19 perfect read alouds for first grade, perfect read alouds for 1st grade

19 Perfect Read Alouds for 1st Grade

I polled my three kids to jog their memory of what the read aloud books were in first grade. We had one wonderful first grade teacher twice, and PickyKidPix was even able to loop with her for second grade too!

When I think of first grade, I remember it was a time when all the kids desperately wanted to read “chapter books“, as if picture books didn’t count anymore. But often, picture books have a richer vocabulary and a more interesting story so this list includes books that teach  about compassion, entertain and mesmerize. I hope you enjoy them!

What books do you recommend as a first grade read aloud? Please share!

19. One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ted Lewin

Eve Bunting really knows how to introduce sensitive subjects to young readers. In One Green Apple, Farah, a young Muslim immigrant finds a way to connect with her classmates on a school field trip to an apple farm, even though she doesn’t realize that green apples are sour. Learning about other cultures through picture books is a gift we can give to our kids and to the world as they grow older. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

18. A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky

Grasshopper and Sensei is starting high school this year, but she remembered this funny poetry book that her first grade teacher introduced her to by way of read aloud. Prelutsky is the perfect poetry entrée; he just makes poetry fun! [poetry, ages 4 and up]

17. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

There really was a real Miss Rumphius, who scattered Lupine seeds everywhere she went in Maine. But this dreamy picture book is more than a biography; it validates the power of dreaming. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

16. Chicken Soup With Rice: A Book of Months by Maurice Sendak

Grasshopper and Sensei’s teacher used to sing and dance using a giant version of this book. It’s also great for learning the months of the year. First graders will enjoy the movement and music aspect of singing a book! Perfect for winter! [picture book, ages 2 and up]

15. Knock Knock: My Father’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beatty, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This picture book is comforting to any child who does not have the constant presence of a father or father figure whether it’s due to divorce, death or incarceration. The message is both powerful and healing. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

14. Mama & Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling

Carling’s family immigrated to Guatemala from China where they ran a store and this picture book recalls their life as kids watching Indians buy thread used for beautiful weavings, hearing stories about China, and playing on the roof with her siblings. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

13. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

There comes a time when a kid thinks realistic drawing skills are what define a “good” artist from a “bad” one. Reynolds’ Ish sets this idea upside down. Art can be representation but not realistic and still have merit (but he says this in a simpler and much more entertaining way!) [picture books, ages 4 and up]

12. Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji by F. Zia and Ken Min

I think it’s important for kids to see themselves in books and to celebrate the different kinds of ethnic food that they might eat at home. This picture book shows a multi-generation household with the grandfather’s talent for eating Roti (an Indian flatbread) that makes him as strong as a tiger. Food = superpowers? You bet! It worked for Popeye too! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

11. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

My husband and I still giggle when we think of this picture book. Officer Buckle is the safety officer and he takes his job pretty seriously. Gloria is a police dog with a special talent for entertaining. Does your police safety officer present at your school? Even if this doesn’t happen (it’s doesn’t at our school either), Rathman’s picture book is hilarious fun mixed with some good cautionary warnings. [picture book, age 4 and up]

10. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

I have an Asian middle name and I remember being embarrassed about it. Unhei has just moved from Korea and worries that her name is too hard for her American classmates and teacher to remember or pronounce. Should she change it? Her classmates help out by making suggestions but in the end, everyone realizes how special her name is, just the way it is! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

9. I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Keyana dreads getting her hair combed out; it hurts so much! But her mother has a secret; her African-American hair is special and beautiful and can be styled in a myriad of ways. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

8. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Not every day at school is a good one, but there’s always the next day which will be better. Lilly’s day started out great. Her grammy took her shopping and she has a new purple plastic purse. But, Lilly’s enthusiasm for her purse makes her a tad impatient and unable to wait her turn for sharing and she gets her purse taken away by her teacher. All kids can relate to the ups and downs of a school day, even when they have a wonderful teacher like Mr. Slinger. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

7. Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant

PickyKidPix generally never reads a book twice, but in this case, after her teacher read it aloud, she insisted on checking it out from the library. She liked the story of the animals but bonus points for the rich vocabulary that Rylant sneaks into this chapter book. [chapter book, ages 6 and up]

6.A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

After their home is destroyed by a fire, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save their coins to buy a really comfortable chair for all to enjoy. A Chair for My Mother has sold more than a million copies and is an ideal choice for reading and sharing at home and in the classroom. “A superbly conceived picture book expressing the joyful spirit of a loving family.”—The Horn Book [picture book, ages 4 and up]

5. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

All three of my kids enjoyed the My Father’s Dragon trilogy which they were read to at school. It’s a classic and unusual in that it’s a dragon fantasy but a very gentle one. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]

4. Owl Moon Jane Yolen

Exploring the woods at night with your dad to find owls was never more lyrically told but Jane Yolen has a special gift for this. Even though it’s prose, I think it sounds like poetry, particularly when read aloud. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

3. Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

Rodney (Wodney) is a rodent (wodent) with a problem. He can’t pronounce his “r’s”. PickyKidPix had the same issue in Kindergarten; it’s the last sound to develop I was told by our babysitter who was getting her Master’s in Speech Therapy. In this case, Rodney’s speech impediment saves the day in a hilarious way when a mean girl bully joins the class. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

2. Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully

Emily Arnold McCully’s picture books are all wonderful and this first book in the Mirette series is a great introduction to her work.

When Bellini, a celebrated high wire circus walker, stays at Mirette’s mother’s boarding house, she is intrigued and tries out the wire for herself. He discourages her — it’s dangerous! — but she’s so persistent and tenacious that he concedes to teach her. She finds out why is staying with them rather than performing all over Europe; he’s developed a fear of heights. In a twist of student teaching the teacher, together they make a great team. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

1. Half Magic by Edward Eager

A magic coin that grants half a wish sparks an adventure during an otherwise boring summer for vacationing cousins. Their adventures end up with real life changes as they stumble upon the perfect husband for their widowed mother. [chapter book, ages 6 and up]


p.s. I have more lists:

26 Perfect Read Alouds for Kindergarten

10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade

Top 10 Perfect Read Alouds for 3rd Grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 4th Grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 5th Grade

23 Great Picture Books for 5th Grade

90 6th Graders Name Their Favorite Book

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

19 perfect read alouds for first grade, perfect read alouds for 1st grade

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. So many of my favorites on this list….

  2. Catherine Johnson

    Read some, heard of others. Thanks, Mia. I need to get my first grader more interested in reading.
    Catherine Johnson recently posted…Jack and the Beanstalk ArtMy Profile

  3. Wendy Dean

    We love Miss Rumphius and Owl Moon! Must head to library and check out the rest! Thanks again for another fab book list!

  4. We love Half Magic and A Chair for My Mother! and I’ve enjoyed several of the other books here, too – thank you for sharing! My kindergartener loves the Magic Treehouse books, and Lulu and the Dog by the Sea went over pretty well as a first chapter-book read-aloud to a group.
    Katy K. recently posted…The City in the LakeMy Profile

  5. I have no memory of books that we read in first grade. But, I do remember reading grous and having a common reader “Dick and Jane.” My first series books were the “Box Car Kids” “Pippi Longstocking” and “Nany Drew.” Thankfully times have changed and teachers have so many wonderful books to share with kids. I agree with you and feel that PBs still play a very important role in elementary school. I love your choices, especially “Owl Moon,” “Ish,” “I love My Hair and Knock Knock.”
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…International Dot Day Countdown – September 15My Profile

    • Thanks so much Patricia,
      My kids loved Pippi Longstocking too! I bought the entire series of Nancy Drew when my oldest was very young because it was at Costco and very reasonable and I loved that series as a child but never owned any but sadly, my girls did not take to it. We had slightly better luck with the Box Car Kids but I remember only have a few at school when I was a kid; I don’t think it was a series back then.

      Ah… it’s fun when kids like the books you read as a kid but it doesn’t always work out that way LOL!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…FREE Fun Factoid App: Parent and Child KidQMy Profile

  6. Thanks for a great list, it’s brilliant to see diverse books being championed, some of these will be great for me to read with my book-loving nieces.

  7. These sound wonderful – both those we have read and the ones I need to look for now!
    maryanne recently posted…Rainy Day Fun for Kids: Q-tip ChallengeMy Profile

  8. Ann

    Just had out the Perlutsky book and had a lot of fun with it. Henkes I think is a great pick too. Adding Officer Buckle to our list!
    Ann recently posted…Knuffle Bunny PrintableMy Profile

  9. We have the Sendak one, and we also have a calendar to start learning days of the week and months of the year. I’m looking forward to the others, especially One Green Apple!

  10. These are wonderful! I’m definitely pinning! Thanks so much for sharing this!
    Lisa Nelson recently posted…Children’s Literature Review – Jump! by Julia DweckMy Profile

  11. Love this list! I have read many of these along with the little one and loved it 🙂 Thanks for sharing on KidLit BlogHop this week.
    -Reshama @Stackingbooks

  12. Lesley

    Is there an easy link on your site to places where we can link up books please, Mia?
    thanks for everything that you do for education. It is much appreciated.
    Lesley recently posted…You and Me: Our PlaceMy Profile

  13. This is a FANTASTIC list! So many of my favorites on here!

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