When you’ve curated over 100 book lists, there is bound to be some overlap. Although some of these books may appear on other lists, I have purposefully not included books on my two most popular lists, Read Aloud books for 4-6 year olds and Chapter Books for 3 year olds and Preschoolers. If you are looking for first grade read aloud books, please visit those lists, too! They contain my number one recommendation for a first chapter book read aloud.
The following titles are books that either I have read to my 1st grader this past year, or that his first grade teachers have read aloud in class. We have read others, too, but since I try to find books my 10 year old will also enjoy, I’ve included only the ones I think were particularly suited to my 6 year old. There is a wide range of subjects here, from mysteries, to realistic fiction, friendship stories, humor and fantasy. (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)
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Gooseberry Park. My son’s teachers read this to the class and my 6 year old loved it so much he wanted me to read it at home.So of course I did! This charming story follows the adventures of a bat with a taste for junk food, a kind dog and a wise hermit crab as they try to save their friend Stumpy the Squirrel and her new babies. Recently we also read the sequel, Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan, and enjoyed it just as much. If you haven’t read any of the books on this first grade read aloud list, start with this one.
Ginger Pye is also a very recent favorite of ours. My son loved this classic book about a boy who saves up for a puppy (one whole dollar!). Once Ginger Pye is part of the family, he mysteriously disappears and the kids are convinced he’s been stolen. The whole neighborhood gets in on the action to look for him. A classic, heartwarming tale.
Little Dog, Lost. I recently included this book in my list of chapter books in verse. A novel written in verse may not be high on your read aloud agenda, but I encourage you to try this one. Little Dog, Lost is an utterly charming story. Three plot points: a boy who needs a dog, a dog who needs an owner and a neighbor who needs a friends come together in an extremely satisfying story. For me, the cadence of the free verse made this book easier to read aloud than prose. The story is heartfelt and engaging while still providing kids (and parents!) the opportunity to contemplate and discuss ideas like the importance of community and companionship. I read it aloud to my 6 and 10 year olds and we all throughly enjoyed it.
Detective Gordon: The First Case. I read this charming Swedish import to both my kids a few months ago. Detective Gordon, the local crime stopper, has more of a penchant for tea and cakes than he does for police work, and don’t even think about asking him to use the gun. He gets a small but enthusiastic assistant when he meets up with a young mouse, who he mistakenly takes for the criminal in a case he has to solve. Together they concoct a plan to discover the real thief, who has stolen all of Squirrel’s nuts. The lovely, colorful illustrations are a wonderful accompaniment.
McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm: Three Tall Tales.These humorous tales can be read as stand alone stories so they are perfect for kids who may not have the attention span for longer novels, or who don’t like the idea of pausing the action at the end of a chapter. These quite hilarious tales feature McBroom and his 11 children, bamboozles, tricksters and lots of wit and wisdom.
The Betsy-Tacy Books. Not just for girls! I read the first book to my son when he was home sick from school and he enjoyed these old fashioned tales of kids having screen-free adventures. Maud Hart Lovelace’s books were some of my favorites as a kid, so of course I loved reading them aloud to my son.
Ivy & Bean. This very popular duo star in an early chapter book series for young readers but the books also make great short chapter book read alouds for the first grade set. Ivy and Bean become fast friends, despite their differences and their intrepid spirits take the readers on all sorts of amusing adventures from trying to find dinosaur fossils in the backyard to getting through the dreaded ballet recital very, um, creatively. Sophie Blackall’s black and white illustrations are just as good as the writing. Simply wonderful.
Bobby the Brave (Sometimes). I first wrote about this in my list of multicultural early chapter books. I brought it home from the library and started reading it aloud to my younger son. My older son started listening in, even though he had already read it so that’s a good recommendation for you! Bobby Ellis-Chan struggles the fact that he is not interested in football even though his dad is a retired professional. “The Freezer”, as his dad is known, is now a stay-at-home dad and while the siblings have their usual back-and-forths, it is a functional, loving family. Bobby’s family is bi-racial and his friends come from different ethnic backgrounds but it is not a focus of the book at all. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking it reflected my own sons’ diverse classrooms. This is a funny, charming book with non-stock characters and I’m looking forward to reading more books in the series.
George’s Marvelous Medicine is another book that both my son’s teachers and I read to him. This is Dahl’s quirky tale about a boy who mixes a concoction to turn his horridly grumpy grandma into a sweet old lady. The mixture, however, makes her grow enormously tall. Unable to recall the exact ingredients, George and his father try to recreate the medicine with decidedly hilarious and Dahl-esque results.
The Enormous Egg. Both kids loved this book from the 1950s in which a chicken’s egg hatches to reveal a baby triceratops. Nate Twitchell names his new pet Uncle Beazley. Caring for Uncle Beazley is not without its ups and down. The dino can’t help but get into trouble until one day its time to take him to the National Museum in Washington, D.C. If you have a child who you think is ready to listen to chapter book and he or she loves dinosaurs, try this charming, funny book on for size.
The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case. Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency book series for grown-ups solved her very first case in Botswana when she was just a girl. When her friends’ lunchtime treats go missing Precious is on the job and when she discovers the surprising thief a nice chuckle is had by all. This book is nice way of exposing young readers to other cultures and includes a reading guide, glossary, activity ideas and even a recipe! My son loved figuring out the clever and amusing mystery.
The Boxcar Children. This is still an enormously popular series today, but you many not realize that the first book was written in 1924! Four orphan siblings try to make an independent life for themselves by living in an abandoned train car.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This classic doesn’t need an introduction. I read it aloud to both boys last year and needless to say it was a hit.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car. My son loved this book, too. Do not judge a book by its movie! This humorous tale by the author of James Bond is great fun. The crazy Pott family purchases a car that can fly as well at catch criminals. (Don’t bother watching the movie! Ugh.)
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