This is the first volume to consider the popular literary category of Early Readers – books written and designed for children who are just beginning to read independently. It argues that Early Readers deserve more scholarly attention and careful thought because they are, for many younger readers, their first opportunity to engage with a work of literature on their own, to feel a sense of mastery over a text, and to experience pleasure from the act of reading independently. Using interdisciplinary approaches that draw upon and synthesize research being done in education, child psychology, sociology, cultural studies, and children’s literature, the volume visits Early Readers from a variety of angles: as teaching tools; as cultural artifacts that shape cultural and individual subjectivity; as mass produced products sold to a niche market of parents, educators, and young children; and as aesthetic objects, works of literature and art with specific conventions. Examining the reasons such books are so popular with young readers, as well as the reasons that some adults challenge and censor them, the volume considers the ways Early Readers contribute to the construction of younger children as readers, thinkers, consumers, and as gendered, raced, classed subjects. It also addresses children’s texts that have been translated and sold around the globe, examining them as part of an increasingly transnational children’s media culture that may add to or supplant regional, ethnic, and national children’s literatures and cultures. While this collection focuses mostly on books written in English and often aimed at children living in the US, it is important to acknowledge that these Early Readers are a major US cultural export, influencing the reading habits and development of children across the globe.

chapter |10 pages


Early, Easy, First, Beginner, Chapter
ByAnnette Wannamaker, Jennifer M. Miskec

part |43 pages


chapter |13 pages

From the New England Primer to The Cat in the Hat

Big Steps in the Growth and Development of Early Readers
ByRamona Caponegro

chapter |12 pages

The Boxcar Children and The Box-Car Children

The Rewriting of Gertrude Chandler Warner's Classic and the Origins of the Early Reader
ByMichelle Ann Abate

chapter |17 pages

Creating and Marketing Early Reader Picture Books

ByRebekah Fitzsimmons

part |57 pages

Aesthetics and Form

chapter |14 pages

The End?

Approaches to Closure in Early Readers
ByKaren Coats

chapter |17 pages

Reading Reading in the Early Reader

Mindset, Emotion, and Power
ByGretchen Papazian

chapter |12 pages

Redefining the Early Reader in an Era of Multiliteracies

Visual Language of Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie Series
ByDaniel Hade, Laura Anne Hudock

chapter |13 pages

Babymouse in Space

Locating the Reader, Text, Character, and Brand
ByAnnette Wannamaker

part |57 pages


chapter |14 pages

“I think these chapters are not real”

In a Dark, Dark Room and the Horrors of Early Reading
ByKatharine Slater

chapter |16 pages

“Just think—how many girls have special powers like you?”

Weird Girls and the Normalizing of Deviance in Early Readers
ByMichelle Beissel Heath

chapter |13 pages

Alvin Ho

Not Allergic to Playing Indian, Feathers, and Other Stereotypical Things
BySarah Park Dahlen

part |55 pages

Global Contexts

chapter |12 pages

The World is Flat, Stanley

Globalization, Ethnocentricity, and Absurdity
ByAnne W. Anderson, Rebecca L. Powell

chapter |13 pages

Playing with Language, Food, and Pictures

Ideology and Cultural Adaptations in the Spanish Translation of the Captain Underpants Series
ByTeresa Asiain

chapter |14 pages

Anna Hibiscus and The No. 1 Car Spotter

Africa in Early Readers
ByJennifer M. Miskec