Classroom Library {Finding Great Books}

So there’s a few places I think truly MAKE the classroom.

  • The small group table…where relationships are built and deep learning happens.
  • The front door…where students bring their worries and insecurities and we meet them with a hug and a smile.
  • The rug…where we meet as a class and learn together.
  • And the library…where readers find their confidence and treasured books.

I have dreamed for years about being able to help a deserving teacher build her classroom library. I believe it is SO important and I was super excited to get the opportunity this year. You can read all about the library, Bryce and I “flipped” this year for a kindergarten teacher in Dallas here.  In that post, I focused on organizing and setting up the library. You can even grab all the labels we used for FREE! Just scroll on down and you should see a place to type in your email!

I wanted to share something even more important than labels and bins…the BOOKS! It doesn’t matter how beautiful your seating area is or what sturdy bins you have if you don’t have quality texts students want to read over and over.

Today I’ll be sharing my favorite authors, series and titles for your primary library!

Before I share my favorite books, I wanted to share a few great ways to get books. Being a teacher is definitely not lucrative and we know that we put thousands of dollars back into your classrooms during our careers. The goal of this post is definitely NOT to say “spend more money on books!” I wish that every teacher was given an open-ended debit account to Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books! But since we’re not, I wanted to share my 3 favorite ways to save money on books.

  1. Scholastic Points-I LOVE LOVE LOVE Scholastic orders. I have loved them for almost 30 years! I still remember bringing home the book order in elementary school and waiting for the book fair. We never were able to get a lot, but even one book that came in the mail for me was so exciting. Now they have made it super easy for parents to order books online. I try to purchase from Scholastic as often as possible because you truly get money back. Before I purchase a book on Amazon, I try to check Scholastic first. Those points add up much quicker than you think and are about 1,000 times better than those elusive airline miles!
  2. Amazon Wishlists-your friends and family want to help! When Bryce and I adopted this classroom, we immediately set up a wishlist for our our loved ones to help us support this teacher. I know that not everyone can (or wants) to help all the time, but most people are more than happy to purchase a book for a few dollars. In my experience, it works best if you include books at several price ranges. I like to include a few “readers” that are only a few dollars, some great paperbacks and some of our favorite read-alouds as hardbacks. That way there are lots of options. If you go this route, make sure to send out a thank you note when the books arrive! I love to show the books in little hands so faces are covered, but they still get to see the books being used!
  3. Facebook Marketplace-I scored some great sets of books on Facebook Marketplace! Typically they are teachers who aren’t returning or families with kids who are growing up. Check a few times a week…you never know what you’ll find. I’ve also found that lots of people are open to negotiating…especially with teachers. Because you’re not having to pay for shipping or deal with the post-office, its also much more convenient!

Now on to our favorite books! I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience! You can also find all of these titles (and MORE) in my Amazon store.

Easy Readers 

Even though you won’t find super deep comprehension lessons in these books, I think they are so important to add to your library. It is HARD to find quality texts at lower levels and there are some series I know I can trust. I also know popular characters will almost always grab reluctant readers. These books are typically pretty inexpensive and a great way to “beef up” your library. Here are some of my favorites!

Favorite Characters

We love these favorite character series because they typically follow a predictable story line. For students working on comprehension, they have fairly simple problems and solutions and students definitely gravitate to familiar characters!

Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat

Splat the Cat:I Scream for Ice Cream

Biscuit Goes to School

Drop It, Rocket

Fancy Nancy: Bubbles, Bubbles, and More Bubbles

Little Critters: Just a Baby Bird

Penguin Young Readers

Penguin Young Readers are (in my opinion) the best quality readers. The storylines are great, the illustrations beautiful and they are all leveled by Fountas and Pinnell. You can find the levels on the back so they’re super easy to put in the leveled part of your library. They have some excellent biographies once you get to higher levels, but in my first grade class we stayed in levels 1 and 2 for the most part. They use a totally different leveling system but the F&P info is aligned on the back. 🙂

Ice Cream Soup

Max Has a Fish

Cat Days

A Pig, A Fox and Stinky Socks

Puppy Parade

We Need More Nuts

Amazing Arctic Animals

Daring Amelia

Fake Out

Scholastic Readers

Like I said, I LOVE Scholastic. It is super challenging to find books that my emergent readers can read independently. I have found these sets to be an excellent way to build my library up for my beginning readers. The books are fairly thin so they won’t last years and years, but they are super cost effective. You won’t find a better bang for your buck at levels A-E than these sets!  I also added a few other titles from Scholastic we love.

Guided Science Readers {Levels E-F}

First Little Readers (Level A}

Folk and Fairy Tales: Easy Readers 

Nonfiction Sight Word Readers {Level B}

Gus Makes a Friend 

Silly Milly 

May I Please Have a Cookie

For more of my favorite readers, click HERE!

As we were building up the leveled section of her library, I realized how “white” and “typical” many of the books were. I spent a ton of time scouring our local bookstores and was so disappointed that I wasn’t able to find more main characters of color or characters that were neuro-diverse or non-binary. It was so important to Bryce and I that her library was a place students could see themselves and others in the books they read.

Even though I wasn’t able to find any readers at local bookstores with more diversity, I was able to find some great titles on Amazon. I hope that as we become more aware as educators, our buying patterns shift and publishers start to offer a lot more diversity in their books.

Diverse Easy Readers

Baseball Buzz 

Snow Day! (this series also has Apple Picking, Pumpkin Day and Garden Day)

Don’t Throw It To Mo {this is a great series}

Katie Fry: The Lost Kitten

Fairy Hill: Ruby and the Magic Garden

I Want to be a Veterinarian

National Geographic Kids: Sonia Sotomayor (higher reading level than most primary students would read independently)

National Geographic Kids: Barack Obama

Ready to Read: Mae Jemison (higher reading level than most primary students would read independently)

Ready to Read: Lin-Manuel Miranda (higher reading level than most primary students would read independently)

I Want to be a Doctor 

Ready to Read: Misty Copeland (higher reading level than most primary students would read independently)

We also wanted to make sure the library had a ton of great read-aloud books for Stephanie to use all year long. Some of these books have strong messages and are great for deep comprehension lessons. Some of them are just amazing, funny books that every student should get a chance to read!

We created a box called “People” that just had lots of different main characters. We didn’t want to separate books with diverse characters…they should just be part of her library. So while we intentionally added a lot of these books, we wanted her students to just see them as great books to read all year long. Please don’t make the same mistake I did years ago. I was good about pulling out books with Black characters during Black History Month and we read stories with Islamic characters during Ramadan. We can do so much better than that. Just like our students see white characters every day, let’s make sure they see characters of color and characters with different abilities every day too!

Diverse Biographies


When the Beat Was Born

Malaya’s Magic Pencil

Shaking Things Up 

Mae Among the Stars 

The Girl With a Mind for Math

Separate is Never Equal 

Planting Stories

Jacob’s New Dress

Festival of Colors

Julian is a Mermaid

Dear Primo

Cece Loves Science

Under My Hijab

The King of Kindergarten


Unfortunately we only had a few weeks and a limited budget. If I could do it again, I would spend more money on books with neuro-diverse characters. Each year, we have more students in our classrooms with various needs. Some students need extra behavior supports and some are on the Autism spectrum. It is SO important our students see characters like them and their classmates. Alyssa at Simply Special Ed has an awesome blog post about some of her favorite read-alouds.

As I was writing this blog post, I realized we weren’t able to find many books with Asian-American and Asian characters. I will absolutely be on the look out and will share those with you! I also wanted to make a point to share something I’ve been working on. It’s not enough to find diverse books…we also need to make sure we’re finding books with authentic stories. That means finding books about Hispanic characters written by Hispanics and stories of immigration written by immigrants. It’s on my list of areas I want to focus on this year!

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE Mo Willems. My best friends even threw me a Mo baby shower before Everly was born. I have actually never purchased a Seuss book and never will. I totally believe every child should get to experience Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie! In my classroom, we have multiple copies of all of his books. They’re that good and my students fight over them constantly. But if you can only grab a few, here are our favorites!

Favorite Mo Willems Books

If you teach kinder or 1st grade and you can only purchase 10 books for your library, I hope you’ll get Elephant and Piggie. I have seen SO many readers come to life reading these books. The story is told in speech bubbles and students LOVE reading them like Gerald and Piggie. Most of them are levels F, G or H but no matter what level your students read at, they will love retelling these books. Because the texts are so simple, after a few teacher read-alouds students will have many of the pages memorized and can read them that way.

I Will Take a Nap 

Waiting is Not Easy 

Elephants Cannot Dance 

The Pigeon Has To Go To School

Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus 

Knuffle Bunny 

Leonardo the Terrible Monster

They came out with a great set of books called “Elephant and Piggie Like Reading” that are ideal for readers who really enjoy them! I love all of the titles in this set and am super excited about his new series, Unlimited Squirrels! 

Outside of Mo, I also grab every Bob Shea, Peter Brown and Aaron Reynolds book I can get my hands on. They are perfect for primary classroom libraries! I’ve never met a class who didn’t love them!

Other Favorite Authors

I’m a Shark 

Ballet Cat: Dance Dance Underpants {a series very similar to Elephant and Piggie}

Children Make Terrible Pets

The Curious Garden {this book is perfect for Earth Day!}

Nerdy Birdy 

Creepy Carrots {I have a ton of ideas for this book on this blog post}

I hope this list of the books we purchased was helpful to you! Don’t forget that most of these books should be available at your school or community library. Don’t be afraid to check books out! Try them out for a few days and if you notice your students reading them again and again you know its worth purchasing.

As I mentioned, all of the above links are affiliate links. That means, at no cost to you, I get a tiny percentage of the sale price to help keep this website up and running! You can find all of these titles and more in my Amazon store! 

Copyright 2024 Teaching with Haley. All Rights Reserved.

The site contains affiliate links. That means I get a small percentage of the sale price to cover the costs associated with this blog.