Moo Like Mr. Brown: Easy Readers

Dr. Seuss pioneered the Easy Reader genre with his groundbreaking The Cat in the Hat. Critics cautioned that he couldn’t write a story by using only a limited list of basic vocabulary “sight words” and he proved them wrong. Another well-known favorite is his Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Consider as well Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad are Friends. These are books intended for the child learning to read. The text size is large, with few words and only one concept or action per page. Word choices, while not necessarily monosyllabic, tend to be easily identifiable, perhaps a common phrase like “Happy Birthday.” Here the illustrations do not advance the text; they supplement it. Pictures are more basic because each image is a visual clue to assist the developing reader in sounding-it-out. Din-dino-dinosaur! the child realizes by linking the newly learned word with the cartoon Brontosaurus on the page. Some publishers demarcate their beginning readers into stages, with books like Cynthia Rylant’s Mr. Putter and Tabby series being somewhat more advanced than a simpler text. The Easy Reader, due to its limited vocabulary and basic sentence structure, is hard to write well, and many publishers are looking for new talent.

            The trademark of the HarperCollins beginning reader is fitting—”I Can Read!” With mastery of the Easy Reader, the training wheels are off. Chapter books, full-length middle grade novels, and nonfiction await. Young Adult is just around the corner. Neil Gaiman, author of the Newbery Award winning The Graveyard Book, calls children’s books “the most important fiction” for their “capacity to change people”  (  For further information about the possibility of influencing lives by writing for children, contact the Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. Children are ready to devour your words.


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