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Must Have Back to School Read Alouds

& Other Fun Activities

Back to school is SUCH a fun time! And such a critical time to set the scene for the year. Here are some great character building texts that you should add to your classroom library and use to foster some great character education conversations!

The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill and Laura Huliska-Beith

This is a great book to talk about recess expectations and ways to make friends out on the playground, which can easily transition inside the classroom as well. Snag the matching activity here.

He’s Been a Monster ALL Day by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Cyd Moore

This is a cute tale of a boy at home who is not showing manners, so he begins turning into a monster. He quickly realizes that he would rather be back with his family using his manners. I love to use this to talk about manners and to introduce our monsters on Class Dojo. Snag the matching activity here.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

This is a cute book featuring a series of letters from a box of crayons to their owner. The crayons are upset for a variety of reasons and this is a great way to talk about the importance of EVERY crayon in the crayon box. I love to use this to also talk about taking care of all of your school supplies, by not leaving any crayons behind on the ground. I then challenge students to draw a picture using every single one of their crayons and then they write a letter, promising to look after their crayons. Snag the matching activity here.

My New Teacher and Me by Al Yankovic

If you haven’t bought any of Weird Al’s books.. you need to! They are so cute and creative, and this is no exception. This is about a boy who is trying very hard to get his teacher to like him, but they aren’t meshing. Eventually, they learn their way together and love each other. This is a great way to jump-start conversations on getting to know each other and talking about personalities and when we can have fun and when it is time to work.
 

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell and David Catrow

This is a GREAT book about a girl who learns to believe in her self and stay true to who she is. I love to use this to talk about students’ differences while also having students talk about different talents or aspects about themselves that make them stand out from the crowd. Snag the matching activity here.

Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rothmann

This is another tale about the importance of being yourself and being proud of who you are. This is about a little girl, Ruby, who copies those around her to try to fit in. Her teacher teaches her how she is able to stick out. Snag the matching activity here.

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Kelp is a unicorn who doesn’t quite fit in among the creatures in the ocean (including the narwhals), even though they go above and beyond to let him fit in. However, he also goes up on the land and finds his unicorn friends that he fits right in with. In the end, he decides to have a mix of both worlds where he fits in everywhere and is friends with everyone, despite his differences.

What I Saw in the Teachers’ Lounge by Jerry Pallotta

This fun tale is a funny story about different things that a little boy “saw” in the teachers’ lounge. I love to use this book to read to the students, have them predict what the teachers’ lounge looks like, and then we go peek in. This is a fun tale that is a great introduction to making predictions while still being able to laugh and have fun.

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook

This is another ABSOLUTE favorite. This read aloud is about a little boy who is constantly interrupting his family, friends and classmates. It is a great lesson on teaching students to wait their turn, and also gives students a technique to try when they feel like interrupting. It also reminds students when it is okay to interrupt. I have students write down what they learned on how to “calm their volcano” and then we have a volcano on display to remind students not to let their own volcanoes interrupt. We also read this book a few times throughout the year as a reminder!
 

Miss Malarkey Doesn’t Live in Room 10 by Judy Finchler

This is a funny book that is a good way to introduce yourself outside of the classroom. The kids think their teacher lives inside of the school, until they discover that she has a life outside of the school. This funny tale is a great way to spring a conversation about yourself to your students.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus

This read aloud is a cute story about a lion that is learning everything a little bit later than the rest of the lions. This is a GREAT way to talk about how different people learn things at different paces and how that is okay.

 How Full is Your Bucket? (for kids) by Tom Rath

This story is a GREAT way to talk about kindness and ways that students can fill each others buckets. It talks about how people can add to and lose from their buckets, and the importance of making sure that your bucket is never empty. I use this time as an opportunity to talk about ways that we can be bucket fillers for each other, and we do a fun craft. Snag the matching activity here.

 The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric

This is a fun story about new kids to the classroom and how you can reach out and make these students feel included. I love this story because our population is always changing and growing, and this is a great way for my returning students to learn about how important it is to reach out and befriend new students in the school.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Everyone knows that this book is such a class about the importance of being a giving person, but doing so in moderation because we only have so much to give! I love to use this as a fun way to talk about things we are good at that we can share with the world. Snag the matching activity here.

 The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

This story is about a little girl who thinks she is a bad artist. Her art teacher encourages her and celebrates her little milestones, such as making just one dot on a piece of paper. This jump-starts her love for creating different kinds of dots and is a great way to talk about creativity and persevering, even at things that we might not think we are so good at. I then give students a piece of paper with a dot on it, and love to see what they come up with to fill the page!

Billy Bully by Ana Galan and Alavaro Galan

Billy is a very aggressive bull out on the playground. He starts with 10 friends, and loses them for various reasons. Then, he is able to gain them back by doing kind things for other people. This is a GREAT way to talk about gaining and losing friends, particularly on the playground. I use this time to talk about ways we can make friends, and about the importance of being polite but also being forgiving. Snag the matching activity here.

The Blue Ribbon Day by Katie Couric

The Blue Ribbon Day follows the same characters as The Brand New Kid and talks about the importance of trying new things, even if you aren’t good at certain things right away. It also talks about how to overcome a let down, even if it seems like the end of the world at the time.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

This book is a great tale about the importance of being true to yourself and being kind. While Ferdinand is being forced to fight in a bull-fight, he resists the urge to do what everyone else is doing, and stays calm and collected. This is a great way to talk about being calm and staying true to who you are.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

This is a funny story about someone who is VERY nervous about the first day of school. They are worried about the class, about waking up early, about all the different things someone might be nervous about on the first day of school. In the end, you find out the person who was worried was the TEACHER. This is a GREAT first read aloud for your class that can help calm the tension and cool down the nerves that might be coming out on the first day of school.

 Don’t Be Silly Mrs. Millie by Judy Cox

This is a funny tale about a teacher who mixes up her words and ends up telling her students funny things like “hang up your goats” instead of coats. Its a funny read aloud and a fun way to talk about how even teachers make mistakes!

 Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard

I always save this book to read the day before my first substitute will be taking over. This is a story about a sweet teacher that has a crazy class that is pushing the boundaries. Miss Nelson “goes missing” and Miss Viola Swamp takes over. She is mean, tough and makes the students miss Miss Nelson. The students learn their lesson and go looking for Miss Nelson… and are surprised by what they have found out!

 Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

This is a story about a little girl who has quite a long name and is made fun of for it. This is a great way to talk about self-esteem, the importance of being proud of who you are and is a way to address how teasing someone might make them feel.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

This is a cute story about a bunny that takes a box and turns it into many other things! This is a creative story and is a fun activity to do with students where they can turn a “box” or anything that you give them and re-purpose it into something creative.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

This is a fun story about a little boy who ends up moving into a house right next to his least favorite enemy! Uh-oh! His dad suggests the solve the problem by making enemy pie, which requires the boys to spend the entire day together. This is a great way to talk about making up with others and finding commonalities instead of focusing on the past and on differences you might have.

Do you have a favorite back to school read aloud that I missed? Drop the title below! 🙂 If you are interested in any of the back to school activities featured in this blog post, you can check them out in this resource.

Hopefully you found what you were looking for in this blog post! If you have any of your own successes with this topic, please feel free to share helpful tips or stories below! Check back each Monday in 2018 for a new post on my blog. Enjoy!

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