What better way to build classroom community and set the tone for the school year than with a fantastic book? But where can you find a good back to school read aloud when you need one? Rest assured- you are in the right spot for the ultimate list of back to school read alouds! This list is geared for the early childhood classroom (preschool through 2nd grade), but we all know that children of all ages and grades can benefit from a read aloud on the first day of school!
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Back to School Read Alouds: Any Grade Level
These back to school read alouds are suited for early childhood (preschool, preK, Kindergarten, First and Second Grade), but ultimately can be adapted to suit any grade level with any needs.
The Kissing Hand
This is a back to school classic- especially for those littlest learners who may have a hard transition leaving their trusted grown up! Chester the raccoon is nervous for his first day of school! His mom kisses his hand so he knows she is always with him. *swoon!* I’ve written a whole blog post on it, because I love it so much! Here are some cute activities to go with it too!
First Day Jitters
First Day Jitters is about being nervous for back to school and the feelings that come with it for students and teachers alike. The silly twist at the end of the story sparks great conversation, but may best fit first, second graders and older to ensure best comprehension of the ending.
All Are Welcome
Colorful illustrations. Simple rhymes. PHENOMENAL message that everyone comes to school as their own unique self, but we all belong. A+ back to school read aloud!
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
Your students will laugh out loud at Penelope Rex as she tries to make friends despite so desperately wanting to eat them. It’s a great opening to lessons on building friendships, perspective, and empathy with your classmates.
The Day You Begin
The words of this story are almost poetic. A beautiful reminder to watch our reactions to others because we don’t know their whole story, and being different is not something to laugh about, but to embrace. The message is for all children, but the language may be best appreciated with older grades. If you’re a second grade teacher, try pairing it with this Second Grade Reader’s Response sheet for the first week of school!
A Letter From Your Teacher On The First Day of School
I love this book for reading to children before the first day! Whether you have a Meet the Teacher event, Kindergarten Orientation, or film yourself and send it home with a link or QR code, it sets the perfect tone for children and their families to know how much you love and believe in your students. It’s truly the love note every teacher wishes they could send to their class each year. (If you like this one, you’ll love the other book in the series, Our Class is a Family)
As far as back to school read alouds are concerned, Chrysanthemum has always been a staple in my classroom. For the younger kiddos, it lends itself to so many activities for practicing their names. For all grades, it’s a great story of empathy, tolerance, and perspective taking for others and their differences.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
Giraffe’s Can’t Dance is an ideal back to school read aloud for a Hopes & Dreams lesson. Gerald is criticized for not dancing the way the other jungle animals expect him too. However, with a little help from a grasshopper friend, he realizes we all can dance even if it’s unconventional to others. I love reading it and then having students pick what they want to work on and embrace this year through this I Scream for Hopes and Dreams lesson!
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
If you haven’t heard of bucket filling yet, then RUN, don’t walk, to snag this book! This back to school read aloud gives a wonderful visual for students on how it feels to help others. It references feelings as imaginary buckets- when we make others feel good, it fills their bucket (and our own!). Likewise, when we hurt others feelings, we dip their bucket (and oftentimes our own bucket too!). A must read for behavior management strategies.
Back to School Read Alouds: Favorite Characters and Series
I absolutely love using favorite characters in my back to school read alouds. Children feel safety, excitement, and engagement when they see a familiar character in a book! It naturally lends to reading other books from the series. These back to school read alouds all contain favorite characters from popular children’s books.
Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes
This Pete the Cat book is perfect for back to school reading. Follow Pete on a scavenger hunt around the building. When I taught Preschool, my team teacher (and work bestie!) and I used to take our crew around the building just like Pete did to see all the important parts of the school. Super fun and engaging way to start the school year off!
The Pigeon Has to Go to School
Your favorite Mo Willems character is back but a little apprehensive to go to school.. that is until he learns what type of vehicle will take him there! When I taught Kindergarten, I loved reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus at Kindergarten Orientation before they took a practice bus ride. Then, we read The Pigeon Has to Go To School on the first day as a connection to a shared experience. Always a hit! 10/10
The World Needs More Purple Schools
Follow up to Kristen Bell’s wildly successful The World Needs More Purple People, this back to school read aloud is exactly what you need to help students foster a love of learning, a cooperation driven community, and a desire to be their best and do their best. I especially love all the incredible modeling that can be found among the students speaking to one another. This new book is definitely a keeper.
The Smart Cookie
Talk about a sweet way to remember that we are all “smart” in different ways. This is a great addition to The Bad Seed, The Good Egg, The Cool Bean, and The Couch Potato. The smart cookie is afraid to participate because he takes longer to do things and doesn’t always have the right answer. But soon, his teacher Ms. Biscotti helps teach him that we all are great at different things in different ways. This is a new find for me, and I immediately added it to my repertoire of back to school read alouds. You will want to too!
If You Take a Mouse to School
From the classic If You Take series, If You Take a Mouse to School offers some silliness to the school day. Mouse has a long list of wants and needs that takes his buddy on a busy adventure throughout his school day. I love to read it after reading Chrysanthemum so we can compare and contrast the mice characters.
David Goes to School
Maybe it’s because he shares a name with my brother, or maybe it’s because I tend to love the students who act a little bit like David in my classroom. Whatever the case may be, for some reason, David has such a soft spot in my heart. From the fan favorite, No David, David makes his way to school behaving in typical David fashion. Great jumpstart to discuss expected and unexpected behaviors.
Llama Llama Misses Mama
This is a heart warming book to help your littles loves cope with missing their grown up at school. With sweet and simple rhymes, Llama Llama learns to be brave and that his mama comes back for him at the end of the day!
Click, Clack, Quack to School
Farmer Brown’s animals are up to their antics again. A sequel to my favorite children’s book, Click, Clack Moo, Farmer Brown needs to take his animals to school to visit the children. He sets down some rules and expectations, but the animals come to realize school is not what Farmer Brown makes it out to be!
How to Get Your Teacher Ready
From the “How To” series, this How To book playfully goes through the course of a school year and all the important days and moments that may occur. The adorable nature of the how to books in which the children play the role of the grownup is not lost in this read aloud. Great for older students to reminisce and build excitement for the year to come.
Back to School Read Alouds for Preschool
The Night Before Preschool
Looking for a read aloud to record and go along with some Ready Confetti for your preschoolers? This is the one for you! Make some simple connections on each page by having your preschoolers give a thumbs up or thumbs down if it’s something they did to get ready for the first day of preschool!
Open the Preschool Door
This lift-the-flap board book creates an interactive experience to answer all the simple questions a brand new preschooler may have about their school.
Back to School Read Alouds for Kindergarten
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
Follow along in this ABC book as Miss Bindergarten gets her classroom ready for the first day of Kindergarten. Plus, there are companion books for other big days during the school year, like the 100th day, a field trip, and of course, Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for the Last Day of Kindergarten.
The King of Kindergarten
Here Ye, Here Ye! The King of Kindergarten has entered the royal classroom. In this sweet story, a little boy takes his mom’s compliment that he will be “The King of Kindergarten” to heart. He spends the day like a royal and discovers he truly can be the King of Kindergarten and handle whatever the day throws his way! (And now, there’s also a Queen of Kindergarten!)
Countdown to Kindergarten
In this story, the countdown to Kindergarten is one of fear! How will you ever be able to go to Kindergarten if you can’t tie your shoes by yourself yet? A great story to discuss our nerves and feelings leading up to the first day of school, and our relief when we discover that Kindergarten is a fun place to be! I love to pair it with these First Day in K Feelings Sheets.
Back to School Read Alouds for First Grade
First Grade Stinks
When Kindergarten was so much fun, you may think going to First Grade is going to STINK! However, in this story, we discover what every First Grade Teacher already knows- that First Grade is the place to be!
First Grade Jitters
What does it look like to have jitters about going into First Grade? This book goes into the different ways we may show our nerves and how our feelings affect us as we go to a new grade with a new teacher and new class! I have used it with these First Day in First Grade Reader’s Response pages!
What are some of your favorite back to school read alouds? Leave the titles below in the comments!