The key to playing chess is understanding checkmate. One of the best instructional books of all time, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess uses chess diagrams to offer instructive problems that become progressively more difficult. Do these exercises and you will improve your game.
In The Chess Tactics Workbook, Al Woolum presents 160 pages of puzzles (6 per page) concentrating on mates in 1, 2 or 3 moves. Lots of great practice for the beginning student.
Because these books are not filled with illustrations, they are great choices for beginners of any age.
An additional resource for early learners is free thanks to our friends at the St. Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame. Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield has created a wonderful booklet, Learn to Read & Write Chess. It is free to download or you can purchase print copies for just $2.