Top 10 Back to School Read Alouds

Kindergarten Cafe

Welcome to Kindergarten Cafe - your home for teaching ideas, activities, and strategies across all content areas! I am Zeba McGibbon and I love creating resources for teachers and sharing my teaching experience with others. Kindergarten Cafe is aimed for kindergarten, but teachers of Preschool-First grade can find resources here for their students! I love to connect with other teachers so please reach out and say hello!

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As the start to the school year is fast approaching, I thought I would share my top 10 favorite back to school read alouds. This post contains amazon affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small (very small) commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links. Just click on any of the books to grab yourself a copy. To see the whole list on amazon, click here!

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.

This book I use every year on the first day of school. All my first day activities are centered around this sweet story about a young racoon nervous to start his first “night” of school. It eases the students into the day and helps them realize, they are not alone in feeling nervous. (If you want to read more about what I do on the first day of school, check out this blog post or my First Two Weeks of Kindergarten product on Teachers Pay Teachers)

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

This is another great one to read on the first day of school. It shows how even the teachers can be nervous on the first day of school! I choose to read this as an extra book if I have time during the first week of school, but when I taught first grade, I made this book the center of my first day. It’s just a little bit more advanced for the children, because the author does not show who the main character, having all the first day jitters is, until the end of the book when we find out it was the teacher all along! (Want to make a class book to go along with this book?)

Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin.

I love this story to read on the first or second day of school, as it takes the children on a tour of the school and the different important rooms in the building. I use this as an opportunity to take a tour of the school. We read a page and figure out where in the school Pete goes and then we go find that place in our school building – the children love it! Then we make our own class book to show how we are rocking in our school shoes!

This School Year Will be the Best by Kay Winters

I use this book to introduce the idea of Hopes and Dreams (don’t know what I am talking about? Check out Responsive Classroom for great ideas for classroom management). This book highlights a classroom’s different hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year. It’s the best book I could find for this topic, but you should know that it can get a little silly. I make sure to discuss with my students about realistic hopes that can be accomplished during the school day, not at home. As long as you are prepared to talk about what ideas in this book are realistic, then it is a great way to introduce the hopes and dreams activity.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

This is a new book to my library and I am excited to use it this year. I plan to use it as a book to show my students that everyone has a place in our class and in our school, no matter what you look like or what language you speak. I think also that this would be a great way to introduce classroom rules as a way to ensure that everyone is feeling welcome and safe in our school and class.

Schools’ First Day of School by Adam Rex

This book goes through the summer and first week of school from the perspective of the school building. It is perfect for talking about how we can take care of the school and our classroom.

Dad’s First Day by Mike Wohnoutka

I love to use this book on our visiting day to read to incoming families. This book shows how even parents can be nervous about the first day of school, but it all turns out well in the end! I talk to the parents that even if they are nervous, everyone will have a great first day of kindergarten!

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

When you are introducing classroom rules, this book is a great accompanying text. In this book, students learn why rules are important and how rules keep us safe! I always use this book to start the conversation about what rules we should have for our classroom.

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

This book was a great read for first grade, and I still read it in kindergarten, but it can get a little long for them. I love this book because it shows the kind of learning that happens at home that is just as important as the learning at school. It shows what would happen if the school was all year long with no weekends or vacations!

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

This book is a must have in every kindergarten class. There are several books in this series and it’s fun to have a few or all of them. The book goes in alphabetical order so it is a great connection to learning the letters. This particular book is a fun one to show how the teacher gets ready for the students and how the students get ready for kindergarten. I usually just use this one as a fun read-aloud at the end of the day one day that first week.

New Back to School Books!

I am really excited about these two new books that I have ordered for my classroom – The King of Kindergarten and The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! I think they will be great additions to my back to school read alouds, but having not read them yet I can’t tell you much more other than I have heard amazing things about both books.

Name Books

The first weeks of school are the perfect time to talk about the importance of student names. I have three favorite read alouds for this topic.

Who Stole the Cookies? By Judith Moffatt

This, or any other version of the classic song, is a great way to introduce student names to each other. After reading the book, we make our own class book, and then we use it as a greeting during morning meeting.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

The next book I use for talking about names is Chrysanthemum. This is the perfect one to introduce why it is unkind to make fun of someone’s name and to love the name you are given. In addition, it is a fun book to lead into counting the letters in students’ names. Students learn the letters in their name first, and so it is the perfect way to start a phonics study on letters.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

I love this story – it is such a beautiful story to show the importance of loving your name and appreciating each other’s names. This story is about a young girl who has just moved from Korea and her first weeks in a new American school. She is nervous about sharing her name after a few kids make fun of it. She decides to choose a new name but, ultimately, learns to love her Korean name. In the book, Unhei gets a name stamp from her grandmother. A fun extension of this book is to have students make their own name stamp. This book is a must have for every classroom because students learn about empathy and appreciating other cultures.

I have a great class book product that features two different class book options and multiple page choices all on names. This is a great way to extend the name study.

Substitute Books

It is important to prepare your students for a substitute, and I like to do that with a read aloud (either option is a great choice) and then by creating a book with my students on the rules of the classroom.  This class book is then read to them by the guest teacher (that’s what I call a substitute to show more respect and to show to the students that they are just as much a teacher as I am) when they first get to the class. It is a great way to tell the guest teacher about some of the rules and routines and it shows the students that the rules haven’t changed even if I am out of the room.

Teacher Back to School Books

Which books do I read over and over again at the end of every summer? These Responsive Classroom books. You do not have to be Responsive Classroom trained to buy these books, although I highly recommend it. It was the best professional development I have ever gotten. The First Six Weeks of School reminds me every year of how to set up my classroom and routines in my room in a way that promotes the behavior I want to see. It is a must read. The Power of Our Words is a great reminder of the teacher language that I want to use in my classroom. After being out of the room all summer I need that reminder! This language is respectful to children and really helps with behavior issues that may arise. I will do a blog post more on this next week!

Which of these books have you read? Which ones are you excited to try? Let me know in the comments!

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Emma Hayes

There I was in a hot yoga studio with plenty of bright natural light and bending myself into pretzel like positions for the very first time.

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