I recently received the following question on one of my YouTube videos:
Which reading books or chapter books do you recommend for first grade? Can you do video?
I am more than happy to answer this question! But before getting into that, please allow me to explain how I use readers in our homeschool.
How I Use Readers
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The graphic below is a general illustration of the method I’ve developed of teaching reading in my homeschool over the last six years.
As I go into more detail, please keep in mind that this is not a science. It’s just what has worked for us.
- During pre-k, I focus on letter sounds and recognition. This video is my fave way to do this because it’s fun for the kids and doesn’t take extra work from me. They would usually watch at least some of it every day while they’re learning.
- Next, we move on to a phonics-based reading curriculum. This is the one I used, and I’ve even done a review. One of my kids started the curriculum during his kindergarten year, but my other two started it during pre-k. We take our time with it and still finish it before third grade.
- By then, they’re reading pretty well, but may still need to work on fluency. My goal is to get them reading independently, so instead of jumping into another reading curriculum, I put together a book list of books increasing in difficulty to use until they’re fluent, competent readers.
- At this point, they start reading independently and I focus on reading comprehension.
I start using readers at around the time we begin a phonics curriculum. Each day, we spend about five minutes practicing in our phonics workbooks, then read a “real” book. At first it’s shared reading – I do a lot of the reading and have my kids read words that they know or can sound out. Over time, we shift to guided reading – my students do most of the reading and I simply supply the words they don’t know. Once they’re reading fluently, they read independently.
Favorite Readers So Far
I try to find books that my kids will enjoy so that they’ll want to read. In kindergarten and first grade, we spend about five minutes reading “real” books – unless my student wants to read more. I end reading time in five minutes or when I see that my child’s little brain is getting worn out from the effort.
In first grade, I don’t worry too much about our readers not being exactly at reading level. Books below reading level will help kids build confidence, and kids above reading level that are high-interest helps kids to learn sight words quickly.
These have been some of our favorite readers during the kindergarten/first grade years:
How I Find Readers
Now that I’ve given you some books to get you started, here are a few ideas to help you find more books for your kids to read.
- Amazon – On Amazon, find a book that you like for your child, click on it, then look further down the page to see what they suggest under the headings below:
- Frequently bought together
- Books you may like
- Products related to this item
- Sonlight (Christian) / BookShark (Secular) – These curriculum companies teach history through literature, so I’ve found them to be a good place to get ideas for books for my kids to read.
- Reading with History → What’s Included
- Summer reading ideas
- Pinterest – This is the perfect place to find loads of book lists. I’ve also created a board specifically for book lists for kids.
- “Homeschool Book Lists” Board
How I Create a Book List
Each year, I create a spreadsheet for each of my kids that contains a list of books for them to read throughout the year. I track each book’s author and reading level, along with the date that they complete the book.
In order to get a book’s reading level, I refer to one of the following websites:
- Scholastic Book Wizard (this chart is also helpful – Guided Reading Level Resource Chart)
- Lexile.com → Lexile Tools → Find a Book
I like using a spreadsheet because it allows me to sort the books by name, author, or reading level. And creating a list for younger kids because much easier because I can simply copy an older sibling’s book list.
If you’d like a more fun way for your kids to track their reading, you may be interested in these fun reading log coloring pages!