Booklist: Back to School

By Maureen Schlosser | BookLists

The first day of school is an emotional day for everyone. Some are nervous, others are anxious, and many are hopeful that this is the beginning of the best year yet. Connecting the experiences children have with engaging picture books will help your students realize they are not alone with their feelings.

The following stories are some of our favorite Back to School read alouds. Use them to compel children to empathize with classmates and to make everyone feel loved in their new classroom.

School's First Day of School by Adam Rex

This book presents readers with a play on perspective. Imagine if a school building had emotions. How would it feel when he hears children say they hate him and cry when they see him? Now that's an interesting point of view to consider on the first day of school, isn't it? School is the main character in this entertaining story about a new building who meets children for the first time. Students may think twice about saying negative things after reading this clever story.

Pair this book with First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and have fun considering how a school building would feel about the teacher in this story.

Turn your read aloud into a mini-lesson by pairing the book with one of the reading comprehension lessons for First Day Jitters.

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Do your students know what to do when they see people alone at recess? This book will help them realize the answer. Be a Friend is the story of a boy who is happy living in his world of imagination, but who often feels lonely at recess time. When a friendly girl starts to play with the boy, everything changes.

For a deeper conversation about considering the feelings of other people, read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. This is the perfect book to discuss what kindness should look like at recess. Practice using comprehension strategies to deepen comprehension and enhance student conversations by choosing relevant lessons plans for Each Kindness from the Bookpagez resource library.

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton

Stereotypes exist. That's a fact. Fortunately, there are people who ignore these rigid ideas and follow their passions. In She Persisted, children will learn about thirteen strong American women who worked hard for what they wanted. They found people didn't listen to them because they were women. Thankfully, the women featured in this nonfiction text persisted and wnet on to make great contributions to our society.

Help students better understand the dangers of stereotypes by sharing Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola with your students. It is the story of a boy who faces opposition as a result of his interests. Oliver doesn't like to play ball with the boys. He would rather dress up and pretend to be a movie star. He happily plays by himself even though people make fun of him. Because Oliver Button persisted, he changed the way people think about boys who love to dance. Try using the Bookpgez extension activity for use with Oliver Button Is a Sissy to support your conversations about bullying.

Teachers Rock! by Todd Parr

What do teachers do? Ask children this question before reading Teachers Rock! by Todd Parr. Write their ideas on chart paper. While reading the story, children will learn that teachers do more than just teach. Add new ideas to the chart paper after the reading and ask children to illustrate their favorite scenario.

Older readers will appreciate reading about a caring teacher in Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. This heartwarming story reminds us of the encouraging work teachers do every day to help children succeed. Encourage your readers to practice their reading comprehension skills with Thank You, Mr. Falker lessons from Bookpagez.

I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien

Challenge students to imagine for a moment what it must feel like for an immigrant child to start school in America. It must be incredibly uncomfortable for someone who doesn't know the language. I'm New Here gives children an idea of how hard it is to begin a new life in a new country.

Pair this book with The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi to learn how a young girl from Korea feels about her Korean name. Practice retelling and summarizing or making inferences with comprehension strategy resources from Bookpagez.

A Letter To My Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson

This book is for teachers. Take a moment to read this story before the school year begins to remind yourself of the important work you do. The author wrote this book to thank her teacher who patiently encouraged her to keep learning when the work was hard.

Follow A Letter To My TeacherMiss Smith's Incredible Storybook aloud to your class. The whimsical fast-paced story underscores the impact teachers have on students and the experiences that happen at school. It's also a great springboard for comprehension strategy instruction

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts

When a quiet girl sees too many people being mean to each other in school, she very loudly tells everyone to stop. Pair this book with Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes and consider the author's purpose for writing these types of books. Support your discussion by using the identifying the author's purpose mini-lesson and activty set in the BookPagez resource library.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

It takes a confident person to shrug off name calling, and Molly Lou Melon is certainly sure of herself. When a boy relentlessly makes fun of the way Molly Lou talks and looks, she is able to lightheartedly prove the boy wrong. Children will enjoy spending time with this book. Download and print the effective reading comprehension activities Bookpagez offers with this book.

Birdie's First Day of School by Sujean Rim

What do you hope your students will say about their first day of school? In this story, Birdie expects terrible things will happen in school. She's heard awful stories about the teacher, the food and the homework. It turns out, the rumors were wrong and she enjoyed her day. Birdie told her mother about the things that made her smile and the work she was proud to share. Read this book before the end of the day and ask children to share their proud moments.