50 of the Best Books for First Grade

There are enough book ideas here to last all year long!

Best First Grade Books for the Classroom - WeAreTeachers

Reading to and with first gradersis such fun! You already have your tried-and-true first grade favorites, but how can you resist updating your classroom library when so many amazing new titles are hitting the shelves? Here are 50 of our favorite first grade books you might not have yet.

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1. Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell

Learning about empathy and understanding someone else’s perspective comes with first grade territory, and this is a great book to explore those ideas. Chloe can tell that Adrian Simcox’s fantastic stories about his horse are untrue, but should she begrudge him the chance to escape that his imagination provides?

2. The Princess and the Pit Stop by Tom Angleberger

Rev your engine for this fast-paced title that’s as fun to read aloud as it is to hear. A spunky princess beats myriad fairy-tale and nursery rhyme characters in a thrilling car race.

3. The Field by Baptiste Paul

Caribbean children yell in English and Creole as they race towards the field for a pickup soccer game. Not even a deluge of rain can thwart their joy. The text is sparse but impactful, making this a great narrative writing mentor text for first grade.

4. You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

Encourage connection and empathy with this brief but meaningful text. We love that the illustrations feature indigenous people in the present day, examples of which can be difficult to find in children’s books.

5. Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale by Josh Funk

After an uncertain start, George and Blaise both come to enjoy being each other’s pen pal. There’s a big surprise when they meet, though! This is a great story for teaching about using evidence from the text and appreciating differences.

6. It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

Another clever story about mail reminds us to be careful what we wish for. Delightful word choice (e.g., diddley-squat and squibble wibble whoop) make this a fun one to read aloud over and over.

7. Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

When Julián sees a group of women dressed as mermaids on the subway, he’s transfixed. He wonders if Abuela will be angry when he dresses up as a mermaid, but her response is perfect. Not only is this book stunning, it opens important discussions about acceptance.

8. Benji, the Bad Day, and Me by Sally J. Pla

Sammy had a horrible day, but unlike his brother, Benji, who is on the autism spectrum, he doesn’t have any special supports to help him feel better. It turns out love from his brother is just what he needs, though.

9. The Five Forms by Barbara McClintock

When a young girl ignores the warning on an ancient book, she unlocks a herd of wild animals, and chaos ensues! Will she be able to get everything under control before she is found out?

10. Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña

It’s Carmela’s birthday, and she’s finally old enough to go out alone with her brother. The thrill of independence sharpens her observations of her neighborhood. This book will definitely resonate with students.

11. Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds

What do you do when the glow-in-the-dark underwear you begged your mom to buy turn out to be super scary? This follow-up to the crowd-pleasing Creepy Carrots is hysterical and good for discussions about expectations, growing up, and managing fears.

12. Maurice the Unbeastly by Amy Dixon

Kale-eating, a cappella–singing Maurice encourages readers to be themselves in this creative and appealing celebration of individuality.

13. Hattie and Hudson by Chris Van Dusen

Level-headed and independent Hattie sets an example for her whole community when it comes to accepting an unexpected neighbor.

14. The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney

This classic tale is reimagined by a Caldecott medalist. The updated ending conveys an anti-bullying message.

15. Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan

The sit-and-listen expectations of school just don’t fit with Rodney’s yearning to be outside. Published in partnership with the Yosemite Conservancy, this title encourages readers to do what they love, especially outdoors.

16. Big Friendsby Linda Sarah

Is it possible to enjoy someone new when you already have a best friend? This book addresses a common first grade conundrum.

17. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Another winner from the creator of The Most Magnificent Thing, this story is about cutting the excuses and summoning the confidence to achieve great things.

18. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev

How many conversations have you had with students about the trials and tribulations of playground “clubs”? This title is a perfectly sweet testimony to what friends do.

19. Rules of the House by Mac Barnett

Ian loves rules. (Remind you of any first graders you know?) On a family vacation, both he and his anti-rule sister, Jenny, get a lesson in stepping outside their comfort zones.

20. You Must Bring a Hat! by Simon Philip

There’s a fantastic hat party in progress, but the rules for entry keep getting more complicated. Students will want to revisit the comical illustrations again and again.

21. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt

Share the “legend” behind this classic decision-making game with this slapstick title from the author of the bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit.

22. 7 Ate 9 by Tara Lazar

Tara Lazar turns a classic joke into a numerical private-eye adventure. Savvy students will love all the clever math puns.

23. Sheep Won’t Sleep: Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10sby Judy Cox

A classic sleep-inducing trick goes awry when the originally-counted ewes invite an array of other furry creatures in groups of two, five, and ten.

24. The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca

Show students how achievement in math can lead to a career in engineering. Plus, highlight a role model who broke both racial and gender barriers. We love all the titles in the Amazing Scientists series!

25. Square by Mac Barnett

The second installment in the Shape Trilogy, we love this one as much as Triangle. Launch a discussion on the features of shapes while also introducing ideas about the power of perception.

26. The Hen Who Sailed Around the World by Guirec Soudée 

This is such a fun nonfiction title, especially if you teach about the Arctic habitat—or chickens! Get students wondering about what it’s really like to be a modern-day explorer with this autobiography of the youngest navigator to cross the Northwest Passage alone (with his pet chicken).

27. The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer

With an informative and beautifully illustrated section for just about every insect you could imagine, your students will want to pore over it. The directions for creating a Bug Spotter’s Kit invite science into the schoolyard.

28. Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers by Sara Levine

First graders think a lot about teeth—losing them, at least. This entertaining explanation of how animals use different types of teeth is just right for the tooth fairy crowd.

29. Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford

This inspiring book alternates between scenes from Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and a classroom of students preparing for their own social justice march.

30. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark

Share this story as an example of persistence and also to help your students appreciate the origin of the tablets, laptops, and desktops they use today.

31. Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

Any kid who likes to tinker with “stuff” will aspire to be just like Lonnie Johnson after hearing this story of the NASA engineer who invented the Super Soaker. This is a great STEM title for your collection.

32. Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del Arcoiris by Linda Elovitz

The daughter of a Guatemalan village artisan repurposes the plastic bags that litter her village into thread for weaving. This bilingual story has fascinating factual roots.

33. This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World by Matt Lamothe

Every elementary classroom needs a copy of this book. Send a powerful message about the things that connect kids across the globe.

34. Seeing into Tomorrow by Richard Wright

This collection of haiku highlights common childhood experiences of children, like noticing shadows, playing outside, and watching trains. The unique photo collage artwork is a much-needed everyday portrayal of African American boys.

35. Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub

This collection has a shopping list’s worth of creative rhymes, fun illustrations, and great vocabulary, all while celebrating healthy, local food.

36. Read! Read! Read! by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Enjoy poems about all aspects of reading, from learning to read to living vicariously through book characters. Even “Googling Guinea Pigs” is reading!

37. Once in a Blue Moon by Danielle Daniel

Short but powerful poems capture special experiences in nature. Motivate your students to look for their own once-in-a-blue-moon moments.

38. An Elephant and Piggie Biggie! by Mo Willems

What’s better than one Elephant and Piggie story? Five! Kids can just keep on reading with this collection of favorite tales.

39. I Lost My Tooth! by Mo Willems

Phew! Mo Willems has introduced another hilarious collection of characters to keep early readers giggling. This series opener is a prime choice for wiggly-toothed first graders.

40. The Mo Jackson Series by David A. Adler

What Mo lacks in size and athleticism he makes up for in determination and love of the game. Young sports enthusiasts will be eager to read the play-by-play accounts of his experiences in every sports season.

41. The Confetti Kids Series by Paula Yoo and Gwendolyn Hooks

With their diverse cast and portrayals of varied childhood experiences, the Confetti Kids let many students see themselves in books.

42. The Charlie & Mouse books by Laurel Snyder

Books about sibling conflicts make for great discussion, but these vignettes about two brothers who love to “just play” together are so refreshingly sweet. Keep an eye out for additional titles.

43. King & Kayla series by Dori Hillestad Butler

These gentle but engaging mysteries, told from King’s loveable and funny canine perspective, are perfect for readers not quite ready for chapter books.

44. The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau

Louie and Ralphie Ratso just want to impress their dad by being tough, but every attempt they make ends up making them look kind instead. We love the balance of comedy and heart.

45. Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz

All Princess Cora wants is to explore, get dirty, and get a break from her controlling parents once in a while. Her fairy godmother sends a crocodile to help. You’ll enjoy reading this one aloud as much as your students will like hearing it.

46. Zoey and Sassafras books by Asia Citro

With sick magical animals in need of help and an inspiring, relatable girl-scientist hero, this is a series to collect for your classroom.

47. Fergus and Zeke series by Kate Messner

Fergus and Zeke are two tiny mice with big personalities whose friendship begins at the science museum.

48. National Geographic Level 1 Co-readers by National Geographic

National Geographic readers are a classroom staple. The co-reader series has easier I Read sections paired with more complex You Read portions, perfect for shared reading or multiage book buddies.

49. Fly Guy Presents seriesby Tedd Arnold

If anyone can motivate first graders to devour informational text, Fly Guy can. The popular insect and his owner, Buzz, head out on educational field trips in this spin-off series.

50. Giggle and Learn books by Kevin McCloskey

The Giggle and Learn series takes on high-interest topics in their readable, comic-style nonfiction texts. Explore the whole series.

What are your favorite first grade books? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. 

Plus, the best first grade art projects and anchor charts.

50 of the Best Books for First Grade

Posted by Lindsay Barrett

A former elementary teacher and reading nonprofit director, Lindsay now works as a literacy consultant and freelance writer while wrangling her four young children.

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