Our guide will explain different reading levels and help you to choose the perfect books to buy for your first grader.

By Fiona Tapp
October 21, 2019
Credit: Getty Images/Maskot

By the time they head off to first grade, your child will probably already have a few favorite picture books and may even be able to read some of them independently. But as they expand their repertoire and learn more sight words by heart, a leveled reading system can support their new early reading skills.

As a basic rule: Good books for kids in grade 1 should have a mix of pictures and text, not be too long, and contain a good proportion of words that they can read themselves. To make things easier, reading levels are typically assigned to kids' books so you know which titles offer what. But understanding different reading systems can sometimes be a challenge.

The easiest program to understand are books that come with a grade level that matches your child's current grade in school. But you'll still need to check with your child's teacher to see if she's reading at, below, or above grade level so you pick the best fits. There are also a number of other leveled systems that often relate to individual publishing houses which take some deciphering. Most grade 1 students, however, will enjoy level 1 reading books.

First Grade Reading Level Checklist

Level 1 reading books, which are also sometimes called early readers, emergent readers, or beginner reading books, feature the following:

  • Fun, enjoyable stories
  • Lots of simple sentences that children can begin to sound out and read themselves
  • Familiar words and phrases
  • Engaging characters
  • Just enough challenging vocabulary to keep kids interested

First Grade Reading Level Books We Love

Books at this level should give your child confidence in their reading aptitude and stretch their first-grade reading comprehension skills. And maybe most importantly, they should hold their interest! Here are some of our favorite first grade reading level books that meet the criteria:

First Grade Non-Fiction Books

It's also a great idea to select a few age-appropriate non-fiction titles for your child to read. Choose subjects that your child is interested in related to sports, sciences or their hobbies. Try these excellent information books:

First Grade Reading Games

In addition to first-grade reading books there are a number of online reading games that support early learning reading skills and story comprehension. Some of them are available for free whereas others require a paid app download or a subscription.

With the right books and games you can read with your child every day and inspire a love of literature and education that will last their whole life.


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