Summer Reading Challenge #2- First Grade List

Summer Reading for First Grade, the Librarian Challenge Continues

So the end of Kindergarten is a tricky time.  Some kids are reading fluently, some kids are just getting started reading, some parents are reading to their children, and some parents think they are done and it’s the kid’s turn.  That makes a mess of a going into First Grade reading list.  Are kids supposed to be able to read by the end of Kindergarten?  Yes, according to the NY State Department of Education, they should be at least at the “emergent reader” level, which is things like sight words and “Mat sat on the cat.” (Great School’s answer.)

First, no matter how well their children are doing, parents should keep reading to their children.  If the parents are feeling out of their depth because of language or literacy issues, then audiobooks are a great alternative.  Audiobooks are good for any family, listening in the car, during quiet activity or for bedtime.  Listening to books beyond their reading ability improves vocabulary and comprehension. Talking to your children about the type of book is also important- fact or fiction?  Some things we take for granted have to be taught- reading is left to right, this is a book cover, an author is a person that wrote the book, and an illustrator made the pictures.  Many teachers give a tour of a book before they read it out loud.

826584Here’s our school’s list for First Grade:

  • Alexander and the Terrible Horrible …Day – Vorst
  • Amelia Bedelia SERIES  -Parish
  • Arthur SERIES – Brown
  • Bark, George – Feiffer
  • Berenstain Bears SERIES – Berenstain
  • Boy Who Turned Into a TV Set- Manes
  • Dragon SERIES – Pilkey
  • Frog and Toad SERIES- Lobel
  • froggy SERIES – London
  • George and Martha SERIES – Marshall
  • Henry and Mudge SERIES- Rylant
  • If you give a..SERIES – Numeroff
  • Junie B Jones SERIES- Park
  • Kids of Polk Street School SERIES – Giff
  • Little Bear SERIES – Minarik
  • Little Critter SERIES – Mayer
  • Magic School Bus books- Cole
  • Miss Nelson SERIES – Allard
  • Moonbear SERIES – Asch
  • Nature up Close SERIES – Himmelman
  • Olivia SERIES- Falconer
  • Pete the Cat – Litwin
  • Pinkalicious SERIES – Kann
  • Ugly Duckling – Anderson
  • 39 Kids on the Block – Marzollo

Some of the things on this list make sense, with books for early readers as well as books for caregivers to read to their children.  There are books for advanced readers.  Then there are books that baffle me.

The Boy Who Turned Into a TV Set was written in 1984.  I have never seen it on any list of children’s classics.  No one in our entire library system owns a copy of this out-of-print book, and it has one review on Amazon.  If the reason for keeping it on the list was to extol turning off the tv once and a while, the Berenstein Bears and Too Much Television would fit the bill just as well.  A more modern chapter book covering the issue is Zeke Meeks Vs. The Horrifying TV-Turnoff Week, (2012).  

I read Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (book 1).  I’ve seen these books around for years, but I’d never read one before.  Ugh.  What an ignorant, mean little brat!  Does the series get any better?

I don’t get the appeal of Pete the Cat.  It’s a reader that is very bland and repetitious, which can be good for struggling readers, but the art is awful.  I much preferred Dragon Makes a Friend, which had full color pages, a sentence per page, but set up like a chapter book.  Kids can get in on the jokes.  The Magic School Bus just came out with revised books on the body, solar system, sea creatures, weather and planet earth, which are also available as e-books.  Is Ms. Frizzle a time lord or a wizard? The “If you give a…” series is cute and funny (If you give a mouse a cookie was the first, I think).  I’m not sure why just one fairy tale by Anderson is specifically listed- it would be good to have your child well-versed in fairy tales and mythology to prepare them for references in other books.

Books I would add:

the Association for Library Services for Children’s 2014 list


  • Bob books- these are tiny reader books in a set.  The art work is beyond horrible, but struggling readers can be proud that they read a whole book.  The series increases in difficulty as you go along. Other phonics book sets are helpful as well.
  • Max and Mo Go Apple Picking by Patricia Lakin
  • Bully by Laura Seeger – Bully the bull doesn’t realize that his words hurt, until…
  • browse the “reader” section of your library with your child (note that every publisher has a different criteria for reading levels) and have them try the first page.
  • Silly Milly and the Mysterious Suitcase- Wendy Lewison12233119129594
  • Starfall books– free online reading books with different settings
  • Between the Lions videos and activities.  Click on “parents” to get book lists and tips.
  • Reading Rainbow app

To read aloud to your child:

  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs- Judith Barrett (follow it with the Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord)
  • Grimm’s Fairy Tales (flip through the book before reading it- some editions are the original, dark and violent versions, and some are watered down)
  • How Much is a Million? by David Schwartz
  • Classic Fairy Tales by Scott Gustafson (non-violent versions of the classics)
  • Arabian Nights by Wa’fa Tarnowska
  • Biography picture books: your library should have great books about famous people
  • How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills
  • Any of your favorite childhood books- share your love of them
  • 365 Penguins by Jean Luc Fromental
  • Flotsam by David Weisner (amazing artwork in this wordless book)
  • the Empty Pot by Demi (great story about honesty)
  • Watr! Water! Water! by Nancy Wallace
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  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
  • Mythology, tall tales, fairy tales from around the world
  • science books about weather, time, animals, vehicles, dinosaurs…

I’m beginning to ramble again.  Enjoy your summer.   Be a role model and read some books yourself!


3 Replies to “Summer Reading Challenge #2- First Grade List”

  1. Okay, so what do you recommend for a first grader who can recognize only a few words, can sound out words but gets really sick of doing it, but invariably picks out really exciting books full of super heroes and long words that he would like to have read to him? I mean, I don’t mind those but there’s got to be something short enough for him to mostly read but INTERESTING. He has the cat-mat-rat etc. books and thinks they are deadly dull. He could read every word, but he won’t, because they’re boring. I don’t blame him — they ARE boring…but I want him to practice reading more than just the sight-reading cards we go over!

    1. Besides trying online books like starfall, another approach would be to read picture books with him and ask him to read a word or two. Also,they do have superhero reader books, and I forgot to mention that there are many media tie-in reading books- Lego, Star Wars, Marvel, princesses, dragons, and so on. Consider getting a leap-pad device, to make reading part of a toy.

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