Are you looking for a picture book to kick off the new school year with your students or children?
Here are five of my favorite back to school read alouds:
1. School’s First Day of School
Story by Adam Rex, Pictures by Christian Robinson
In this funny, charming story a brand new school awaits its first students: “It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?” A read aloud of School’s First Day of School is sure to delight your students or children. For more, watch this PBS interview with illustrator Christian Robinson where he discusses his process and a topic I’m passionate about–the importance of children seeing themselves reflected in books:
2. Planet Kindergarten
By Sue Ganz-Schmitt, Illustrated by Shane Prigmore
Do you teach Kindergarten or have a child about to take this leap? This is the read aloud for you. In this adorable and clever story, a young boy ventures off to a strange new world, with different customs and alien inhabitants: Planet Kindergarten. Engaging and sure to excite young readers about this new adventure. Check out the book trailer for a sneak peak:
3. Wemberly Worried
By Kevin Henkes
Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of many beloved and award-winning picture books from Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and Kitten’s First Full Moon, to Owen and Chrysanthemum. All of his books make fantastic classroom read alouds, but Wemberly Worried is one of my favorites and a wonderful choice to calm new school year anxieties for the pre-K to second grade set: “Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start. And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.” For more, check out this Activity Guide from Kevin Henkes with a Wemberly coloring page, a “worry list”, recipes from the book and more.
4. When Sophie Thinks She Can’t…
By Molly Bang
If you are looking to kick off the new school year with a discussion about “growth mindset” and the importance of persistence, Molly Bang’s new book is an excellent read aloud choice. When Sophie Thinks She Can’t… is Molly Bang’s third Sophie book, you may recognize this character from When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… or When Sophie’s Feelings are Really, Really Hurt. In this story, Sophie gets frustrated when she struggles to solve a math puzzle and shouts, “I CAN’T DO IT!” She doubts whether she will ever be “smart”: “Luckily Sophie’s teacher steps in. What does it mean to be smart? Using current, popular “mindset” techniques, Sophie’s class is taught that we get smarter when we exercise our brains, such as when we work harder at solving a puzzle. Struggling to solve a problem doesn’t mean “I can’t do it!” Sophie and her classmates just can’t do it. . .yet!” For more, you can watch this book trailer from Scholastic:
5. The Dot
By Peter H. Reynolds
Are you hoping to inspire the kids in your life to take risks in the classroom this year and follow their creativity? Read them The Dot by Peter Reynolds: “Her teacher smiled. ‘Just make a mark and see where it takes you.’ Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw – she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. “There!” she says. That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery.” To take the uplifting message one step further, you could also celebrate International Dot Day on September 15th with your students. I love the idea from this Educator Guide to do a “Door Dots” activity, “Have the classroom door covered in plain colored dots, waiting like a blank canvas.” After reading the book, students could “make their mark” and decorate one of the dots.
What books will you be sharing with the kids in your life to kick off this new school year?