Coming back after break to a new year is always fun, there's excitement in the air but it can also feel like the first day of school all over again. Routines and procedures will fall into place as you get back in the swing of things, and reading aloud will help your students feel welcomed and “home” again after extended time away. Here are eleven of my favorite read aloud books and activities to do with your kids in January.
1. A Year of Everyday Wonders
“A Year of Everyday Wonders” by Cheryl B. Klein is a great book to read in January because it shows a year of “firsts.” It is a great way to show students that the New Year is a time where you can start fresh and enjoy everyday wonders.
2. Whistle for Willie
“Whistle for Willie” by Ezra Jack Keats is a great story to talk about setting goals, working on those goals, and persevering through challenges. Peter really wants to whistle for his dog Willie and works hard to make it happen.
3. Every Month is a New Year: Celebrations Around the World
“Every Month is a New Year: Celebrations Around the World” by Marilyn Singer is a beautiful book that shows celebrations around the world throughout the year. Each page shows the calendar and how a new year begins in different parts of the world with different celebrations. It has gorgeous illustrations and teaches of customs from all around the world.
4. Big Plans
“Big Plans” by Bob Shea is a fun story about a confident boy that has “big plans.” It is a great book to read to talk about how we can talk about our plans and goals for the year…but what will we do to make those plans happen? We can share our goals, resolutions, or plans all we want, but we have to work to make them happen too.
“There” by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick is also another favorite when discussing goal setting. It is a great way to begin a conversation about setting goals and how will you get “there.” We have to work hard to reach our goals and get “there” and this book is a really great way to introduce goal setting.
You can have your students work on setting goals for the New Year as well. Click here to find a complete pack of goal setting activities.
You can also find a New Year's resolutions close reading passage and extension activity here.
6. Snow Day
“Snow Day” by Lester Laminack is such a fun book to read when (and if) you have lots of snow or a snow day. There's so much excitement with a big snowfall and even more when there's a snow day! Your kids will love this book just as much as they love the snow days!
Cross your fingers for a snow day and grab this fun book to do the next day here.
7. Catching Thoughts
“Catching Thoughts” by Bonnie Clark is a great story to read as you discuss a new year and starting fresh. For every child who has been weighed down by sadness or anxiety, this story teaches kids how to acknowledge unwanted thoughts, show them compassion, and how to work to find positives. Catching Thoughts is a thoughtful story to help students deal with unwanted feelings and welcome happiness too.
8. Finding Winnie
“Finding Winnie” by Lindsay Mattick is the true story of Winnie the Pooh. While it may not seem like a January themed book, AA Milne sold the rights for the story of Winnie the Pooh to be used for television and other goods in January of 1930…and the rest is history. This is such a great book and mentor text to share with your class.
You can also find a close reading passage and activities about Winnie the Pooh here.
9. Martin's Big Words
“Martin's Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport is truly my favorite book to read when discussing the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. There are the most beautiful illustrations by Bryan Collier and of course, such a powerful message. This is such a great book to discuss famous quotes from MLK Jr. and how they still ring true today.
10. Let the Children March
“Let the Children March” by Monica Clark-Robinson is a truly moving book to share if you are discussing the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Students will be able to see how children also had to fight for their rights and how no matter their age, they fought to make a difference. You and your students will be moved by the photos and the poetic words that document this time in history through the eyes of children.
11. Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968
“Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968” by Alice Faye Duncan is historical fiction that tells the story of Lorraine Jackson, a nine year old that witnessed the sanitation strike; which was Martin Luther King Jr's final stand for justice before he was assassinated. It is inspired by a Memphis teacher's story that participated in the strike as a child. Taking a look beyond Martin Luther King Jr. and seeing how his fight for justice inspired and helped those around him will leave an impact on your students in the month of January.
You can find a complete Martin Luther King Jr. webquest with student based research and activities here.
12. Presidential Inauguration Books
With the Presidential Inauguration in January, there are a few books that your students can relate to, to learn more about the incoming President and Vice President. No matter your own political views, these books are enjoyable and definitely ones your students will love and learn from. “Joey” by Dr. Jill Biden tells the story of Joe Biden's childhood. “Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice” by Nikki Grimes tells the story of Kamala Harris and her lifelong fight for justice.
You can find a close reading passage and activities about the Presidential Inauguration here.
You can check out some favorite January books here.
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*Please note that this post does contain affiliate links and I receive a small commission when you purchase books through these links*
I hope you found some great ideas for January!