Teachers, librarians, parents, and homeschoolers, are you looking for a good list of great books to read aloud to your first (1st) graders? Here is 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 Aloud Books for 1st Grade
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
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.
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.
Gooney Bird Green by Lois Lowry
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
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.
Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon
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.
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold, illustrated by Charles Santoso
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.
Zoey and Sassafras Dragons and Marshmallows #1 by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay
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
Four chick siblings try 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 who love silly read aloud books 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 book is very comical and will keep your kids thoroughly entertained.
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 book 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.
Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty
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?
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.
Unicorn Academy: Sophia and Rainbow by Julie Skyes, illustrated by Lucy Truman
Well-written and charming, this unicorn book series is sure to entrance many young readers. In this story, Sophia arrives at Unicorn Academy and is paired with the lovely Rainbow. But, she feels guilty for making a new friend and leaving her best pony, Clover, back at home. On top of that, the unicorns’ magic is wonky because the lake is being poisoned. When someone accuses Sophia, she and her new friends decide to investigate.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams
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.
Want More Read Aloud Book Favorites for First Grade?
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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
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