It’s super beneficial to start your child with independent reading as soon as possible. Here are 13 books for first to read independently.
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It wasn’t until this past year that we started taking reading more seriously as a family. To be honest, I have probably read two or three books a year between the time I got out of high school until recently.
But, I am well aware of how beneficial reading is for both children and adults. So, I’ve been reading more and getting both kids more involved and excited with reading as well.
We have always read books before bedtime. But, it has always been mom and dad reading to the kids. Now that Sydnee has learned how to read, we are very determined to have her read daily. Initially, it was an enforced rule, but now it’s something she does on her own, most of the time during screen-free time.
We did a lot of looking into different books and book series that would keep her engaged and entertained without being too difficult and making her frustrated.
Over the past year, we have purchased and been gifted a lot of books that have been amazing for independent reading. And because it can be hard to find books suitable for early readers, I want to share this list with you.
In turn, I hope you share it with your child and find a book that gets your first grader excited to read on their own.
Why Independent Reading is Important for Young Children
Independent reading is just as important as reading to your child when they are younger. There are so many life-long benefits that they will reap from spending 15-30+ minutes each day reading on their own.
For one, independent reading helps children gain new vocabulary and gives them better comprehension skills. And according to Waterford.org, reading helps children become more active in classroom learning.
If you start your child reading early, they are more likely to develop a passion for reading and a desire to learn more. This alone will follow them through life and help them be more successful in their schooling and in their future career.
Research has confirmed that reading improves a person’s overall quality of life. Reading for leisure has great academic, financial, professional and civic benefits.
With this information, it’s a given that we want to provide our child with plenty of opportunities to read independently and find books that they enjoy.
Having a variety of books for your child to choose from will encourage them to read more frequently and find enjoyment in reading alone.
How to Foster Independent Reading
The idea of transitioning from the adult reading to the child to the child reading independently can be overwhelming. How do you get a child to read on their own if they have always relied on someone else to tell the story?
The following are some easy steps to start your child with independent reading.
- Ask your child what kind of subjects they would enjoy reading about. Seek out books that surround their subject of interest. And if they aren’t sure, offer some suggestions based on what you know your child enjoys.
- Make sure the books your child is reading are not too difficult. Children get easily discouraged when there are too many large words or they are not understanding the concepts. The I Can Read! System is a wonderful place to start. From the most beginner readers to more advanced readers, they classify their books into levels to make sure you are getting a book that your child can read, understand, and enjoy.
- Set an example. When our oldest first started independent reading, I vowed to read right alongside her. And to encourage her to read on her own without being told, I started reading more often during my free time. Your child looks up to you, and what they see you doing, they will likely want to do, too.
- Seek out different kinds of reading material. Your child doesn’t just have to read standard chapter books or picture books. Consider children’s magazines, activity books, joke books, and even poetry. You can’t be certain what your child will enjoy until you try it.
13 First Grade Independent Reading Books
1. Junie B. Jones
There are 28 Junie. B Jones books. These books are great for first graders because they are entertaining, have larger print, and simple words. The plot of these books follows Junie B. Jones, a quirky first-grader with a lot of silly feelings and situations.
We purchased a set of Junie B. Jones books on Amazon and were gifted a second set from my mom. They are Sydnee’s go-to books for independent reading. She loves the character and understands the conflicts that occur in each book.
2. The Magic Treehouse
These books take me back to my childhood, and I’m so glad that I can now share them with my daughter. The theme in The Magic Treehouse books follows Jack and Annie as they travel through time and learn about history, wildlife, and nature.
These books are suitable for 6-10-year-olds and can be read independently for the most part. Children may struggle to pronounce or sound out certain words like Shakespeare or pterodactyl.
3. What Should Darla/Danny Do
My mom gifted this book to Sydnee for Christmas and it was hit right from the start. We read it together first, and Sydnee read it independently shortly after.
The great thing about these books (What Should Darla Do? and What Should Danny Do?) are written in a “choose your own story” format. Most of the decisions are based on kindness and compassion. If you make the wrong choice the story ends early and an explanation is given as to why the decision was unkind.
4. The Bernstein Bears
This is another series of books that might be nostalgic for parents. These books have a rhyme scheme with shorter phonetic words that first graders can sound out. The rhyme scheme can help early readers figure out the coming word.
These books are fun and follow the three bears through pirate adventures and to space, and teach valuable lessons about eating nutritious food, cleaning up after yourself, and being kind.
5. Amelia Bedelia
Amelia Bedelia is another classic favorite. They are available in both level 1 and level 2 of the I Can Read! series. And the plot follows Amelia through a series of comic misunderstandings with her employer.
Kids will find the plot and characters humorous and entertaining. And they will feel accomplished reading a chapter book independently.
6. Elephant and Piggie
The Elephant and Piggie books are an all-time favorite in our house. They make the whole family laugh with their comical commentary and adorable illustrations.
These are less of a chapter book, but they offer children the opportunity to sound out words, recognize and read sight words, and explore common emotions and childhood conflicts.
7. Pete the Cat
Pete the Cat is yet another family favorite in our house. While he doesn’t do much speaking, his personality and determination will keep kids smiling and laughing.
Pete the Cat goes on numerous adventures. Some of our favorites include Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach. Many of these books include a lot of repetition which can help kids recognize and remember words.
Boys and girls in first grade will adore these silly and light-hearted transition books. They are perfect for children who are just starting to read chapter books but still need some illustrations to keep them fully engaged.
The Stink books follow Judy Moody’s younger brother Stink through science, nature, and relateable childhood conflicts.
Have you and your child seen the Paddington movies? If so, they will be delighted to start reading the I Can Read! Level 1 Paddington books. Level 1 encourages children to sound out words but keeps the sentences short and the plot easy to understand.
As some of the books above, these books are great transition books for young readers. They have illustrations and sentences that children read independently.
10. Ranger Rick
Introduce your child to wildlife around the world with the Ranger Rick books. These are also an I Can Read! Level 1 books with full-color photographs of animals and nature.
In each book, your child will explore what it’s like to live like a certain animal. Some of the animals you might read about are polar bears, bison, wolves, lions, and elephants.
11. Go, Dog Go
I may be biased, but Go, Dog Go is one of my favorite books of all time. Between the cute and colorful illustrations and the short rhyming words, this book is a quick read that will build confidence in your young reader.
12. Kitten’s First Full Moon
This is a great book to have on hand because it’s perfect for reading to your child and for your young reader to read independently. This story follows Kitten as she chases what she believes to be a bowl of milk.
Each page is illustrated in grayscale and there is a lot of repetition of words and sentences, making it easier for young children to recognize and read the words.
13. Charlie the Ranch Dog
Charlie is an adorable basset hound who loves being a good friend and helper to the fellow farm animals. He often finds himself in inconvenient situations and is forced to problem-solve his way out.
These books are not considered larger chapter books and can be finished independently in one or two readings.