Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson ~

Choosing 100 Best Books to Read in First Grade is Dangerous

April 4th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 55 secs

Forget the 100 best books to read in First Grade.

Finding 100 best books to read in first grade seems harmless enough. After all, don’t we all want our children to learn to read well and become solid readers? There are plenty of tremendous books out there too. So what’s the problem?

If we are talking about children as young as 4 or 5, then there is a real risk that they are being pressured to read before they’re ready. Selecting 100 best books to read in first grade suggests that they are capable of reading in the first place. Yet, every child in the 4-7 age range achieves the ability to read at a different stage. It would be distressing for a child unable to read to be expected to have 100 books on their reading list (a bit like you being expected to read 100 books this year in old Icelandic or perhaps Egyptian hieroglyphics). How would you feel if you couldn’t make sense reading them?

Children in the first grade are highly intelligent. That’s right: all of them. Some come to school with incredibly well-developed reading skills. Others won’t make sense of text until 8,9,10 or even later. Declaring there’s a list of 100 best books to read in first grade grabs the learning process by the wrong foot. Especially as nobody knows exactly how to teach children to read. Surprising as it seems, reading is so complex, parents and teachers can only assist. It’s children themselves that make the cognitive connections.

So what does this mean? Should we hide books away until kids are ready to read at some magic age? Nope. Children should be exposed to books from the time they are babies (Some say even earlier!). But the crucial key to helping your child’s reading is to read to them. Read, and read, and then read some more. Let them catch you reading for yourself too, so they know it’s a natural thing to do. In that case, 100 of the best books to read in first grade could be any or all of the kids’ books scattered around your house. Try books with pictures and photographs that are fun, friendly, and easy to understand. Kids like them.

So, I’m sorry, but I won’t recommend 100 best books to read in First Grade. I want you to personally choose them instead. Ones you can read and reread to your little one, so that each book becomes part of your relationship history. Sure, there numerous books to recommend, like:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, Green Eggs & Ham (and most of the other books written by Dr Seuss)
  • Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London
  • Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion & illustrated by Margaret Graham
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • The 3 Little Pigs
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • Mother Hen
  • The Lion and The Mouse by Aesop
  • Books on Nursery Rhymes are also good too.
  • And many thousands more besides!


Just choose big sturdy books if you can because kids can be rough readers. Simple stories, with plenty to look at and loads of rhythm but not much text, frequently get the thumbs up. Take your child with you to your local library or bookshop so they can be involved too. If nothing else, they get exposed to books galore and you’ll get a better idea of what your child likes.

Feeling you have to know which are the 100 best books to read in First Grade is as much about parental anxiety than anything. In fact, the true bestseller in their life is you. So anything you read must be okay. Your role is really about building togetherness between you and your child. Besides, who has the time to worry about which are the “best” books?  Reading to your child daily is far more important than whether a book is brilliant. Your little one needs your loving nurture a gazillion times more than they need technical correctness.

So don’t stress about the 100 best books to read in first grade. If they learn to love books by being read to, while snuggling in your love and discovering the power and pleasure of story, you can relax. The hardest and most important part is already done.


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