Do we need proper reading books at home?
Many schools send home reading books from the start of reception and some start a little before. Some schools start later and some don't send them at all! If you would like to make a start on real reading books with your child, and you feel he or she is ready, I've linked some recommendations that might help. Many of the books listed may normally first be used in reception so they are suitable for phonics phases 2 - 4.
Before any 'proper reading books' it's crucial that children enjoy books and stories, and reading or telling a story a day is almost as important as breakfast! Once your child has a real interest in books, can identify the sounds that lower case letters make, and can blend sounds into simple words, you might like to try some decodable books. It's vital that children don't feel any pressure to read and that they continue to enjoy books - the last thing we want to do is put them off before they get started!
Jelly and Bean
Jelly and Bean books provide a good starting point. You could try this starter pack: Jelly and Bean AB Starter Pack (basic nouns) or this set with slightly more challenging sentences: Jelly and Bean A Series, books 5-10.
Jelly and Bean's Tom and Bella series might be good for home:
Read Write Inc
I do like Read Write Inc books and though these are in black and white, and they're flimsy, they are easy to use and fully decodable. Children can start to read them when they've learnt only a few sounds, following those shown in each book.
(Sounds in red books: m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, r, j, v, y, w, v, x, z, sh, th, ch, qu, ng, nk, sounds in green books as red but with adjacent consonants such as fl, cl, mp, nd).
Another lovely set of books is the Phonics Bug series from Pearson:
Pack 1 (sounds: s, a, t, p, i, n g, o, c, k)
Pack 2 (sounds as above plus: e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss)
Pack 3 (sounds as above plus: j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu)
Pack 4 (sounds as above plus: sh, ch, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo)
Pack 5 (sounds as above plus: ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er)
If you would like further recommendations, please do send an email and I would be happy to help: email@example.com.
Other useful resources
Magnetic letters pack 1 (use them on a fridge or a baking tray!)
High frequency word flashcards (first 100 high frequency words)
Common exception word flashcards (year one and two common exception words - there may be repetition with the high frequency words)