Accessible Stories for All Ages | Hi-Lo & Guided Reading Series Nonfiction

This season’s hi-lo and early reader series feature engaging topics with an emphasis on readability.

This season’s hi-lo and early reader series feature engaging topics with an emphasis on readability. Hi-lo (high readability, low reading level) books are written with accessibility in mind, presenting high-interest, age-appropriate content written at a lower reading level. Books for beginning readers use intentional strategies to help develop literacy skills in young children, such as using common sight words, repetitive sentence structures, and images that correlate with the text on the page. The hi-lo series presented below stand out for making their subject matters approachable, from streetwear to the solar system, with readable text and thoughtful page layouts. Several of the early reader books incorporate hands-on elements that invite readers to apply their skills. The nine series presented below include a wide range of options for developing and striving readers.



Culliford, Amy. I Spy Orange in the City. ISBN 9781039660694.
––––. I Spy Red at the Circus. ISBN 9781039660700.
ea vol: illus. by Srimalie Bassani. 16p. (I Spy with My Little Eye). Crabtree/Crabtree Blossoms. Sept. 2022. Tr. $24.67.
PreS-Gr 2 –Readers are invited to search for colors throughout the pages of this thoughtfully crafted series. Centering on a location, such as the circus or city, each book features a spy who is in search of a particular color there. These colors are presented using repetitive sentence structures designed for beginning readers (“I see an orange cone. I see an orange vest.”). What makes this series stand apart are the delightful and detailed illustrations; each page features a corresponding image depicting a colorful, lively scene with bright, cartoon-inspired graphics. Hidden within these images are both the object being described and the spy looking for them. This creates an hands-on element that invites readers to search for what they read in an authentic context. Before, during, and after reading prompts are also provided for parents and caregivers. VERDICT Charming illustrations and an interactive approach are a winning combination for this emergent reader series.

Davis, Bela. Spot the Sight Words: I Am Little. ISBN 9781098261603.
––––. Spot the Sight Words: I Can Read. ISBN 9781098261610.
––––. Spot the Sight Words: It Is a Good Day. ISBN 9781098261627.
––––. Spot the Sight Words: What Can I Make? ISBN 9781098261634.
––––. Spot the Sight Words: What Day Is It? ISBN 9781098261641.
––––. Spot the Sight Words: Where Is My Ball? ISBN 9781098261658.
ea vol: 24p. (Spot the Sight Words). ABDO Kids Jr. ABDO/Sept. 2022. Tr. $31.36.
PreS-Gr 2 –This clever series uses interactive techniques for emerging readers to find common sight words. Carefully crafted to include specific high-frequency sight words, each page includes one-to-two simple sentences around a common theme (“What can I make? I can make a cake”). This is accompanied by a bright, full-page photograph that aligns with the text. A diverse set of children is presented in the images, along with colorful, appealing graphics. What makes the series unique is the game included on each page; hidden within each photograph are the sight words used on the opposite page for readers to find. This approach helps students practice locating these sight words in an entertaining, hands-on way, and creative use of font makes the words a genuine challenge to find at times. VERDICT With a fun, creative approach to practicing sight words, this series is a recommended purchase for elementary libraries with early reader collections.

Peters, Katie. I Care for My Community. ISBN 9781728457666.
––––. I Care for My Friend. ISBN 9781728457628.
––––. I Care for My Pet. ISBN 9781728457604.
––––. I Care for My Sibling. ISBN 9781728457703.
––––. I Care for Myself. ISBN 9781728457680.
––––. I Care for Nature. ISBN 9781728457642.
ea vol: 16p. (I Care: Pull Ahead Readers - People Smarts). Lerner. Aug. 2022. Tr. $23.99.
PreS-Gr 1 –Through the lens of social-emotional learning, “I Care” shows children tending to what is important to them. This series covers topics that young readers will easily relate to, evolving outwards from taking care of oneself to friends and pets to the community and nature. Several features are included with early literacy skills in mind, including a repetitive text pattern throughout each book (“I pet my dog. I walk my dog.”). However, these do range in complexity depending on the title. Colorful, joyful photos mirror what is happening in the text, and this correlation helps with comprehension. The end of each book includes a “Did you see it?” prompt with visuals. The books are designed to pair with a separate fiction series on the same topic. VERDICT With an emphasis on caring for those in one’s life, this series successfully uses proven strategies to support beginning readers.

Sims, Nandi. Language in Society. ISBN 9781731652775.
––––. Language Varies. ISBN 9781731652751.
––––. Languages Are Everywhere. ISBN 9781731652744.
––––. Spanish in the United States. ISBN 9781731652768.
ea vol: 24p. (Words in My World). Rourke/Discovery Library Jr. Sept. 2022. Tr. $28.50.
K-Gr 2 –From linguist Dr. Nandi Sims comes “Words in My World,” which explores the different ways that people communicate. Celebrating diversity in languages and communities, each book explores an area of linguistics. These range from variations in ­languages to African American English to Spanish ­spoken in the United States. These topics are at times more complex than a standard early reader series, but the content is delivered in a straightforward, ­easy-to-understand way. Colorful graphics, which mix real photographs with cartoon images of children, are engaging and help bring the material to life. Graphics are effectively used throughout the books to help illustrate differences in language; for example, images show how to say hello in Mandarin and American Sign Language, and a map shows how different dialects across the U.S. work. The books include before reading prompts and intriguing after reading activities that invite readers to explore language in their own lives. VERDICT Through the lens of linguistics, this unique series for early readers honors the different ways languages are used.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Abdo, Ken. Kith. ISBN 9781098228538.
––––. Nike. ISBN 9781098228545.
––––. Off-White. ISBN 9781098228552.
––––. Stüssy. ISBN 9781098228569.
––––. Supreme. ISBN 9781098228576.
––––. Yeezy. ISBN 9781098228583.
ea vol: 24p. (Hype Brands). ABDO/Fly! Sept. 2022. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 3-8 –Streetwear brands ranging from Nike to Off-White are highlighted in this new series. Each book explores a specific company and provides an overview of the development of the brand and the creative minds involved. Special attention is paid to the high-profile collaborations between different brands. The text is written at a second grade reading level, with short, simple sentences. Eye-catching, full color photographs help to bring the fashion to life. A QR code is provided for each title to Abdo BookLinks, which provides additional online resources. With an emphasis on readability, these slim titles are only able to provide a cursory overview of each brand, and the books would benefit from additional information about the influences of skate and hip-hop culture on streetwear. VERDICT With a lack of books on this part of the fashion industry, this hi-lo series can help fill a void for books on streetwear at the upper ­elementary and middle school level.

London, Martha. Civil Rights. ISBN 9798885091923
––––. Cybersecurity. ISBN 9798885091930.
––––. Filibuster.ISBN 9798885091947.
––––. Inflation.ISBN 9798885091954.
––––. Vaccines.ISBN 9798885091961.
––––. Virtual Currency. ISBN 9798885091978.
ea vol: 32p. (In the News: Need to Know). Bearport/SilverTip Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 5-8 –Ripped from the headlines, these books tackle important subjects in the news ranging from vaccines to the filibuster to cryptocurrencies. These titles are brimming with information across eight short chapters. Each book takes these contemporary issues and grounds them in historical context while explaining why they are important today. While these are decidedly complicated topics, the series effectively breaks the information down for readers at a second grade level. In addition to readable text, the books also feature a dyslexia-friendly font and a clear, uncluttered design. Contemporary and historical photographs are included throughout. The end of each book includes quotes from famous people relevant to the topic, as well as a list of key terms, comprehension questions, and prompts for further thinking. A link to Bearport’s “Factsurfer” website is also included, which provides additional online resources. VERDICT Complex news stories are distilled down to their most important elements in an accessible, easy-to-understand way; a recommended purchase.

Schwartz, Heather E. Billie Eilish. ISBN 9781728458380.
––––. BTS. ISBN 9781728458359.
––––. Harry Styles. ISBN 9781728458373.
––––. Olivia Rodrigo. ISBN 9781728458366.
––––. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. ISBN 9781728458335.
––––. Zendaya. ISBN 9781728458342.
ea vol: 24p. (In the Spotlight (UpDog Books)). Lerner. Aug. 2022. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 3-6 –These slim volumes profile the careers of celebrities from across pop culture, from music to acting to esports. The series is designed to appeal to upper elementary readers, from the eye-catching, pastel graphics on each page to the contemporary stars highlighted like Olivia Rodrigo and Harry Styles. While the short length makes the books light on content, they are engaging and accessible to striving readers. The text is written at a first grade reading level, and page layouts include one-to-two short sentences alongside images of the stars throughout their careers. A prompt for discussion is included at the end (“Zendaya stays true to her values. What are your values?). ­VERDICT While not comprehensive, these titles provide an introduction to today’s superstars in a fun, appealing format.


Upper Middle School to High School

Fraiser, Carolyn Bennett. Moons. ISBN 9781678204068.
LaPierre, Yvette. The Asteroid Belt. ISBN 9781678204020.
Mitchell, KS. The Gas Giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. ISBN 9781678204044.
Terp, Gail. Pluto and the Dwarf Planets. ISBN 9781678204082.
Thatcher, Meg. The Terrestrial Planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. ISBN 9781678204129.
Wolny, Philip. The Sun. ISBN 9781678204105.
ea vol: 64p. (Our Solar System). ReferencePoint/BrightPoint Press. Sept. 2022. Tr. $32.95.
Gr 6 Up –The Solar System is brought to life in this comprehensive series, which investigates the planets, moons, sun, and more. Each title presents an aspect of the solar system and describes its properties, the history of its discovery, and how it is studied today. The series is written between a third and fourth grade reading level, with simple sentences and a controlled vocabulary. The content is extremely detailed and informative, and the text condenses these complicated, scientific topics down in an engaging way. However, there are times when large blocks of text are presented without pictures to break them up, and these books are on the longer side for a hi-lo series. Source notes, as well as resources for further research, are provided at the end of each book. VERDICT This quality series provides an in-depth look at space; recommended for middle and high school collections seeking materials for striving readers.

Hamilton, John. Corvette. ISBN 9781532196058.
Hamilton, S. L. Ferrari. ISBN 9781532196065.
––––. Lamborghini. ISBN 9781532196072.
––––. Maserati. ISBN 9781532196089.
––––. Porsche. ISBN 9781532196096.
––––. Tesla. ISBN 9781532196102.
ea vol: 48p. (Xtreme Cars). ABDO/A&D Xtreme. Sept. 2022. Tr. $34.22.
Gr 3-8 –“Xtreme Cars” explores the fastest moving automobiles on the road, from classic supercars to modern, electric-powered vehicles. The books take a manufacturer, such as a Maserati or a Porsche, and track the history and development of its vehicles, with several different models highlighted. These books are chock-full of information, including specifications for the maximum horsepower and zero to 60 times of the models discussed, as well as descriptions of the engines and cylinders. These features, along with “Xtreme Facts” sprinkled throughout, create a detailed narrative that allows readers to see the evolution of these lines over time. Page layouts include one short paragraph, written at a fourth grade reading level, along with photographs that provide a detailed look at the cars. A set of comprehension questions is included at the end. VERDICT This high-octane series provides a comprehensive look at luxury cars for striving readers.

These new and forthcoming series use well-honed strategies to help students develop their literacy skills. Spot the Sight Words” (ABDO) stands out for its creative and fun approach; through an interactive game on each page, beginning readers can practice finding common sight words. Noteworthy hi-lo series include “In the News: Need to Know” (Bearport) and “Our Solar System” (ReferencePoint). Both of these take complicated subject matters and make them interesting and easy-to-understand for those needing texts at a lower reading level. These well-crafted texts use a variety of techniques to support readers and build their confidence.

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