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Education

Best First Grade Books for the Classroom


An amazing lineup of first grade books goes a long way to making your year a great one. Of course you have plenty of well-loved titles, but freshening up your shelves always feels good. Here are 60 notable and recent titles we suggest for your first grade classroom library.

(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)

1.& 2. When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L. B. Deenihan

Book cover for When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree as an example of first grade books

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree’s riff on “When life gives you lemons …” has a childlike perspective on everything: cheerful, lively illustrations, and themes galore to discuss with first graders. Just like Grandma’s lemon tree, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Buy it: When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree on Amazon

2. When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox by Jamie L. B. Deenihan

Book cover for When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox as an example of first grade books

When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox features a child who wishes for a dollhouse but receives a toolbox instead. (After the initial disappointment, it actually turns out to be perfect for building a dream doll castle!) Though it’s not the focus of the story, this title gives classrooms the chance to gently discuss avoiding gender assumptions and practice using non-binary pronouns when talking about a book character.

Add both witty Deenihan titles to your mentor texts for how-to writing too!

Buy it: When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox on Amazon

3. The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann

Book cover for The Camping Trip as an example of first grade books

Add this first-time camping story to your collection of books portraying kids of color having joyful, everyday experiences. Or use it to launch a discussion of themes like overcoming fears and having new experiences. It also makes for an awesome personal-narrative writing mentor text with ALL the mini-lesson inspiration, from labels to detailed event sequences, sensory details to speech bubbles, and even characters’ emotions.

Buy it: The Camping Trip on Amazon

4. The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho

Book cover for The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story as an example of first grade books

Learn about the historic tradition of female divers in South Korea, the haenyeo, through this narrative account of a young girl’s first experiences diving with her grandmother. We love how this book encourages kids to ask questions and make inferences—it’s truly captivating!

Buy it: The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story on Amazon

5. The Cot in the Living Room by Hilda Eunice Burgos

Book cover for The Cot in the Living Room as an example of first grade books

This lovely personal narrative affirms the experiences of kids whose parents work the night shift, and adds to discussions about homes, family life, friendship, and being part of a community. Mami keeps a cot in the living room for neighborhood kids who need a place to spend the night when their parents are working, and her daughter always wishes for a turn to use it. When she finally gets a chance to try it, she learns some unexpected lessons about empathy.

Buy it: The Cot in the Living Room on Amazon

6. Carpenter’s Helper by Sybil Rosen and Camille Garoche

Book cover for Carpenter's Helper

Papi and Renata are busy renovating the bathroom together when a wren flies in the window and makes a nest. This stalls the project, but it creates an unforgettable chance to watch nature at work. Add this one to your first grade books to encourage thoughtful discussions about helping, respect for nature, problem-solving, and more.

Buy it: Carpenter’s Helper on Amazon

7. When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger and Susan Katz

Book cover for When the Shadbush Blooms as an example of first grade books

This celebration of the seasons pairs Lenape Indian traditions past and present. So many first grade curriculum connection possibilities.

Buy it: When the Shadbush Blooms on Amazon

8. Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Beth Griffin

Book cover for Ten Beautiful Things as an example of first grade books

Lily must make a long drive across her state to move in with her Gram. When Gram suggests they pass the time by looking for 10 beautiful things, Lily’s sure there won’t be any. She learns that beauty can penetrate even deep sadness. This is one of the most tender first grade books (or any grade book) we’ve read recently.

Buy it: Ten Beautiful Things on Amazon

9. It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

Book cover for It Came in the Mail as an example of first grade books

Another clever story about mail reminds us to be careful what we wish for. Delightful word choices (e.g., diddley-squat and squibble wibble whoop) make this a fun one to read aloud over and over.

Buy it: It Came in the Mail on Amazon

10. Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Book cover for Julian is a Mermaid as an example of first grade books

When Julián sees a group of women dressed as mermaids on the subway in Julián and the Mermaid, he’s transfixed. He wonders if Abuela will be angry when he dresses up as a mermaid, but her response is perfect. Not only is this book stunning, it also opens up important discussions about acceptance.

Buy it: Julián Is a Mermaid on Amazon

 11. Julián at the Wedding by Jessica Love

Book cover for Julian at the Wedding as an example of first grade books

Prepare to fall in love with Julián all over again in Julián at the Wedding. The text proclaims a wedding “a party for love.” The resplendent illustrations convey not only love between the brides, but love for yourself and your choices too.

Buy it: Julián at the Wedding on Amazon

12. Bird Boy by Matthew Burgess

Book cover for Bird Boy as an example of first grade books

Connecting with others at school doesn’t come easily to Nico—but he loves to sit quietly and watch nature, especially birds. When classmates dub him “Bird Boy,” it feels like teasing, but it turns out Nico was just meant to make friends in his own time. Add this to your first grade books about friendship and identity; we also like the representation of wheelchair use in the illustrations.

Buy it: Bird Boy on Amazon

13. Truman by Jean Reidy

Book cover for Truman as an example of first grade books

When a tortoise’s beloved owner unexpectedly disappears on the bus, he’s determined to see her again. For back-to-school or any time of year, big themes of devotion, perseverance, bravery, and friendship come perfectly packaged for first graders’ consideration in this sweet story.

Buy it: Truman on Amazon

14. Calvin by JR and Vanessa Ford

Book cover for Calvin as an example of first grade books

Over summer vacation, Calvin bravely tells his parents that even though they’ve always thought of him as a girl, in his “heart and brain,” he’s a boy named Calvin. They support him in starting his new school year as his true self. The joyful illustrations and straightforward, positive language make this a helpful book for so many kids.

Buy it: Calvin on Amazon

15. Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds

Book cover for Creepy Pair of Underwear as an example of first grade books

What do you do when you beg your mom to buy glow-in-the-dark underwear and they turn out to be super scary? This follow-up to the crowd-pleasing Creepy Carrots! is hysterical and good for discussions about expectations, growing up, and managing fears.

We are pumped to share the newest Creepy Tales book, Creepy Crayon!, with students too—especially since it’s school-themed!

Buy it: Creepy Pair of Underwear! on Amazon

16. Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi

Book cover for Amira's Picture Day as an example of first grade books

Amira is excited to celebrate Eid al-Fitr with her family—until she realizes it falls on the same day as school picture day. This is one of our favorite new first grade books for studying characters’ emotions. We also love adding more representation of Muslim families to our libraries.

Buy it: Amira’s Picture Day on Amazon

17. If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen

Book cover for If I Built a School as an example of first grade books

First graders are old pros at the whole school thing, making them perfect candidates for appreciating Chris Van Dusen’s utopian imaginary upgrade.

Buy it: If I Built a School on Amazon

18. Off-Limits by Helen Yoon

Book cover for Off-Limits as an example of first grade books

A girl finds herself in her dad’s office and just can’t resist diving into ALL of the office supplies. Pretty soon it’s a hilarious mess of paper clips, tape, sticky notes, and more. Yikes! Well, everyone goes overboard sometimes. This is one of our new favorite first grade books for talking about author’s message.

Buy it: Off-Limits on Amazon

19., 20. & 21. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn; Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter; and Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak

Book cover for Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn as an example of first grade books

  Book cover for Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter as an example of first grade books

Book cover for Goodbye Wnter, Hello Spring as an example of first grade books

Engaging introductions to class nature-observation walks or to study descriptive writing, this trio of gorgeous titles encourages kids to tune in to the changes each season brings.

Buy it: Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter, and Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring on Amazon

22. Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome by Kat Zhang

Book cover for Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome as an example of first grade books

Amy Wu is one of the most endearing picture book characters. Add her newest adventure to your first grade books about welcoming new students. When Lin joins Amy’s class, he hardly talks at all, but he’s totally different when he’s talking in Chinese with his family. Amy uses her big heart to make Lin feel comfortable.

Buy it: Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome on Amazon

23. Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed

Book cover for Bilal Cooks Daal as an example of first grade books

Bilal’s buddies don’t understand why his dad asks him to come inside to help cook dinner so early in the day—until they learn how to make daal. The day ends with a delicious tasting and new appreciation for this South Asian culinary tradition. This story has all the ingredients for a fun read-aloud and narrative-writing mentor text.

Buy it: Bilal Cooks Daal on Amazon

24. Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan Brothers

Book cover for Lizzy and the Cloud as an example of first grade books

Every one of the Fan Brothers books is gorgeous, and we particularly love this one for first grade dreamers. Lizzy visits the cloud seller at the park and comes home with her very own cloud, Milo. She must follow the instructions that came with it, even if that means making difficult choices. This is a whimsical standalone read-aloud or fun to contrast with informational books about clouds during a weather unit.

Buy it: Lizzy and the Cloud on Amazon

25. Rules of the House by Mac Barnett

Book cover for Rules of the House as an example of first grade books

Ian loves rules. (Remind you of any first graders you know?) On a family vacation, both he and his anti-rule sister, Jenny, get a lesson in stepping outside their comfort zones.

Buy it: Rules of the House on Amazon

26. Ways to Make Friends by Jairo Buitrago

Book cover for Ways to Make Friends

First grade books about friendship are essential for starting the school year. Toad has lots of quirky ideas for making friends that are great for class discussion. We appreciate that this book also acknowledges that working on making friends can be tiring sometimes; time alone can feel good too.

Buy it: Ways to Make Friends on Amazon

27. Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs by Jonah Winter

Book cover for Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs as an example of first grade books

Add this to your first grade books about names. In Bobville, everyone is named Bob. Along with their shared names, they look, think, and act the same way. That is until one Bob decides to challenge the norm and change his name to Bruce! This story manages to be discussion-worthy while also tickling first graders’ sense of humor.

Buy it: Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs on Amazon

28. Too Many Pigs in the Pool by Hinote Lanier

Book cover for Too Many Pigs in the Pool

Mr. Jenkins wants some company in his swimming pool, but he doesn’t expect a steadily growing pig pool party. This math story gets kids thinking about doubling in a hysterical way.

Buy it: Too Many Pigs in the Pool on Amazon

29. How Old Is Mr. Tortoise? by Dev Petty

Book cover for How Old is Mr. Tortoise as an example of first grade books

“How old are you?” is a crucial question for first graders! No one is sure how many candles to put on Mr. Tortoise’s birthday cake, but they all have suggestions. Add this fun title to your first grade math books about representing and ordering number amounts to 1,000.

Buy it: How Old Is Mr. Tortoise? on Amazon

30. The Blunders: A Counting Catastrophe! by Christina Soontornvat

Book cover for The Blunders: A Counting Catastrophe! as an example of first grade books

There are supposed to be 10 Blunder siblings, but what will Mom say when they report that one is missing? This story’s silly illustrations get first graders thinking about counting strategies and ways to make 10.

Buy it: The Blunders: A Counting Catastrophe! on Amazon

31. Pigeon Math by Asia Citro

Book cover for Pigeon Math

Counting pigeons seems easy, but this group of unpredictable birds keeps coming and going. Share this playful “birds on a wire” scenario when you’re teaching about writing addition and subtraction number sentences.

Buy it: Pigeon Math on Amazon

32., 33. & 34. Triangle, Square, and Circle by Mac Barnett

Book cover for Triangle

Book cover for Square Book cover for Circle

Inject both humor and critical thinking into your 2D geometry unit with this smart trilogy that gets students thinking about shapes’ features in new ways.

Buy it: Triangle, Square, and Circle on Amazon

35. Mr. Watson’s Chickens by Jarrett Dapier

Book cover for Mr. Watson's Chickens

The story follows Mr. Watson as he figures out what to do with the 456 chickens overcrowding the home he shares with his partner, Mr. Nelson. The sneaky birds find a way to escape, but even after he’s rounded them all back up, Mr. Nelson isn’t sure he’s ready to let them go. Filled with fun onomatopoeia and rhythmic writing, this book makes for a great read-aloud.

Buy it: Mr. Watson’s Chickens on Amazon

36. Firefighters’ Handbook by Meghan McCarthy

Book cover for Firefighters' Handbook

Meghan McCarthy always serves up top-notch informational read-alouds, but this one might be our favorite yet. From training to tools, it covers all things firefighting. Use it to teach students about informational text comprehension strategies and as a mentor text for writing their own.

Buy it: Firefighters’ Handbook on Amazon

37. Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack by Sandra Nickel and Oliver Dominguez

Book cover for Nacho's Nachos: The Story Behind the World's Favorite Snack

Here’s a tasty narrative nonfiction topic! This engaging account of the “invention” of this popular snack (and cafeteria staple) offers a satisfying bite of food history, and may even inspire additional snack research or experimentation of kids’ own.

Buy it: Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack on Amazon

38. What’s in Your Pocket? Collecting Nature’s Treasures by Heather L. Montgomery

Book cover for What's in Your Pocket: Collecting Nature's Treasures

Scientists (especially first grade ones!) are always collecting interesting things they find. This clever book presents famous scientists using anecdotes about how they found nature items as kids. Encourage scientific inquiry and introduce types of scientists with this awesome addition to your first grade books about science!

Buy it: What’s in Your Pocket? Collecting Nature’s Treasures on Amazon

39. Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know by Brittany Luby

Book cover for This is How I Know

How do you know when summer, or fall, or winter, or spring really arrive? This beautiful bilingual book is written in Anishinaabemowin (the language of the Ojibwe) and English.

Buy it: Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know on Amazon

40. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark

Book cover for Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

Share this story as an example of persistence and also to help your students appreciate the origin of the tablets, laptops, and desktops they use today.

Buy it: Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code on Amazon

41. Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal by Karyn Parsons

Book cover for Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan's Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal as an example of first grade books

The traffic signal is such a concrete example for first grade minds of how an invention can solve a problem. This rhyming story brings Garrett Morgan’s work to life. It will definitely get kids thinking and wondering about other inventions too.

Buy it: Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal on Amazon

42. The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field by Scott Riley

Book cover for The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field as an example of first grade books

When first graders see a problem, they want to fix it—which makes this true story about a determined crew of soccer-loving friends extra fascinating. Prasit Hemmin and his buddies live on a small Thai island, meaning they only have room to play soccer occasionally at low tide on a sandbar. So they decide to build themselves a floating soccer field! Add this to your first grade books about perseverance.

Buy it: The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field on Amazon

43. This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids From Around the World by Matt Lamothe

Book cover for This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World

Every elementary classroom needs a copy of this book, which sends a powerful message about the things that connect kids across the globe.

Buy it: This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids From Around the World on Amazon

44. A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use by Sara Levine

Book cover for A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use

A fun text structure turns learning about different types of bird beaks into a guessing game. What kind of bird has a beak that works like a knife? A net? Needle-nose pliers? A straw? We love first grade books that let us dig into science standards through reading aloud.

Buy it: A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use on Amazon

45. Seedlings series by various authors

Book cover for Seedlings series: Scooters

    Book cover for Seedlings series: Chipmunks

Engaging topics, great photos, clear informational text features? Check, check, check. If you need to beef up your collection of informational books your firsties can tackle independently, you’ll want to click through the many (many!) options in this series.

Buy it: Seedlings on Amazon

46. Giggle and Learn books by Kevin McCloskey

Book cover for The Real Poop on Pigeons

Book cover for Ants Don't Wear Pants!
Book cover for Snails Are Just My Speed! Book cover for We Dig Worms!

The Giggle and Learn series takes on high-interest topics in their readable, comic-style nonfiction texts. Explore the whole series.

Buy it: Giggle and Learn books on Amazon

47. Seeing Into Tomorrow by Richard Wright

Book cover for Seeing Into Tomorrow

This collection of haiku highlights common childhood experiences of children, like noticing shadows, playing outside, and watching trains. The unique photo collage artwork is a much-needed, everyday portrayal of African American boys.

Buy it: Seeing Into Tomorrow on Amazon

48. Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub

Book cover for Fresh Picked Poetry

This collection has a shopping list’s worth of creative rhymes, fun illustrations, and great vocabulary, all while celebrating healthy, local food.

Buy it: Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market on Amazon

49. Thunder and Cluck series by Jill Esbaum

Book cover for Thunder and Cluck Friends Do Not Eat Friends as an example of first grade books

Thunder and Cluck are different in many ways. Is friendship possible? First graders will love the odd-couple hilarity. This series is part of the Ready to Read Graphics collection, which are all fantastic. Each book starts with an amazing tutorial about how to read graphic novels, perfect for class mini-lessons or small-group work.

Buy it: Thunder and Cluck series on Amazon

50. World of Reading: Mother Bruce books by Ryan T. Higgins

Book cover for Ballet Bruce

Hooray for early readers starring one of our all-time favorite picture book characters! Mother Bruce is just as funny as ever and new readers will be proud to be able to read about his antics on their own.

Buy it: World of Reading: Mother Bruce books on Amazon

51. Unicorn and Yeti series by Heather Ayris Burnell

Book cover for Unicorn and Yeti Book 7

Fun creatures and classic friendship themes are a great combo in this fun series. The short chapters, color-coded speech bubbles, and supportive pictures are awesome for first grade readers. This series is part of the Acorn Books early reader collection—a must-look for updating your first grade books for independent reading. (For more advanced readers, you’ll also love the Branches collection of transitional chapter books.)

Buy it: Unicorn and Yeti series on Amazon

52. The Mo Jackson Series by David A. Adler

Book cover for Kick It, Mo!

What Mo lacks in size and athleticism he makes up for in determination and love of the game. Young sports enthusiasts will be eager to read the play-by-play accounts of his experiences with soccer, baseball, swimming, and more.

Buy it: The Mo Jackson Series on Amazon

53. The Confetti Kids Series by various authors

With their diverse cast and portrayals of varied childhood experiences, the Confetti Kids allow students to see themselves in books.

Buy it: The Confetti Kids Series on Amazon

54. Pee, Bee, & Jay series by Brian “Smitty” Smith

Book cover for Pea, Bee & Jay Wannabees

This series had us at its clever title. Kids love the wacky combination of characters in these pun-filled emergent-reader graphic stories.

Buy it: Pee, Bee, & Jay series on Amazon

55. The Charlie & Mouse books by Laurel Snyder

Books about sibling conflicts make for great discussion, but these vignettes about two brothers who love to be together are so refreshingly sweet.

Buy it: The Charlie & Mouse books on Amazon

56. King & Kayla series by Dori Hillestad Butler

These gentle but engaging mysteries, told from King’s lovable and funny canine perspective, are perfect for readers not quite ready for chapter books.

Buy it: King & Kayla series on Amazon

57. Magic Tree House Graphic Novels by Jenny Laird and Mary Pope Osborne

Book cover for Dinosaurs Before Dark Magic Tree House Graphic Novel 1

Striving toward being able to read Magic Tree House books is a rite of passage for so many kiddos. These new graphic novel adaptations introduce all the treasured details from the original books with amazing fresh artwork and new energy. You’ll definitely want to add these to your first grade books for advanced readers or to read them aloud as part of introducing this iconic series.

Buy it: Magic Tree House Graphic Novels on Amazon

58. Zoey and Sassafras books by Asia Citro

Book cover collage for Zoey and Sassafras books

With sick magical animals in need of help and an inspiring, relatable girl-scientist hero, this is a series to collect for your classroom.

Buy it: Zoey and Sassafras books on Amazon

59. Our Friend Hedgehog by Lauren Castillo

Book cover for Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us

When Hedgehog loses his cherished stuffed dog Mutty in a storm, he’s beside himself, but a series of meetings with other forest residents brings hope, resilience, and new friendship. This gorgeous illustrated chapter book makes for a sweet classroom read-aloud to pair with conversations about what it means to be a friend. It’s also an age-appropriate choice for advanced first grade readers.

More great news: This sweet story has a sequel to enjoy. Check out Our Friend Hedgehog: A Place to Call Home.

Buy it: Our Friend Hedgehog on Amazon

60. Rabbit & Bear series by Julian Gough and Jim Field

   Book cover for Rabbit & Bear: The Pest in the Nest

These illustrated chapter books are prime first grade books that work as both appealing classroom read-alouds and independent reading choices for your more advanced readers. Bear and Rabbit are forest neighbors, but their friendship includes plenty of hilarious twists and turns. (FYI: There’s some bathroom content in the first installment, but in our opinion, it’s not a deal-breaker.)

Buy it: Rabbit & Bear on Amazon

Looking for more content like this? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters so you can get our latest picks.

Plus, check out the best first grade art projects and anchor charts.





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