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Summer Reading List for 1st Grade: The Ultimate List

Check out this summer reading list for 1st grade. A list of books to share with families to read over the summer with some literature comprehension activities and ideas for picture books for 1st graders. Poetry, prose, fiction and nonfiction summer reading recommendations! What is a good book for a 1st grader to read? Look no further!

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Summer Reading List For 1st Grade

This list is broken down by genre so that you can read different genres with your 1st grader or focus on one genre depending on their interests.

Narrative Nonfiction:

How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett

A book about what it’s actually like to be an author told in the funniest, truest way possible? Sign me up! 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. Looking for children’s books about perseverance? Look no further than the real the true experience of publishing a children’s book.

Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman

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? Explosively funny, extraordinarily clever, and even full of fun shark facts, this surprisingly endearing story gets to the heart of what it feels like to be misunderstood by the people around you. With a surprise twist ending, our Misunderstood Shark will have kids rolling with laughter! A hilarious book about the ocean!

Check out this summer reading list for 1st grade. A list of books to share with families to read over the summer with some literature comprehension activities and ideas for picture books for 1st graders. Poetry, prose, fiction and nonfiction summer reading recommendations!

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. A great story for studies about arctic animals!

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. Later, 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. Also a great book to read during Black History Month!

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. Another great book for social emotional learning to talk to students 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. A great book about women in science and to encourage the budding marine biologist in your students!

You Are Home by Evan Turk

Beneath the soaring doorways of stone,
and peaks that pierce the ceiling of clouds,
from every river, star, and stone
comes the eternal refrain:
you are home.

In simple, soaring language and breathtaking art, acclaimed author-illustrator Evan Turk has created a stirring ode to nature and nation. From the rugged coast of Maine to the fiery volcanoes of Hawaii, You Are Home reminds us that every animal, plant, and person helps make this land a brilliant, beautiful sanctuary of life.

Fiction:

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. With the snowy setting, it makes it one of my favorite winter read alouds!

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.

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry

Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene.One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY and take their ruckus with them. When Swashby begins to leave notes in the sand for his noisy neighbors, however, the beach interferes with the messages that are getting across. Could it be that the captain’s oldest friend, the sea, knows what Swashby needs even better than he knows himself?

Olivia by Ian Falconer

It’s everyone’s favorite pig…it’s OLIVIA! Join Olivia as she…dresses up,sings songs, builds sand castles, naps (maybe), dances, paints on walls, and—wears out her mom—

…finally goes to sleep at last.

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?

An amazing wordles picture book!

Quest by Aaron Becker

A king emerges from a hidden door in a city park, startling two friends 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. An amazing wordless picture book about sharing a quest with a friend.

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. An amazing wordless picture book!

The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen

There is a spot.
It is a good spot.
It is the perfect spot to stand.
There is no reason to ever leave.
But somewhere above there is also a rock.
A rock from the sky.

Here comes The Rock from the Sky, a hilarious meditation on the workings of friendship, fate, shared futuristic visions, and that funny feeling you get that there’s something off somewhere, but you just can’t put your finger on it. Merging broad visual suspense with wry wit, celebrated picture book creator Jon Klassen gives us a wholly original comedy for the ages. If you’re looking for funny picture books, this needs to be near the top of your list!

Love Monster by Rachel Bright

Mortimer is looking for love. And he’s looking everywhere! He’s worked out at the gym (if only his arm wouldn’t keep falling off). He also tried ballroom dancing lessons (but the ladies found him to be a bit stiff). He’s even been on stalemate.com. How’s a guy supposed to find a ghoul? When it seems all hope has died, could the girl of Mortimer’s dreams be just one horrifying shriek away?

Drawn Together by Minh Le

When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

Flotsam by David Wiesner

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there’s no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep. An amazing wordless picture book to discover and explore!

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!

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

When Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he’s determined to get it out. But how? Well, by knocking it down with his shoe, of course. But strangely enough, it too gets stuck. And the only logical course of action . . . is to throw his other shoe. Only now it’s stuck! Surely there must be something he can use to get his kite unstuck. An orangutan? A boat? His front door? Yes, yes, and yes. And that’s only the beginning. Stuck is Oliver Jeffers’ most absurdly funny story since The Incredible Book-Eating Boy. Childlike in concept and vibrantly illustrated as only Oliver Jeffers could, here is a picture book worth rescuing from any tree.

Escargot by Dashka Slater

Bonjour! Escargot is a beautiful French snail who wants only two things:

1. To be your favorite animal.
2. To get to the delicious salad at the end of the book.

But when he gets to the salad, he discovers that there’s a carrot in it. And Escargot hates carrots. But when he finally tries one―with a little help from you!―he discovers that it’s not so bad after all

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?

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.

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.

Realistic Fiction:

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. Also an excellent book for Native American Heritage Month!

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. An amazing diverse picture book!

Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel

In a letter to his children, a father recounts memories of the role Steve, the tree in their front yard, has played in their lives. Turtleback binding is a highly durable alternative to a hardcover or paperback book. The comprehensive cover reinforcement process will drastically combat wear and tear, keeping your favorite books in great condition for years to come! Turtleback books are ideal for any reader, or for use in schools or libraries.

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?

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? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality. A great LGBT children’s book!

Blackout by John Rocco

One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. The TV shuts off and a boy wails, “Mommm!” His sister can no longer use the phone, Mom can’t work on her computer, and Dad can’t finish cooking dinner. What’s a family to do? When they go up to the roof to escape the heat, they find the lights–in stars that can be seen for a change–and so many neighbors it’s like a block party in the sky! On the street below, people are having just as much fun–talking, rollerblading, and eating ice cream before it melts. The boy and his family enjoy being not so busy for once. They even have time to play a board game together. When the electricity is restored, everything can go back to normal . . . but not everyone likes normal. The boy switches off the lights, and out comes the board game again.

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.

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. Amazing Grace is an amazing diverse picture book!

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.

Goldfish on Vacation by Sally Lloyd-Jones

H, Little O, and Baby Em are stuck in the city for the summer with only their pet goldfish—Barracuda, Patch, and Fiss—for company. It’s looking like it might be a pretty boring vacation, but one day, something exciting happens. Someone starts fixing up the old fountain down the street—the one Grandpa says horses used to drink from before everyone had cars—and a sign appears: “Calling All Goldfish Looking for a Summer Home.” H, Little O, and Baby Em can’t wait to send their goldfish on vacation, and the fish, well, they seem pretty excited too. Based on the true story of Hamilton Fountain in New York City, this charming tale of one special summer will delight readers young and old. Author’s Note included.

Hike by Pete Oswald

Take to the trails for a celebration of nature — and a day spent with dad.

In the cool and quiet early light of morning, a father and child wake up. Today they’re going on a hike. Follow the duo into the mountains as they witness the magic of the wilderness, overcome challenges, and play a small role in the survival of the forest. By the time they return home, they feel alive — and closer than ever — as they document their hike and take their place in family history. In detail-rich panels and textured panoramas, Pete Oswald perfectly paces this nearly wordless adventure, allowing readers to pause for subtle wonders and marvel at the views. A touching tribute to the bond between father and child, with resonant themes for Earth DayHike is a breath of fresh air.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fear and anxiety, Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers

It’s a glorious summer day at the shore, and all Jamie wants is to finish her art project in the sand. A little time to herself is all she needs. But everyone around keeps asking her pesky questions she doesn’t know how to answer: what are you making? Aren’t you clever?

Jamie does her best to tune it all out and focus on her creation . . . until she finds a like-minded friend, who’s as happy to work quietly as she is. A great book about creating art.

My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano

she is my best friend i think
i never had a best friend so i’m not sure
but i think she is a really good best friend
because when we were drawing
she drew me
and i drew her.

What is a best friend, if not someone who laughs with you the whole entire day, especially when you pretend to be a pickle? This pitch-perfect picture book is a sweetly earnest, visually stunning celebration of the magic of friendship.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look, and she knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.

Conclusion: Best Summer Reading List for 1st Grade

What are some of your favorite books for your summer reading list for 1st grade? Are there any must read books that should be on every summer reading list for 1st grade that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!

Download the Printable Summer Reading List for 1st Grade:

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Check out this summer reading list for 1st grade. A list of books to share with families to read over the summer with some literature comprehension activities and ideas for picture books for 1st graders. Poetry, prose, fiction and nonfiction summer reading recommendations!
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Other Great 1st Grade Read Aloud Stories

Looking for other great 1st grade read alouds? Here are a few more to explore:

32 Best Read Alouds for 1st Graders

Narrative Nonfiction Books for 1st Grade

38 Amazing Read Aloud Books for 1st Grade

17 Black History Month 1st Grade

Realistic Fiction Books For 1st Graders

First Grade Earth Day Books and Activities

22 New Back to School Books for First Grade

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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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