JOHNNY APPLESEED - First Grade reading level

cute picture of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) and a little girl

John Chapman is one of the iconoclastic characters of early American history. Known affectionately as Johnny Appleseed, he is a man who changed the landscape of a young country with the seedlings he planted.

And in this post
we've listed the three easiest Accelerated Reading primers about Johnny. All are at the 'First Grade' level, and all are more-or-less easily available at bookstores or libraries. You'll find examples of text from these books here, so you can see what they are like, or you can click through to where there are 'sample pages' available on two of the three.

If you are doing reading about Chapman you might want to consider sharing this classic Disney animated video at YouTube:

Also, Urbana University had a great page that features not only a quick factual summary, but also important terms you can use to discuss this fascinating man.  (No longer available. But this is their list)

Hard Working
Good Character
Love of Family
Gentle Goodness

PLUS, here's a NIH page with a "Find the Hidden Pictures" for Johnny Appleseed.

**all ratings from GoodReads
**all Book Links to Amazon

bookcover of JOHNNY APPLESEED by Jane Kurtz Johnny Appleseed
(Ready-to-Read Level 1)
by Jane Kurtz
Mary Haverfield (Illustrations)
Common Core Aligned
3.31 avg rating — 35 ratings

The easiest of the practice readers, I like this simple book which tells it's story in rhyme.
Who is that
walking by the Ohio?
Apple-loving Johnny.
Yes! Johnny Appleseed.

He carries a bag.
He carries a hoe.

He digs a hole
by his left big toe.
You might think from the above text (which comes from 3 pages) that not a lot of history will be covered, but actually Jane Kurtz does a good job of touching upon some basic points, like that John frequently traded seedlings for the food and supplies he needed to read.

Goodbooksforkids exclusive sample page from Jane Kurtz's Johnny Appleseed
All in all, a very simple book with warm, kid-friendly artwork by Mary Haverfield. I think this is an excellent early reading resource to accompany lessons on John Chapman.

Reading Information:
Word Count: 217
Page Count:  32
Accelerated Reader: 1.1 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 81244
 Lexile: AD320L
-- amazon (Look Inside available)

bookcover of JOHNNY APPLESEED by Lola M. Schaefer, Ann Corfman
Johnny Appleseed
(First Biographies)
by Lola M. Schaefer, Ann Corfman

3.88 avg rating — 8 ratings

This book has the usual First Biographies format. There is a photo or drawing on the left-hand page, with simple text in a large font on the right-hand. Beneath both pages there is timeline.
Table of Contents
John Chapman
Apple Seeds and Trees

Words to Know
Read More
Internet Sites
Index/Word List
Schaefer's book covers the basics, but as is sometimes the case with books at this simple level, the story moves along in a herky-jerky fashion.

sample text:
John wanted to see
the frontier and help the
settlers. Around 1794,
John left his home. He
started walking west.

next page:

In 1797, John settled in
Pennsylvania. He collected
apple seeds from nearby
cider mills.
Not my favorite book, I think that children are going to need adult help to get the most out of the material. There's a picture, for example, that accompanies the above text that shows wagon ruts in a field. It's a nice picture but there is no explanation of what these ruts symbolize, and no way for children to glean that information.

Goodbooksforkids exclusive excerpt from Goodbooksforkids exclusive sample page from JaGoodbooksforkids exclusive sample page from Lola Schaefer's Johnny Appleseedne Kurtz's Johnny Appleseed's Johnny Appleseed
Adequate book for practice, but not one of Schaefer's best.

Word Count: 181
Page Count:  24
Accelerated Reading level: 1.8 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 68106
-- amazon

bookcover of JOHNNY APPLESEED by Patricia Brennan Demuth
Johnny Appleseed
(All Aboard Reading)
by Patricia Brennan Demuth
Michael Montgomery (Illustrator)

3.76 avg rating — 58 ratings

I like this book quite a bit because it presents a broad historical picture of Chapman's times. It explains, for example, that when people began to migrate west that when they arrived at new areas that there as nothing there to greet them or help them. There were no towns or grocery stores, no schools or even fruit trees. And that as a consequence, when John went west, planting lots of seedlings, that he made a big difference in these settlers lives, and that they for thankful for the news and stories he brought, and for his good works.

The book doesn't pretend to distinguish between facts and folk lore, but presents the classic stories of how John was befriended by not only American Indians but wildlife. How he wore his cooking pot for a hat because it was easier to carry it that way than to carry it on his back. Ms. Demuth portrays him as the humble figure he was, threadbare and gentle. She shows John's resilience and how he adapted to the weather and how he insisted on living outdoors despite offers from friends to stay with them.

All-in-all this is a nice little book that covers many of the aspects of John's life in terms children understand. The pictures include covered wagons moving west, and log cabins.

The most difficult words include: Chapman, young, country, cooking, snowshoes, someday, afraid.

sample text:
Who was Johnny Appleseed?
Was he just in stories?
Johnny was a real person.
His name was John Chapman.
He planted apple trees --
lots and lots of them.
so people called him
Johnny Appleseed.

Goodbooksforkids exclusive sample page from Patricia Brennan Demuth's Johnny Appleseed
Word Count: 456
Page Count:  32
Accelerated Reading level: 1.8 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 47809
Lexile: 170L
-- amazon (Look Inside available)

compiled by Pam
updated October 2015