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Reading aloud to my students is one of my favorite parts of being a school librarian. I love trying out funny voices and dramatic faces and making the kids laugh. As a result, I typically pick light and fun books to share with my students. While I admit that many of my read alouds might not be great literature, I think that one of my primary goals of reading aloud is to sell reading as something that can rival video games and Netflix in terms of entertainment value. And based on the enthusiasm I saw with some of these read alouds, I think I’m on the right track!
Back in June, I asked the first graders to name their favorite picture books that we had read together in library class throughout the year, and the zany, silly ones were well-represented among the ones they chose. Here are their picks.
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems
This book shows the quirky genius of Mo Willems at its best with his version of the classic story of “be careful what you wish for.”
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy
Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula M. Craig and Carol L. Thompson
I read this with kindergarten, first grade, and second grade every year as the first read aloud of the year in order to get kids thinking about how they should treat the library books they are about to check out. You would think I’d get groans from the kids who have already heard it, but actually, nope. The kids look forward to hearing this story at the beginning of each school year, even in second grade when it’s their third listen. It’s out of print, so if you can get your hands on a copy, hang on to it!
Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas
This story is perfect for this time of year. The kids find it hilarious, and it’s a very short book which works well for a library class since us librarian-folks are usually trying to squeeze a read aloud, a lesson, an activity, and book checkout into a short amount of time.
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk
I just read this book with my new first graders and they loved it as much as last year’s group. I love (attempting) to do different character voices and accents. In my version of the read aloud, I decided that Lady Pancake speaks with a bit of a Southern drawl, while Sir French Toast obviously has a French accent (my rendition sounds kind of like Lumiere from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…well, at least, that is what I’m going for). It’s one of those situations where I’m not quite sure if they are laughing at me or with me, but the kids like the accents and love this book!
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast
Burger Boy by Alan Durant
Benny overdoes it with the hamburgers, spontaneously transforms into a large hamburger, and has a chaotic adventure. I’m not sure exactly why first graders love the idea of a person turning into food, but my first graders found this book delectable.
Chocolatina by Erik Kraft
This story is similar to Burger Boy, but Tina’s got more of a sweet tooth, and one day she wakes up to find herself head-to-toe chocolate. Read it after Burger Boy for a perfect opportunity for compare and contrast.
There Are Cats in this Book! by Viviane Schwarz
This one is a fun and interactive book that combines cute kitties and flaps to flip. I had a library volunteer read it to smaller groups of kids so that they could all take turns lifting the flaps. They loved it!
There Are Cats in This Book
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
Warning: Do not read this one to the kids unless you are okay with A LOT of laughter. It’s the story of a bear who finds a little boy and decides to keep him as a pet, and ever since I discovered it a few years ago, it has definitely been a fave every time I read it.
Children Make Terrible Pets
Principal Fred Won’t Go to Bed by Carolyn Crimi
The first graders loved this silly rhyming book. Maybe it’s because kids love to think about what their teachers (and principal) are like outside of school, and it’s always fun to think of grownups acting like kids. It’s another fun read.
Principal Fred Won’t Go to Bed
Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel
This is the story of two best friends, a caterpillar and earthworm, and how their lives change as the caterpillar does his thing and becomes a butterfly. I read this book to the first graders in the spring when the class was learning about butterflies in science, and they loved this sweet book.
Bob and Otto
Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland
Michael Garland’s illustrations are always gorgeous, and this book is no exception. It’s the story of a teacher who loves to read aloud from a special book, and the characters in this book always jump out of the book and become real as she reads. One day, someone else reads the book, and chaos ensues! It’s fun, and the kids love to think about story characters that they would like to see in real life.
Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook
I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss
What first grade book list would be complete without something by Dr. Seuss? The kids loved this one and most had not heard it before, which is always nice. It’s great for Dr. Seuss’ birthday (or anytime!)
I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
What are your first graders’ favorites? Feel free to share other fabulous first grade read aloud ideas!