"Just Right" Book Titles, Grades Pre K-3

Matching books and readers is magical! Last week Danny ran down the hall and breathlessly asked me, "Do you know why I'm a better reader? Mouse Tales!"

This was and was not a surprise. I had chosen several books like Mouse Tales (Frog & Toad, Mouse Soup, Fox in Love) because I knew he would enjoy reading them with me, and this was the title he had enjoyed the most.

What I hadn't anticipated was that he was thinking meta-cognitively about his own learning! The book was a win-win choice, for sure. But Mouse Tales wasn't what educators would call a "just-right" book. Rather, I had launched Danny into reading it by sharing the reading--in this instance we took turns as the narrator and Mouse--and only after many readings can he now read it on his own.

In contrast, "just right" books, also called leveled books, are books we intend that kids will read independently. (Younger readers often benefit from a first or second reading by a more experienced reader, but they then can take off on their own. I often compare the importance of this first reading with hearing a piece of music before you can play it yourself--both to know how it sounds, as well as to serve as inspiration. This also means the 5-finger rule--put up one finger for each word you don't know in a book, and when you come to 5, you know it's too difficult--is not always helpful before kids have heard a book. But I digress.)

Most primary classrooms have tubs of "just right" books, coded alphabetically (usually guided reading levels, as determined by Fountas & Pinnell), that kids read during independent reading time. Ideally, each tub has many books, both fiction and nonfiction, so kids have lots of choice. The intent is not that all kids will read all of the books.

The challenge for families is that these sets of books are more readily available through educational publishers. Most are not found in book stores.

To help out, I promised several posts ago to provide the titles of books and their levels that you can find in your library or bookstore. These are available in my local library system, and hopefully yours. If you track some of them down, you can get a sense of how they are progressively more challenging. Below you will find levels A-P, or roughly what we would expect preschoolers through third graders to read. (If you would like the lists as PDFs and in bookmark form, contact me via email.)

So here are the lists! And here is a picture of 9-year old Nick, reading independently. The 20
minutes a day he spent on these books launched him as a reader, albeit several years after his peers.

Level A (Kindergarten)

Count & See / Hoban
Do You Want to Be My Friend / Carle
Good Morning, Good Night / Grejniec
Growing Colors / McMillan
One Hunter / Hutchins
Sunshine / Ormerod

Level B (Kindergarten)

Have you Seen My Cat / Carle
Have You Seen My Duckling / Tafuri
I Like Stars / Brown
Let’s Go Visiting / Williams

Level C (K-1st)

Baby Says / Steptoe
Big Pig & Little Pig / McPhail
Brown Bear Brown Bear / Martin
I Went Walking / Williams
Mice Squeak, We Speak / Shapiro
Now We Can Go / Jonas
Jump Frog, Jump / Kalan
Blue Sea / Kalan
A Rainbow of My Own / Freeman
Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails / Tafuri
Yo! Yes? / Raschka

Level D (1st)

Alphabet Under Construction / Fleming
Bears, Bears, Everywhere / Milios
Berenstain Bears Ride the Thunderbolt
Big Brown Bear / McPhail
Chick & the Duckling / Ginsburg
Click Clack Quackity-Quack / Cronin
Feathers for Lunch / Ehlert
Fire Truck / Sis
Hide & Snake / Baker
How Many Bugs in a Box / Carter
I Like Books / Browne
I’m Not Scared / Wilhelm
Little Bear / Namm
Max’s Birthday / Wells
Mole in a Hole / Gilman
Quack & Count / Baker
Sam’s Cookie / Lindgren
School Bus / Crews
Tomorrow’s Alphabet / Shannon

Level E (1st)

Clifford’s Christmas / Bridwell
Clifford’s Puppy Days / Bridwell
Hats, Hats, Hats / Morris
Herman the Helper / Kraus
More or Less Fish Story / Wylie
Oh, A Hunting We Will Go / Langstaff
Quick as a Cricket / Wood
Spring is Here / Gomi
This Old Man / Adams

Level F (1st)

Bread, Bread, Bread / Morris
Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit / Bridwell
Curious George / Rey
Curious George and the Pizza / Rey
Growing Vegetable Soup / Ehlert
Harry Takes a Bath / Ziefert
Just Like Daddy / Asch
Lady with the Alligator Purse / Westcott
Mother, Mother I Want Another / Polushkin
Nobody Asked Me If I Wanted a Baby Brother / Alexander
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish / Seuss
Pumpkin, Pumpkin / Titherington
Shortcut / Crews
Soccer Game / Maccarone
The Teeny Tiny Woman / O'Connor
Who Will Be My Friends? / Hoff

Level G (1st)

Buzz Said the Bee / Lewison
Curious George at the Beach / Rey
Feathers for Lunch / Ehlert
I Like Me / Carlson
Jason's Bus Ride / Ziefert
Jump, Frog, Jump / Kalan
Just for You / Mayer
One Monday Morning / Shulevitz
Peanut Butter and Jelly / Westcott
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You See / Martin
Sheep in a Jeep / Shaw
Spot's First Walk / Hill
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed / Adams
Titch / Hutchins
When You Were a Baby / Jonas

Level H (1st)

Building a House / Barton
Gilberto and the Wind / Ets, Marie Hall
Goodnight Moon / Brown
Jafta / Lewin
Just Me and My Dad / Mayer
Just Me and My Puppy / Mayer
Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry... / Wood
Oliver / Hoff
Picture for Harold's Room / Johnson
Sammy the Seal / Hoff
Sleepy Book / Zolotow
We Are Best Friends / Aliki
Where Are You Going, Little Mouse? / Kraus
You'll Soon Grow into Them Titch / Hutchins

Level I (1st)

Barney's Horse / Hoff
Big Dog & Little Dog / Pilkey
Fix-It / McPhail
Fly Guy / Arnold
Goodnight, Owl! / Hutchins
Happy Birthday, Sam / Hutchins
Hattie and the Fox / Fox
Henny Penny / Galdone
Jim's Dog Muffins / Cohen
Leo the Late Bloomer / Kraus
Liar, Liar Pants on Fire / Cohen
Little Toot / Gramatky
Mama, Do You Love Me? / Joosse
Messy Bessey / Rookie Readers
Messy Bessey's Garden / Rookie Readers
Mirror, Mirror / Fowler
Never Spit on Your Shoes / Cazet
No Good in Art / Cohen
The Quilt / Jonas
Small Pig / Lobel
Spot's Birthday Party / Hill
This is the Bear / Hayes
Three Billy Goats Gruff / Brown
Tidy Titch / Hutchins
The Trek / Jonas
Trucks / Gibbons
Trucks / Rockwell
The Very Busy Spider / Carle
We're Going on a Bear Hunt / Rosen
We're in Big Trouble, Blackboard Bear / Alexander
When Will I Read? / Cohen

Level J (1st)

A Color of his Own / Lionni
Angel Child, Dragon Child / Surat
Arthur Babysits / Brown
Ask Mr. Bear / Flack
Bear Shadow / Asch
Moonbear's Bargain / Asch
B-e-s-t Friends / Giff
Feed Me / Hooks
Fox All Week / Marshall
Fox on the Job / Marshall
Funnybones / Ahlberg
Good Morning Chick / Ginsburg
The Good-Bye Book / Viorst
Great Day for Up / Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham / Seuss
Harry and the Lady Next Door / Zion
Henry and Mudge / Rylant
Hop on Pop / Seuss
The Horse in Harry's Room / Hoff
How Kittens Grow / Selsam
I Can Read with My Eyes Shut / Seuss
I Was So Mad / Mayer
Jennie's Hat / Keats
Jimmy Lee Did It / Cummings
Knots on a Counting Rope / Martin
Let's Be Enemies / Udry
Little Bear / Minarik
Little Bear's Friend / Minarik
Little Bear's Visit / Minarik
Little Blue and Little Yellow / Lionni
Little Gorilla / Bornstein
The Little Red Hen / Galdone
Max / Isadora
Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia / Parish
Milk and Cookies / Asch
The Missing Tooth / Cole
Morris Goes to School / Wiseman
Mouse Soup / Lobel
Mouse Tales / Lobel
Mr. Putter and Tabby series / Rylant
Otto the Cat / Herman
Owl at Home / Lobel
Peace at Last / Murphy
Peter's Chair / Keats
The Popcorn Shop / Low
SkyFire / Asch
Starring First Grade / Cohen
There's a Wocket in My Pocket / Seuss
There's An Alligator Under My Bed / Mayer
There's Something in My Attic / Mayer, Mercer
Too Many Rabbits / Parish
Too Much Noise / McGovern
Uncle Elephant / Lobel
The Very Hungry Caterpillar / Carle
Where the Wild Things Are / Sendak

Level K (2nd)

A Letter to Amy / Keats
Bear Goes to Town / Browne
Bear's Toothache / McPhail
Bedtime for Frances / Hoban
Best Friends for Frances / Hoban
Bony-Legs / Cole
The Bremen Town Musicians / Gross & Kent
Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express / Coerr
Caps for Sale / Slobodkina
The Case of the Double Cross / Bonsally
Chester / Hoff
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom / Martin
Clara and the Bookwagon, Levinson
Clifford, the Big Red Dog / Bridwell
Clifford, the Small Red Puppy / Bridwell
Curious George / Rey
Ducks Don't Get Wet / Goldin
Earrings / Viorst
Farmer Duck / Waddell
Flash, Crash, Rumble / Branley
Frog and Toad All Year / Lobel
Frog and Toad Are Friends / Lobel
Furry News: How to Make a Newspaper / Leedy
Geraldine's Blanket / Keller
The Growing-up Feet / Cleary
Harold and the Purple Crayon / Johnson
Is Your Mama a Llama / Guarino
The Island of the Skog / Kellogg
It's Halloween / Prelutsky
Jafta--The Town / Lewin
Jamaica's Find / Havill
Just Us Women / Caines
Keep the Lights Burning / Roop
Madeline / Bemelmans
Madeline's Rescue / Bemelmans
May I Bring a Friend? / DeRegniers
Messy Bessey's Closet / Rookie Readers
More Tales of Oliver Pig / Van Leeuwen
Nate the Great series / Sharmat
No Fighting, No Biting! / Minarik
The Old Woman and Her Pig / Kimmel
On Mother's Lap / Scott
A Pocket for Corduroy / Freeman
Sam Who Never Forgets / Rice
Sand Cake / Asch
Sheila Rae, the Brave / Henkes
Stone Soup / Brown
The Surprise Party / Hutchins
Three Bears / Galdone
Three Up a Tree / Marshall

Level L (2nd)

Amazing Snakes / Eyewitness
Animal Tracks / Dorros
Annie and the Old One / Miles
Arthur Meets the President / Brown
Beans on the Roof / Byars
Big Al / Clements
Chang's Paper Pony / Coerr
Dolphins! / Bokoske
George and Martha / Marshall
The Gingerbread Boy / Galdone
Good Work, Amelia Bedelia / Parish
Grasshopper on the Road / Lobel
Great White Man-Eating Shark / Many
Gregory, the Terrible Eater / Sharmat
The Grouchy Ladybug / Carle
Happy Birthday, Moon / Asch
Happy Hippopotami / Martin
Harry Goes to Day Camp / Ziefert
Hill of Fire / Lewis
I Am Eyes--Ni Macho / Ward
I Know a Lady / Zolotow
Jack and the Beanstalk / Galdone
Katy and the Big Snow / Burton
A Long Way to a New Land / Sandin
Madeline's Christmas / Bemelmans
Make Way for Ducklings / McCloskey
Miss Nelson is Missing / Allard
Mitchell is Moving / Sharmat
The Mitten / Tresselt
Mop Top / Freeman
Mr. Gumpy's Outing / Burningham
The Mud Pony / Cohen
Mystery of the Tooth Gremlin / Graves
No Jumping on the Bed! / Arnold
One Fine Day / Hogrogian
Over the Green Hills / Isadora
Owl and the Pussycat / Lear
Perfect the Pig / Jeschke
Picking Apples and Pumpkins / Hutchings
Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia / Parish
The Post Office Book / Gibbons
The Quilt Story, Johnston & DePaola
Seven Blind Mice / Young
Surprises / Hopkins
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble / Steig
The Tale of Peter Rabbit / Potter
Three Little Pigs / Galdone
Three Names / MacLachlan

Level M (2nd/3rd)

Afternoon on the Amazon / Osborne
The Art Lesson / De Paola
Aunt Flossie's Hats / Howard
Baseball Pals / Christopher
Bathwater Gang / Spinelli
Blueberries for Sal / McCloskey
Chicken Sunday / Polacco
Chinese Mirror / Ginsburg
Dirt Bike Racer / Christopher
Dr. De Soto / Steig
Fables / Lobel
Fossils Tell of Long Ago / Aliki
The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night / Spier
Harold's Circus / Johnson
Hattie Rabbit / Gackenbach
Heckedy Peg / Wood
The Hit-Away Kid / Christopher
The Hundred Penny Box / Mathis
If the Dinosaurs Came Back / Most
Ira Sleeps Over / Waber
Island Baby / Keller
Jenny Archer, Author / Conford
The Knight at Dawn, Osborne
Lions at Lunchtime / Osborne
The Little Engine That Could / Piper
The Little House / Burton
The Littles series / Peterson
Magic Tree House series / Osborne
Man Out at First / Christopher
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel / Burton
The Mitten / Brett
My Father's Dragon / Gannett
Night Tree / Bunting
The Patchwork Quilt / Flournoy
A Promise is a Promise / Munsch
Sleeping Ugly / Yolen
The Story of Ferdinand / Leaf
The Sun, Wind, and the Rain / Peters
Tallyho, Pinkerton! / Kellogg
There's No Such Thing as a Dragon / Kent
The Valentine Star / Giff
The Village of Round and Square Houses / Grifalconi
The Wednesday Surprise / Bunting, Eve
When I Was Young in the Mountains / Rylant
William's Doll / Zolotow
Wise Woman and Her Secret / Merriam
Write Up a Storm with the Polk Street School / Giff

Level N (3rd)

A-Z Mystery series / Roy
Be a perfect person in just three days! / Manes
Buffalo woman / Goble
Catwings series / LeGuin
Chicken Sunday / Polacco
Drive-by / Ewing
Gung hay fat choy = Happy New Year / Behrens
Library Lil / Williams
26 Fairmont Avenue / DePaola
On my way / De Paola
Pompeii: Buried alive / Kunhardt
Silver / Whelan
Smiffy Blue: Ace Crime Detective / Myers
Story of the Three Kingdoms / Myers
Why did the Underwear Cross the Road / Korman

Level O (3rd)

Boxcar Children series / Warner
Bill Gates: Helping people use computers / Simon
Bunnicula series / Howe
Fantastic Mr. Fox / Dahl
George’s Marvelous Medicine / Dahl
Rain Forest Secrets / Dorros
Stone fox / Gardiner
The Black Snowman / Mendez

Level P (3rd/4th)

Magic School Bus series / various authors
Felita / Mohr
Yang the Youngest & his Terrible Ear / Namioka
Captain Underpants series / Pilkey
Tar Beach / Ringgold
Wayside school series / Sachar
Time Warp Trio series / Scieszka
Brainstorm! 20 stories of 20 American kid inventors / Tucker
Battle for the Castle / Winthrop
Dragon prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast tale / Yep

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