Phonics and Learning to Read – Part 2 – I See Sam Readers

October 14, 2008

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If you’re looking for a great series to help your beginning reader gain confidence and skill one word at a time, this is a great one:

The “I See Sam” Readers

 Little Books Set 1 & 2

I learned to read from these little readers back in the 70’s before I went to Kindergarten.  I remember how excited I was to finish the last book in the stack of over fifty readers, and how disdainful I was when I went to kindergarten and the teacher began introducing a letter a week to us 🙂 

In my opinion, this is one of the best first reader series. 

What I like:

  • Progressive addition of words – The first book has only three words: “I”, “See”, and “Sam”.  Each book builds on this reading vocabulary by slowly introducing new words.  What’s great about this compared to other early readers, is that there is never a word in the books that the child hasn’t seen before or learned to read.  For example, another phonics book may use lots of words ending in “-at”, but they’ll throw in random larger words the child can’t read, like “The fat cat ran after the rat.”  The young reader may stumble over “after” and not be able to read the book ‘all by himself/herself’.
  • With the “I See Sam” series, your child can read every word in each book.  It is a great confidence builder and sequential learning process.
  • Funny and engaging stories – It’s amazing to me, but somehow these books can tell a funny story only using four or five words and line drawings.  Each of my kids have favorites.  “Remember how the bull knocked over Sam the lion because he dressed up like a king and had a cape on?”  or “When Sis the Snake wanted Mit’s apple, so he tricked her into a hollow log and tied her in a knot so she couldn’t get it, but he shared with her in the end.” 
  • Each book has reading aids and confidence builders in addition to the story including: a pronunciation guide, sound practice, word practice, new word list, and coming attractions to introduce upcoming words.
  • Comprehension questions in small print at the bottom of many pages for added skill practice.
  • See a sample ‘Little Book’ here.

What I don’t like:

  • The cost:  Each set of 27 ‘Little Books’ is $30.  This seems a bit pricey to me, but our set has been through three kids now, so that spreads the cost out quite a bit.  In my opinion the first two sets are the crucial ones.  After completing the second set, my kids have developed the reading skills to move on to the more typical early readers available in most libraries at no cost.
  • The books are paperback with cardstock covers, not glossy, and need more care to last through multiple uses by little hands.
  • The line drawings look much like coloring books and are quickly used as such by crayons in those same little hands 🙂

Other posts in this series:

Do you have a favorite first reader book or series?  Please share with us in the comment section.  Thanks!

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Posted under Reading Curriculum


14 Comments so far

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  2. Carol Dequein December 29, 2012 3:44 am

    I had learned to read with the Sam series myself. I’m home schooling 2 boys right now and my dad got my older son (6) the Read Now! video album. It worked so great! He loved the DVD videos and was starting to read within a few days. Something about the music and live action segments really made him like to watch the DVD’s over and over. He also loved that he had his little book for each chapter. His younger brother (4) is also picking up reading as well. I highly recommend it. The product cost is a little high at $129, but they have a special for low income people for just $69.

  3. docmisty February 28, 2011 8:41 pm


    We are still loving this set with child #4. So much nicer than early readers full of random ‘big’ words the kids can’t read. Thanks for the comment.


  4. Rodna February 28, 2011 3:51 pm

    I just reviewed this product too, and we loved it!

  5. Janice Signet February 14, 2011 3:46 pm

    In case anyone would be interested in knowing about it, the “I See Sam” system has now been adapted in a beginning reading video program, called Read Now! I recently purchased the program and I’m delighted with it. My kids were really entertained with the Sam the Lion walk-a-round character and the music was great (for once the children’s music didn’t drive me crazy). So it was no surprise to me that they loved to watch the program over and over. The reading booklets which were included followed the original booklets very closely. Being able to watch the synchronized animation on the video with the reading booklets in hand, allowed them to quicklypick it all up. The product is not cheap- but worth every penny to me. I also noticed that they have an Affiliate Program which allows stay at home moms to make money sharing the program with other. It’s too much for me to understand but maybe some people would find that of interest too.

    Their website is

  6. Francis September 20, 2010 6:31 pm

    Please try a free step-by-step program to teach reading, writing and spelling using synthetic phonics.

  7. bluebeagle August 24, 2010 11:52 am

    Oops. Typo in link. Here is the correct one:


  8. bluebeagle August 24, 2010 11:51 am

    These are now available for download to your computer at All books can be launched from one easy to use menu. No recurring fees for online use, either!

  9. Ramki December 23, 2009 7:11 pm

    Check out for online digital books of “I See Sam”.

  10. Ramki November 6, 2009 6:24 pm

    Check out the all digital ebooks of I see Sam.
    the books come with audio, to read the book and to learn letter and phonic sounds.

  11. Brian Marriott July 30, 2009 9:17 pm

    I’d be happy for you to list me as a resource. I hope many will enjoy them.

  12. Misty July 28, 2009 11:24 pm


    Thank you for the scanning all the books and offering them to us all free of charge. Awesome! If you don’t mind, I’ll add you as a resource. Thanks!

  13. Brian Marriott July 28, 2009 10:29 pm

    I learned to read from the “I See Sam” readers in the 70’s also. I recently learned that the original ones are in the public domain and I have scanned them all and posted them on my website you can download them in PDF format and read them on the computer or print them into book. Printing them yourself allows kids to color them to their heart’s delight. (My kids love them.)

  14. Suzanne Sniffen October 15, 2008 2:21 pm

    I really like the Now I’m Reading little Readers. They’re in color and she finds them funny and engaging. I’ve been really happy with them. They are probably about the same in retail price, but they’re cheaper on EBay and I have actually bought 5 different sets for between $1-$4 each at library book sales.


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