Leveled Readers (Step into Reading, etc).

In an effort to simplify things, I’ve include all the leveled readers that we read on this page. These include Step Into Reading, I Can Read, Penguin Young Readers, and Ready to Read. Unless otherwise noted, all are Christian Friendly and okay for sensitive readers.

If Christian Book Distributors (CBD) sells the books, I’ve included links in the book title. If you decide to purchase the books, please use the links as they help me earn a little extra money.


I Can Read! (Harper Trophy)

Level 3 (Complex plots for confident readers, grades 2-4)

Chang’s Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr, Illustrated by Kogan Ray (1988) ~ Chang is a Chinese immigrant’s son growing up in California during the Gold Rush. He longs for a pony of his own, but Chang and Grandpa Li are very poor, even though they work very hard. Lainey and I both really enjoyed this book. It’s a great, simple introduction into Chinese culture and the inequality experienced by Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush. I highly recommend this one.

The Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo, Illustrated by Fred Brenner (1970) ~ Tommy’s boredom during church service one day leads him into mischief. After disrupting the entire service,  he is sent home – and discovers a family of escaped slaves in his father’s barn. Tommy soon learns of the secret and scary world of the Underground Railroad. While not my favorite, I appreciated the history and story line. Lainey thought this book was “just okay.”

Greg’s Microscope by Millicent E. Selsam, Illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1963) ~ This is basically an introduction to microscopes. The illustrations are excellent and show how Greg uses his microscope and what he sees when he looks at different household items. It’s been quite a few years since we read this one, and at the time we didn’t have a microscope. Lainey and Grace LOVED the book, and it sparked an interest in science that’s still going strong. I highly recommend this book, especially if you don’t have access to a microscope.

The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr, Illustrated by Bruce Degen (1986) ~ In 1850 Josefina and her family move west by wagon train. Josefina wants to take her beloved pet hen. The journey is hard and not always happy, but they all make it to California safe and sound. All that is, except Josefina’s hen. Lainey cried at the end of this one; she liked the story up until the end. The theme of the story quilt was beautifully woven throughout the story, but I think it was lost for Lainey after the chicken died. She said she would not want to read the book again.

Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner, Illustrated by Don Bolognese (1978) ~ Based on the true story of an African American family’s move west in 1878. Lainey teared up in the middle of the story when the father had to leave his boys alone for the winter while he went to find a better place to live. She told me the book was “okay, but I didn’t care for it.” Despite her thoughts, I highly recommend this book not only because it makes for a great discussion on African American history, but it also describes how harsh life was on the frontier.  Grace was older when she read it, and said she really enjoyed it.

Step Into Reading (Random House)

Level 3 (Reading on your own, grades 1-3)

811206tLewis and Clark  by Shirley Raye Redmond, Illustrated by John Manders (2003) ~  A very simple introduction of Lewis and Clark, their journey west, and their discovery of prairie dogs and other new plants and animals. Many animals and items were sent back East to the president.  Lainey enjoyed this one and laughed out loud a few times. She told me the illustrations were silly and made her laugh.

88669tPompeii…Buried Alive! by Edith Kunhardt, Illustrated by Michael Eagle (1987) ~ The story of Pompeii and how it was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted. It includes a brief overview and diagram of an erupting volcano, then goes on to describe what the towns people were likely doing when the eruption occurred and how the town was discovered. Sensitive readers beware – it is a sad truth that many of the residents died, and there are illustrations of people cowering on the ground while ash and smoke cover them. There are also illustrations of skeletons and plaster casts that scientists were able to create using the cavities formed in the ash by decomposed bodies. Lainey, my sensitive one, actually found it interesting and studied the pictures intently. In my opinion it’s a great book as a reader or a read aloud for an age appropriate overview of Pompeii.

Penguin Young Readers (Penguin Group)

Level 4 (Fluent Reader, Level N)

Sacajawea: Her True Story by Joyce Milton, Illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger (2001) ~ A simple story on the life of Sacajawea. It gives a good glimpse of life with the Shoshone as well as the western most part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Lainey liked this one, especially the pictures.

Ready To Read (Simon and Schuster)

Level 1 (Easy sight words and words to sound out, simple plot and dialogue) 

Mount Rushmore by Marion Dane Bauer, Illustrated by John Wallace (2007) ~ A brief overview on the making of Mount Rushmore. It includes some facts both in the reading and in the back on the size, cost, etc of the project. Both Lainey and Grace read it a couple of years ago when we made a trip to the Black Hills. They really enjoyed the book.


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