Best Read Alouds For 1st Grade

Reading aloud to your young children is such a great bonding experience. That time spent cuddled together with a beautiful picture book will create lasting memories for your whole family.

On this page you’ll find some of our favorite books for kids – specifically, books that we read when my daughter was in her first-grade year (though these stories can certainly be enjoyed by younger or older children as well!).

You’ll find some of our favorite picture books, as well as chapter books and audio books, and even a bit of poetry. First grade is the perfect time to start introducing longer books. The easiest way to make that transition is to start listening to audio books during quiet play time. Kids can still wiggle and play but they are listening to wonderful stories at the same time.

Favorite First Grade Read Alouds

Cuddling on the couch with a good book is one of the many joys of parenting. We have so many books that we’ve enjoyed together. First grade also seems to be that year of transition from picture books to chapter books. We enjoyed both this year. Here are our very favorite first-grade read alouds.

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Picture Books:

The Magic Flute

This lovely book is an adaptation of Mozart’s opera which contains all the classic elements of any fairy tale.

Most importantly, perhaps, the main character has to learn to overcome the trials of SIlence, Patience, and Courage to achieve their goals. This book also includes a parent-teacher guide!

The Three Princes

This lovely tale set in the middle east is beautifully illustrated and warmly written.

A beautiful princess tests her three eligible suitors by sending them out into the world in order to bring her the rarest thing that they can find. A great book to teach little ones about diversity and hard work.

The Man Who Kept House

The story revolves around a farmer and his wife. The farmer is convinced that the work he does in the fields every day is more difficult than the housework that his wife does at home, so they trade places for the day.

This is a great book to teach kids about the value of hard work and helping others.

The Princess Mouse

A beautifully illustrated story in which a boy has to find his future spouse by cutting down a tree. When the tree falls, he will find his soulmate in whichever direction the tree points.

He meets the most unusual of soulmates and learns that love can be rewarded in the most surprising ways. This is a great story to teach kids to keep an open mind.

I Dreamed I was a Ballerina

This book is enhanced by some beautiful paintings by Edgar Degas, leading to a wonderful story of becoming a ballerina made all the more wonderful by beautiful artwork.

The author’s passion for becoming a ballerina is powerful and can teach kids about the power of persistence.

Katy and the Big Snow

In a wonderful novel to share the good word on continuous endurance, Katy is a sweet tractor who pushes a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter.

When unexpectedly large snow hits all at once, Katy is called upon to clear the streets and save the day.

The Happy Lion

In the little French zoo, the lion is the number one attraction. People adore the lion, stopping by every day to feed him tidbits and say ‘bonjour’.

Upon finding the door to his enclosure open, he decides to go for a walk and visit all of his neighbors in turn. To his surprise, his neighbors are afraid of him! This is a sweet, heartfelt book about making friends and being kind.

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship

The czar declares that his daughter will be married to the man who brings him a flying ship. To that end, The Fool of the World sets out to try his luck at creating a flying ship and meets his fair share of unusual companions along the way.

This story is a wonderful way to teach kids to appreciate the journey that they’re on and not just the destination.

Madame LaGrande and Her so High, to the Sky, Uproarious Pompadour

Madame LaGrande has made it her mission to be the most fashionable lady in all of Paris! Her hairdresser creates a wonderful pompadour for her, and things simply go pear-shaped from there.

A great story about having confidence in yourself and forging your own path.

The Firebird

The firebird is a Russian tale of the son of the Tsar, who strikes out to find the incredible bird. Along the way, he gets into a number of exciting and spellbinding adventures, from confronting a wicked baba Yaga to rescuing an enchanted princess.

This book is great for its magical narrative and beautiful artwork.

Three Perfect Peaches

A well-meaning country bumpkin must complete some confounding tasks in order to revive an ailing princess and win her heart.

The tasks include controlling a hundred unruly rabbits and filling a bucket with truth. The story is superb for kids who love to laugh at their bedtime stories.

The Big Snow

A lovely story in which we wait with the animals of the woods for the snow to approach. We watch as geese fly south, rabbits and deer grow thick coats, and chipmunks lay down for a winter’s nap.

At Christmas, the wise owls are the first to see the rainbow around the moon which signals the oncoming big snow. This book is great for any kids who love to learn about animals!


A superb book for any kid who’s fascinated with animals, Stellaluna tells the story of a fruit bat knocked out of her mother’s embrace by an owl.

The world of the bat is turned upside down as she is adopted by the residents of the nest she fell into and gains some of their bird mannerisms.

Rotten Teeth

This story revolved around Melissa, who has to stand at the front of her class and speak for show and tell.

She’s had trouble finding a subject until she brings in a bottle from her father’s dental office, which intrigues all the children in the class. This is a light-hearted, funny story ideal for kids that enjoy a giggle before bed.

Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk

This uniquely illustrated book tells the story of Tim and Kathleen O’Toole, who are so poor that they have neither a penny nor a potato between them.

Even their cats are skinny! When he tries to find a job, Tim stumbles across ‘the wee folk’, a band of leprechauns who give him gifts to help him make his fortune. A heartwarming tale full of mischief!

Jaime O’Rourke and the Big Potato

This hilarious story is inspired by a number of Irish folklore tales. Jamie is far too lazy to help his wife on their farm, and after a chance encounter with some leprechauns, he grows the world’s biggest potato!

A heartwarming style to teach kids that the easy way out may not always be the best way.

The Ballymara Flood

A light-hearted story in which a little boy finds that his town is overflowing with trouble when he cannot turn off the tap in his bath.

The stuck faucet leads to a flood with which even the navy cannot help! A great story for kids to have a little fun with from the beautiful illustrations to the rhyming content.

The Four Gallant Sisters

In a great story to teach kids the value of their abilities, four young orphaned sisters go out into the world to learn a trade while disguised as men.

They join the household of a king, thereby proving their resourcefulness, courage, and intelligence.

Mr. Semolina-Semolinus

This greek folktale is the story of a feisty princess who cannot find the perfect man to marry. She decides to create a man of her own – Mr. Semolina-Semolinus, who is then kidnapped by an evil queen!

In a journey full of wonder and imaginative imagery, the princess quests to get Mr. Semolina-Semolinus back.


A great choice for any kid that loves Egypt, this book follows two characters who have a job decorating the latest pyramid.

That job, combined with a boat trip down the Nile, almost get the characters in deep trouble until a steadfast baby crocodile makes an appearance.

Bill and Pete go down the Nile

It’s a new school year, and Bill and Pete are ready for an exciting trip down the Nile to learn a little about Egypt. Their teacher, Ms. Ibis, has even promised them a look at the priceless jewel called the sacred eye of Isis!

During the course of their journey, Bill and Pete must deal with the Bag Guy, who’s up to some no-good tricks. This is a real winner for any kid that loves history and learning.

Martha Speaks

Martha the dog goes on all of her original adventures in this collected edition of six classics.

Martha’s humor and loyalty can help to teach kids all about why we love dogs, and what more they might teach us if they were able to speak.

Whales Passing

A boy stands on the shore with his father while five orca whales swim and dance in front of them. The book is about what the boy imagines the whales would talk about underwater in the star-dance light, in which the bubbles bubble up to the surface.

This story is a deeply imaginative book written to show kids the magic out there in the world if they just look for it!

One Grain of Rice

This classic fable tells the story of a clever village girl who outsmarts a selfish king.

The girl asks the king to double a portion of rice every day for thirty days in order to feed the hungry – little does the king know just how much rice that is! This is a great book to teach kids about creativity and cleverness.

Anansi and the Magic Stick

This book is full of slapstick humor and mischief in a story where a spider cleans up his house in order to impress all the other animals.

In his efforts, he steals a magic steal from his friend Hyena, but the magic might be more than he bargained for. This story is great to show kids how cheaters never prosper, and hard work pays off.

Zomo the Rabbit

This wonderfully clever tale is about a rabbit who wants wisdom. In exchange for that wisdom, the sky god asks Zomo to accomplish three apparently impossible tasks.

Will Zomo be able to pull off the tasks? This Nigerian tale is a great one to help kids appreciate the value of thinking hard.

Rimonah of the Flashing Sword

This story is a North African version of the classic Snow White fairytale.

This book tells the story of the beautiful maiden Rimonah, whose courage and honesty win her many rewards throughout the book. This book is a wonderful way to show kids the value of their actions.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

In this hilarious story, we finally get to hear the other side of the ‘3 Little Pigs’ story. This clever fracture fairy tale is a beautiful picture book that effortlessly twists point of view and perspective, allowing readers to appreciate the entirety of the Little Pigs story.

Older kids who grew up with the tale of the Three Little Pigs may particularly enjoy this one.

A House is a House for Me

This stunningly illustrated book is written in a lovely rhyme which tells the reader all about houses. Some of the houses in the book are familiar, reminding up who lives in an anthill or a dog kennel.

Other houses are a little less predictable, such as a corn husk and a pea pod. This book is great for creative kids who love to look at the world another way!

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

This is a lovely and humous poem in which Custard the cowardly dragon saves the day! A pirate threatens Belinda and her pet animals, and Custard swoops in to help out.

This book is a must-read for any kids who adore dragons, just as we did!

The Legend of the Persian Carpet

After King Balash’s precious diamond is stolen, the king is struck with grief and cannot rule.

When the country begins to fall into chaos, a clever young boy comes up with a brilliant plot to bring the jewel back to the palace. This is a great book for kids who appreciate a clever and novel story.

Short Stories & Chapter Books:

The Children’s Book of Virtues

This brilliantly selected book is made up of a number of different tales and fables from throughout time.

The book includes tales from Aesop, The Brothers Grimm, and the Bible. The aim of all the stories in the book is to inspire compassion, honesty, loyalty, and faith.

James Herriot’s Treasury of Inspirational Stories for Children

This collection of stories would be a wonderful choice for any little one who adores animals!

There are a number of great stories in this book, from The Christmas Day Kitten to Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb. Together, the stories provide a sweet, innocent, and kind world for kids to relax in.

In Grandma’s Attic (and others in the series)

This delightfully illustrated storybook is sure to whisk you away to another time.

The stories of the book are presented as a Grandmother sharing stories of days gone by to help her Granddaughter learn timeless lessons of life and faith.

Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook

In this book, there are twenty-one classic tales about a wonderfully resourceful and thoughtful little girl: Milly-Molly-Mandy.

The book includes timelessly charming stories as well as a treat for the visually-inclined little ones: a two-page map of Milly-Molly-Mandy’s village complete with drawings of all sorts of places. This makes it easy and fun for kids to follow along with the stories.

Betsy-Tacy (and others in the series)

These classic stories of wholesome fun were first printed in the 1940s, and remain just as wonderful today as they were then.

Betsy and Tacy have an awful lot of fun, from making a playhouse out of a piano box to starting up a sand store. These stories could be wonderful for little ones who love to hear about exciting adventures!

All-of-a-Kind Family

The all of a kind family is made up of five kids and their parents who live in New York City at the turn of the century.

They share a number of exciting adventures which are all harmless ways to exercise their curiosity. This could be great for parents looking to help their kids become more outgoing!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

This lighthearted story introduces the wonderful Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, who knows everything there is to know about children.

She’s happy to help however and wherever she can, for example, if Mary turns into an Answer-Backer, or Allen becomes a Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker. There are a huge number of these books, so you’re sure to find one suited to your predicament if you so choose!

Charlotte’s Web

This book is one of America’s most-loved novels, and has been for a long time now!

Charlotte’s web is sure to be enjoyed just as much by you as by your little ones – it’s a timeless tale of friendship, love, life, and death.

Stuart Little

Stuart little is another character from American pop-culture who is deeply beloved and not going anywhere any time soon.

In the course of this book, we join Stuart on a number of exciting adventures sure to capture young minds.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland is one of the most influential novels ever written, with its dream-like story shaping the imaginations of countless children.

While scholars still debate over the true meaning of the book, a number of children and adults alike utterly adore it for its charm, wit, and personality.

The Trumpet of the Swan

This story revolves around a swan called Louis. In order to attract the love of his life, he must trumpet joyfully as all his brothers and sisters can!

Sadly, he cannot until his father steals him a real brass trumpet which he hopes is the answer to his problem. This book has a powerful message about determination and not giving up, ideal for kids of nearly any age!

Beezus and Ramona (and other Ramona books)

Beezus’ younger sister, Ramona, has an unquenchable love for chaos and mischief. While Beezus knows that she should be the responsible older sister, she has her fair share of trouble with Ramona’s antics.

This series is an important reminder of the good that can come of throwing yourself into a situation wholeheartedly and not being afraid to draw outside the lines.

The Light Princess

This collection of short stories is the ideal set of words for anyone, whether they’re already familiar with this author’s work or they’re discovering him for the first time.

The short stories are spell-binding and captivating, ideal for any number of little, active minds.

Peter Pan

Who hasn’t heard of this classic? Peter Pan is the story of a little boy who doesn’t want to grow up and has run away to Never-Never land, where he becomes the leader of a wild tribe of lost boys.

The Darling children from our world get drawn into Peter’s adventures in Never-Never land, making this book ideal for kids who like to daydream about faraway worlds.

101 Dalmations

This classic tale is the story of a litter of pups that are whisked away by Cruella de Vil – one of the most wicked people to ever long for a fur coat.

Before long, the keenest canine minds are on the case, as well as Scotland Yard. This book is a wonderful one for any dog-loving kids out there.

Gooney Bird Greene (and other Gooney Bird books)

This book is the story of an unusual new student who adores being the center of attention. She entertains her teacher and fellow second graders with stories about herself that are totally true – including the one about how she got her name.

This story is ideal for kids that love fantastical storytelling in which things get a little stranger at every turn.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

This book has been adored by a number of different children for generations, now! This is a classic example of American humor where the adventures of a house painter are complicated and made hilarious by his brood of high-stepping penguins.

Another one great for kids who love fantastical stories!


Never take a Pig to Lunch

These lighthearted poems about food and eating include a number of categories, from popular treats to disgusting eating happens, and outrageous table manners!

Along with the charming verse, the beautiful illustrations are the cherry on the cake of a wonderful book!

Sing a Song of Popcorn

This book has a wonderful set of charming poems about any number of different topics. The categories include fun with rhymes, spooky poems, and mostly nonsense.

There really is something for any kid on these pages! This book is a great way to introduce a little one to poetry.

Favorite Poems of Childhood

This collection is made up of some wonderful examples of verse with which most people are familiar and fond! Among the gems include

The Owl and The Pussy-Cat, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and I’m Nobody! Who are you? This book is a great way to develop a child’s interest in poetry by arming them with poems that an awful lot of people will be able to talk about.

A Child’s Garden of Verses

This lovely collection of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson speaks about some of his most treasured memories from childhood.

From sailing boats down a river to waiting for the lamplighter, we hear about some of the most wholesome and enjoyable pastimes while gazing upon beautiful illustrations.

Random House Book of Poetry for Children

This is a great book of poems to allow children to learn more about the best poets that have been writing for children over the last several decades.

Wholesome and heartfelt poems can be found throughout the book, as the beautiful drawings throughout are a wonderful addition much adored by anyone who looks upon the pages.

Now we are Six

Everyone loves Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh, and this storybook is sure to stoke the fires of adoration in the heart of any young ones that have a read.

Now We Are Six is a wonderful book treasured by every generation of readers, made even better by the beautiful illustrations of Ernest Shepard.

When we were very Young

This set of poems has entertained every reader for more than ninety years! The verses themselves are playful and exciting and paint a picture that children will love – the borders between real and make-believe blend in this stunning book full of stunning imagery.

This book is ideal for developing a love of poetry, as the language and verse is just to impressive all the way through.

Some favorite authors: Ezra Jack Keats, Virginia Lee Burton, Eric A. Kimmel, Robert McCloskey, Tomie dePaola, E.B. White, Gerald McDermott, Ogden Nash, Beverly Cleary, and George MacDonald.