Starting a new school year can be hard for any age. A perfect read alouds can bring a little laughter into the classroom and brighten up everyone's day. This is the right way to start off each week of school with a fresh new book.
1. The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
The King of Kindergarten is a wonderfully sweet story about the excitement of the first day of school. The pride and confidence that the little boy shows throughout the book will surely help to get rid of some of those first-day jitters.
Follow-up activity: Have students draw a picture about what they are most excited about learning this year.
2. If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff
Laura Numeroff's If You Take a Mouse to School is another in a series of familiar books that young readers love. This humorous story of mouse going to school and wanting more and more.
Follow-up activity: Have students create their own If you take...story by choosing an animal and continuing the same pattern as the story.
3. Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick
The perfect book to ease some first day jitters. This funny story of a buffalo that is growing up, however, the question remains, is she ready for kindergarten?
Follow-up activity: Students create a checklist of things they are ready for in school.
4. Principal Tate is Running Late! by Henry Cole
This is a wonderful story about a community coming together. When Principal Tate is running late, the students, teachers, parents, and visitors at Hardy Elementary School must come together to keep the school running smoothly.
Follow-up activity: Try this team-building activity when students are given a colored sticker, which is placed on their foreheads. The student doesn't know the color and they must find others with the same color without talking.
5. If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen
This book will really bring out the creativity of young readers. James describes his ideal school and really uses his imagination to come up with an interesting plan. James' ideal school would have a robo-chef and field trips to Mars.
Follow-up activity: Have students design/draw their own school.
6. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
This beautifully written book about a young girl named Unhei is sure to be a favorite. Unhei has moved from Korea to America and no one in her class can pronounce her name and some even make fun of it.
Follow-up activity: Write acrostic name poems. Have students choose words about what makes them special to write their poem.
7. A Place Called Kindergarten by Jessica Harper
This sweet book from the farm animals' point of view is a wonderful way to start the first day of school. As the farm animals wonder where their favorite boy Tommy has gone, they soon learn he has gone to a place called kindergarten.
Follow-up activity: Have your students take a “field trip” around the school to learn more about their new “barnyard.”
8. The Exceptionally, Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School by Albert Lorenz
John is the new kid in school. When asked if the school is any different from his last one, he weaves a wildly creative tale that captures the attention of his new classmates. A hilarious story about conquering the fear of being the new kid.
Follow-up activity: Have students write a tall tale about what school was like last year to share with their new classmates.
9. How to Get Your Teacher Ready by Jean Reagan
In a charming role reversal, the students in this story gently guide their teacher through the getting-ready process for back to school. Your students will laugh and surely learn a lesson or two themselves.
Follow-up activity: Have students compile a list of rules that will help their teacher have the best year ever.
10. The Circles All Around Us by Brad and Kristi Montague
When a child is born, their circle is very small. As they grow, the circle around them grows to include family, friends, and neighbors. This sweet story is perfect for back to school to set the tone for enlarging our circles to include new friends and experiences.
Follow-up activity: Watch the video, adorably narrated by the authors’ children.
11. David Goes to School by David Shannon
David really struggles to figure out how his school day should be. David’s antics in the classroom will make your students giggle and provide the perfect opportunity to discuss appropriate behaviors.
Follow-up activity: Have students create a t-chart comparing good school behavior and bad school behavior.
12. Harry Versus the First 100 Days of School by Emily Jenkins
This is an energetic, hilarious book of Harry's first 100 days of first grade. A wonderful book for the first day of school and a great way to discuss some of the activities that students may like to participate in during the school year.
Follow-up activity: Create a list with the class of 100 things they would like to do during the school year.
13. This School Year Will Be the Best by Kay Winters
In This School Year Will Be the Best, the teacher asks her students what they would like to do this year in school. On the first day of school, fears will surely disappear as the students share their familiar ideas with the more outlandish ideas.
Follow-up activity: Create a class wishing tree where every student will get to write their wish for the year on a leaf to attach to the tree.
14. Dear Teacher by Amy Husband
Students will love to hear Michael's letters to his teacher about all the reasons he can't make the first day of school. When his teacher writes back to Michael telling him of all this fun he will miss, he decided maybe school won't be so bad.
Follow-up activity: Have each student create a postcard at end of the day telling the reader about the fun they had on the first day of school.
15. The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing
Hello World! by Kelly Corrigan is a beautifully illustrated book about all the wonderful, fun people we meet in our life. This is a great way for students to get to know each other.
Follow-up activity: Icebreaker activity Find Your Partner. Randomly give students shapes and have them find their matching partner and tell three things about themselves.
17. A Letter from Your Teacher by Shannon Olsen
Students' enthusiasm about school will grow with this sweet book about a teacher that writes a love note to her students. As the teacher shares, all the fun and exciting things she is looking forward to during the school year, students' school interest will grow.
Follow-up activity: Have students write a letter back to the teacher about what they are looking forward to during the school year.
18. Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro
Students will quickly relate to Rosie as she is at first excited about her new bookbag and going to school. As the day arrives, Rosie isn't so sure because she has butterflies in her stomach.
Follow-up activity: Have students sit in a circle and share how they felt like night and how they feel now that they are in school.
19. Daddy Long Legs by Nadine Brun Cosme
Certainly being left at school without their parents will make some students nervous. This colorful school story turns those anxious feelings into laughter. As Matthew gets dropped off at school, Daddy tells him he will be back to get him in his old green car.
Follow-up activity: Have students draw a comic strip of what if their parents' car didn't start and what they would do to get to pick them up after school.
20. Edda: A Little Valkyrie's First Day of School by Adam Auerbach
When Edda who has everything decides that she wants a friend her own age, her papa tells her that she can make friends at a place called school. Edda isn't quite sure about school, since it isn't quite like the magical land of Asgard.
Follow-up activity: Have students create an animal that they would like to bring to school with them.
21. Going to School by Rose Blake
This is a wonderful read for pre-school or kindergarten students as it goes through the day with a little girl. The illustrations are just as vital to this book as the writing. As we are taken on a journey with the little girl through her day, the illustrations depict a wonderfully diverse mix of people.
Follow-up activity: At the end of the day, have students sit on the carpet in a circle. Toss a beanbag to one student and have them tell something they did today.
22. I Don't Want to Go to School by Stephanie Blake
Kindergarten jitters will immediately be easy as students find a connection in how they are feeling to how Simon is feeling. Simon doesn't want to go to school because he is scared. He calls on his mom and dad to help and they reassure him that he will have fun and meet new friends.
Follow-up activity: Have students draw a picture of what they would be doing if they weren't in school.
23. I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong
I Will Be Fierce is based on school experiences with a young brave girl. She turns her school days into a fairy tale by creating normal things like the library into the Mountain of Knowledge. Students will love this well-written silly story.
Follow-up activity: Have students rename a few of the areas in the school such as the office, the cafeteria, etc.
24. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
When we meet Brian, he is a quiet little boy who no one seems to notice. He is never included in anything until a new kid comes to the class. When Justin arrives, Brian is the first to welcome him and they become friends.
Follow-up activity: Create a kindness wall by having students add any act of kindness they perform or that happens to them.
25. Lissy's Friends by Grace Lin
Lissy's Friends is a wonderful story that serves as a remembrance of the importance of friendship. When Lissy is the new girl at school, she makes a friend, a paper friend. Lissy makes an origami paper crane that to Lissy's surprise talks to her.
Follow-up activity: Create origami paper cranes.
26. Mae’s First Day of School by Kate Berube
Mae's anxiety may be very familiar to students as she approaches the first day of school and determines that she isn't going. Mae has fears that are common amongst school-age children, what if no one likes me or what if I'm the only one who can't write?
Follow-up activity: Have students create a list of their biggest fears at the beginning of the school year.
27. Marshall Armstrong Is New to Our School by David Mackintosh
Marshall Armstrong Is New to Our School is a wonderful first day of school story that will prove you don't have to follow the crowd, you can be yourself. When he invites all his classmates to his birthday party, they learn they have more in common with Marshall than they thought.
Follow-up activity: Have students write a story about making friends with someone new to their school.
28. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
This story reminds us of all the fun about kindergarten. This wonderful rhyming story takes up through the alphabet as Miss Bindergarten and her students get ready for kindergarten.
Follow-up activity: Create a list of pairs of rhyming words.
29. Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler
This funny picture book about sharing, friendship, and kindness in the playground setting will remind students that it's important to play together and share. Jonah and Lennox both want to be "rulers" of the playground. They soon realized being the ruler isn't as fun as playing together.
Follow-up activity: Have students create their ideal playground out of a variety of materials such as construction paper, tape, markers, etc.
30. School's First Day of School by Adam Rex
School's First Day is a must-read on the first day of school. This fresh perspective of the first-day jitters from the school will have kids giggling. When the school realizes that everyone is a bit scared on the first day, it makes him feel better.
Follow-up activity: Have students create a think cloud and write what they think their school is thinking.
31. A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech
When Mr. Keene decides that still since his school is such a fine, fine school, then everyone should have school on Saturday. It doesn't end with Saturday, soon he has had Sunday and summer and holidays. It takes a little girl named Tillie to remind Mr. Keene that although he has a fine, fine school, it is not ok to be there all the time.
Follow-up activity: Make a list of the pros and cons of having too much of a good thing.
32. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
All Are Welcome will remind students that no matter who they are or how they look, they are welcome at school. The bright illustrations and lyrical text will make this book a wonderful addition to any classroom.
Follow-up activity: Create kindness bookmarks with positive messages on them and share them with others.
33. Be Big!: Beatrice's First Day of First Grade by Katie Kizer
As Beatrice starts her first day of first grade, we are reminded of her friend, Benjamin Butterfly, who has come along to big and brave. Beatrice in her blue tutu and Benjamin Butterfly alongside take us on quite a few adventures to remind the reader to face their fears and overcome them.
Follow-up activity: Have students create an animal puppet that would make them feel better on the first day of school.
34. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum has always loved her name, that is until the first day of school when the kids make fun of her name. She doesn't know if she will ever recover until her music teacher makes her see the value of her name.
Follow-up activity: Have students create name tags for their desks. Have students go home and ask how they got their name and have a discussion about it the next day.
35. The Buddy Bench by Patty Brozo
The playground can be a lonely place for a kid that feels like they don't have any friends. When Miss Mellon and the students come up with the idea of having a buddy bench, the playground becomes an inclusive fun place. The colorful, fun illustrations really bring this book to life.
Follow-up activity: Have students brainstorm ways to help peers feel included.
36. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The Day You Begin is a wonderful first day of school read that will help young readers find their brave voices and face their fears. So often children starting a new school year will worry about the numerous what-ifs and we are reminded that our differences are what makes us unique.
Follow-up activity: Have students write their first-day fears on a card. Put all the fears in a bucket, like you are throwing them away. Bring the bucket back out at the end of the school year and remind students how they faced their fears.
37. Sumi's First Day of School Ever by Soyung Pak
This thoughtful picture book shows the experiences school brings to a young Korean girl on her first day of school. Sumi is scared and only knows one phrase in English. A considerate teacher and a new friend help ease the loneliness Sumi is feeling.
Follow-up activity: Have students draw three circles and have them choose a topic like a food: pizza. Label each circle as follows: love, like, don't like. Have students survey each other and write their classmate's name in the circle that corresponds to how they feel about the topic.
38. We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Penelope Rex is finding it hard on the first day of human school. She finds all the humans so darn delicious. Things turn when the class pet goldfish takes a bite out of Penelope's finger.
Follow-up activity: Play charades with the students, have them choose a pet, and act it out. The other students try to guess.
39. First Day Critter Jitters by Jory John
First Day Critter Jitters is a funny school story that is perfect for the first day. All the animals are nervous and afraid to go to school on the first day. They soon realize that they are not the only ones that are nervous, but the teacher is too.
Follow-up activity: Icebreaker activity-beach ball toss. The teacher will write get-to-know-you questions on the beach ball. Students will answer the question closest to their right thumb.
40. Here Comes Teacher Cat by Deborah Underwood
This funny sub-teacher tale will have all the "little kittens" laughing away their first day of school jitters. Although Cat wants to nap the day away, he steps up to help when Ms. Melba has to go to the doctor.
Follow-up activity: Have students pick an animal to be their substitute teacher and rewrite the story Here Comes Teacher________.
41. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems
Pigeon doesn't want to go to school because he knows everything. He then goes through all the typical questions that kids have about going to school.
Follow-up activity: Create a mini school bus that pigeon will be able to ride in and write a reason on the outside that would make him want to go to school.
42. We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Penelope, who likes to rock out on her guitar, decides to perform at the talent show. When it comes time to rehearse, Penelope freezes because she is a T. Rex, and T. Rex's don't play music.
Follow-up activity: Have students invent their own signature signs/hand gestures, something that makes them unique.
43. The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten by Maureen Fergus
When the little girl notices how sad her mom is when she goes to school, she invites her mom to come to school for the day. This sets off a series of learning experiences in this role reversal where mom had trouble following the rules.
Follow-up activity: Have students write the rules for the classroom and share them with their parents.
44. Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins
When Frank's parents get him a new dog from the shelter, they become an inseparable duo. They set out to learn so much without ever stepping foot into the classroom.
Follow-up activity: Create a list of all the things that Frank and Lucky learn without stepping foot in the classroom.
45. Monsters Love School by Mike Austin
Have some monstrous fun going back to school!
When summer is over and it is time for the monsters to go to school. The nervous feelings so go away and they find that they really enjoyed the first day.
Follow-up activity: Have students share about a time when they were nervous about something.