There’s been a lot of discussion about how people think that boys will only read or enjoy books about other boys. I beg to differ. It’s taken several months – but here at last is a list of girl-led read-alouds suitable for kindergartners and first graders, to go along with my lists for 2/3s and 4/5s. Here are girls that both girls and boys will be able to relate to and enjoy.
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke – Experience life in Africa and the trials and joys of living with a large family with well-meaning but trouble prone Anna Hibiscus. Atinuke is a professional storyteller, so her stories work very well read aloud.
Gloria’s Way by Ann Cameron contains stories of neighborhood friends, a girl’s love for her mother and more, told in poetic language, with lots of humor and deep life lessons tucked gently inside.
Lola Levine is Not Mean by Monica Brown – Lola Levine is a spunky, soccer-loving Jewish-Peruvian girl, who gets called mean near the beginning of this book for accidentally kicking a classmate during recess soccer. She works out her feelings by writing lots of notes ending in “Shalom, Lola Levine.”
Mango and Bambang: the Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber – Mango is a girl who’s good at almost everything. She has time to know because her father is always busy in his office. But when she finds a frightened tapir hiding in a crosswalk, her scheduled life takes a turn for the whimsical in this Cybils award-winning story that highlights the power of empathy.
Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Susan Guevara – Traditional stories where girls break out of traditional molds are a life-long favorite of mine, and folk tales are great for stretching the attention span without the commitment of a chapter book. Master storyteller Jane Yolen retells stories including Atalanta the Huntress and Li Chi Slays the Serpent.
Picture Perfect by Jacqueline Jules – Sofia Martinez has a personality much bigger than the place she feels is given her in her large family. Hilarity ensues as she tries to focus a little more attention on herself.
Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolan (picture book) – Growing up on a farm, a girl learns how to take care of animals – but even her parents are surprised when she hatches a dragon egg that appears on the farm in this substantial picture book.
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker – if this isn’t a classroom classic already, it should be. Clementine is used to people saying “Clementine, pay attention!” when she is paying attention – to things her seat mate being gone too long or the lunch lady and the janitor kissing in her car. She is definitely allergic to sitting still. Every one of these stories is laugh-out-loud funny while tugging on the heart strings.
Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones – Introduce kids to a master fantasy writer with one of DWJ’s offerings for younger readers. Earwig is an orphan used to getting what she wants, and she’s not about to let go of that, even when she’s adopted by a very strict witch.
The Mystery of Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall Smith – Young Precious Ramotswe is full of curiosity. When her new friends’ cow goes missing, Precious is on the case. This is told in a conversational style that’s meant for reading aloud.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren –Pippi is the classic rule breaker with a heart of gold and a huge sense of fun – a classic every child needs to read.
The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale – I’m putting this on my list for younger readers, as it is a book meant for younger readers. But I’ve the princess who hides her superhero identity under fluffy pink dresses make kids of all ages and genders laugh out loud.