The Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade

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Teachers, parents, and homeschoolers, are you looking for a good list of books to read aloud to your first (1st) graders? Here a list of 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!

But first, here are some important considerations when picking a read-aloud book.

Higher Reading Level
Generally, you’ll want to pick something at a 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 Their Reading Level
However,…there is a big exception to the above guideline. 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 independent reading!!

First Chapter Friday is one way to do this — so you’re not reading the entire book, 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.

Ties in with a Teaching 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 each book below, I am including possible learning connections. I hope they’re helpful.

Recommended Easy 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 Aloud Books for 1st Grade

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
SYNOPSIS: 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 a perfect book for a 1st grade read aloud.

The Best Read Aloud Book List for 1st Grade
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
SYNOPSIS: This read aloud book 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.

White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan
THEMES / TOPICS: adoption, abuse, selective mutism, friendship, family, kindness
SKILLS: background knowledge, prediction, questions, problem/solution
SYNOPSIS: 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
SYNOPSIS: One of the most underrated books and so, so funny, Gooney Bird Green is one you MUST consider. It’s an absolutely charming story that reminds me a little of Junie B. Jones but without the naughtiness or sass. 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
SYNOPSIS: 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 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
SYNOPSIS: 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. Also, see all the Dory books here.

The Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
THEME/TOPICS: Love, loss, emotions (might be too mature for your 1st grade class– preview and decide if it’s right for you)
SKILLS: creating mental images, making inferences, character traits, character growth, story sequence
SYNOPSIS: Edward is a china rabbit with a fancy wardrobe who was adored by the girl who owned him. Until he was lost. Warning: this story will break your heart then put it back together again. Edward experiences despair and loss many times over. He can hardly stand the pain. Ultimately, a wise doll encourages Edward to open his heart to love again — and that’s when he finds a miracle.

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, sibling rivalry, social skills
SKILLS: inference, point of view, character description, five senses, figures of speech
SYNOPSIS: 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 going to school and visiting his dad on 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 1st grade
Ivy and Bean
by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
THEME/TOPICS: friendship, siblings, humor
SKILLS: connecting to background knowledge, making predictions, making inferences, character traits/development, sequence, plot, problem/solution
SYNOPSIS: Get ready to laugh along with these charming young friends who won’t stop until they find the best way to solve their perplexing troubles, no matter how many ideas they must try. Use this read-aloud book to get your 1st graders interested in this entire book series.

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
SYNOPSIS: 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 Best Read Aloud Books for First Grade
A to Z Mysteries
by Rob Roy
TOPICS/ THEMES: mystery, friendship, helping others
SKILLS: determining what’s important, making inferences, problem/solution
SYNOPSIS: This addictive (and wholesome) chapter book mystery series will keep your kids engaged. My kids read the books more than once which to me is a sign of excellence. Friends Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose solve mysteries for every letter of the alphabet. This recommended book series would be a great read aloud to introduce a series that kids will soon be able to read independently.

read aloud books for 1st grade
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
SYNOPSIS: So funny! Four chick siblings determine to solve the mystery of 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 love silly read aloud books like this one.


Recommended Read aloud book list for 1st graders
The World According to Humphrey 
by Betty Birney
THEME/TOPICS: honesty, responsibility, differences, family
SKILLS: point of view/perspective, character development, sequence, voice, dialogue
SYNOPSIS: Class pet, Humphrey, is an observant hamster who travels to a students’ home on the weekends. He loves his life! (And is very opinionated.) Written in first-person, Humphrey’s adventures show both the unique perspective of a class pet as well as a first-person point of view.

read aloud book list for first grade (1st)
Sofia Martinez My Vida Loca by Jacquline Jules
THEMES / TOPICS: family, bilingual life,
SKILLS: making connections, character traits, plot, Spanish words
Introduce a new series to 1st grade readers!
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.

Want More Read Aloud Book Favorites for First Grade?

You might also like…

Freddie Ramos Takes Off (Zapato Power) by Jacqueline Jules and Miguel Benitez

Planet Omar by Zanib Mian

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Brand New School, Brave New Ruby by Derrick Barnes

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

The Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkin

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

22 read aloud books for 1st grade

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4 Responses

  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!

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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