Parent picks: What first-graders are reading for the holidays

Books that play off real-life experiences are especially popular with this age group. Now is a great time to dive into early-reader chapter books.

By GreatSchools Staff

The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 2009), $17

There are almost no words in this adaptation of Aesop's famous tale, not even on the cover, and the words there are are just sounds: an owl ("screeeech") or a jeep ("putt-putt-putt"). "I live next to a nature preserve," the author explains, "and hear birds all day long. And at night I hear so many sounds — and I’m not sure exactly what’s causing some of them. These sounds surround me with a continuity and motion and energy." The illustrations make this a book worth returning to.

The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 2009), $17

With all the talk of getting back to the garden, this book is the perfect kick start for kids who dream of being green. In Peter Brown's book, just one small kid and one small garden ignite a transformation of a dreary steel-and-concrete city. Follow redheaded Liam's adventures as he changes his world.

Skippy Jon Jones

Skippyjon Jones

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachnes
Puffin Books (2005), $7

Skippyjon Jones is a spunky kitten with a huge imagination. Sent to his room for acting like a bird instead of a cat, Skippyjon pretends he is a swashbuckling Chihuahua. The rhymes are enchanting, and the author does a wonderful job of incorporating Spanish phrases and humor.

Miss Nelson is Missing!

Miss Nelson Is Missing!

Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard
Sandpiper (1985), $7

Take a trip down memory lane while introducing your child to this classic tale. The kids in Room 207 continually take advantage of their teacher’s kindness until the day a mean, witch-like substitute name Viola Swamp shows up. Your child will enjoy getting to the bottom of this mystery while at the same time learning the importance of the golden rule.

Junie B. Jones

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
Random House Books for Young Readers (1992), $5

Popular in homes and classrooms, your child will relate to the adventures of Junie B. Jones — and be inspired to read on her own.

The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room

The Berenstain Bears

The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Random House Books for Young Readers

As one parent says, “We love these books because of the reality of life experiences they reflect in the family, community, and society at large. Funny too!” By dealing with issues like honesty, friendship, safety, and kindness, this family of bears is practically human.

Who Was Albert Einstein?

"Who Was ...?" biography series

Who Was...? biography series by various authors
Who Was...Albert Einstein? by Jess Brallier
Grosset & Dunlap, $5

These books are a great way to sneak in history lessons in under 100 pages. Your early to middle reader will love learning about the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, Amelia Earhart, and the Beatles!

The Judy Moody Star-Studded Collection

The Judy Moody Star-Studded Collection by Meagan McDonald
Candlewick (2004), $18

Judy Moody is a lovable and, yes, moody third-grader whose adventures delight children and parents alike. If you want to help your child make an easy transition from picture books to chapter books, look no further. This box set is the perfect way to introduce your child to the many adventures and moods of Judy Moody.

Stranger in the Woods

Stranger in the Woods

Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl Sams and Jean Stoick
Carl R. Sams II Photography (1999), $20

This wonderful winter tale uses real photography and spins an imaginative tale around it. Two wildlife photographers capture the curious reactions of animals and birds when a snowman appears in the woods following a storm.