20 Favorite Read Alouds for 1st Graders

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Teachers, librarians, parents, and homeschoolers, are you looking for read alouds for 1st graders? These first grade read alouds are favorite books recommended by first-grade teachers, kids, and me — a mixture of newer titles and classic favorites. You are going to love these books!

How Do I Pick the Best Read Aloud Book?

But first, here are some important considerations when picking a read aloud book for 1st graders, or any age child.

Higher Reading Level
Generally, you’ll want to pick something at a slightly harder reading level than your readers are currently able to read. One to two years is generally a good guideline.

Why? Because a child’s listening comprehension is higher than their own reading comprehension abilities. Listening to more challenging text introduces new, rich vocabulary to kids.

And, of course, learning new words builds background knowledge for their growing success as a reader and writer.

Introduce a New Book Series At The Child’s Reading Level
If you want to get students interested in a book series or author that they can read RIGHT NOW, read the first chapter or first book in that series out loud to them. This will get them hooked on the series. Then, you’ll have introduced new books for a 1st graders independent reading!!

First Chapter Friday
This is one way to introduce an independent reading book. You’re not actually reading the entire book but simply introducing it. Honestly, I like this so much! Only reading one chapter gives kids a taste of the book as well as the opportunity for a child to read a book on their own.

Tie in Your Read Aloud Book with a Learning Theme or Topic
Each day as you read aloud to your kids, you have some options for the experience. You can have them listen and simply enjoy the story. OR, you can use the read aloud to teach something specific. In this case, ask your students to listen for something specific, whatever your learning focus is. After you read, then ask students to reflect with a neighbor or by themselves and then share with the whole group or apply the lesson in some way.

What would be some ways to tie your read alouds into lesson plans? You might consider theme, authors craft, literacy skills, or other concepts depending on your content-area curriculum and the grade level you’re teaching.

That’s why for some of the books below, I am including possible learning connections. I hope they’re helpful.

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    Recommended Chapter Books for First Grade (Independent Reading)

    More Read Aloud Book Lists:

    Read Alouds for Families with Kids of Different Ages
    Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade
    Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade
    Read Aloud Books for 4th Grade
    ALL Read Aloud Book Lists

    Read Alouds for 1st Graders

    The Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade
    Mercy Watson to the Rescue
    by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
    THEMES/TOPICS: family, pets, friendship, humor
    SKILLS: figurative language, fact vs. opinion, word choice/vocabulary, character development, prediction, asking questions, inference, predictions

    Mercy lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. They feed her buttered toast and take her for drives in their convertible. One night, Mercy gets scared and decides to sleep with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. Can you imagine what happens next? Hilarious and quirky makes this one of my favorite 1st grade read alouds.

    White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan
    Zoe’s family rescues dogs in need. A new family has moved in across the street and Phillip, the boy, has stopped speaking. He doesn’t even want to try. But Zoe’s new rescue dog might just help the boy heal and speak.

    The Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade
    Gooney Bird Green
    by Lois Lowry
    THEME/TOPICS: storytelling, friendship, school, humor
    SKILLS: story plotting, background knowledge, sequence, character development, word choice/ vocabulary, prediction, asking questions, synthesis

    Gooney Bird is a very unique student who is unlike anyone else. (And not just because she wears pajamas and tutus to school.) Her adult-like confidence and seemingly made-up life stories enthrall the entire class (even the teacher), but as Gooney Bird says, she only tells absolutely true stories. But how can these incredible stories be true? You’ll see… (Teachers, you will totally crack up with the realistic portrayal of the kids in this classroom.)

    The Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade
    Lulu and the Brontosaurus
    by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith
    THEMES/TOPICS: selfishness, manners, responsibility, dinosaurs
    SKILLS: voice, persuasion, connect to background knowledge, predictions, asking questions, story sequence, punctuation

    In a word: hilarious. Lulu is a spoiled brat who demands that her parents get her a dinosaur for her birthday. Since they won’t, Lulu decides to find one herself. Which she does. And it turns out that the dinosaur wants to keep Lulu as HIS pet! Will this teach Lulu to behave more kindly? This 1st grade read aloud is short but worth every minute.

    The Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade
    Dory Fantasmagory
    by Abby Hanlon
    THEME/TOPICS: pretend/fantasy/imagination, siblings, friends, reading, humor, coping strategies
    SKILLS: Connect to background knowledge, make predictions, character traits/development, drawing conclusions

    Dory is one of my favorite book characters because her imagination is THE BEST! She has three imaginary friends: one monster friend, one fairy godmother (who is really a gnome-like man), and one bad lady nemesis. This book is totally hilarious, and you’ll love the child-like illustrations — it’s a favorite book series for so many 1st grade kids, too. See all the Dory books here.


    Read Aloud Book List for 1st Grade
    A Boy Called Bat
    by Elana K. Arnold, illustrated by Charles Santoso
    THEME/TOPICS: autism, animals, rescue animals, divorce, friendship, siblings, social skills
    SKILLS: inference, point of view, character description, five senses, figures of speech

    When Bat’s veterinarian mom brings home an orphaned baby skunk, Bat immediately wants to prove that he can be the best pet caretaker ever in order to keep the kit named Thor. Bat’s life isn’t only about taking care of Thor but also about going to school and visiting his dad every other weekend. The author skillfully weaves in Bat’s unique perspective on life showing the characteristics of his neurodiversity.


    The Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade
    Zoey and Sassafras Dragons and Marshmallows #1 by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay
    THEME/ TOPICS: science, fantasy, scientific process, journals, observation, animals,
    SKILLS: problem/solution, journaling, plot sequence, asking questions, drawing conclusions

    This is an entertaining, well-written story with the coolest mix of science and magic, a diverse main character, and fantastic illustrations that will get kids reading and learning. Zoey, like her mom, can see magical creatures and is tasked to care for any injured creatures that might need help. In this story, she uses her science skills (including research and the scientific method) to figure out how to care for a sick baby dragon.

    The Chicken Squad The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
    THEME/ TOPICS: humor, chickens, mystery
    SKILLS: Inference, determine what’s important, mental images, asking questions, character traits, problem/solution, word choice, description

    Four chick siblings try to solve the mystery of the squirrel’s HUGE, TERRIFYING, ENORMOUS, FRIGHTENING thing in the yard. The chicks even teach a squirrel the names of shapes so he can tell the chicks that the thing is round and shiny. What can it possibly be? 1st grade kids who love silly read alouds will like this one.

    Shivers! The Pirate Who’s Afraid of EVERYTHING by Annabeth Bondor-Stone & Connor White
    Poor land-locked Shivers. He’s terrified of everything, especially snails. But when his sea-faring family of pirates is captured, Shivers is their only hope for rescue. Luckily he meets the daring and adventurous Margo who gets them off of dry land, teaches Shivers about sword fighting and helps him find and rescue his parents. This read aloud for 1st graders is very comical and will keep your kids thoroughly entertained.

    Sofia Martinez My Vida Loca by Jacquline Jules
    My Vida Loca is the first chapter book in the series about the adventures of a spunky girl named Sopha — from her singing (that annoys everyone except abuela) to a cooking mishap of arroz con leche that her familia helps her fix. I love the bright pink text that indicates the Spanish words (maybe 1 or 2 a page). In addition, the illustrations are super fun, capturing the emotions and action perfectamente.

    Ninja Kid: From Nerd to Ninja by Anh Do
    Nelson is a nerdy and likable main character who wakes up on his 10th birthday with perfect vision and… ninja moves! His mum and grandma explain that like his missing fisherman dad before him, Nelson is the last ninja in the world — and he’s destined to save the world. He immediately gets to use his powers for good on a field trip when ginormous evil spiders attack the group of kids.

    Emmet and Jez Adventures in Fosterland by Hannah Shaw, illustrated by Bev Johnson
    Jez is a kitten with three legs who assumes that Emmett (a pig) is a kitten. But Emmett notices that he’s not a very good kitten — because he’s a pig. Eventually, they both move to their Foreverlands. Emmett’s Foreverland is exactly what he dreamed of — a friendly farm with other pigs and cows and many new friends. A sweet, meaningful, sometimes funny read aloud book for 1st graders about kindness and being yourself.

    Good Dog by Cam Higgins, illustrated by Ariel Landy
    What a sweet beginning illustrated chapter book written from Bo the dog’s point of view! Enthusiastic and full of personality, Bo adores his loving family and his life on the farm. But he worries when his dog tag goes missing. He searches the farm with the help of all the farm animals and his spider friends help him find it.

    Pug Pals Two’s a Crowd by Flora Ahn
    Sunny’s whole life is turned upside down when her owner brings home a new sister, Rosy. It’s hard to share her owner’s time, and especially hard to share her toys. Adorable illustrations show these personality-filled pugs who eventually develop a solid sister bond while looking for Sunny’s lost Mr. Bunny toy.

    Sadiq and the Desert Star by Siman Nuurali, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
    Not only is this a great STEM story about a young boy who finds the stars to be fascinating, but it’s also a story with diversity because Sadiq’s Muslim family is originally from Somalia. The story is also about how after a field trip to the planetarium, Sadiq and his friends start a space club and work together to raise money for a DIY telescope.

    Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee, illustrated by Dung Ho
    Mindy and her dad recently moved to Florida after her mom’s death. When the other kids at school make fun of her seaweed snacks at lunch, Mindy and her new friend Sally start a snack business to save money for a puppy. This doesn’t go as planned yet it’s a big learning experience showing Mindy to be herself and be proud of her Korean-American culture.

    The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey, illustrated by Garry Parsons
    Written in increasingly funny (and alarming) letters we learn that Uncle Morton left his pet dragon for Edward and his mom and sister to watch — with no directions!! The dragon poops in their shoes, eats their pet bunny, and causes all kinds of destruction which become the topics of Edward’s letters to his nowhere-to-be-found uncle. Finally, Edward hears from his uncle who suggests feeding the dragon chocolate. Will Edward’s mom lose her mind? Will the chocolate work?

    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams
    THEMES/TOPICS: friendship, love, loss, sacrifice, determination, empathy, animals/arachnids, communities (urban, rural), kindness
    SKILLS: word choice/vocabulary, persuasion, character traits, problem/solution, cause/effect, creating mental images

    This classic read aloud is a beautiful tribute to friendship. It’s a classic for a reason and in my opinion, one of the best-written children’s books ever. As you probably know, Wilber is a runt pig who is going to be killed. His best spider friend, Charlotte, weaves up a surprising way to save Wilber’s life.

    Squirlish: The Girl in the Tree by Ellen Potter, illustrations by Sara Cristofori
    When a squirrel named Shakespeare finds baby Cordelia, he raises her in his Central Park tree. Now at age 8, Cordelia leaves the safety of their park home to chase a nut-thieving squirrel…and gets lost! Sweet Cordelia’s attempts to make friends go drastically wrong when she behaves like a squirrel–chasing and chittering. Soon, Cordelia knows it’s time to go home. But can the city squirrels show her how to get there? And could she ever make a friend with another human? I love this story!

    Too Small Tola by Atinuke, illustrated by Onyinye Iwu
    Tola lives in Nigeria in an apartment with her sister, brother, and Grandmommy. Readers feel the love in Tola’s close-knit family and experience her life in her Nigerian community with kind-hearted neighbors and diversity of religion (Eid and Easter) and see that even when you’re small, you can make a difference.


    Want More Read Aloud Book Favorites for First Grade?

    You might also like…

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    Planet Omar by Zanib Mian

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

    The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

    Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon

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    1. Thank you for the wonderful book lists on your site. I wanted to add that my seven and four year old boys both love “Jenny and the Cat Club” by Esther Averill and have asked me to read it aloud several times. It’s got sweet vintage charm and timeless, winsome characters.

      1. Thanks, Kate. We love Jenny and the Cat Club! It’s on several of my lists actually because you’re right, it’s darling and timeless.

    2. Love the suggestion to mostly read above their reading level except when you want to get them hooked on a series! A great trick. 😉 Thanks for another great list, Melissa!