In first grade, much of the focus is on reading the words, especially in the beginning stages. Students in the beginning stages also rely heavily on using pictures to help them identify words that are unfamiliar in print. As students progress through first grade, they rely more on decoding skills, including phonics and context, and less on pictures. First-grade books have been divided into three levels: beginning, middle, and end. In the beginning stage, books are heavily illustrated and have just a few words per page. Often, there are just one or two lines of text per page. Many of the books contain repeated elements such as, "Have you seen my cat?" Many, however, require the ability to read a limited number of high-frequency words, such as are and there. In the middle level, the selections become longer and more difficult. There may be four or more lines of print per page, and students are required to read a greater number of high-frequency words. By end of first grade, students are reading books that may be 500 words or longer and may be divided into brief chapters. At this level, students need a good command of high-frequency words and basic phonics patterns.
Reading Level: Beginning of Grade 1
Baker, Keith. Sometimes. Harcourt Brace, 1999, 14 pp. An alligator talks about the things that he likes to do. Reinforces short-a patterns and sight words. Model for writing about things I like to do.
Beck, Ian. Five Little Ducks. Holt, 1992, 24 pp. One by one, each of the five ducks disappears. Although there is a fox around, the ducks safely reappear. Easy reading. Provides practice with short-vowel patterns.
Berenstain, Stan, & Berenstain, Jan. Inside Outside Upside Down. Random House, 1968, 27 pp. A bear in a box gets a ride on a truck. Very easy reading.
Berenstain, Stan, & Berenstain, Jan. Bears on Wheels. Random House, 1969, 32 pp. Counting book shows varied number of bears on a variety of wheels. Very easy reading. Provides math tie-in: reinforces number words.
*Blackstone, Stella. Can You See the Red Balloon? Orchard, 1998, 22 pp. Readers are asked if they can see an orange cat, a red mouse, or other item on a page that has many cats, mice, and other items in a variety of colors. Reinforces color and high-frequency words.
*Cameron, Alice. The Cat Sat on the Mat. Houghton Mifflin, 1994,30 pp. Looking through cutouts on every other page, readers guess where the cat sat: on the mat, the car, the step, etc. Provides practice with the -at pattern. Very easy reading.
Carle, Eric. Do You Want to Be My Friend? HarperCollins, 1976, 30 pp. Talking to what appears to be a horse's tail, a mouse asks, "Do you want to be my friend?" A series of tails then appear, until finally, there is one that belongs to a mouse, who. answers, "Yes." The two friends then hide from a snake. Very easy reading.
*Carle, Eric. Have You Seen My Cat? Scholastic, 1987, 24 pp. A boy searching for his lost cat seeks help from people around the world who point him to a series of wild cats: a lion, a panther, a tiger, and so on. The last person he asks points him to his lost cat, who has just had kittens. Reinforces -at pattern and sight words. Very easy reading.
Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Clarion, 1989, 32 pp. Five little monkeys jumping on the bed keep Mama awake. Repeated lines provide opportunities for choral or shared reading. Part of Five Little Monkey series. Easy reading.
Cohen, Caron. How Many Fish? HarperCollins, 1998, 25 pp. Six fish are swimming in the bay when they meet six feet belonging to children at play in the water. Reinforces counting and number words.
Coxe, Molly. Hot Dog. Golden Books, 1998,30 pp. After many attempts to cool off, a hot dog, with the help of its owner, finally finds a way.
Edwards, Frank B. New at the Zoo. Firefly Books, 1998, 22 pp. A frog, who is new at the zoo, asks the other animals if he can play with them, but they are on their way to a party.
Ginsburg, Mirra. The Chick and the Duckling. Simon & Schuster, 1972, 24 pp. A chick imitates a duckling as the duckling walks, digs, and catches a butterfly, but the chick runs into difficulty when it tries to swim. Easy reading.
Greene, Carol. Hi, Clouds. Children's Press, 1983, 31 pp. Boy and a girl looking at the sky see shapes of creatures and objects in the clouds: cloud dog, cloud fish, cloud sheep, cloud frog, and even a cloud covered wagon. Easy reading.
Hutchins, Pat. Rosie's Walk. Simon & Schuster, 1968,30 pp. When Rosie the hen goes for a walk, the fox following her has a series of misadventures. Reinforces short-o patterns and sight words.
Jonas, Ann. Watch William Walk. Greenwillow, 1997, 24 pp. The story of William walking with Wally and Wanda on the beach is told in drawings and words that only begin with w (e.g., "Watch William walk with Wally"). Fosters phonemic awareness of beginning sound of w.
Maris, Ron. My Book. Puffin, 1983, 30 pp. Gate, door, book, and other objects are labeled in this lift-the-flap book. Contains just 17 words. Very easy reading.
*Martin, Bill, Jr. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Holt, 1967, 24 pp. In this classic tale, a bear and other creatures are asked to tell what they see. Highly predictable text provides opportunities for choral or shared reading. Easy reading.
Noll, Sally. Surprise! Greenwillow, 1997, 24 pp. Little girl slowly unwraps a birthday gift and discovers a kitten inside. Reinforces comprehension: predicting what the girl is doing and what the gift will be. Provides possible writing topic: a time when given a surprise or special gift.
Pomerantz, Charlotte. Where's the Bear? Greenwillow, 1984,32 pp. Group of people look for the bear and finally find it. Provides practice for predicting where the bear is.
Shapiro, Arnold L. Mice Squeak, We Speak. Putnam's, 1997, 29 pp. Poem tells what sounds animals and people make. Drawings are accompanied by brief captions. If given help with some of the hard words, beginning readers could read it.
Shaw, C. G. It Looked Like Spilt Milk. HarperCollins, 1947, 30 pp. Describes what a cloud might look like (e.g., a rabbit, angel, or mitten) as it changes shape.
Tafuri, Nancy. Early Morning in the Barn. Greenwillow, 1983, 21 pp. Shows the sounds that farm animals make early in the morning. Could be used to foster application of phonics skills to decode animal sounds.
Tafuri, Nancy. Have You Seen My Duckling? Greenwillow, 1984, 24 pp. Mother duck searches for her missing duckling. Very easy. Uses only the words "Have you seen my duckling?"
*Wildsmith, Brian. Cat on the Mat. Oxford, 1982, 16 pp. Cat sitting on a mat is joined by a dog, a goat, a cow, and an elephant. The cat then chases the other animals away. Reinforces the short vowel -at pattern. Very easy reading.
Ziefert, Harriet. The Turnip. Penguin, 1996, 30 pp. Farmer grows a turnip so enormous that he needs the help of his family, pets, and a little mouse to pull it up.
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