series.

Huff and Puff
and the New Train

Train 'besties' learn whether or not 'slow and steady' really does win races.) Lots of repetition for early readers.

The Cat and the
Bird in the Hat

A cat has a bird that lives in his hat...and they are friends! This book is several decades old but stands the test of time with kids.

Tiny Goes to
the Library

Tiny goes everywhere his human buddy goes...except inside the library. :) A popular series for beginning readers (levels D-F).

When Tiny
Was Tiny

Tells what very-big-dog "Tiny" was like when he was just a little puppy.  Great series (a lot like Clifford the Big Red Dog).

Tiny's Bath
Tiny, the not-so-tiny dog, is too big for all the doggy bath gear. How will be get clean?  Kids love the sweet, cute antics of this boy and his dog.

The Foot Book
A fun Seuss-inspired book about feet and opposites.  Lots of repetition for early readers.

The Nose Book
Seuss-inspired book about noses. Not our favorite in the series but still good for early readers.

The Eye Book
A cute Seuss-inspired book about eyes.We really like this book for early readers (but the eyes a bit oddly huge.)

The Ear Book
A Seuss-inspired book about a boy and his dog who listen to the world around them.  Part of a fun series.

The Tooth Fairy
A little girl and the tooth fairy take a fantastic nighttime trip together. Very basic early reader with lots of picture support.

Oh Cats!
Do cats make good friends? One little girl seeks to find out. We love this very cute emergent reader.

Berenstain Bears: Big Bear, Small Bear
Two bears in search of the perfect hat!  Great picture support and kind of funny. :)

Pete the Cat: A Pet for Pete
Pete paints a cool picture of his new pet goldfish, and now everyone wants a painting too!

Otis's Busy Day
Join tractor Otis as he works and plays on the farm, then heads back home to rest up for another day. A popular early reader!

Polar Babies
A day in the lives of a polar bear and her cubs, and how they survive in the arctic. Very well done!

Big, Brown Bear
Big Bear is hard at work fixing up his tree house, but mischievous little bear might have other plans.

My Dog, Buddy
(a little dog can't seem
to follow directions)

SETS of Leveled Books    *BEST DEAL*
all Guided Reading Level A-E / DRA A-8 Books

*BEST DEAL*   If you are looking to get a bunch of different books all written on this reading level, check out our sets of gently used books that are all written at Guided Reading Level A-E and DRA Level A-8.  These sets are perfect for teachers building their classroom leveled libraries -or- for parents looking for books right at their child's current reading level.  Each set was put together by K-2 teachers*SAVE 40% OFF RETAIL*  

 click to see:    Guided Reading A-E book sets  -or-  DRA Level A-8 book sets      

Our sets are comprised of gently-used books. All are in great condition--ranging from like new to good. None of the books have water damage, torn pages, damage to the spine/binding, or writing on the inside (except for an occasional name/inscription on the inside front cover). Overall, we are very proud of the quality of our books!  Kids are hard on books. Don't waste your money on new, pristine books that will stay pristine for 5 minutes. Our used [but still very good] book sets are a perfect middle ground.

Decoding Strategies:
Advice to Give Early Readers Beyond "Just Sound It Out"

For generations, the only advice children were given when learning to read was "sound it out."  Sounding out words is a great some cases.  But it's just one of a number of different 'word decoding strategies' that good readers should employ when the come across challenging words.  Below are the four main strategies that readers of Guided Reading Level A-E / DRA Level 1-8 books should employ when trying to read new words:

(1)  Look at the picture for clues -- Trust us...this is NOT cheating. Please fight the urge to cover up the picture with your hand. :)  Instead, early readers should be really encouraged to look at pictures in order to help them read harder words.  Indeed, authors of books aimed at this audience INTENTIONALLY include clues in their pictures to help kids read challenging words.  For example, a Level A/1 book about the zoo might read "I see a giraffe at the zoo."  Since very beginning readers cannot read a word like 'giraffe', the picture will help them with that tricky word.  Trust us.... it's not cheating.  If they are looking at the pictures for clues it's because they need the extra help. 

(2)  Get the word started -- Children should develop the practice of getting words started by saying the beginning sound. 

(3)   Sound it out -- 

(4)  Look for chunks or small words inside the unknown word --  Children start reading by tackling words letter by letter. This is a great first step, but you really start seeing great strides in reading when kids start reading words in 'chunks' or 'parts they already know'. For example, when trying to read the word "which", a child who is reading letter by letter will have a very hard time decoding this word. (If you make each of those individual letter sounds, you will notice that the resulting word is nowhere near the actual word!)  By contrast, a child who has learned /ch/ and /wh/ (digraphs) and recognizes those chunks ahead of time will read the word as /wh/ /i/ /ch/.  He/she will likely then be able to easily blend those sounds together and recognize the actual word.

Skills to Foster
in readers of Level A-E / DRA 1-8 books

Below are reading skills -- in order of difficulty -- that can help readers at this level start their journey of reading:

  • Hold the book right side up and turning the pages from left to right
  • Understand the ‘left-to-right movement’ of text and the ‘return sweep’ of text (at the end of a line)
  • Tell the difference between the words (print) and the illustrations (pictures)
  • Start to match word-by-word by pointing with under the words with a finger
  • Locate known words on a page  (ie: "which word is 'am' ")
  • Relate elements of the story to their own life and their own experiences
  • Look at pictures as part of the reading process and be able to gather information from the details in pictures
  • Start to “self-monitor” enough to pick up mistakes when read word (doesn't make sense in context, ie:  "I like to play shoe"...Wait, what?)
  • Reread words and phrases to decode tricky words or confirm that word was read correctly
  • Use picture clues when attempting to decode words
  • Begin to use strategies to solve unknown words rather than simply wanting the word provided by the adult
  • Start to recognizes known words more quickly
  • Read new words using knowledge of sound/letter relationships and chunks (word families)
  • Decodes challenging words by taking them apart
  • Able to talk about the text after reading, including retelling story elements with beginning, middle, and end parts
  • Able to make predictions when reading
  • Able to make connections between (1) the book and their own lives [text-to-self] and (2) the book and other books previously read [text-to-text]

return to the Guided Reading levels main page          return to the DRA Levels main page