The ability to read and understand books, as well as a passion for reading, is one of the largest success indicators for children and adults. Children’s academic success can be tied to how much they’ve read and been read to.
There are a lot of parents who are deciding to homeschool their kids this year, and we here at Biblio want to help. We are putting together lists of popular classic literature suggested by teachers and librarians for each grade. These lists are geared towards our American audience, but they can be a good jumping-off point for anyone wanting to supplement their kid’s reading lists.
Best Classic Books for First Grade
The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a children’s book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter. The story follows Peter Rabbit, a mischievous and disobedient young rabbit, as he ventures into the garden of grumpy farmer Mr. McGregor. The tale was written for five-year-old Noel Moore, son of Potter’s former governess, in 1893. Since its publication in 1901, it has been translated into more than 30 languages and sold over 45 million copies.
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
A lonely toy bear on an otherwise empty shop shelf on Christmas Eve in 1956 first captured the attention of Michael Bond. Enamored, the BBC employee brought the stuffed bear home to his wife. They named the bear Paddington after the station near their home in London, and thus inspired, Bond began to write a few cute stories about the bear’s adventures starting with A Bear Called Paddington in October 1958. The friendly bear with his old hat, battered suitcase, duffel coat and love of marmalade—has become a classic character from British children’s literature and has become popular with American audiences as well. Learn more in our book collecting guide article, “Michael Bond – The Man Behind Paddington Bear.“
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, published in 1972, is an ALA Notable Children’s Book written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz. It was also featured on the beloved show Reading Rainbow with Levar Burton.
When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne
This collection of poetry by A. A. Milne has been delighting children and adults alike since being published in 1924. While dated, most of the simple, humorous poems remain magical and relevant to today’s children.
The book begins with an introduction entitled “Just Before We Begin,” which introduces a narrator that might be Christopher Robin. Winnie the Pooh is included in the poem, “Teddy Bear,” which originally appeared in Punch magazine in February 1924.
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Amelia Bedelia is the first book in a children’s picture book series that was written by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel, and published by Harper and Row in 1963. Amelia Bedelia is a housekeeper who takes commands and figures of speech completely literally, resulting in some silly scenarios.
Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
Aesop, known only for the genre of fables ascribed to him, was a slave in the mid-sixth century BC in Greece. He is assumed to have written and collected many of these curious moral parables and they have been added to and translated into many languages since they were first collected. The Aesopica, or Aesop’s Fables, are still being added to with more modern tales.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods is a children’s novel by Laura Ingalls Wilder and was published in 1932. This book is the first of the series of books known as the Little House series. The Little House series (also known as “Laura Years”) is based on decades-old memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s early childhood in the Big Woods near Pepin, Wisconsin, in the late 19th century.
While this first book is pretty innocuous, some of the later books in the series have moments of racism against the Osage and other Indigenous American tribes, as well as a minstrel show and some offensive language. Times have changed since Laura lived and wrote these books, and these can be teachable moments about American history and race when shared with your kids.
Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
Clifford the Big Red Dog was first published in 1963. It tells the story of Clifford, the dog chosen as a Christmas gift by 8-year-old Emily Elizabeth. Clifford is an enormous dog that Emily rides like a horse, but he often gets into mischief just by being so large.
Hardcore Scholastic Book Fair fans might recognize Clifford as the mascot of the organization. Indeed, seeing Clifford’s face triggers in me a Pavlovian response to put cash in my pocket and seek out a book fair to browse!
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham is one of Seuss’s “Beginner Books”, in which he was dared to write a children’s book with very simple vocabulary for beginning readers. Containing only 50 words, this book shares the tale of a picky fellow and his friend trying to convince him to try a plate of green eggs and ham. It was published in 1960 and has gone on to be a bestselling book ever since.
If you are interested in more Dr. Seuss, you can learn about some of the collectible works penned by the famous author and illustrator in our article: Collecting Books & Ephemera by Dr. Seuss
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Little House is a bittersweet story that centers on a house built at the top of a small hill, far out in the country, who is delighted when a newlywed couple choose her for a home. However, the house feels lonely at night and wonders what it might be like to have other houses to talk to, often gazing at the lights of the distant city. As the years go by, urban sprawl happens and more and more buildings appear until the house is in the middle of a city on a big street.