My Favorite Elementary Book List


I love reading! And I love to share that with people of all ages and stages of reading. Many of the books on my babies-preschool list can be enjoyed for years into elementary school; either read by a parent, or read by the child as he or she becomes able.

The books I have chosen here are followed by their “AR” level. If you have not yet been introduced to AR, let me give you a brief overview. This system is based on the idea that school years are broken down into 9 month periods for each grade. As such, a book that is a 1.1 would be at a level that a child could read the book himself after one month of first grade. If a book is listed as 1.9, a child should be able to read the book by the end of first grade.

A note of caution: The AR system only takes into account the comprehension of the words themselves. It doesn’t really take the subject matter into account. I have made some points about this with some books on my lists for elementary, middle and high schoolers. The AR system only covers up to 7.9 – which is fitting, because a child going into 8th grade and beyond should have the comprehension and word decoding skills to read any text.

And so, let’s get started!

1.  Katy and The Big Snow (2.9) – This was my husband’s favorite book when he was young and I’m so happy to see it on popular book lists. The book personifies the snowplow (Katy) and tells of her adventures when a great snow buries the town.

2.  The Velveteen Rabbit (4.9) – This is a popular book about a toy rabbit that eventually comes to life. However, there is so much more to talk to your children about! Before Penicillin was invented in 1928, Scarlet Fever was deadly. It was standard practice for people to burn bedclothes and toys in an effort to get rid of any bacteria that remained. Today, Scarlet Fever is simply Strep Throat with a rash on the trunk and sometimes arms. It is easily treated with our modern antibiotics.

3.  The Rainbow Fish (3.3) – This is a book about sharing. I encourage parents to read it and discuss it with their children. Does your child always have to share? We, as adults, don’t share our cars, our “toys” (four-wheelers and boats). Why is this fish forced to give another fish a piece of himself (one of his shiny scales) just because the other fish likes it? Is that ok? It’s a great opportunity to discuss what is expected in society and when it’s ok to say no.

4.  Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (2.8) – Like Katy, this is a story of a steam shovel that is personified. The overly confident steam shovel digs a hole for the new town hall but forgot to build an exit ramp and can’t get out. The town decides that Mike Mulligan can be the janitor and the steam shovel can be converted into a boiler to heat the building.

5.  Tacky and the Winter Games (3) – Tacky the penguin and his friends have started an Olympic team to represent Nice Icy Land. The antics in this story are just silly. It’s a fun story to read around the time of the Winter Olympic games.

6.  The Magic Tree House collection & Research Guides – Ok, I fell in love with this series when my oldest children were in elementary school. I still have books 1-43. These books are pure fiction, but the research guides add learning to the stories. Kids can learn more about volcanoes, dolphins, medieval times, and more.

7.  Charlotte’s Web (4.4) – Ok, everyone knows this one, since it was made into a movie. So, this is a good opportunity for young children to read a book and then watch a movie and then discuss what was different about each. What changes did they like or dislike? You, as an adult, can talk about how some things – like a frown or a raised eyebrow – can be done better on screen – but that a good writer can make you imagine that look without the screen!

8.  Johnny Tremain (5.9) – This is a historical fiction book set at the beginning of the revolutionary war. It teaches older elementary students the places and events involved with the revolution, such as the Boston Tea Party and some concepts that began in that era such as apprentices and courting. This book is a good book to read to an older elementary school child; but he or she will probably not want to read it alone until middle school.

9.  Miss Nelson is Missing (2.6) – Ah, Miss Nelson…if you don’t recognize this one, you might be living under a rock. Miss Nelson is, like, the sweetest, most amazing teacher ever. But her students walk all over her. So, one day a substitute comes and she is the meanest, most horrible substitute ever. When Miss Nelson finally returns, her class is very grateful and never misbehaves again.

10. Clifford the Big Red Dog (1.3) – Who doesn’t love Clifford! I think my whole family mourned when John Ritter – Clifford’s original voice actor – passed away! These books are as fun to read as the Clifford show is to watch.

11. Kittens are like that/Puppies are like that (2) – I remember these from my own childhood. Any book that can withstand the test of time, is worth taking a look at. Plus, kittens and puppies!

12. Junie B. Jones (2.6) – These books burst onto the scene right around the time my daughter, who is now a young adult, was beginning school. She loved the plucky little Junie and it was hilarious to see situations through the eyes of a child her age.

13. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (3) – This is another one from my childhood. It’s an early chapter book that is great for boys and girls alike.

14. Al Capone Does My Shirts (3.5) – This book was one that my oldest son read when he was in 5th grade. I had never heard of it before then. It is a really neat book that takes a look at the people whose families lived on the Alcatraz island when they worked there. I admit, I had never given any thought to the people who worked at the prison and where they might live. I certainly never thought of the island as an actual community!

15. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (5.2) – These books are great for young boys. A lot of books were really aimed towards girls for a long time and it’s exciting to see such a dedication to writing “boy” books.

16. I survived series – My children never got to read these. I sent a couple to my nephew for Christmas after a quick read in Barnes & Noble. They take true events (Pompeii, Mt. St. Helens, the sinking of the Titanic) and put a youngster in the middle of the situation to tell the story.

17. Chrysanthemum (3.3) – This story talks about a kid who is getting made fun of for her name. At first, she is ashamed of her name, but in the end she learns to love the uniqueness of it. I love this book because Chrysanthemum isn’t made out to be a victim. She feels bad at first, but she learns to overcome it.

18. Ralph S. Mouse series (5.1) – Again, from my era. These are cute books about a mouse who can do “human” things.

19. Stuart Little (6) – This book crossed my path before I had kids. I thought it was so cute. Then the movie followed. Again, this is a good opportunity to read a book and then let your child see the movie and discuss the likenesses and differences.

20. Textbooks – Ok, you probably think I’m crazy for this one. I’m not. There are a lot of nice things about textbooks. Number one, you know it will be age-appropriate and on the reading level that your child can understand. Number two, the stories are generally short and allow your child to find things that he or she is interested in to look for more information on. Number three, the choices are endless! If you look up “4th grade history textbook” on Amazon, you will see all the choices. Some of them are less than a dollar!!

So there you go readers! Enjoy!!!