The Best First-Grade Books, According to Educators - Baby Chick

The Best First-Grade Books, According to Educators

Discover the magic of books with hand-picked first-grade books that ignite your child's imagination and tickle their funny bones.

Updated November 30, 2023

by Natalie Cook

Certified Reading Specialist and Early Childhood Educator
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Welcome to the world of first grade, where the magic of books truly comes alive! We’ve curated a fantastic collection of first-grade books to read that will have you turning the pages joyfully. First grade is an exciting time when young minds discover the joy of reading and embark on incredible adventures through the power of words. These books for first graders are handpicked to ignite your child’s imagination, tickle their funny bones, and make them fall head over heels for the wonderful world of books. So, find a cozy spot, grab your favorite reading buddy, and get ready to embark on a thrilling literary journey.

First-Grade Books for Adventure and Imagination

Here are three of the best books for your little first-grader to find adventure and use their imagination.

1. “The Secret of Black Rock”

The Secret of Black Rock
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“The Secret of Black Rock” follows young and brave Erin as she goes on a journey to uncover the mysteries of the Black Rock. As she dives deeper into its secrets, Erin discovers the true meaning of bravery and the importance of standing up for what she believes in. This book offers themes of friendship and the strength that lies within us all.

2. “The Book of Mistakes”

The Book of Mistakes
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This first-grade book celebrates the power of embracing imperfections through beautiful pictures and storytelling. Readers witness how an artist’s mistakes evolve into breathtaking and surprising artwork. The story encourages young readers to embrace their mistakes as chances for growth and creativity and to view the world with an open and imaginative perspective. It beautifully captures the transformative nature of mistakes and encourages resilience in facing challenges.

3. “The Whisper”

The Whisper
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Immerse yourself in a story that unlocks the enchantment found within the pages of a picture book. As a little girl listens to the whispered secrets within the pictures, her imagination fires up, sending her to wondrous places of creativity. “The Whisper” celebrates the power of storytelling and the limitless possibilities that emerge when we let our imaginations run wild. This first-grade book invites readers to embark on their magical journeys of self-discovery and creativity.

First-Grade Books About Animals and Nature

Get ready to learn with these three first-grade books about animals and nature.

1. “The Blue Whale”

The Blue Whale
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This first-grade book explores the largest creature ever on our planet. Your first grader will be taken on a deep-sea adventure to discover the incredible world of the majestic blue whale. From its large size to its unique behaviors, this book provides facts that shed light on the importance of preserving these magnificent creatures and the delicate balance of our marine ecosystem. Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty and grandeur of the blue whale as you dive into this captivating educational journey.

2. “Have You Seen Elephant?”

Have You Seen Elephant?
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This book follows a game of hide-and-seek with a lovable elephant and his friend. As Elephant finds clever hiding spots, readers search for him, developing their patience and attention to detail. This charming picture book combines delightful pictures with a beautiful storyline that teaches the joy of perseverance and the thrill of discovery. Get ready to giggle and play along as you join Elephant’s quest for the perfect hiding place.

3. “Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme”

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme
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This book for first graders takes young readers on a journey through the lush rainforest. It’s a counting book about rainforest animals and their unique behaviors, from toucans and butterflies to jaguars and snakes. Each page brings the colorful ecosystem to life. Readers learn exciting facts about the animals and where they live as they count along.

First-Grade Books on Friendship and Social Themes

Here are three of our favorite books for first graders with friendship and social themes.

1. “The Bear and the Piano”

The Bear and the Piano
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A bear finds a piano in the forest’s heart and discovers he has musical talent. As the bear’s fame grows, he must choose between his success and the friendships he left behind. This tale beautifully illustrates the power of pursuing one’s passion while highlighting the importance of staying true to oneself and treasuring friendship.

2. “Ruby Finds a Worry”

Ruby Finds a Worry
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Ruby is a young girl facing the burden of a growing worry. As Ruby’s worry grows, readers witness her journey to find a way to manage it. Through the power of friendship and understanding, Ruby learns valuable lessons about sharing her worries and finding comfort in the support of loved ones. This story gently explores the topic of anxiety, offering reassurance and guidance for young readers.

3. “The Invisible Boy”

The Invisible Boy
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This book for first graders is a heartwarming story that shines a light on the power of kindness and inclusion. Meet Brian, a quiet and overlooked boy who often feels invisible to his classmates. However, when a new student named Justin arrives, Brian’s world changes. Through Justin’s friendship and acts of compassion, Brian blossoms and discovers his worth. This beautifully illustrated book teaches empathy, acceptance, and the importance of reaching out to those who may feel unseen.

First-Grade Books with Humor and Laughter

These three books for first graders will tickle your funny bone and get your little one laughing.

1. “Rhyming Dust Bunnies”

Rhyming Dust Bunnies
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Bob, Ed, Ned, and Ted are a lively group of dust bunnies with a knack for rhyming. As these lovable characters engage in their rhyming antics, young readers are treated to a rollicking and uproarious adventure that celebrates the joy of wordplay and the silliness that ensues. This book for first graders entertains, fosters a love for language, and encourages creativity in young minds. Join the laughter and rhyming fun with these mischievous dust bunnies!

2. “President Taft is Stuck in the Bath”

President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath
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Based on an actual incident, readers are treated to a hilarious adventure where President Taft finds himself stuck in a bathtub, and various comical attempts are made to rescue him. This book not only entertains but also introduces young readers to a unique slice of history in a delightfully amusing way. Prepare to laugh out loud as you join in the escapades of President Taft’s bathtub predicament.

3. “There’s a Giraffe in My Soup”

There's a Giraffe in My Soup
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When a giraffe unexpectedly appears in a boy’s soup at a restaurant, chaos, and hilarity unfold as the bewildered staff and patrons figure out what to do. This uproarious picture book will keep young readers engaged and giggling through dynamic illustrations and witty text as they follow the wild chain of events following the giraffe’s surprising soup mishap.

First-Grade Books to Spark Creativity and Imagination

These three books for first graders may help ignite your child’s creativity through the excitement of adventure.

1. “The Dot”

The Dot
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This captivating tale celebrates the power of self-expression and the beauty of embracing one’s unique creativity. Follow Vashti as she starts her artistic journey with a simple dot, only to discover the immense potential within her. “The Dot” inspires young readers to embrace their creativity, take risks, and see the extraordinary possibilities that can emerge from even the smallest beginnings. It’s a heartfelt reminder that everyone can make their mark and create something extraordinary.

2. “What Do You Do With an Idea?”

What Do You Do With an Idea?
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Explore nurturing and embracing ideas through a beautifully illustrated story that encourages curiosity, courage, and innovation. Readers are taken on a whimsical adventure as they witness a young child’s relationship with an idea and the impact it can have on their life. This inspiring first-grade book encourages young readers to cherish their ideas, no matter how big or small, and to have the courage to bring them to life. It reminds us that ideas can change the world.

3. “The Whispering Rabbit”

The Whispering Rabbit
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“The Whispering Rabbit” is a whimsical and imaginative story that invites readers to embark on a magical adventure. Follow the enchanting journey of a little rabbit as he explores the world around him, guided by the whispers of nature. As the rabbit encounters various animals and elements of nature, young readers are inspired to tap into their creativity, observe the beauty of their surroundings, and embrace the joy of discovery.

First-Grade Books with Historical and Cultural Perspectives

Here are three books for your little one that show them the world from various perspectives.

1. “One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia”

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
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Discover the inspiring true story of Isatou Ceesay, who led a movement to recycle plastic bags and transform her community, highlighting the importance of environmental stewardship. It sheds light on the environmental impact of plastic waste. This inspiring true story emphasizes the importance of individual action, community empowerment, and the ability to create positive change.

2. “The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families”

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families
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Readers are taken on a journey to a village in Eritrea, Africa, where a remarkable project is underway to plant and nurture mangrove trees. This inspiring story showcases how these trees provide a sustainable food source, protect the land from erosion, and create habitats for diverse wildlife. This book for first graders beautifully captures nature’s interconnectedness and communities’ resilience in the face of environmental challenges.

3. “The Water Princess”

The Water Princess
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This first-grade book tells the story of Princess Gie Gie, a young girl who dreams of bringing clean water to her African village. Readers accompany Gie Gie on her daily journey to collect water, experiencing her challenges and hardships. This book raises awareness about the global water crisis and celebrates young girls’ strength. It reminds readers of the preciousness of water and inspires them to act to preserve this essential resource.

First-Grade Books on Science and Discovery

Your little explorer will love these two books for first graders about science and discovering new things.

1. “Rosie Revere, Engineer”

Rosie Revere, Engineer
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Join Rosie, a young engineer, on her mission to become an inventor, despite challenges and doubts. Readers will be encouraged to embrace their unique talents and follow their dreams. With its engaging storyline and positive message, this book for first graders inspires children to overcome challenges, take risks, and never be afraid to ask, “What if…?” This tale shows the power of imagination and problem-solving and champions the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success. “Rosie Revere, Engineer” is a must-read for budding inventors and dreamers of all ages.

2. “The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps”

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps
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Through beautiful pictures and simple language, readers dive into Jane Goodall’s journey as she studies and observes chimpanzees in their natural habitat. This story provides a glimpse into the world of animal behavior and saving nature and highlights the importance of curiosity, perseverance, and environmental stewardship. It encourages children to explore and appreciate the wonders of nature, encouraging a sense of awe and respect for the natural world. “The Watcher” is a captivating blend of science, adventure, and the power of one individual’s dedication to making a difference.

Children’s literature has many captivating and enriching books for first graders. From imaginative tales that ignite their creativity to heartwarming stories that teach valuable life lessons, these first-grade books have the power to captivate young minds and foster a love for reading. Whether embarking on daring adventures, exploring the wonders of nature, or learning about essential themes like friendship and perseverance, these carefully selected books offer a diverse range of experiences for first graders to enjoy. By immersing themselves in these beloved stories, children can develop their literacy skills, expand their imaginations, and cultivate a lifelong love for books and reading. So, gather your young readers, turn the pages, and embark on the magical journey that awaits within the pages of these first-grade favorites.

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Natalie Cook
Natalie Cook Certified Reading Specialist and Early Childhood Educator
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Natalie Cook graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education and a Master's in Reading Education. She is a certified Reading Specialist… Read more

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