Teachers, parents, and homeschoolers, are you looking for a good list of books to read aloud to your first 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 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. 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 HERE (Independent Reading)
Read Aloud Books for 1st 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 and perfect for a first grade read aloud.
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 story 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.
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.)
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?
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 series for so many kids, too. See all the Dory books here.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
THEME/TOPICS: Love, loss, emotions (might be too mature for your 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. Yet a wise doll encourages Edward to open his heart to love again — and that’s when he finds a miracle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Chicken Squad The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin illustrated by Kevin Cornell
THEME/ TOPICS: humor, chickens, mystery
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 first-person point of view.
THEMES / TOPICS: family, bilingual life,
SKILLS: making connections, character traits, plot, Spanish words
Want More Read Aloud Book Favorites for 1st Grade?
You might also like …
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
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!