Even as your child is still learning to read, a major skill under the Common Core Standards is to “describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.” Reading these first grade books together and then watching a movie version is a wonderful way to get your child thinking about character and setting details. Ask questions like, What happened in the Paddington movie that didn’t happen in the book? What is the town of Chewandswallow like in the book compared to how it looks in the movie?
1st grade books so great, they made a movie
A Bear Called Paddington
by: Michael Bond, illustrated by: Peggy Fortnum - (HarperCollins, 2014) 176 pages.
The hook: We first meet this young, marmalade-loving bear when he arrives, alone and friendless, at Paddington Station in London from Lima, Peru. He attracts the attention of the Brown family, who take him home with them. Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their children, Jonathan and Judy, soon discover that bears, while wonderful to have in the family, are prone to all sorts of misadventures. But whether he’s overflowing the bathtub or destroying the neighbor’s watch in a flubbed magic trick, Paddington always comes out on top, his politeness and sweetness intact. With each chapter standing alone as its own story, this quaintly old-fashioned book (the first in the series) is a good choice for young readers who have made the transition to chapter books and an entertaining read-aloud for younger kids.
Want to see the movie? The 2015 live-action version featuring a computer-animated Paddington has many details from the first book in the series, plus a few plot twists and mild thrills to stretch it to a full-length feature.
Perfect for: Kids with gentle souls
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
by: Judi Barrett, illustrated by: Ron Barrett - (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1978) 32 pages.
Residents of the remarkable town of Chewandswallow don’t have normal weather like rain, wind, and snow. Instead they get food falling from the sky three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It might be mashed potatoes, soup, pancakes, or hamburgers! But when the portions start getting larger, the town can’t keep up with the flood of food and something has to be done. Get ready to giggle at the absurd text and detailed illustrations. This 1978 story is a fun read-aloud for all ages and a good challenge for young readers.
Want to see the movie? The 2009 animated film takes the book’s idea of food-filled weather and runs with it.
Perfect for: Kids with a silly sense of humor.
Find Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs at your local library.
Diary of a Worm
by: Doreen Cronin - (Joanna Cotler Books, 2003) 40 pages.
Doreen Cronin has done it again with this first person narrative told from the point of view of a boy worm. This book introduces the concept of a diary in a fun way. Young readers will identify with all the escapades of a worm, as he interacts with family members, goes to school and vacations at Compost Island. Children will laugh and learn facts in a fun way while learning to appreciate living creatures.
Want to see the movie? Check out the Scholastic video collection Diary of a Worm… And Four More Great Animal Tales, which also includes favorites like Anatole and Frog Goes to Dinner.
Perfect for: Kids who like humor stories.
Find Diary of a Worm at your local library.
Emily’s First 100 Days of School
by: Rosemary Wells - (Hyperion Books for Children, 2000) 64 pages.
Count the first one hundred days of school with Emily in this fun, fact-filled book. Children will love learning about Emily’s days at school as she learns the alphabet, sings, reads and dances. The oversized format of this book makes the bright illustrations pop off the pages.
Want to see the movie? The Scholastic video collection Emily’s First 100 Days of School… and More Great School Time Stories features more Rosemary Wells stories and If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz.
Perfect for: Kids who like school.
Find Emily’s First 100 Days of School at your local library.
The Gruffalo’s Child
by: Julia Donaldson, illustrated by: Axel Scheffler - (Puffin Books, 2007) 32 pages.
The hook: If you loved The Gruffalo, you’ll be equally enchanted with the sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child. The Gruffalo’s daughter is on the hunt for the fiercest creature in the forest — the “Big Bad Mouse” her father has told her about. As she meets different animals on her snowy walk, each tells her to go deeper into the forest to find the legendary monster. Will the mouse live up to its reputation? This book delivers with a clever plot and beautiful illustrations.
Want to see the movie? The 2012 animated short is slightly scarier than its predecessor, The Gruffalo.
Perfect for: Kids who like (not-that-scary) monster stories.
Find The Gruffalo’s Child at your local library.
The Night at the Museum
by: Milan Trenc - (Barron's Educational Series, 2006) 32 pages.
Kids who are familiar with Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum movies may be surprised to know that the films were inspired by a charmingly illustrated picture book. The night guard at the Museum of Natural History falls asleep on his first night on the job and wakes to find that all the dinosaur skeletons are missing. He goes on a thrilling hunt through the museum, Central Park, and the Planetarium, looking for the bones, while his co-workers knowingly lead him on. Finally, he discovers the secret — and realizes that his real job is keeping the outside world safe from the roaming dinosaurs.
Want to see the movie? The PG-rated 2006 Ben Stiller version has a couple of slightly scary scenes. The movie and its sequels extend the book’s original concept to all of the exhibits in the museum.
Perfect for: Dinosaur fans!
Find The Night at the Museum at your local library.
The Velveteen Rabbit
by: Margery Williams, illustrated by: William Nicholson - (Doubleday, 1991) 33 pages.
This poignant story from 1929 beautifully captures the special relationship between a child and a beloved toy. After being forgotten in favor of more exciting toys, the Velveteen Rabbit waits for the day the Boy will play with him so that he can become “real.” The Boy rediscovers his toy and he and the Velveteen Rabbit become inseparable. As time passes, the toy rabbit learns that it’s only through love that you can truly become real. A beautiful but sad story that’s perfect for reading aloud while snuggling with a favorite lovey.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2009 adaptation, which combines animation and live action in a sweet, family-friendly film.
Perfect for: Kids who love their stuffed toys.
Find The Velveteen Rabbit at your local library.
by: A.A. Milne, illustrated by: E.H. Shepard - (Dutton, 1926) 176 pages.
The hook: Did you know that Christopher Robin and his bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, are inspired by the author’s son and his teddy bear? The tales of their adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood have been charming kids since 1926. The original book and its companion, The House at Pooh Corner, follow the bumbling Pooh, the wise Christopher Robin, the timid Piglet, the silly Tigger, and all of their animal friends through a series of small, everyday adventures. The reading level will be too challenging for most kindergartners, but the books’ themes and pacing make them appealing read-alouds for this age group.
Want to see the movie? The 1977 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the 2011 Winnie the Pooh are faithful adaptations of the original books that will especially appeal to preschoolers and kindergartners.
Perfect for: Kids who like to imagine their stuffed toys coming to life.