Literature Choices for a First Grader

I have finally compiled a list of the literature I plan to read aloud to my first grader this coming school year.  I carefully chose these books because one of my goals this upcoming school year is to help my son’s auditory skills.  My goal is for him to be able to comprehend books read aloud to him without the aid of pictures.  I went through each picture book on this list and most of the choices have a good amount of text on each page.   I will be utilizing narration and conversation to determine my son’s comprehension.

The plan is to read approximately 3 picture books a week for the first half of the school year.  At the same time I will read a chapter book, but at a much slower pace.  The second half of the school year will be only chapter books.  I will use narration for the chapter books.  Narration is the process of having a child repeat back what was read to him, but in his own words.  I will start off by having him repeat back a sentence before moving on to having him retell a paragraph or a chapter.  This will also help improve his auditory memory skills as well.

Because my son is so visual, I am incorporating lots of DVDs into our study this school year.  If there is a movie or a short video available on one of the books we have read we will watch the DVD after we have completed the book.

Here are the picture books I plan to use.  I’ve listed them in the approximate order I plan to read them.  I’ve included lots of fairy tales into the mix.

Mama Panya’s Pancakes

Tom Thumb

Henry’s Freedom Box

Little Red Riding Hood

A Chair for My Mother

Shoemaker and the Elves

The Story of Babar

Babar the King

The Princess and the Pea

Harold and the Purple Crayon

The Fisherman and His Wife

The Giving Tree

The Snow Queen

Kali And the Rat Snake

The Sleeping Beauty


The Wild Swans

How I Learned Geography

The Emperor’s New Clothes

The Little House

The Little Match Girl

The Tale of Three Trees

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

The Ugly Duckling

The Children We Remember

The Nightingale

The Velveteen Rabbit

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters


The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Blueberries for Sal

Make Way for Ducklings

Ox-Cart Man

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Very Last First Time

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The Fir Tree

The Reluctant Dragon

Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

The Story of Ferdinand

Doctor De Soto

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom


A Giraffe and a Half


Day of Ahmed’s Secret

The Monkey and the Crocodile

The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash

Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina

The Bee Tree

Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Jan Brett’s Snowy Treasury

The Polar Express

Katie Morag’s Island Stories

The Selfish Giant

The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot


Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears


Here is the list of chapter books I plan to use in the order I plan to read them.  The first ones on the list have some pictures and the last ones on the list have no pictures or very long chapters with few pictures.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret


Now We Are Six

American Tall Tales

The Little Prince

Tomi Ungerer’s Heidi: The Classic Novel

Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook

James and the Giant Peach

A Collection of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories

The Wind in the Willows

Lassie Come-Home

The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story

A Bear Called Paddington

I’m looking forward to snuggling on the couch with my little boy and discovering the world of literature.


  1. Bookmarking this … thanks! 🙂

  2. What a wonderful list! Just bookmarked this page so I can go back and refer to it! Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the advice Jennybell. I’ll remember that when I pick up those books.

  4. We have read many of those books and it sounds like a great list. I would just say that language-wise the Just-so stories and Wind in the Willows is very hard to get through, We actually stopped reading “Wind” and I plan to pick it back up next year to see if he’s ready. Also, if you try to read the whole Runny Babbit book, you will go crazy (from my experience). Maybe you should shoot for 1 poem a day while you are also reading something else?

  5. That’s a lovely list of books. Some of them look like ones I’d like to hunt down and borrow too. Thanks for finding and sharing them!

    I have a lovely problem when I read chapter books to my children … “just one more chapter Mum, pleeease!” Both my kids are like me in that way. It’s hard to put down a good book.

    Regarding comprehension, I stop reading whenever needed to explain a tricky word or ask if the kids know what something means. They interject with plenty of comments and questions, so their level of understanding is usually apparent without consciously using narrations.

    I used narration once though, after an advanced science and history documentary. My son is always keen to watch these, and I was curious to know what he actual retained from them … quite a lot it turns out, but with enough mixups to make it a very amusing exercise!

    Best wishes and enjoy all those reading snuggles!
    🙂 Vanessa

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