High Interest Readers | Hi-Lo & Guided Reading Series Nonfiction

While hi-lo (high-interest, low readability) books are aimed at an older audience, they support literacy by providing engaging, age-appropriate titles to striving readers. These new and forthcoming series provide a variety of approachable and engaging texts.

Beginning reader and hi-lo texts are carefully crafted with readability in mind. Aimed at children just learning how to read, beginning reader texts use short sentences featuring common sight words, repeating sentence structures, and visual cues to help readers gain independence as they develop their decoding, fluency, and comprehension skills. Several of this season’s beginning reader offerings support early literacy skills while teaching about other subjects, ranging from sign language to social-emotional learning. While hi-lo (high-interest, low readability) books are aimed at an older audience, they similarly support literacy by providing engaging, age-appropriate titles to striving readers who need texts at a lower reading level. The hi-lo selections below include a range of nonfiction topics, including relevant subjects like natural disasters and diseases. Librarians will find a variety of approachable and engaging texts in these new and forthcoming series.



Brandle, Marie & Daniela Massironi. Olivia Goes to the Zoo: An Adventure with the Vowel O. ISBN 9781636902463.
––––. Uma and the Rumbling Trucks: An Adventure with the Vowel U. ISBN 9781636902494.
Terrell, Brandon & Daniela Massironi. Alan Plays Ball: An Adventure with the Vowel A. ISBN 9781636902371.
––––. Eve Eats Everything: An Adventure with the Vowel E. ISBN 9781636902401.
––––. Ivan in the City: An Adventure with the Vowel I. ISBN 9781636902432.
ea vol: 16p. (Vowel Adventures). Jump!/Grasshopper. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2 –This series presents short narratives highlighting different vowels and their uses. Each book follows a child doing an everyday activity, such as going to the zoo or grocery store, told with an emphasis on a particular vowel (“Ivan and Ivy pick up a pizza. It is big!”). By using vowels in an authentic and engaging way, these stories highlight their different applications and sounds in context. Vibrant illustrations depict a diverse group of children, and the pictures align with the text on the page to support comprehension. Before, during, and after reading tips are provided, along with a short activity reviewing several of the long and short versions of the vowel used in the text. These additional features would be most effective when used with a caregiver or teacher, though readers can also use these texts independently. ­VERDICT With short tales illustrating how different vowels are used, this series effectively delivers an active approach to phonics.

Davis, Bela. Sign Language & Colors. ISBN 9781098206994.
––––. Sign Language & Emotions. ISBN 9781098207007.
––––. Sign Language & Family. ISBN 9781098207014.
––––. Sign Language & Food. ISBN 9781098207021.
––––. Sign Language & School Activities. ISBN 9781098207038.
––––. Sign Language & The Alphabet. ISBN 9781098207045.
ea vol: 24p. (Everyday Sign Language). Abdo/Abdo Kids Junior. Aug. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
K-Gr 2 –Integrating early literacy skills with American Sign Language, this beginning reader series teaches how to sign a range of different words and letters. Books, which cover themes like colors, family members, and food, focus on important vocabulary words associated with the topic. Each page includes a sentence showing that term in use, along with clear directions on how to sign it and a small illustrated visual. These titles have been designed with beginning readers in mind, and each page features a bright, full-page photograph that corresponds to the text on the page. The ASL alphabet and a short visual glossary are included at the end, along with code for Abdo Kids Online, which features printables, videos, and links to extend learning. VERDICT This series successfully teaches common words in sign language while supporting fluency and comprehension.

Dufresne, Emilie. Defend and Attack! ISBN 9781534535077.
––––. Invisibility! ISBN 9781534534957.
––––. Regenerate! ISBN 9781534534995.
––––. See in the Dark! ISBN 9781534535039.
ea vol: 24p. (Animals with Superpowers!). Groundhaven/KidHaven. Aug. 2021. Tr. $24.60.
Gr 2-5 –This series takes a comic book inspired approach to exploring the natural world. Told from the perspective of Professor Ax, an axolotl looking for a new generation of superheroes, each book explores an animal adaptation, such as regeneration and camouflage. The books cleverly treat physical features like superpowers, and give several examples of animals with these traits along with information about how they use them. A wide range of both well-known and more obscure animals are presented; however, the text moves quickly through them, which at times can make the books feel light on facts. Comic book features like speech bubbles, sound effects, and colorful page layouts add a level of interest. VERDICT With a high-interest superhero approach to animal adaptations, this series, written at a second grade reading level, will appeal to both lower and upper elementary readers.

Earley, Christina. I Can Take Away One. ISBN 9781427156990.
––––. I Can Take Away Three. ISBN 9781427157010.
––––. I Can Take Away Two. ISBN 9781427157003.
––––. I Can Take Away Zero. ISBN 9781427156983.
ea vol: 16p. (I Can Take Away). Crabtree/Roots. Jul. 2021. Tr. $22.60.
PreS-Gr 1 –Combining early literacy and math skills, this series provides a real-world look at subtraction in action. Each book provides several examples of what it looks like for a number to get taken away using kid-friendly things like food and animals. Designed to support early readers, each page features one short sentence, along with a bright photograph that aligns with the text. The visuals provided by these images, combined with dots that readers can count along with, help make the mathematical concept of subtraction tangible for readers. The series includes several tools to help parents, caregivers, and teachers using these texts with children. These include before, during, and after reading prompts; a word list highlighting sight words used in the text; and a short visual glossary of words to know. VERDICT With tangible representations of subtraction at work, this series effectively teaches mathematical concepts. Recommended for early elementary collections.

Morgan, Elizabeth. Colors at Home. ISBN 9781502659200.
––––. Colors at the Park. ISBN 9781502659125.
––––. Colors at the Store. ISBN 9781502659248.
––––. Colors at the Zoo. ISBN 9781502659163.
––––. Colors on the Farm. ISBN 9781502659286.
Osborne, Naomi. Colors at School. ISBN 9781502659088.
ea vol: 24p. (Our Colorful Community). Cavendish Square. Aug. 2021. Tr. $24.21.
PreS-Gr 1 –The colors found in schools, stores, farms, and other places across different communities are explored in this series, which is designed for the earliest of beginning readers. Each title takes a community location and lists several examples of things found there, along with its color (“The polar bear is white. The elephant is gray”). Page layouts feature one short sentence, along with a full page, vibrant photograph showing what is being described. Along with repeating sentence structures and simple language used throughout, this helps build comprehension and vocabulary acquisition. However, the series is lacking in additional supporting features, such as a word list or before and after questions to help readers make connections to the world around them. ­VERDICT While no-frills, this series combines the popular topics of colors and communities with several key characteristics to help build early readers’ independence.

Peters, Katie. Asking for Help. ISBN 9781728403502.
––––. Being Mindful. ISBN 9781728403472.
––––. Leading Others. ISBN 9781728403489.
––––. Planning Ahead. ISBN 9781728403458.
––––. Setting Goals. ISBN 9781728403465.
––––. Working with Others. ISBN 9781728403496.
ea vol: 16p. (Helpful Habits (Pull Ahead Readers People Smarts—Nonfiction)). Lerner. Aug. 2021. Tr. $23.99.
PreS-Gr 1 –Social-emotional learning and early literacy skills come together in this new series. Life skills such as practicing mindfulness, working with others, and setting goals are described in short, simple sentences. Designed for developing readers, the books feature common sight words and repetitive sentence structures (“I will learn a new game. I will try a new food”). Cheerful, full-page photographs align with the text on each page in order to assist early readers with comprehension. Each title ends with a question encouraging readers to apply these skills to their own lives (“Can you think of a time you were a leader?”). Each title also pairs with a fiction text showing the healthy habit in practice. VERDICT With thoughtful features to support beginning readers, this series is recommended for collections needing SEL materials.

Tyler, Madeline. Animals in the Sky. ISBN 9781499487404.
––––. Animals in the Snow. ISBN 9781499487442.
––––. Animals Under the Ground. ISBN 9781499487480.
––––. Animals Under the Sea. ISBN 9781499487527.
ea vol: 24p. (Take Action with Animals!). Rosen/Windmill. Aug. 2021. Tr. $24.60.
PreS-Gr 1 –Developing readers will learn about animals who live in the sky, sea, snow, and underground in this charming new series. The text is highly interactive, with directions given to do things like poke, tap, and spin the book upside down to explore each animal. For example, when a peacock is presented, readers are instructed to shake the book in order to see its ­feathers encouraging active reading. Using a limited word count with one short sentence per page, these books include interesting facts and obscure animals like narwhals and sugar gliders. Eye-catching, bright illustrations help bring the different animals and environments to life. VERDICT This delightful series will appeal to beginning readers, particularly animal lovers, by encouraging them to interact with the text.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Golusky, Jackie. COVID-19. ISBN 9781728428345.
––––. Ebola. ISBN 9781728428338.
Kaiser, Brianna. Malaria. ISBN 9781728428369.
––––. Smallpox. ISBN 9781728428376.
Leed, Percy. Bubonic Plague. ISBN 9781728428352.
––––. Typhoid Fever. ISBN 9781728428383.
ea vol: 24p. (Deadly Diseases—UpDog Books). Lerner. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.65.
Gr 3-6 –The timely topic of diseases, ranging from COVID-19 to malaria to the bubonic plague, is presented in this new series. Titles focus on the history, symptoms, and prevention of these very deadly illnesses from past and present. The text, written at a first grade reading level, uses a controlled vocabulary, and each book features four brief, readable chapters with one to two sentences per page. Engaging layouts feature photographs, primary source images, and microscopic views of disease causing germs, along with eye-catching graphics. Short prompts asks readers to identify which symptoms match which diseases, and suggestions for further exploration are provided. While this series only provides a broad overview, it does offer a solid introduction to a complicated and highly scientific topic in an approachable way for striving readers. VERDICT With increased curiosity around diseases and pandemics, this ­hi-lo series is a recommended purchase for upper elementary collections.

K. Adamson, Thomas. The Eruption of Mount St. Helens. ISBN 9781644875278.
––––. Hurricane Katrina. ISBN 9781644875292.
––––. The Indian Ocean Tsunami. ISBN 9781644875308.
Sommer, Nathan. The Coronavirus Pandemic. ISBN 9781644875261.
––––. The Haiti Earthquake. ISBN 9781644875285.
––––. The Joplin Tornadoes. ISBN 9781644875315.
ea vol: 24p. (Deadly Disasters). Bellwether/Torque. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.95.
Gr 3-7 –The history and impact of famous earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and more are explored in this immersive hi-lo series. Each book begins with a short narrative describing a real-life story from inside the disaster, followed by a description of the science behind the event. Text features like diagrams and time lines effectively weave together the narrative of the disaster and its effects. The text, written at a third grade reading level, uses a controlled vocabulary, and short chapters are designed with striving readers in mind. While highly readable with a slim page count, these titles are also comprehensive and chock-full of facts. Appealing page layouts include bold graphics and photographs. Additional resources, including books and websites through Bellwether’s Factsurfer site, are also included. VERDICT Tackling the high-interest topic of natural disasters, these informative titles are recommended for collections seeking nonfiction titles for striving readers.

Radley, Gail. Ankylosaurus. ISBN 9781623102449.
––––. Apatosaurus. ISBN 9781623102456.
––––. Iguanodon. ISBN 9781623102463.
––––. Pterodactylus. ISBN 9781623102470.
––––. Stegosaurus. ISBN 9781623102487.
––––. Triceratops. ISBN 9781623102494.
––––. Tyrannosaurus Rex. ISBN 9781623102500.
––––. Velociraptor. ISBN 9781623102517.
ea vol: 32p. (Dinosaur Discovery). Black Rabbit/Bolt. Jul. 2021. Tr. $32.80.
Gr 4-6 –This series provides a comprehensive exploration of different types of dinosaurs and how they lived. Each title takes a dinosaur and describes its physical features, behaviors, and diet. Quality text features, including diagrams of the dinosaurs’ size and body parts, maps of where their bones were discovered, and time lines showing when they lived elevates the content and brings it to life. Page layouts include one-to-two short paragraphs, and high-interest images provide a detailed reference of what the dinosaur looked like. A fascinating “New Discoveries” section highlights how our understanding of dinosaurs continues to evolve. The books are written between a second and third grade reading level, and while they are slightly longer than most hi-lo nonfiction for this audience, they are jam-packed with engaging information. VERDICT With detailed content and informative text features, this dinosaur series is an excellent resource for striving readers.

This season’s beginning reader and hi-lo titles offer engaging texts that meet readers where they are. Stand-out series for early readers include “I Can Take Away” (Crabtree/Roots), which effortlessly supports literacy skills while teaching mathematical concepts. “Take Action with Animals” (Rosen/Windmill) encourages an interactive approach to reading through its animal-based prompts and charming illustrations. For hi-lo readers, “Deadly Disasters” (Bellwether/Torque) provides a detailed look at natural disasters and their consequences in an approachable way, while “Dinosaur Discovery” (Black Rabbit/Bolt) brings the prehistoric era to life with engaging graphics and text features. With high interest topics and readable texts, these series build confidence and independence.

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