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8 Must-Have 1st-Grade Books

Stephanie Glover
July 24, 2015

Visit any library or bookstore and you'll be faced with shelves and shelves of 1st-grade books. Here are 8 titles to pick up.

Does your 1st grader love to read? If so, you may worry about finding the perfect 1st-grade books for your child. "Parents looking for books for 1st graders should look for books that will allow their children to take responsibility for their own reading," says Heather Schugar, an associate professor of literacy at West Chester University.

"It is important to find high interest books at a readability level that your child can handle with success. This usually means that they can decode 90 percent or more of the words in their book independently. If you are unsure of what your child can read, ask their teacher what their guided reading group level is."

There are various qualities you should look for in 1st-grade books. "Beginning reader books should contain repetitive words and represent a topic with which [your child is] familiar," says Pam Margolis, a librarian and the blogger behind An Unconventional Librarian. "Many children will respond well to their favorite television characters or literary heroes, like Biscuit or Marley," so you should "let your child choose the topic of the book while you guide them to their reading level. If your child feels like they're in control of their knowledge, they are more likely to maintain their enthusiasm." Ready to stock up on some books?

Here are eight 1st-grade books you should check out:

  1. The "Magic Tree House" Series by Mary Pope Osborne
    "Series encourage more reading because kids will get hooked on the story and want to read more!" says Schugar. "The 'Magic Tree House' series is one of my favorites." This series is about a brother and sister who find a magical tree house that is filled with books.
  2. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst
    In this book, Alexander has a horrible day from the moment he wakes up. Children will relate to this story because they all experience days like this from time to time. This book also teaches children about cause and effect.
  3. "Frog and Toad Are Friends" by Arnold Lobel
    This book is a compilation of stories that depict Frog and Toad in different situations. The friendship between these two characters is further developed with each story. Though "Frog and Toad Are Friends" was first published in 1970, its themes regarding friendship are still relevant for children today.
  4. "A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon
    This book tells the tale of a girl who is worried about fitting in. You can use this story to start an important dialogue with your child about bullying and learning to respect and accept differences in others.
  5. "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White
    This classic book, which almost everyone has read, is about the friendship between a spider and a pig. The author's clear writing style makes this novel easy to comprehend, even for a struggling reader. However, if your child is particularly sensitive, you may want to be wary of introducing her to this title. One of the main characters dies, and this could bring up a lot of emotions.
  6. The "Fly Guy" Series by Tedd Arnold
    Though it's new to the scene, the "Fly Guy" series is already popular among 1st graders. This series focuses on the friendship between a boy named Buzz and his pet fly. Early emerging readers will enjoy these simple chapter books.
  7. The "Biscuit" Series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
    This series is about a girl and her yellow dog named Biscuit. The repetitive lines and easy-to-follow plots make the "Biscuit" books perfect for reading aloud.
  8. Dr. Seuss Books
    Take your pick on this one! There are so many classic Dr. Seuss books that your 1st grader will enjoy. Some favorites include "The Cat in the Hat" and "Hop on Pop." Children enjoy the rhyming and repetition in these books, and they love the silly characters!

"Right now we're not so much worried about the quality of the literature, just the repetitive words and the child's willingness to read," says Margolis. "One of the best ways to help your beginning reader keep their enthusiasm for learning is to keep them supplied with the books they enjoy."

Stephanie Glover is the writer and photographer behind A Grande Life. When she doesn't have her camera in her hands, you'll find her with a cup of coffee.

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