Finding the right read-alouds at the beginning of the school year can help alleviate student anxiety. For lower elementary grades this is particularly important. Stock your read-aloud basket with some of the great titles below to get you started.
21 Children’s Books for the Beginning of the School Year
1. A Place Called Kindergarten by Jessica Harper
Perfect for kindergarteners, A Place Called Kindergarten chronicles the reactions of the animals left on the farm as Tommy heads off to school.
2. A Teaspoon of Courage for Kids by Bradley Trevor Greive
Encouragement and inspiration are plentiful in this book aimed at delivering positive message to little learners.
3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert
The alphabet has never been so much fun to learn as it is in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. A great introduction to fin children’s literature.
4. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Embracing your identity is important and Chrysanthemum is faced with challenges at school because of her name. A gentle story about individuality and bullying.
5. David Goes to School by David Shannon
What is David going to get into next?! This delightful school tale is sure to ease the anxiety of even those youngest readers.
6. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
A reassuring story about a young girl who has the same first day of school anxiety as your students.
7. The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle
Your students will be giggling along with the crazy antics of the “gigglers” who watch over children. A smile and a laugh like this book will bring are two of the surest ways to ease anxiety and help students relax.
8. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
Teaching that the kindness you give away comes back to you is one of the most important lessons for children to hear at the beginning of the year. This book sets the tone for random acts of kindness and gratitude – two things that will make the school year amazing.
9. Jessica by Kevin Henkes
Everywhere that Ruthie goes, Jessica goes to – including to school for the first time.
10. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Chester does not want to go to school, but after his mother shares a family secret with him his anxiety lessens. A gentle, comforting story for children who are nervous about being away from home.
11. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
What’s everyone doing to get ready for the first day of school? Find out in this adorable story by Joseph Slate.
12. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
What a pair Officer Buckle and Gloria make as they entertain students during safety presentations. Not only will the story make students smile, but it emphasizes how important teamwork is to success.
13. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean
“It’s all good,” according to Pete the Cat and that includes his new adventure at school.
14. Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill and Laura Huliska-Beith
Nip bullying in the bud with the story of Mean Jean who loves to boss others around.
15. Ruby the Copycat by Margaret Rathmann
Whatever Angela does, Ruby does too. Students get a glimpse into how being yourself is the best way to make friends.
16. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
What’s out there in the great unknown? Scaredy Squirrel does not want to find out, but he finds himself face to face with his greatest fear – the unknown. Children will relate to his anxiety, as well as the uplifting outcome.
17. Swimmy by Leo Leoni
Teamwork and ingenuity know no bounds when Swimmy helps his friends overcome their fear of danger. A great story to help build community in the classroom.
18. Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
A story that emphasizes the importance of a teacher who cares and makes a difference. A great segue into talking about teacher expectations and the pledge to help every student reach their potential.
19. There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar
A friendless, bullying, insecure fifth-grader as the protagonist? In this book, the unlikely main character learns to like himself and begins to open up to those around him. A great reminder that there is good in everyone.
20. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro
Forget the flies, this old lady is ready to go back to school and swallowing the things she needs to take with her. A fun, rhyming introduction to a humorous approach to school.
21. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
How can you blend in when you were made to stand out? August Pullman’s facial deformity and the reactions of those around him lend themselves to one of the most inspirational books about the courage to befriend others and the courage to be oneself.
What are some of your favorite read-alouds for the beginning of the school year? Share with us below!