First grade is a HUGE year of growth academically…., especially in reading. You may see a child start the year reading easy readers but move to read beginning chapter books by the end of the year. But which books are the best 1st grade books in a series for 1st graders? Here are my top picks, starting with early reader books and moving on to the easiest beginning chapter books.
One way to increase time reading is for kids to LOVE the books that they’re reading. And a good book series will hit the spot. Because if young readers like the first book, it’s generally true that they’ll like all the books in the series.
Of course, every child is progressing differently, at their own pace.
Below, I’ve listed the best 1st grade books in a series for children ages 6 and 7 years old mostly in order of difficulty from easiest to more challenging.
But, if you want more first grade books, you can read reviews for all the best easy reader books, series or not.
UPDATE: I’m becoming more and more concerned with the lack of decodability in these early readers. And, as a result, I might not recommend all of these books anymore. I will be going through this list more closely and reevaluating using my new knowledge of the science of reading.
These easy readers and beginning chapter books are illustrated and engaging, just what a 1st grade student needs to get hooked on reading. *If they can decode the words.
Remember, if one of these great books is too hard for your reader, you can always read the book aloud to your child or student. That is something I can always recommend.
Best 1st Grade Books in a Series
Charge Into Reading by Brooke Vitale, illustrated by Katarzyna Jasinska
These gems are written with a specific phonetic scope and sequence by expert writer, editor, and literacy advocate Brooke Vitale. Growing readers will be able to progress as readers because the books are written to build upon each other. Each book teaches and reinforces a phonics rule, such as CVC, blends, or diagraphs. Even better, kids will enjoy the books because the stories are funny and engaging.
Frog Meets Dog by Janee Trasler
While this is not a phonics book but possibly controlled text, it’s simple and cute. You’ll find it reminiscent of Dick and Jane with very short word sentences like, “Frogs jump. Can dog jump too?“
Let’s Go For a Drive by Mo Willems
Gerald has the great idea of going for a drive! But first (and second and third), Piggie thinks of what they need to bring along. Silly fun about two best friends with big personalities are popular book for 1st graders.
LEGO City: All Aboard by Sonia Sander
These are a favorite for any LEGO enthusiast! This book about trains is just one of many in this recommended easy level reader book series for 1st graders just starting to read.
Dirt and Bugsy: Bug Catchers by Megan Litwin, illustrated by Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn
Penguin Young Readers Level 2 (This level is more like a 1.)
Two best buds love bugs. They watch bugs and try to catch them. The boys build the bugs a barn, but the bugs go back home.
Do You Like My Bike? (Hello, Hedgehog!) by Norm Feuti
Not only is this early reader book series for 1st graders written in comic panels, but the dialogue is in bubbles in colors unique to the character speaking, making this a supportive book series for 1st grade. Hedgehog can’t wait to show his friend Harry his new bike.
Sparkly New Friends (Unicorn and Yeti) by Heather Ayris Burnell, illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla
Unicorn helps Yeti be grateful and confident about who he is and where he lives. Then Yeti helps Unicorn try new things like a snowball fight. Short stories of friendship between two mythical creatures.
The Great Bunk Bed Battle (An Acorn Book) by Tina Kugler
When fox siblings Fritz and Franny go to bed, they don’t actually go to sleep. They compare which bunk bed is best and imagine adventures through a forest with a castle, a moat and a boat, a submarine, and a volcano on their beds. Simple text in speech bubbles and a relatable topic makes this a sure-fire hit with new readers.
Fox + Chick #2: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
Fox and Chick remind me of an updated Frog and Toad or George and Martha. The humorous stories revolve around two friends who have different personalities and don’t always communicate well but remain the best of friends. Growing readers will love these two friends whose low-key adventures are illustrated in comic panels with dialogue bubbles.
The Lost Kitten (Katie Fry, Private Eye) by Katherine Cox, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
It’s a good thing that Katie Fry solves mysteries because she needs to use her detective skills to help a lost kitty (whom she names Sherlock) find his home. A darling, entertaining, and diverse first grade book series for growing readers.
Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
Fly and the boy meet each other in this first book of a super hilarious series. Fly becomes the boy’s pet and friend. In this 1st grade book, the boy enters his fly in an amazing pet contest, dazzling the judges, and winning the show. This illustrated early reader series is very popular with kids and teachers.
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant, illustrations by Susie Stevenson
Henry is lonely, so his parents allow him to get a dog. He picks a puppy named Mudge, who becomes his best friend. Kids love reading each chapter’s short, heartwarming mini-stories.
Even Robots Can Be Thankful! by Jan Thomas
In comic book format, you will love the lovable stories of Blue Robot and Red Robot who, like people, have big feelings like fear of robot-eating monsters and love for bolts. Together they spend time at home talking, sorting bolts, and planning for a trip–among other activities.
Hi, Jack! (A Jack Book) by Mac Barnett & Greg Pizzoli
I LOVE this fantastic early reader book for 1st graders because it’s easy, fun, and MAKES SENSE. That’s why I’m thrilled to tell you that this book hits all the right spots for growing readers. Your kids will read all about mischievous Jack who lives with Lady and all the trouble he gets into…over and over again.
Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel (series)
Giggle and share in the daily life of two best but very different friends. Enchanting and a first-grade illustrated favorite series!
Barkus by Patricia Maclachlan, illustrated by Marc Boutavant
Nicky’s uncle gives Nicky his dog Barkush when he leaves on a trip. They have many adventures in the different stories that will make everyone want a dog like Barkus.
All Paws on Deck (Haggis and Tank Unleashed #1) by Jessica Young
In a word: HILARIOUS! These two dog friends with opposite personalities sail on a fun and silly pirate adventure. You will fall in love with Tank and Haggis. (2-4 sentences per page and lots of colorful illustrations.)
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqui, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Yasmin is an exuberant girl interested in everything from exploring to building to fashion. Her books are four short stories from Yasmin’s life, all in chapters with lively, full-color illustrations. Her Pakistani American culture is embedded throughout the story.
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey, illustrated by Dan Santat
Get ready for an addictive, action-packed, engaging sci-fi series for young readers with awesome illustrations. After reading this book, 1st graders will wish they had their own giant robot friend to help them conquer evil in the universe.
Owl Diaries Eva’s Treetop Festival by Rebecca Elliott
Eva writes in her diary about getting the Bloomtastic Festival put together and how she eventually learns to ask friends for help.
Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton (series)
Narwhal is exuberant to meet Jellyfish, his new imaginary friend who is imagining Narwhal at the same time. You’ll love their combined adventures — forming a pod, having parties, eating waffles, and imagining. This is an illustrated feel-good friendship adventure told in graphic (cartoon) format that 1st-grade kids absolutely love.
A Backyard Pet by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
Sugar wants to play with her siblings, but each sibling is busy playing with their pets. Poppy’s playing with her pet flowers. Dirt is playing with worms. And Sweetie is playing with a butterfly. Sweetie lies down on the ground and looks up at the clouds…her own special pets.
Surf’s Up (Moby Shinobi and Toby Too!) by Luke Flowers
A beach adventure with Moby, a ninja, and his dog! They discover that no matter what they do such as building a sandcastle, if they work together, they’ll have more success. Rhyming, easy-to-read text, adorable characters, and fun adventures make this a new must-read series for early readers.
The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Amazingly enough, this princess can fight monsters and have a fun birthday party — even though it keeps getting interrupted. These 1st grade books celebrate girl power with a heroine who can do it all.
Peach and Plum Here We Come! by Tim McCanna (graphic novel)
Excellent. I really like how the rhyming supports the decoding of the text. In this book, two good fruit friends experience tasty adventures such as riding bikes and going to the beach.
Our Principal is a Frog by Stephanie Calmenson, illustration Aaron Blecha
The beloved school principal is accidentally turned into a frog by a bumbling magician. But since he’s a dedicated principal, he finds a way to keep running the school — even as an amphibian. A delightful illustrated easy chapter book series.
Bink & Gollie Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
The funny Bink and Gollie (mis)adventures in friendship and life are filled with wonderful color illustrations. This popular 1st grade book series is a favorite with many girls.
Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh
I love the informational but simple text matching each beautiful photograph. These books are bright, colorful, and factual — just perfect for any beginning reader.
King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
King is Kayal’s beloved dog. He’s not just her best friend but in this story, he also helps her find her missing lost tooth. Kids will enjoy this mysterious illustrated chapter book series for beginning readers.
Wallace and Grace and the Lost Puppy by Heather Alexander, illustrated by Laura Zarrin
Owl friends, Wallace and Grace, are on a scavenger hunt when they find a lost puppy named Jasper. The friends (who also run a detective agency) put together Jasper’s clues, ask for help from other forest friends, and eventually, return Jasper safely home. Easy to read and charming, this story is just right for first-grade readers who are just starting chapter books.
Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters) by Tracey West, illustrated by Graham Howells
In the times of castles and kingdoms, Drake learns he is a dragon master (and that dragons are real!) He trains with the other kids to master his dragon, an earth dragon, in this adventurous fantasy chapter book series for 1st graders that will interest almost any child with conflict, adventure, and excitement.
Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings
Alexander discovers his new town is FILLED WITH MONSTERS! And, he’s right in the middle of everything, especially after he finds an old notebook of drawings and facts about monsters. Fun with an edge of scary. These easy chapter book series for 1st grade is AMAZING.
Fly Guy Presents Sharks by Tedd Arnold
Visit the aquarium with Buzz and Fly Guy to learn about sharks in this terrific easy non-fiction reader. I LOVE how Arnold combines cartoons with photographs!
The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
A MUST-READ series for all kids! These combine mystery, history, magic, and adventure as siblings Jack and Annie adventure through time. If you love The Magic Tree House series, you’ll also like these books.
Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes
Just a few sentences per page, this is a collection of stories about two brothers and their childhood adventures. Relatable and endearing, with a touch of humor.
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