Wondering which chapter books to incorporate into your first grade reading instruction? We’ve got you covered! At this age, students display a wide range of literacy skills, from learning to decode to reading multisyllabic words and longer text. Not every student will be ready to tackle them on their own yet, but these memorable chapter books for first graders would also make great read-alouds. We’ve curated this list to engage students in stories that will make them laugh, smile, and get excited about learning to read. Fun animal characters, detailed illustrations, and shorter chapters support first graders who are just beginning to read independently. After all, there’s something so magical about reading that first chapter book—talk about a huge milestone!
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1. Our Friend Hedgehog by Lauren Castillo
This lovely tale of friendship between a crew of animal friends will warm your heart. After a big storm blows his stuffed dog Muddy away, Hedgehog must search far and wide for his beloved friend. Along the way, he discovers new friends who help him on his journey. Bright, colorful illustrations enhance this soul-nourishing chapter book for first graders, evoking feelings of comfort and familiarity. Be sure to check out the sequel too!
Buy it: Our Friend Hedgehog at Amazon
2. The Questioneers series by Andrea Beaty
A wonderful pick for your inquisitive first graders. A spin-off series of the popular picture books by Andrea Beaty, these stories will inspire and engage with adventures in science and friendship. A relatable cast of diverse characters work together to solve all sorts of problems while learning that failure is just part of the process.
Buy it: The Questioneers series at Amazon
3. Monster and Boy series by Hannah Barnaby
This endearing three-book series is an absolute delight. When an unassuming monster accidentally swallows a boy, together the two of them must figure out a way to make things right again. Young readers will laugh at the absurd premise and eagerly anticipate the resolution. Eye-popping green-and-black illustrations accompany accessible text in these original and compelling books.
Buy it: Monster and Boy series at Amazon
4. The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series by Poppy Green
Kind and thoughtful Sophie Mouse is the star of this 20-book series. Endlessly charming and sweet, these chapter books for first graders are filled with heartwarming stories of friendship and family. Students will enjoy following along with Sophie and her friends Hattie Frog and Owen Snake, as they embark on fun and daring adventures together. The books tackle common first grade experiences like dealing with jealousy and understanding and overcoming our differences.
Buy it: The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series at Amazon
5. The Infamous Ratsos series by Kara LaReau
Brothers Louie and Ralphie do everything they can to prove they are just as tough as their dad, Big Lou. But somewhere along the way, the earnest rats always seem to end up doing good deeds instead. Short chapters filled with plenty of humor keep the stories moving fast. Surprisingly charming and meaningful, this series evokes emotion while making reading fun.
Buy it: The Infamous Ratsos series at Amazon
6. Owl Diaries series by Rebecca Elliott
Another sweet animal story your students will love. Vivid illustrations surround the simple text and speech bubbles on each page, making these books perfect for helping first graders advance their fluency skills. Entertaining and heartfelt stories of friendship and teamwork will hook beginning readers on these fun chapter books for first graders.
Buy it: Owl Diaries series at Amazon
7. Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
Be sure to introduce your students to this fantastic classic series. Easier than some other titles on our list, these are an ideal choice for instilling confidence while sharing beautiful and lighthearted stories of friendship with your students. Readers will appreciate Frog and Toad’s loyal companionship and relish sharing in the fun adventures they have together.
Buy it: Frog and Toad series at Amazon
8. Rabbit & Bear series by Julian Gough and Jim Field
Not your average animal story, this unique series will appeal to readers everywhere. First graders will laugh at the bathroom humor, which is relatively tame and works into the story tactfully. These one-of-a-kind tales of two animals working out their differences are a great fit for students looking for a little fun and levity.
Buy it: Rabbit & Bear series at Amazon
9. Katie Woo series by Fran Manushkin
This prolific series is a hit with first graders. Realistic portrayals of friendship dilemmas written with basic vocabulary support students’ fluency and comprehension development. The series chronicles Katie Woo’s entertaining adventures while demonstrating that making mistakes helps us learn and grow. Perfectly bridging the gap into the world of chapter books, this series will encourage new readers and make them feel accomplished.
Buy it: Katie Woo series at Amazon
10. Unicorn and Yeti series by Heather Ayris Burnell
This vibrant and engaging series is truly delightful. With colorful illustrations and simple and repetitive text, each graphic novel tells the silly and fun tales of two best friends, Unicorn and Yeti, who despite their differences can agree on their fondness for sparkly things. Newly independent readers will feel confident taking on these accessible and entertaining chapter books for first graders.
Buy it: Unicorn and Yeti series at Amazon
11. Here’s Hank series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Hank is an endearing character with a great sense of humor who also struggles in school. Portraying learning challenges in an entirely relatable way, this series makes kids feel seen. It’s also a great read-aloud for starting important discussions about learning differences. Plus, the text itself is published in a readable font designed for readers with dyslexia, making it even more approachable for a first grade audience.
Buy it: Here’s Hank series at Amazon
12. Amelia Bedelia series by Herman Parish
Beloved character Amelia Bedelia is the star of these chapter-book adaptations of the classic stories. Young Amelia shines with the same sparkle and charisma, but first graders can discover her again and again in an easier format. Like the original, these stories are filled with plenty of humor and word play to enjoy.
Buy it: Amelia Bedelia series at Amazon
13. Charlie & Mouse series by Laurel Snyder
Another excellent choice for students looking to dip their toes into chapter books. First graders will devour these easygoing, funny, and sweet stories about two brothers. Depicting simple stories from everyday life, like walking to a playground in the neighborhood or eating a banana for a bedtime snack, the books are playful and engaging. In addition, realistic and emotive illustrations along with short, concise sentences make this series accessible and utterly satisfying.
Buy it: Charlie & Mouse series at Amazon
14. Sofia Martinez series by Jacqueline Jules
Sofia is a spunky 7-year-old girl who wants to stand out among her sisters and family. Asserting herself and coming up with creative ways to solve problems, she’s a relatable character we can all get behind. We love how these chapter books for first graders integrate thoughtful cultural elements and Spanish words, while portraying the realistic challenges of being a kid.
Buy it: Sofia Martinez series at Amazon
15. Dory Fantasmagory series by Abby Hanlon
With an unforgettable and hilarious main character, these chapter books for first graders display storytelling at its best. Readers will greatly enjoy following Dory’s silly antics as she tries to play with her older siblings and uses her imagination to be brave. Plenty of black-and-white illustrations break up the text and enhance the story, adding to the readability of this winning series.
Buy it: Dory Fantasmagory series at Amazon
16. Dragon Masters series by Tracey West
Dragons, wizardry, and magic galore! Imaginative and fast-moving, this series engages early readers from the start. In the first installment, Drake becomes a dragon master in-training, as he and his dragon train together while discovering special powers that will help them fight evil. Along with an action-packed plot, evocative black-and-white illustrations on every page support developing literacy skills for first graders. Don’t miss this ideal series for readers who want to get lost in an epic story.
Buy it: Dragon Masters series at Amazon
17. Audrey L and Audrey W series by Carter Higgins
This lovely series addresses the complexities of friendship, showing us how to find similarities while also celebrating our differences. For Audrey L, second grade is not shaping up like she’d imagined, as she struggles to find a supportive friend. When another Audrey joins her class, she learns what it means to be kind even when she feels like she doesn’t measure up to her new classmate, and maybe even future friend. These realistic stories are a wonderful choice for first graders grappling with similar friendship and school dynamics.
Buy it: Audrey L and Audrey W series at Amazon
18. J.D. the Kid Barber series by J. Dillard
After getting a disastrous haircut from his mom, J.D. decides to take matters into his own hands. He gives himself a haircut, and before long he’s started his own successful barbering business. Although this series is slightly more advanced than others on our list, we highly recommend it for its portrayal of family dynamics, bullying, and realistic school experiences of an 8-year-old boy. Brimming with humor and fun, these are must-reads.
Buy it: J.D. the Barber Kid series at Amazon
19. Narwhal and Jelly series by Ben Clanton
Positively delightful and silly, these graphic novels for early readers are everything you could want in a chapter book. Beautiful and bright illustrations enhance the charming tales of this dynamic ocean-dwelling duo, while fewer words on a page make the books more approachable for first graders. Your students will love the imaginative elements and exploration of friendship as they join best friends Narwhal and Jelly on their exciting sea adventures.
Buy it: Narwhal and Jelly series at Amazon
20. Poppleton series by Cynthia Rylant
Another winner from acclaimed author Cynthia Rylant, these sweet chapter books for first graders about the new pig in town are silly, warm, and fun. We love how the repetitive text and short stories offer practice for emerging readers, while also entertaining them with the modest adventures of funny, kindhearted characters.
Buy it: Poppleton series at Amazon
21. Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Beginning readers will get hooked on these clever chapter books for first graders featuring the curious detective Nate and his dog, Sludge. Purposeful line breaks divide up the simple text and keep the action moving, making these a worthy choice for your classroom library. With plenty of books to choose from in this appealing series, your students will never run out of cases to solve.
Buy it: Nate the Great series at Amazon
22. Penny series by Kevin Henkes
In the style and with the same charm of his beautiful and insightful picture books, author Kevin Henkes has created a lovable character in Penny. Facing common dilemmas like dealing with younger twin siblings and struggling to name her new doll, she is a relatable protagonist. The level of text is just right for readers who are on the cusp of tackling longer chapter books and the storylines are simplistic yet thoughtful. Vibrant illustrations contribute to the carefully chosen text, suitable for many first graders.
Buy it: Penny series at Amazon
23. Snail & Worm series by Tina Kügler
We guarantee our last pick will have you and your students laughing out loud. Subtle yet entertaining, this three-book series honors children’s sense of humor and will have readers begging to read more tiny tales about their new favorite animal friends. Joyful, bright illustrations and easier vocabulary inspire first graders who aren’t quite ready for harder books. Plus, playful punctuation and line breaks help students practice reading with good expression. Reminiscent of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie, the wonderfully amusing characters Snail and Worm are sure make a lasting impression.
Buy it: Snail & Worm series at Amazon
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Plus, check out this list for more book inspiration for first graders.