The beginning of the year is such an exciting time. There are so many fun ways to get to know a new group of students and one of my favorite ways to begin conversations and get to know them is reading aloud. Here are some of my favorite beginning of the year read-aloud books.
Reading aloud with students helps to build a classroom community at the beginning of the year because you can carefully choose books with themes that will help set the tone in your classroom. There is something about reading a book together as a class that seems so welcoming and helps students feel comfortable in a new classroom setting. Students have a chance to learn routines for whole group instruction and also learn to feel comfortable as contributors to discussions in your classroom.
We pack so much into the first days and weeks of school; reading aloud to your students is a nice time to come together for a short break while also giving you time to get to know your students through the discussions you have.
Here are some of my favorite books to read aloud at the beginning of the year (in no particular order):
1. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
All Are Welcome is a great story for the beginning of the year because just like the title reads, it will show each of your students that they are welcome in your classroom.
2. The Bad Seed by Jory John
I love this book for the beginning of the year because we all know that some students may have a reputation that travels with them and this story is such a great book to read about positive change. You can find a free activity to use with this book in this “First Week Favorites” post.
3. I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoet
“I Walk with Vanessa” is a powerful book without any words that is sure to spark amazing discussions with your students. The pictures tell such an important story about inclusion and kindness.
4. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
I love reading the story because just like the narrator is surprised by the “enemy pie” his dad serves up, so are my students. It's such a great story for the beginning of the year because it teaches kids not to believe all that you may think or hear about someone you don't know…get to know people before making judgments.
5. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
“Each Kindness” is such an amazing book with beautiful pictures and an even more important message. Many times students are surprised by the ending because it's not the expected happy ending that they are used to. It is so relatable and a great way to discuss friendship and small acts of kindness.
6. Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
I love reading “Here We Are” to talk about asking questions and helping each other out…we are all here on Earth and there is so much to learn, so we must help each other; the same goes for your classroom and this book is a fun way to discuss asking others for help.
7. Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds
The book “Nerdy Birdy” is such a great story for the beginning of the year and a great way to talk about friendships. Nerdy Birdy feels like he doesn't fit in, but finds his way with another bird. Such a great way to discuss how we all have interests and we may find friends with things in common with us but we can also learn from friends that have different interests too. And if your kids love it as much as I do, then I'm sure they'll love “Nerdy Birdy Tweets” too.
8. I Am Enough by Grace Byers
This is such a beautiful book with such a beautiful message. “I Am Enough” is such a great book to learn more about your students and their interests and it could also make for a great display and have students write their own comparisons. You can grab a free template to use with your students below!
9. This School Year Will Be The Best by Kay Winters
This is a fun book to read at the beginning of the year and discuss things to be excited about the upcoming school year. Students can share something they are looking forward to but also share something about themselves so the teacher can get to know everyone.
10. Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
I love this book to discuss how the grass is not always greener on the other side and we may always think that someone else has it better or easier than we do, but we should be happy and proud of who we are. Another great book that prompts thought-provoking discussions.
11. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
I cannot say enough about this book. It is such an important book to read, and the beginning of the year is a great time to read it. One of my favorite parts of this book is the illustrations and I love to look at how the illustrations change with kids. How the character Brian's color changes and when and why it changes.
12. The Word Collector by Peter Reynolds
I love Jerome and his love for collecting words but also the symbolism of sharing and appreciating differences that are in this book too. It's such a great book to share at the beginning of the year; students can write words that they love, words that describe them, and so much more!
13. There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
There are so many ways that you could use and interpret this book and I love to use it to discuss goal setting. We talk about our goals and how we will get “there.” You can read more about how I use this book in this First Week Activities blog post.
14. After the Fall by Dan Santat
“After the Fall” is a wonderful story about never giving up. I love this for the beginning of the year as an encouraging story that also teaches us to leave the past in the past.
15. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
“Be Kind” gives great examples of ways to be kind. Many times we say that we should be kind, but do kids understand HOW to be kind? This is a great book to read to open up that discussion! You can read about an activity that I like to do in this First Week of School post.
16. The Thing Lou Couldn't Do by Ashley Spires
Such a great story of determination and what to do when you are confronted with something that is difficult. Students have a choice when something is difficult or if they are presented with don't want to do something, just like Lou. The story is relatable and a great talking point with your students.
17. The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald
This book is filled with beautiful pictures and writing from students. I love reading this and doing an activity at the beginning of the year because I feel it allows me to get to know students a little bit but also gives me a glimpse at them as writers as well.
18. Being Frank by Donna Earnhardt
You are sure to laugh at how frank Frank really is, as maybe you may have had a frank student like Frank! This is such a great story to talk about how your words have so much meaning and can have such an impact on those around you.
19. Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry
“Stick and Stone” is a sweet story of friendship with an anti-bullying message that makes it perfect for the beginning of the year. It is the perfect book to help set the tone in your classroom for the year.
20. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
This is a beautiful story about beginning the year, feeling scared or different, and making new connections and friends. It is a must-read for the beginning of the year.
I hope you have found a few beginning-of-the-year read-aloud books that can help start your year off right!
You can read more about using picture books as mentor text in this “5 Reasons to Use Mentor Text” blog post.
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