Going to the library was one of my favorite things to do in elementary school. The room seemed enormous and the stacks upon stacks of undiscovered stories and information captured my imagination. It was my favorite special of the week and even to this day the library gives me the same feeling of excitement. I credit it all to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Craig, who first filled our classroom library with books that made me want to learn more, read more, and explore the world of words. By filling our classroom with books that kept us engaged, she made it even more exciting to go to “the big library” during the week.
When I started teaching kindergarten, I wanted to do the same for my students. I bought, borrowed, and had donated more books than I knew what to do with. The funny thing though was that I kept returning to the same books, year after year, to share with my students. They became five of my must-have books for the kindergarten library.
Must Have Books for Your Kindergarten Library
1. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman
Anytime a dog is in the story, it’s sure to be a hit. Add Gloria who acts out the safety tips and your students will be enthralled. Officer Buckle and Gloria also lends itself to some great extension activities – discussing personal safety, understanding the importance of friendship, and more. It’s a definite must-have.
2. The Mitten by Jan Brett
Every January, Jan Brett’s The Mitten would appear in the classroom. I’d start knitting a white mitten on Monday when I introduced the story. The basket with the yarn and knitting needles would be beside the book as we discussed it. The anticipation of both the mitten completion and the story would almost be too much. There would be such a sense of excitement and enthusiasm in the classroom all week. On Friday, we’d wrap up our storytelling (and the knitting) and the students would be better at predicting outcomes and more observant story listeners. It was a great way to get back into the swing of things after the holiday break.
3. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
In kindergarten, it’s especially important to make sure children know it’s okay to be themselves. The things that make them unique and special should be celebrated. In The Story of Ferdinand, Ferdinand the Bull is vastly different from his peers. His uniqueness makes him stand out from the others, but he’s okay with that. It’s a wonderful, gentle story that can make a big impact on your classroom community. There’s also a short film that Disney made that you can watch after reading the story.
4. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
I am a huge fan of all of Kevin Henkes books, but Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is perfect for a kindergarten classroom library. Lilly is a vivacious little mouse who is just so excited to share her new purse that she winds up having it taken away for the school day. Her range of emotions and her teacher’s reactions to her behavior make the story a perfect fit for the beginning of the school year. It’s one of my favorite books to read in September, because while it teaches about actions and consequences, it also teaches about compassion and kindness. Check out Kevin Henkes’ other books, as well for other amazing library finds.
5. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Teaching children about compassion is so important in kindergarten. They must learn to navigate the world of school and friendships and peer relationships in a new way. In the beautifully illustrated book Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Mem Fox introduces us to a little boy who lives next to an old folks’ home. He learns about memories, love, life, and, most importantly, compassion through his interactions with his neighbors. It’s a gorgeous story and a classroom library must-have.
What are some of your classroom library must-have books? Which ones do you enjoy sharing with your students year after year? Share with us below!