Books For First Grade Readers

Find out how to choose the best books for your first-grade readers and discover loads of great book suggestions.

Books For First Grade Readers

How to Match Levels and Interests With Your Emerging First Grade Reader

There’s nothing more exciting than watching your child learn to read! While all children learn and grow at their own pace, parents might wonder how best to match their interests and their reading levels while browsing for books. Choose books with favorite characters to encourage interest? What about well-loved stories from your childhood? Or do we need to pick up sets of books labeled with your child’s reading level while shopping at the Big Box stores, hoping that it’s a great match? In this article, we’ll cover Reading Levels, Reading Interests, Reading Across Categories and Genres, Fiction and Non-Fiction books for 6- and 7-year-olds.

Let’s dive in and find out how to maximize their reading time—and potential! You’ll discover loads of book suggestions below.

Let’s Talk About First Grade Reading Levels

The first thing you’ll notice when you research children’s books for first graders are references to levels. Several programs, including LexileScholastic Guided Reading LevelsFountas and Pinnel, DRA levels, etc., all have a unique take on what it means to read and comprehend books. These can be helpful if you’re just getting started on the reading journey. Did your school provide you with your student’s Lexile score? Have they done a DRA assessment? These scores might help you hone in on books that are the right level – challenging, but not too challenging – for your child.

According to Scholastic, typical reading levels for first graders range from a Scholastic Guided Reading Level of A-I. DRA levels range from A-1 to 16, and Lexile scores generally range from 190L to 530L. Generally, a light internet search is needed to find the ratings of a typical book.

Essentially, there are many ways for books to be rated, all to help find the perfect match for your child. Matching your child’s score with a similarly rated book can ensure that they can understand and read the book at least somewhat independently, without becoming so frustrated they give up or get so bored they put the book down and pick up the remote control!

What About First Grader Readers’ Interests?

Arguably, interests play a huge role in selecting your first-graders new book. If your child is interested in a particular topic, then lean into it. There are so many books, and in such a wide variety of subjects, any child can find something interesting—even those who claim they don’t like to read.

Don’t let your adult-leaning taste get in the way of your child choosing a book. As long as it is age-appropriate, allow your child to select a subject matter that is meaningful to them. The best way to promote reading is to foster the love of reading itself. And if a child can choose a topic or character that they find fascinating, then the job is so much easier. There is no such thing as “fluffy” or “bad” books. If you deem the content appropriate for your child’s age and maturity, then the sky is the limit!

Is your child aching to read a book well above their level? Review the book yourself for appropriateness, and then read it to or with them! Just because your first grader may seem much too independent for snuggling in your lap for storytime doesn’t mean you can’t still offer a read-aloud experience. Lightly skim your finger under the words as you read at an average pace, stop to ask clarifying questions, and be sure to use your best voice impressions. They’ll be just as entranced as they were when they were younger, and with your help, they’ll learn to understand and explore more challenging literature.

Read Across Categories and Genres

While it’s essential to empower our first-grade readers to take the lead in selecting books that interest them, don’t stop suggesting a variety of books. Giving children several types of books—not only old favorites—allows children to explore and find new books to love. If your child adores fantasy, pick up a few non-fiction books that might offer some crossover appeal, such as a history of Knights or ancient Rome.

Reading across genres and categories helps early readers develop greater fluency. The differences between, for example, fiction and non-fiction can sometimes trip a new reader up. More exposure to both kinds of books will increase their enjoyment and expose them to new concepts and make it easier to understand all the types of literature they might encounter at school. Further, when children take assessments for reading fluency, the subjects might be harder to understand if they haven’t come across it before. There is a world of difference between a book about Mars and a book about a fairy kingdom!

Fiction and Non-Fiction Books for First Grade Readers: How to Choose?

A typical first-grade reader might enjoy early chapter books. With lower word counts and fun pictures, early chapter books are a fantastic way to get your first grader reading and feeling like a big kid. The stories are a bit more complex, and following a storyline through multiple chapters to its conclusion helps exercise children’s memory and increase comprehension. Plus, with sometimes dozens of books in a series, young readers can be easily hooked and might fight you at bedtime to read just one more chapter!

Also, consider graphic novels, which often mix fun and engaging storylines with a higher ratio of exciting illustrations. And remember, reading graphic novels can be just as fun, serious, or stimulating as reading a novel! Our article on how graphic novels boost a child’s literacy skills may be of interest to you.

Speaking of serious books, the selection of non-fiction books available today is phenomenal! Have you ever wanted to learn about the squelchy things that live at the bottom of the ocean? Or how medieval knights wore armor? Non-fiction books often get a bad wrap, but they’re certainly not just textbooks. Even if the subject matter is factual, non-fiction books can be incredibly entertaining.

There are thousands of books about nearly any subject your child can dream up. There is genuinely a non-fiction book for practically anything, and it can often cross over with fiction interests. As mentioned before, consider pairing a voracious fantasy reader with a book on ancient history, complete with pictures that might bring those legends to life, or present a fan of shark fact books with a fictional undersea adventure!

Ready to Find Fantastic Books for First Grade Readers?

Here are some of our favorite fiction books for your first-grade reader ready for adventure:

Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton 

Stick Dog Gets the Tacos, by Tom Watson

Mermaid School, by Lucy Courtenay

Here are some of our favorite non-fiction books for your first-grade reader ready to explore:

The Ultimate Book of Sharks, by Brian Skerry

Dolphins! Animal Planet Chapter Book

Smithsonian Illustrated Children’s Atlas

Here are some of our favorite book lists for your first-grade readers: 

STEM Themed Books for Kids: Explore the World of Engineering and Technology

6 Non-Fiction Books for Dinosaur Obsessed Kids

If you are a book lover and feel that we must know about one of your favorite books for first graders, send us suggestions through Twitter, and share your most distinguished books on Instagram or Facebook with #thechildrensbookreview. In the meantime, keep turning pages out there.

Buy books for first-grade readers in our affiliate book store. And if you’re lucky enough to have a favorite hometown bookstore, they can always place a special-order, or it might just be on their shelf.

This article, Books for First Grade Readers, was written by Denise Mealy.


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