This is a list of book appropriate for first graders who are ready to read more challenging books than easy readers. I have a separate list containing other series not mentioned here in the section My Daughter in 1st Grade. My son is now in 1st grade (November 2014) and I use the following list I put together as a reference because it is sometimes hard to find chapter books that interest young kids but are not daunting. I also added series for girls my daughter did not read.
The books on my lists are tips from different websites and discussion forums. Read the reviews if you’d like to learn more about the titles. Every child is unique. Books my kids liked might not be an enjoyable read for your child and the other way around. Most of these books are great for any child, no matter if it is a girl or a boy.
When my son reads a book and likes it I move itto my list My Son in 1st Gradeso check out that list as well. You will no longer find it here. I can only trust other people about the books listed here but if my son actually reads a book from this category and likes it, I know that the tip was good and feel better about recommending it to other parents. I hope you will find the tips useful and will not waste time searching for a good read for your child at his/her level.
The books toward the end of the list are probably harder and I am saving them for the second half/end of 1st grade.
Captain Awesome to the Rescue! For a list of books in this series click here. My son started reading it but did not finish—said there was not much happening. But it has a lot of great reviews so maybe it would appeal to your child.
The Kids of the Polk Street School To see more ratings, reviews, and a complete list of books in this series click here. Don’t let the recommended age fool you. I have read reviews and it is good for beginning readers.
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up My son did not like it. His friend did, and since they are at the same reading level I guess it was just not his cup of tea.
Jenny and the Cat Club For a list of books in this series and more reviews click here. To see more books about this cat on Amazon click here. I’ve seen this book recommended for younger kids as a read-aloud so it is probably very good.
Baby Mouse(graphic novel) She read one or two because her friend recommended it to her but she was not really into them. It seems very popular though so give it a try. You can find a complete list of the books in this serieshere.
Tiara Club My daughter has never been into books about princesses but I have seen this series mentioned several times on different discussion forums where moms shared tips for their daughters. Click here for a list of the books in this series.
Betsy-Tacy(Betsy-Tacy Books) You can find a list of the titles in this serieshere. I have read somewhere that the beginning books are in simpler language, but as you progress to higher numbers, they have a more complicated vocabulary as Betsy gets older. You can read more about this series on this website or check out the article in the New York Times.
Martin Bridge: On the Lookout! Click here for more reviews. To see other titles in this series, their ratings and reviews click here. You can find them on Amazon here. My son started to read this in 1st grade in March but he did not like it.
These following books were to difficult in the first trimester of 1st grade for my son. I am keeping them on this list because from my experience with my daughter, he may be ready to read them toward the end of the school year.
White Fur Flying Click here to see the ratings and reviews. I looked at this book in the library and it has no pictures so we’ll try it toward the end of the school year.
Beast Keeper #1(Beasts of Olympus) My son tried this book in March in 1st grade but he did not like it—he said not much was happening. I think he either needs to mature a bit more for this book or it was not his cup of tea.
Little Wolf’s Book of Badness Read more reviews here. If your child likes it, give the Awesome Animals series by this author (Ian Whybrow) a shot. The letters are smaller and my son did not want to read this in January in 1st grade. I started reading it to him but he said it was kind of boring.
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish This book has mixed reviews but mostly from the parents (because it contains a lot of name calling, etc.) but they all agree that their boys loved it. It is apparently geared toward boys and it is funny. It reminds me Junie B. Jones books a bit—a lot of people hate them because of the way Junie B. talks and behaves. I am trying to instill a love of reading in my son and if he reads a few books with a bit less appropriate behavior, I can deal with that. I can always talk to him about it. Check out the sequel Fins of Fury.
A Mouse Called Wolf and other stories by Dick King-Smith. Parents recommend them everywhere as read-alouds or for the kids to read on their own (but I am not sure about the reading level but we will try them). Update. I checked it out from the library in January (1st grade) and it is probably not for my son yet. I could have waited a few months and let him try it but I decided to read it to both my kids and they liked it.
I know that most people in the US know the author Astrid Lindgren because of Pippi Longstocking. But not everybody knows that she wrote several other fantastic books that are very popular with kids in Europe. We read most of them in Czech but I looked them up, checked the reviews (if the translation is good) and decided to share them with you. Among our favorites are The Children of Noisy Village (my daughter’s all-time favorite) but it is probably more suitable for kids 7 or 8 and up, not for a beginning reader (but a great read-aloud for younger kids). However, there are other titles that are easier so I added them to this list.
Emil’s Pranks My daughter read it in Czech and enjoyed it. Little boys will be especially delighted. Read more reviews here. You can find more Emil books on Amazon (and you can check more reviews on www.goodreads.com). I am not sure about the reading level, maybe it is better to save this one for the end of the school year or 2nd grade.
Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire This is the second book in Mr. Gum series, check the reviews here. I have also seen this book mentioned several times, it is supposed to be hilarious. For a list of books in this series click here.
Moonsilver For a list of books in The Unicorn’s Secretseries click here. (especially for girls, recommended for 7 and up but some girls read it in 1st grade)
Marty McGuire For other titles in this series, reviews, and ratings, click here or you can check them out on Amazon here. My daughter discovered Marty McGuire in 2nd grade and loved it.
Moongobble and Me For a complete list of books in this series click here. My son listened to most of the books in the car (and loved it) so he decided to read the books. They were too difficult at the beginning of 1st grade but he had no problem reading them in the third trimester.
Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryMy daughter had never seen the movie before she read the book. It was her first longer book to read, she couldn’t put it down. My son read it over the summer before he went to 2nd grade.
2014 Notable Children’s BooksThe reading list from the Association for Library Service to Children of the American Library Association includes the current Newbery, Caldecott, Belpré, Sibert, Coretta Scott King, Geisel, and Batchelder Award winners and Honor books, among other notable books.
Okay, here’s the deal. My daughter is now in 3rd grade (Nov 2014). I am trying to recall everything she read but that’s not possible. She didn’t have problems finding books that would interest her so I did not do a major research to find appropriate books for her. However, my son is not going to read the girls’ series, and I started wondering what there is to read for an advanced reader in 1st grade.
I spent days researching books and series, and the result is my list under Other 1st Grade Books. It is a list that does not contain only titles for boys but for anybody who is ready for more challenging books than easy readers such as Level 3 or 4 books. I actually listed quite a few girls’ series there because I either didn’t know about them when my daughter was in 1st grade or she was not interested in them (she is not into fairies, princesses, etc.)
Ivy & Bean (series) For a comprehensive list of books about these two girls click here.
Clementine(series) To see all Clementine books click here. I remember that when I first checked it out from the library my daughter was not interested. It was too difficult for her. I waited a few months and brought it home again and she loved it. So just try it and if your daughter doesn’t like it, give it a shot in a couple of months again.
To make it easier for my friends to look for books my son really LOVED, I added a heart (♥) before the title for books that were a hit and two hearts if it was a big hit (meaning my son asking impatiently if I have more books from the series). That does not mean he did not like the books without a heart. A lot of them were nice and he enjoyed them too. But they were not the kind he would be asking for and read voluntarily several titles in a row (many times in one night).
Dodsworth in New York To see other books in this series on Amazon click here. For a complete list of books (their ratings and reviews too) in this series click here. (My son has read three–very easy reads)
Nate the GreatFor a complete list of books in this series click here. A very easy read, we are getting more books from this series.
Bunnicula and FriendsFor a complete list of books (their ratings and reviews) in this series click here. He liked it and we are getting more.
♥♥ Commander Toad in Space See a list of books in this serieshere. He was very excited about this book and I was not allowed to return it to the library after he read it. I just requested all the other books in this series.
♥ Dinosaur CoveMy kids like to read all series in the order so here is the list. My son read about 9 so far.
♥ Dory Fantasmagory Read more reviews here. My son said this one was funny. Although it looked much thicker than the other books he read this book in one sitting.
♥ The Littles For a complete list of titles in this series click here. He read a few because he is very much into little people.
The Trouble with Chickens My son said he enjoyed this book but I am a bit suspicious if he actually understood everything because he just started reading the other book in this J.J. Tully Mystery series (click here for the list) and he put it down because he did not comprehend well.
Oliver Moon For a list of books in this series click here. He read three or four and he enjoyed them. Update: He lost interest in this series and said they are getting boring–nothing happening, no action.
♥♥ The Big Big Big Book of Tashi For a complete list of books in Tashiseries click here. This is a FIND! Don’t miss this book especially if you have a little boy! I’ve read about girls being excited about it too! My son has about 15 books to choose from on the shelf to read and did not hesitate a second when I asked him to pick one. This looks like a very thick book for older kids but don’t let it fool you. Each page has a big picture and only a few sentences. There is a picture of a map at the beginning of the book and my son constantly follows Tashi’s journey there (Dragon’s Cave, Giant’s castle, Mountain of White Tigers etc.). He read 60 pages yesterday so as you can see the thickness of the book is not so bad. This is a big hit at home now, not to mention that my son was proudly showing to my husband that he is reading a VERY thick book like his older sister does. 🙂 Note: You don’t have to get the thick book if it is daunting for your child. The stories about Tashi’s adventures are available in separate books. I just chose one that contained more stories together. I also discovered a website about Tashi books.
The Great Big Enormous Book of Tashi As you can imagine my son fell in love with Tashi and refuses to read anything else until he has read all his adventures. You can either look for a boxed set or buy (or borrow from the library as we did) this book that contains 32 adventures. I just ordered this book for my son for Christmas because it looks like he will reread this one. He just asked if there is an audiobook about Tashi.
♥♥ Dragon Masters An easy chapter book (2 books so far, the third coming out in Feb 2015). To see a list, click here. He liked it a lot and is asking for the sequel. As of now, one book that is on the cover of the first is missing from the goodreads list. It is supposed to come out in July 2015. It is called Power of the Fire Dragon.
♥♥ The Curse of Snake Island For a complete list (and reviews) of titles in the Pirate School series click here. My son read the first one so far and is asking for more.
♥♥ Catwings For a complete list of books in this series click here. My son said he loved this book. The letters were really small but he was okay. Update: He has read the second one in the series and loved it as well.
♥ Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth Read more about this books here. People say it is hilarious. I have seen it on many websites recommended for this age group. For a list of other books in this series click here. My son first said it was just okay, then changed his mind two weeks later and did not want me to return the sequel to the library. So frankly, I am not sure how much he liked it.
♥ The Curse of the Bologna Sandwich For a list of books in the Melvin Beederman, Superhero series click here. He’s read a few books in this series but he did not enjoy all of them. In fact, he told me to return a few to the library without even starting to read them. He really liked the first one.
♥♥ The 13-Story Treehouse For a list of books in this series click here. Although the age range is higher, it is an easy book because it is idea for reluctant readers in 2nd and 3rd grade. My son liked it and asked for the second book.
♥♥ My Weird School(series) To see a list of the books in this series click here. A lot of kids love these stories and both my daughter and my son do as well.
♥♥ The Secrets of Droon For a complete list of books in order in this long series (I think about 40 books) click here. My daughter discovered them at the beginning of 2nd grade and devoured them. I got the first books for my son in the third trimester of 1st grade and he LOVED them and keeps asking for more. He’s read 25 so far and I am glad there are about 40 in this series because I don’t need to ask him to read when these are on our shelf.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle He read about 3 books about Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and loved them all as did my daughter when she was in 1st and 2nd grade. For a list of books in this series click here.
Books we read together or listened to
I decided that I will post here a list of books that either I read to my son just before and in 1st grade or we listened to an audio version of the book in the car during our trips. It might make it easier for you to choose an appropriate book to read with your kid.
The Giggler TreatmentMy daughter did not read it on her own–I read it to both my kids and they liked it. It is an easy and short read–we read it in one night. I am sure it is a fun book to read independently but I think this one is a great read-aloud. Funny.
The Great BrainShe did not read this book independently but because I knew she would never pick this one herself I chose it to read to both my kids. It is not the modern type of literature so I don’t know how many kids would really enjoy reading it on their own but both my kids loved it when I read it to them. I think it would depend on what kind of books your child likes. This one would be better for a boy for independent reading I think. Definitely more enticing for boys because the book is about boys.
Cheaper by the DozenWe are currently listening to the audio version of this book. My kids (almost 7 and 8) loved listening to it because it is funny but the vocabulary is more difficult and we sometimes had to explain the words to them to help them understand. so again, skip this one if your child is not an avid listener.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase Although my son (recently turned 7) thought it was a bit slow at the beginning (my daughter and I didn’t agree with him on that), we all loved this book. We read it in three days and enjoyed every minute of it.
Spirit Animals For a list of books in this series click here. He called it the best audio book ever. He listened to the first three on his iPod and when we got back home, he started reading the rest without a problem.
The following is a list of books that I either read to my kids at the age of 5 and 6 or audiobooks my kids listened to at that age. The fabulous thing about a lot of these titles (not all in this list) is that older kids won’t be bored with them. If you are looking for a book to read to your children of different ages, many of these are a great choice.
Half Magic I am sure they would have loved the other books in the Tales of Magic series because they both loved this one (my son listened to it at 6, my daughter at 8 so I guess it is one of those books that is popular with a wide range of ages). Update: We have read two other books in this series and they enjoyed them too.
The Children of Noisy Village Astrid Lindgren is a great author. This book has been one of my daughter’s favorites since she was 5 or 6. We read it in Czech because it is very popular in the Czech Republic. However, I have scanned reviewsof the English version and people in the US rave about this book as well.
Emil’s Pranks My daughter read the book in Czech and enjoyed it (more reviews are here). Like all other Astrid Lindgren books, this one didn’t disappoint. It is even better for little boys. You can find more titles about Emil on Amazon (then check the ratings on www.goodreads.com, or check out other books by Astrid Lindgren on www.goodreads.com)
The Hobbit My son LOVES The Hobbit. I read it to him in Czech (which was probably harder for him than if we had read it in English). He says it is one of his favorites of all times. He was 6 ½ when we read it.
The Big Big Big Book of Tashi For a complete list of books in Tashiseries click here. My son is reading this book independently right now but I’ve read reviews (and believe them) where people mentioned it was a great book to read aloud to younger kids. Each page has a big picture and only a few sentences. There is a picture of a map at the beginning of the book and my son constantly follows Tashi’s journey there (Dragon’s Cave, Giant’s castle, Mountain of White Tigers etc.). The stories about Tashi’s adventures are available in separate books. I just chose one that contained more stories together. I also discovered a website about Tashi books.
The Wind in the Willows A classic many people swear by. We tried it but it was too lyrical for my daughter. My son liked it but we didn’t continue reading because I want to read to both of them. I guess it depends on your child–either they enjoy it or not.
Princess Tales If your daughter likes fairy tales, this series is apparently very popular with a lot of girls (e.g. The Fairy’s Mistake, The Princess Test and others). My daughter is not a fan of fairy tales so she will probably never pick these up. Many Moms read these stories to their 5-year-olds so they are good read-alouds for princess lovers. I have seen books by Gail Carson Levine recommended by parents on quite a few discussion forums.
The Trumpet of the Swan This book is probably rather poetic but my son likes that type of books. He enjoyed Stuart Little so I have it on my list.
The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly Parents read it to younger kids, suitable for very young kids but also for 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds. I don’t know the reading level but if somebody finds out, please, post it in comments!
Here are books that my kids either read or books that were recommended on different websites for beginning readers. My kids read a lot of them in kindergarten but this list includes also books my son read right at the beginning of 1st grade.
I know that each library has a section on Easy Readers. It was a great resource at the beginning but as my kids started reading more, we ran out of titles they’d be interested in, and I often stood in front of those shelves looking for a book they would enjoy and couldn’t really find one. Since we have such a fabulous library network and can request items from other libraries, I just started looking for the titles online.
Murilla Gorilla, Jungle Detective For a list of books in this series click here. We only discovered this when my son was already reading longer chapter books so he was not excited about it but if you are looking for more easy readers, it is worth a try.