There are so many mixed emotions about the back to school season. Excitement, nerves, joy, wonder, uncertainty.. the list goes on. Both you and your students might be a tad nervous rolling into this year, but some GREAT back to school read alouds can help set the tone for a successful school year. Read on to find my favorites below!
My Mouth is a Volcano
Are you looking for a great book to teach about the impact of interrupting in your classroom? This sweet tale is about a little boy who CANNOT control his volcano. He interrupts a lot, and gets in trouble a lot. One day, it is HIS special day, and guess what happens? He gets interrupted!
This is a great book for teaching students how to “control their volcanoes” and gives a great strategy for what to do when we feel like we NEED to say something. Use this to teach turn taking, patience and what is and is not an emergency.
He’s Been a Monster All Day
What happens when you want to be a monster all day? You eat slime, act crazy and might not make as many friends. In this tale, there are no rules to follow. However.. this leads to the boy losing his friends and missing his mom tucking him into bed.
I love to use this book to talk about “monster manners”. We read the text, then sort different choices made at school into positive and negative choices.
The Day the Crayons Quit
Respecting school supplies can be difficult to do. During this great read aloud, the crayons from Duncan’s crayon box are rallying together to list their complaints in letter format. Some are too used, chewed up, forgotten, lost or overused. While this book is silly and doesn’t necessarily straight out speak about respect, I use this book to talk about taking care of our classroom supplies.
After reading this text, either as a class or individually, we all write a letter back to our crayons and school supplies discussing how we will best take care of them this year. Then, students sign the letter. You wont want to miss adding this to your back to school read alouds collection.
Mean Jean the Recess Queen
Mean Jean is a great way to talk about bullying with your students. In this tale, Mean Jean the Recess Queen RULES the playground. Nobody does anything until she tells them that it is okay. UNTIL a new girl shows up and dethrones the recess queen.
This book is a great way to discuss both bullying and friendship. It goes into the depths of WHY someone might be a “bully” and how you can best address these situations.
The Kissing Hand
Some students might be a little nervous about being away from home after spending all summer with their special family members. One way to help students feel more at ease and to discuss these important feelings is by reading The Kissing Hand.
In this book, Chester is very nervous about his first day of school in the forest. However, his mom shares a Kissing Hand with him, and it helps put him more at ease. I love using this book to make kissing hands for someone special at home, so students feel more at ease in the classroom.
Similar to Mean Jean, Billy Bully is a great way to teach about manners on the playground. This is one of my favorite back to school read alouds. Billy Bully is a counting tale in which he starts with 10 friends, then counts his tally down to none by making poor choices. It is then up to him to figure out how to fix his poor choices so that he can count back up to 10 friends.
I love to use this book to talk about what choices we are going to make on the playground, and how we can use those choices to be a positive influence to those around us instead of negative.
How Full Is Your Bucket?
How Full Is Your Bucket is a great book for discussing the importance of feeling validated and validating others. It helps students realize the power of their words and actions, as everything we do can either fill or empty someone else’s bucket.
I love to use this book to motivate students to fill each other’s buckets. We also make a dedication to HOW we are going to fill someone else’s bucket this school year.
The Dot is such a great story about believing in yourself and taking the first step. Vashti is discouraged because she thinks she cannot draw. Her art teacher encourages her to start with just one dot… and her dots take off into a gallery of masterpieces.
I love to use this to talk about creativity, believing in yourself and persevering through difficult times. We then finish our read aloud by starting with a dot… and seeing where it takes us!
Ruby the Copycat
Ruby the Copycat is a story about a new classmate who is trying to fit in by copying her new friend Angela. Angela starts to get annoyed because Ruby is merely copying everything that she does. Her teacher steps in and shows her a new way to be unique.
I love to use this to talk about what makes students UNIQUE both on the inside and outside. We take time to self reflect and identify parts of us on the inside and outside we are proud of – it could be our feet that help us play soccer or our heart which helps us be a caring friend.
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is a story about a small girl that gets picked on for being short, clumsy, having buck teeth and having a squeaky voice. Despite all of these adversities and being picked on, her grandmother encourages her to keep standing tall and being proud of who she is.
This is GREAT for teaching students to not only stick up for themselves, but to walk confidently through life. We use this book to discuss various talents that we have so that our classmates know what we are proud of about ourselves.
The Giving Tree
The classic book, The Giving Tree, is a great way to discuss what we have to offer to our classmates and community. The book is about a tree that keeps giving and giving, until she has nothing left to give to the little boy. But in the end, all he wants is a stump to sit on.
Another important lesson from this book centers around not giving too much. So while we need to be giving, we also need to take care of ourselves. We focus on this lesson by making our own giving trees and writing ideas for what we can give to others on the tree trunk and leaves.
The Giving Tree
Did you know Weird Al Yankovic is also a children’s author? In My New Teacher and Me, a little boy named Billy is just starting his first day of school with a very no nonsense teacher. Trying to impress his teacher, he keeps telling imaginative tales that his teacher is not believing. However, there comes a time where maybe his teacher should be taking him a bit more seriously…
I love to use this book to launch into the “I wish my teacher knew” activity. I like to give my students an opportunity to write things they want me to know about them so that we are ready for a year of closeness. I take time to read every single one of their pieces. You will be shocked what they will share with you!
Grab What You Need:
My back to school character unit has companions for each text above. Grab it now to streamline your planning for your character building unit!
What are your favorite back to school read alouds that also enforce character building? Drop them in the comments below so we can check them out!
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