First graders are in the beginning of their reading journey and adventures. Students in first grade might be reading at different levels; some might enjoy shorter picture books, but others might delve into chapter books.
First graders and all elementary students should be reading regularly, though. Parents can embrace a reading habit and encourage an appreciation for books by giving children a bit of control over what they read. What are the best books for first graders?
How to Find the Best Books for First Graders
The answer depends on the first grader. Every student might have a different favorite book, genre, author, etc. However, here’s how to help a child find their favorites:
- Let them choose their books
- Explore the library together
- Encourage variety
- Make sure children know they don’t have to love every book
Choice is Power
Experts, writers, moms and teachers have all written about the importance of letting a child choose their books. Choice enables children to discover new books and find what they enjoy.
Adults discovered favorite authors and genres, and children should be empowered to do the same. While parents might want to assign a book, try not to do this. Instead, encourage a child to choose a book and explore different options.
However, if a child has reading struggles, parents might want to double-check that the book is leveled appropriately. A book that is too difficult can cause undue frustration.
Explore the Library
Where can first-graders go to find books of their choosing? The library! Take children to the public library, register them for their first library card, and then show them the children’s section. Let them explore different books, titles and authors.
Parents might set a limit about how many books a child can check out at once. Parents also can use the opportunity to teach children about responsible borrowing and how to take care of library materials.
Yes, a child should choose their books. However, parents might encourage them to choose one fiction, one non-fiction and/or one poetry book. Parents also could encourage children to explore different types of reading materials.
Let children read magazines, graphic novels and comic books, too. All these materials encourage reading. Interested in graphic novels that are suitable for first-graders? The site What We Do All Day offers a list of graphic novels that are appropriate for younger readers.
It’s OK to Not Like a Book
Not all books resonate with the reader. One important—yet understated—lesson related to reading is that it’s ok to not like a book. Adults might have stopped reading a book because it bored them. Maybe they just didn’t love the writing.
Talk to children about the books they’re reading. Ask them about the book. Did they like it? Why or why not? If a child puts down a book or seems disinterested, talk to them about it. If they don’t like the book, they might have simply discovered a genre that isn’t of interest to them or a writer who isn’t their favorite.
Parents can even open up a discussion about a time when they didn’t like a particular book.
Fiction and Nonfiction: Both are Valuable
Before visiting a library to let children look at books, parents can encourage them to write an interest list. Divide a piece of paper into two columns; mark one ‘fiction, and mark the other column ‘non-fiction.’
First graders probably already know the difference between these two types of books. Explain to the child that they can write book interests under each column. For non-fiction, children can think about famous people about whom they wish to read. They also can include topics of interest like weather, volcanoes, countries, etc.
Under fiction, children could add ideas or topics like fairy tales, characters or even specific authors. For fiction books, though, children might simply discover titles that interest them while browsing in the library.
Parents also can encourage children to explore books of poetry. Reading poems aloud also can be a fun activity to help children build fluency. Poems often feature a particular cadence or rhyming style.
Wordless Books for First-Graders
Wordless books are books without words. These books are just pages of pictures. What’s the point of wordless books? Children tell the story! They name the characters, figure out a plot and create a unique book out of their imagination.
First graders might enjoy reading wordless books and telling their own story. Not only do these books build storytelling skills and focus a child’s imaginative ideas, but they also can help children better understand the structure of stories. Children might even make their own wordless books.
Reading with Ears
Many local libraries offer audiobooks that library members can check out. Audiobooks let children and adults read with their ears. These books can allow children to ‘read’ books that are a bit above their reading level.
Some children just love to listen to a book or having someone read aloud to them. Parents could use audiobooks to also help children hear the book as they follow along. Hearing stories can help children better understand emotions and conflicts, too. Some books are narrated by celebrities, which could be another appeal for children.
What Chapter Books are Suitable for First Graders?
Some first graders might be reading fluently and could be interested in delving into chapter books. Parents might start first graders with shorter chapter books to acclimate them to these longer books. Chapter books might seem intimidating at first.
Parents who are helping younger children find appropriate chapter books might focus on their child’s reading level. Use resources like Accelerated Reader’s Bookfinder tool. Parents can research books that are ideal for their child’s grade level or reading level.
However, reading levels don’t always correlate with a child’s emotional understanding of certain subjects. Parents also could choose to search Bookfinder by a child’s interest level (this correlates to grades).
Readability’s Library of Books for First Graders
First graders who are struggling to read at grade level could use Readability to help gain fluency and confidence. Readability is leveled for each child’s unique ability. The program includes a built-in AI tutor that guides lessons; the tutor is programmed with voice recognition software that recognizes each child’s voice.
Every level of Readability includes a library of books. Children can explore books that let them learn more about their favorite athletes or read books featuring popular characters. If a child struggles while reading, the tutor will provide help. In addition, the tutor asks questions at the end of each book to ensure the child understood what they read.
Readability also encourages children to explore each book. Children can tap any word in a book to hear the definition or hear the word used in a sentence. Every word a child discovers is added to their word bank; each book also includes a list of vocabulary words.
Children also can use Readability to listen to their favorite stories and books. Readability includes a Storytime feature, which lets children enjoy a narration of their Readability books anywhere. Listen to stories in the car, in a waiting room or even just at home.
Parents who are interested in exploring Readability with their first grader can sign up for a free seven-day trial. This free offer provides children with access to books and lets children meet their AI tutor.
Interested in using an app to help children immerse in the reading journey? Sign up for a Readability trial period today!