1st Grade Reading Books

1st Grade Reading Books

Homeschooling families should have access to library books AND have their own home book collection! Know what level your child’s is at AND have a good selection of books at home kids can independently choose to read from.

I hope you enjoy my carefully curated list of 140 books for first graders!

NOTE it is important for young readers to read physical books. Online books are not enough to engage young independent readers they simultaneously need the sensory feedback of holding a book, turning the page, smelling the paper, etc. Most first graders have not had enough early reading experiences for the abstract reading experience of only online books. It is ok to have a mix of carefully selected “just right” real & online books is acceptable.

Why Introduce Leveled 1st Grade Reading Books?

Carefully selected books help children become more confident readers faster!

Leveled reading books for first graders are pre-selected short stories based on a child’s independent reading ability (the phonics skills they have already mastered AND the current ones they are learning about and need to practice) and grade-level appropriateness.

Leveled books are appropriate for children who are decoding and ready to focus on building more sight word recognition, vocabulary and reading behaviors required to independently read a specific level.

IMPORTANT ITEMS TO NOTE:

  1. At no point should your child be *guessing* how to read. Decoding isa major factor of great reading (and spelling) so if you see your child *guessing redirect back to decoding skills they know. If the guessing continues they may not be ready for leveled books and continue decodable books only until they are ready to move on.
  2. Avoid Predictable texts with repetitive sentences (and be realistic). My son LOVED Brown Bear, Brown Bear throughout his toddler and preschool years. We read it so much he could recite it but we named it “wow, you remember the story” and we didn’t use it as an independent reading book until I knew that he was actually able decode it. “Let’s read something else right now”. Once he already knew the sight words, color words, etc. we tried it and he knew he could read it for real.
  3. There is limited consistency in some of the early readers series. For example the I can Read and Step into Reading series level 1 or 2 books may have more or less text per page than another title in the series. PREVIEW all of the books first & wait to introduce them until you know your child has learned about the reading skills required to read it (sight words, phonics etc.).

The Science of Reading & Leveled Books

The Science of Reading (also known as structured literacy) is centered upon the methods or approaches that research has shown to be the most beneficial in learning to read. It is a series of complex skills that is best described in Scarborough’s Reading Rope. Reading is not a naturally acquired skill and needs to be taught. It includes all of the complexities that are required for fluent (automatic) reading. Such as; phonics, phonemic awareness, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, etc.

1st graders who are on track for their reading are moving from strictly reading decodable books(PreK-K) and are ready to begin reading leveled books (not predictable texts) that advance the amount of text on a page and the skills required to decode that text. Leveled books aren’t “bad” for reading, they way you use them can be.

The Great Reading Divide

There is a huge debate about what is best for teaching reading and to be honest as far as I know there will always be. The terminology changes over the years but the problem is still the same. Public Education is not serving all readers and could be better. Teacher & Administrator Trainings could be better. But no one seems to be able to agree on what exactly “better” is, how we would roll that out nation-wide, etc.

It is my understanding that the debate is largely the Science of Reading (or Structured Literacy) vs everything else. (Balanced Literacy, Fountas & Pinnell’s MSC system & 3Cuing, that are still used in many school districts today as well as the failed reading systems of the past Whole Language, etc.)

Your Home Library

Variety is key. You do not need a complete leveled library in your home but frequent trips to the library help make variety a possibility.

First Graders begin their school year off reading around the level D (still needing decodable texts) or E (likely ready to begin leveled books) and progress through as many levels as they are able.

Build up your home library using a variety of sources & book sales; local independent bookstores are a great place to start. Also try garage sales, neighbors with older kids who have outgrown their early reading books, retiring teachers, amazon & discount online retailers like thebestchildren’sbooks.org they sell gently used levels book sets by reading level/ range.

NOTE: There are a few leveled reading book systems used today by educators. Your local library may use one of those systems. To simplify this article I will be referencing the Fountas and Pinnell leveled reading system as they are the one’s who invented the lettered reading system. To find how other leveled systems relate to F&P click here and hover your cursor over one of the colored letter levels.

First Grade Reading Book Series-

Before your young boy or young girl is ready for their first chapter book series try to find a series that is just right for your reader. This post contains affiliate links please see our disclosure for more information.

If you can find the boxed book sets you will often save money on a treasured home book collection that you can read with your children or they can read to you over and over again! I buy them and start as read alouds then as reading skills advance we read together and eventually your child can read these gems independently! Once you read that first book in a series that is a hit, stick with that series for a little while to get to know characters and text features that just aren’t available on the easy reader books they used in Kindergarten.

Elephant & Piggy by Mo Willems

The Complete collection is a great value if you are worried about paying money for books your kids will grow out of quickly. The complete set has 25 books plus book ends and supports 1st grade to early 3rd grade readers, respectively. This is a home library MUST HAVE! The main characters (Gerald-elephant and Piggy) are super silly and lovable best friends who learn about friendship, communication, taking turns, sharing, waiting, etc. This is still our favorite book set, even though my son has moved on to chapter books. The story lines contain silly adventure with different animals sometimes making an appearance in the story for example “Can I Play Too?”.

Fly Guy Presents Series

This is a super fun Non Fiction based series. I highly recommend the 8 book boxed set. Kids love these easily relate-able books with plenty of science topics like Scary Creatures, Sharks and community helpers like Firefighters, to name a few.

King & Kayla Series By Dori Hillestad Butler

I love that someone made a girl and her dog series at a first grade level (middle or end of the year)! King & Kayla series is like Henry & Mudge meets Nate the Great. The stories are told by King (the point of view of the dog). The texts are simple enough to be an introduction to real “big kid” chapter books but not too intimidating. I think the best feature of this series is that the main character is BIPOC. There just aren’t enough inclusive chapter book series. This series could be used as a read aloud or shared reading until readers have matured enough in their reading to take on beginning chapter books.

Entry Level Series

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder

A super cute series about 2 brothers and the sweet way the navigate through life’s situations together. This book series is a fantastic first chapter book series! There is no boxed book set (right now) maybe one day in the future. So far there are 5 books in the series. I recommend reading these in order, although you do not have to.

Simple Text Reader Series

Puppy Mudge Series by Cyntha Rylant

From the award winning author Cynthia Rylant & author of over 100 other children’s books Puppy Mudge is the adorable prequel to the second grade classic Henry & Mudge. This 6 book set is full of adventures and friendship between a little boy and his puppy. The books in this series include grade level appropriate CVC words, sight words and repetitive vocabulary. This book set is multi-level so take care to read these together or as a read aloud if the child’s independent reading level is not quite there yet.

Tiny Series by Carrie Meister

Cute easy to read texts with cute relatable story lines like Tiny Goes Camping. This series comes in set for Kindle or individually. I highly recommend the paper back books for as the best fit for emergent readers. It’s important for young readers to have concrete independent reading experiences.

Early Readers throughout the year

Best Books by reading level (Fountas & Pinnell)

1st Grade Reading Books for the Beginning of the year

The “My First I Can Read” and “Step Into Reading” Series are for more advanced beginners. They are not for children who are just barely have learned the letter sounds and cvc words. More simple and predictable texts are recommended for this level of reading (see Kindergarten Books to Read).

Reading Level D

Characteristic examples of text; 2- 6 lines of text on each page, fewer repetitive language patterns, longer and more complex sentences (contractions, -ing & -s endings), simple dialog.

Reading Level E

Characteristic examples of text; up to 8 lines of text on each page, longer sentences (up to 10 words), literary language, variation of words (ex: said, cried, shouted), some sequential information.

Reading Level F

Characteristic examples of text: Longer sentences (more than 10 words) and dialogue, compound sentences, inflectional endings (for example -ed), varied placement of subject, verb, adverb, prepositional phrase.

1st Grade Reading Books Middle of the Year

Reading Level G

Characteristic text examples: content specific vocabulary, some unfamiliar experiences (that maybe most children have not yet had), slightly smaller print, more complex language, clauses and phrases.

Reading Level H

Text Characteristic examples: More complex spelling patterns (expand the “sound-it-out” strategy if that was taught to the child), minimal illustrations, easy compound words, more descriptive language.

First Grade Reading Books End of the Year & Summer Reading

Reading Level I

Characteristic examples: More complex story structure like compare/contrast or problem/solution, 8-16 pages of print such as easy chapter books, expanded sight word vocabulary.

Reading Level J

Characteristic examples: even more complex spelling patterns like multisyllabic words, inflectional endings, plurals, contractions, and possessives, processing more complex sentences is easy.

More First Grade Books

Picture Books

First graders enjoy light hearted books involving easily relatable topics like best friends, making new friends and picture books where the main characters learns how to solve a problem or overcome a challenge.

1st Grade Reading Books
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