The Best Back to School Books

The beginning of the year is a crucial time to set expectations, develop relationships, and set the stage to grow a caring classroom community. One of my favorite ways to do this is through classroom read aloud books and discussions. These read aloud books can be sprinkled into your regular reading and social studies lessons to serve a double purpose! These are my seven favorite back to school read aloud books – in the order I would introduce them to my class.

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Image showing best back to school books for creating a caring classroom community

Top 7 Back-to-School Read Aloud Books

1. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

I always start the first day off with this read aloud. Many kids are nervous, and this silly book about a nervous teacher is an ice breaker for some kiddos to start opening up and relaxing. Kids will find the end hilarious, but it will also give them a chance to relate to each other feeling nervous on the first day.

Student holding back to school book First Day Jitters

2. Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Biglow

This book is simply beautiful! This book tells the story of a little girl who is feeling frustrated because others mispronounce her name. The girl’s mother teaches her about her name being a song, so she returns to teach her classmates that all of their names make a song. I would recommend reading this on the first or second day of school and incorporating some meaningful activities about how special names can be. This will open up opportunities for discussions about appreciating and celebrating our differences while learning from each other. Grab the free version here. Grab the full version here.

Your Name is a Song cover in preview and predict activity with pencils, crayons, and glue.

3. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

This book has a similar theme to Your Name Is a Song. This story is about a girl named Unhei who is new to her country, town, and school. She is nervous about making friends and worried no one will be able to pronounce her name. This book would be great to read after Your Name Is a Song to continue discussions on acceptance, learning from each other, and being proud of who you are. It would also make a great compare-and-contrast activity.

4. How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer

Many classrooms have this one! It makes a great beginning of the year, back-to-school read aloud book to have discussions with students about how our words and actions impact others. We should think about how we can help and contribute to individuals and our community. Even young students understand the metaphor of filling other’s buckets.

5. Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You! by Sonia Sotomayor

This is a book about children working together to plant a garden. Each child is unique, but they all contribute to each other. This book is great at showing children with a variety of differences and disabilities. It is great for all classrooms but may be very powerful in inclusion classrooms to prompt the discussion that everyone has different needs.

student holding books for back to school read aloud time

6. The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio

If you follow me, you know this is one of my top favorite books, so it is no surprise that it needs to be on my back to school book list! This book tells the story of two friends who learn to appreciate their differences. You can use this book along with my Sandwich Swap Unit. This unit, along with our hummus and PB taste test, was something many of my students talked about all year!

the sandwich shop unit images

7. I’m Gonna Push Through! by Jasmyn Wright

This book is by a fellow teacher, Jasmyn Wright. It is based on the mantra Jasmyn and her students recite daily. The message is clear and powerful – that no matter what gets in your way, you can push through. I’ve read this book dozens of times to my own children, and we regularly refer to “pushing through” challenges. It truly has helped them understand the power of determination and resilience.

Back to School Books Can Help Create a Caring Classroom Community

Choosing the right read aloud books can help transform your students’ back to school experiences. These read aloud books will help you set the stage to create a caring classroom community.

I hope you and your students enjoy them!

Are you ready to have your best year ever?

If you’re a new teacher or if you just can’t seem to get a successful system of rituals and routines in place, and you’re ready to give your students the the stable learning environment you know they deserve, then check out my Classroom Management Course. Together, we’ll build a strategy for success that you can use year after year. Your students will thrive. And you can reduce your stress and finally earn the respect you deserve.

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