Looking for the greatest read aloud books for 1st grade? I was a first grade teacher for many years, and these are some of the read aloud books that my students remembered years later. A wide variety of books including fiction and nonfiction / informational text as well as books for the back to school, Halloween, the end of the year and everything in between! These are the best read aloud books for your first graders!
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Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name…one that’s all his own. Dad is known as big Thunder, but little thunder doesn’t want to share a name. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder. But just when Little Thunder thinks all hope is lost, dad picks the best name…Lightning! Their love will be loud and bright, and together they will light up the sky. An amazing story to talk about names as well as for reading for Indigenous Peoples Day!
Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard
The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzing through the air. They were the worst-behaved class in the whole school. The students don’t proffer a shred of respect for their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson, but when the witchy substitute Miss Viola Swamp appears on the scene, they start to regret their own wicked ways. In addition to being one of my favorite read aloud books for 1st grade, I also found I read this for Halloween as that was one of the first times I would be out sick and a substitute would be in the room.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community in this stunning picture book. With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic. This is an amazing book about how one person can change a community completely.
How this Book Was Made by Mac Barnett
You may think you know how this book was made, but you don’t. Sure, the author wrote many drafts, and the illustrator took a long time creating the art, but then what? How’d it get into your hands? Well, open the cover and read through these pages to find out. Just beware of the pirates and angry tiger. Budding writers and artists will laugh at the mix of reality and the absurd as the story makes its way to a shelf…and eventually, to a reader. If you teach about the writing process, this is a must-read read aloud book for your 1st graders.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.
Journey by Aaron Becker
A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all. This is definitely one of my favorite read aloud books for 1st grade allowing students to really “read” this wordless picture book!
Quest by Aaron Becker
A king emerges from a hidden door in a city park, startling two children sheltering from the rain. No sooner does he push a map and some strange objects into their hands than he is captured by hostile forces that whisk him back through the enchanted door. Just like that, the children are caught up in a quest to rescue the king and his kingdom from darkness, while illuminating the farthest reaches of their imagination. Colored markers in hand, they make their own way through the portal, under the sea, through a tropical paradise, over a perilous bridge, and high in the air with the help of a winged friend. Journey lovers will be thrilled to follow its characters on a new adventure threaded with familiar elements, while new fans will be swept into a visually captivating story that is even richer and more exhilarating than the first.
Return by Aaron Becker
Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure. It’s her third journey into the enticing realm of kings and emperors, castles and canals, exotic creatures and enchanting landscapes. This time, it will take something truly powerful to persuade her to return home, as a gripping backstory is revealed that will hold readers in its thrall. Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker delivers a suspenseful and moving climax to his wordless trilogy, an epic that began with the award-winning Journey and continued with the celebrated follow-up Quest.
The Mitten by Jan Brett
When Nicki drops his white mitten in the snow, he goes on without realizing that it is missing. One by one, woodland animals find it and crawl in; first, a curious mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last. Finally, a big brown bear is followed in by a tiny brown mouse and what happens next makes for a wonderfully funny climax. As the story of the animals in the mitten unfolds, the reader can see Nicki’s snowy outing in the borders of each page. As you plan out your year of books to read aloud to your first graders, this is definitely one of the best books to read in winter!
Love Monster by Rachel Bright
Love Monster is a slightly hairy monster trying to fit in with the cuddly residents of Cutesville. But as it turns out, it’s hard to fit in with the cute and the fluffy when you’re a googly-eyed monster. And so, Love Monster sets out to find someone who will love him just the way he is. His journey is not easy―he looks high, low, and even middle-ish. But as he soon finds out, in the blink of a googly eye, love can find you when you least expect it. A perfect book to read to your students for Valentines Day!
Duck For President by Doreen Cronin
My fellow Americans:
It is our pleasure, our honor, our duty as citizens to present to you Duck for President. Here is a duck who began in a humble pond. Who worked his way to farmer. To governor. And now, perhaps, to the highest office in the land. But the Oval Office isn’t all it’s quacked up to be. This is an excellent book to read around Presidents Day or for important elections!
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. A really lovely diverse picture book that should be on every list of the best read aloud books for 1st grade!
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola
Oliver Button is a sissy. At least that’s what the other boys call him. But here’s what Oliver Button really is: a reader, and an artist, and a singer, and a dancer, and more. What will his classmates say when he steps into the spotlight? A really amazing anti-bullying book that many first graders can relate to.
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio
This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips—never slobbers! He yips—never yaps! And he walks with grace—never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters.
But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?
City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
Right in the middle of Marcy’s city block is a vacant lot, littered and forlorn. Sometimes just looking at it makes Marcy feel sad. Then one spring, Marcy has a wonderful idea: Instead of a useless lot, why not a green and growing space for everyone to enjoy? The illustrations in this book are perfect for helping students infer.
I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat can read in purple and in brown, in a circle and even upside down! Can he teach Young Cat to do the same? A perfect stepping stone for emerging readers to show off their skills, this book will show kids all the wonderful ways and wonderful things you can read.
Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman
Every beachgoer knows that there’s nothing more terrifying than a… SHARRRK! But this shark is just misunderstood, or is he? In a wholly original, sidesplittingly funny story, New York Times bestselling author Ame Dyckman and illustrator Scott Magoon take this perennial theme and turn it on its (hammer)head with a brand-new cheeky character. The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a… SHARRRK! Poor Shark, he wasn’t trying to scare them, he’s just misunderstood! Then he’s accused of trying to eat a fish. Will Shark ever catch a break? After all, he wasn’t going to eat the fish, he was just showing it his new tooth! Or was he?
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
All the animals know not to mess with old Scarecrow. But when a small, scared crow falls from midair, Scarecrow does the strangest thing.…He saves the tiny baby crow. Soon a loving bond grows between the two unlikely friends. But is it strong enough to weather the changing of the seasons?
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
“No one saw the bird fall.” In a city full of hurried people, only young Will notices the bird lying hurt on the ground. With the help of his sympathetic mother, he gently wraps the injured bird and takes it home. In classic Bob Graham style, the beauty is in the details: the careful ministrations with an eyedropper, the bedroom filled with animal memorabilia, the saving of the single feather as a good-luck charm for the bird’s return to the sky. Wistful and uplifting, here is a tale of possibility — and of the souls who never doubt its power.
Knut by Juliana Hatkoff
When Knut was born, the first polar bear cub at the Berlin Zoo in more than thirty years, he was no bigger than a snowball and unable to care for himself. His mother, a rescued East German circus bear, didn’t know how to take care of Knut and rejected him. Knut would have died if it weren’t for Thomas Dorflein, a zookeeper who nurtured Knut, feeding him, sleeping with him, and giving him the love and attention Knut needed to thrive. But Thomas wasn’t the only one who adopted Knut. The adorable little polar bear captured the world’s attention, and now Knut is loved around the globe.
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
Yoon’s name means Shining Wisdom, and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names – maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Grace loves stories, whether they’re from books, movies, or the kind her grandmother tells. So when she gets a chance to play a part in Peter Pan, she knows exactly who she wants to be. Remarkable watercolor illustrations give full expression to Grace’s high-flying imagination.
The Oldest Student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who–with perseverance and dedication–proved that you’re never too old to learn. In addition to being one of my favorite read aloud books for 1st grade, it’s also a perfect book for Black History Month!
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
Once there was a boy, and that boy loved stars very much. So much so that he decided to catch one of his very own. But how? Waiting for them to grow tired from being up in the sky all night doesn’t work. Climbing to the top of the tallest tree? No, not tall enough. The boy has a rocket ship . . . but it is made of paper and doesn’t fly well at all. Finally, just when the boy is ready to give up, he learns that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be.
Oliver Jeffers offers a simple, childlike tale of reaching for the stars, and emerging with a friend.
Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan
Michael Jordan. The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion—patience, determination, and hard work. A really great story to read if you’re looking for books about Black athletes to read during Black History Month.
Flight School by Lita Judge
A persevering penguin is determined to fly in this adorably inspiring picture book from the creator of Red Hat and Red Sled. Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind. This is also one of my favorite children’s books about perseverance and grit!
Shark Lady by Jess Keating
Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary―and they didn’t think women should be scientists.
Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname “Shark Lady.” Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to. With the story’s message it’s also one of my favorite children’s books for Women’s History Month!
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor — and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Hold on to your hats for the conclusion of the celebrated hat trilogy by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen, who gives his deadpan finale a surprising twist.
Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity. The delicious buildup takes an unexpected turn that is sure to please loyal fans and newcomers alike.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect. Years later, I have still had students talk to me about the mystery in this book. If that doesn’t make it one of the best read aloud books for 1st grade, I don’t know what does.
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
Leo isn’t reading, or writing, or drawing, or even speaking, and his father is concerned. But Leo’s mother isn’t. She knows her son will do all those things, and more, when he’s ready. A great book for when you see a student struggling when their classmates are not.
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Pat, pat, pat…Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake. Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble? This is a great book to read for Asian American Heritage Month or for talking about the phases of the moon. With its connections to Asian American heritage, science (the moon), and being a Caldecott Honor book, this is most definitely one of the best read aloud books for 1st grade!
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?
The Old Truck by Jarrett Pumphrey
A young girl turns her imagination into action in this beautifully crafted and intricately designed debut picture book. When is an old truck something more? On a small, bustling farm, a resilient and steadfast pickup works tirelessly alongside the family that lives there, and becomes a part of the dreams and ambitions of the family’s young daughter.
After long days and years of hard work leave the old truck rusting in the weeds, it’s time for the girl to roll up her sleeves. Soon she is running her own busy farm, and in the midst of all the repairing and restoring, it may be time to bring her faithful childhood companion back to life.
Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann
It’s the first day of school, and Ruby is new. When her classmate Angela wears a red bow in her hair, Ruby comes back from lunch wearing a red bow, too. When Angela wears a flowered dress, suddenly Ruby’s wearing one, too. Fortunately, Ruby’s teacher knows a better way to help Ruby fit in–by showing how much fun it is to be herself! A perennial favorite read aloud book for 1st grade at back to school time!
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. He eats them on the way to school, going to Little League, and walking home. Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they? This is a really fun read aloud book for 1st grade for any time really, but it’s also a great book for Halloween too!
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
This is a gorgeous exploration of perspective, perception, and the passage of time, with an underlying environmental message that is timely and poignant. A stone remains in one spot, unchanging through time. What changes then? Everything around it. The animals and environment around it evolve throughout the story and every animal sees it as something different. A really great book to talk about perspective and how the Earth changes.
Best Read Aloud Books For 1st Grade
What are some of your favorite read aloud books for 1st grade? Are there any must read read aloud books for 1st grade that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!