Back to School Read Alouds: The Top 13 Choices For Classrooms

July 19, 2021

Are you looking for some fun activities for back to school? Maybe you are looking to up your read-aloud game at the beginning of the year? These back-to-school read-alouds are so effective in teaching reading and writing skills. But, you can also use them to teach social-emotional skills, classroom rules/expectations, and almost everything in between at the beginning of the year. Plus, if you finish an activity early, or have a block of time you just do not know what to do during those first days. Read-alouds fit perfectly and teach so much! I have rounded up my 13 best back-to-school read-aloud books and I am so excited to share them with you. 

13 Back to School Read Alouds for the First Day of School 

Read alouds for the first week of school

Classroom Community

Back to School Read Aloud
  • Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen- This is definitely the book to read on the first day of school! It is full of beautiful illustrations that represent students from all races and backgrounds. This is a book I take out for the first day of school, read aloud and really remind my students of all year.

A book with a wonderful message that will help build and strengthen a class community. In this back-to-school read-aloud students learn in the classroom it is ok to make mistakes, it is safe to be themselves and it is important to be friends with others. 

  • All are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold- I really enjoy this back-to-school read-aloud for the first day of school in early elementary classrooms. It is quite simple language and the illustrations show students from all backgrounds. Teaching students about traditions and how we should celebrate each other. 

At this school, all students have a place they are loved and appreciated. In this back-to-school read-aloud follow a group of students through their day at school and see how they learn and celebrate each other’s differences. 

I love to read these books and then introduce my Scratch and Reveal positive behavior Coupons. Students get so excited to receive one because they were kind to a friend or they helped someone who needed them! 

Celebrating Differences

Back to school read aloud
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson- This book gives me lyrical vibes. It is full of clever details, beautiful illustrations, and shows a black female main character. I found this first day of school read-aloud is perfect for Kindergarten-2nd grade. It can open the door to conversations and questions students may have those “what happens if…” questions! 

Angela is pondering her differences during the first day of school, comparing her own summer to her classmates. When she comes to realize everyone is different. Their summers, heritages, and food all make them special but different. 

Back to School Read Aloud
  • The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf- This is an oldie but a goodie. Written in 1998, I still believe this is one of the best back-to-school read-alouds there is! It is a poem and is the perfect quick read to help students understand that sometimes they will not get along but in the end, they need to value each other’s differences. 

A girl goes into a store and overhears a crayon box arguing. In this crayon box, none of the crayons liked each other. Some colors hate other colors. No one likes orange. As a result, this little girl comes up with an idea. She buys the crayons and draws a beautiful picture using all of them. She teaches them how their differences do not matter when they all work together. 

Back to school read aloud
  • The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi- I absolutely love this book. It helps students learn about the meaning of names and how our names should be important to us. I love to have students complete a homework assignment to go along with this back-to-school read-aloud. Each student asks their parents what their name means or where they got the idea for their name. We then come in the next day and share our answers before our next read-aloud. Many students do not know the amazing story behind their name!

Unhei is the new girl in class and is from Korea. She worries the other students won’t say her name correctly and asks for suggestions for a “new name”. In the end, she realizes her name is unique, just like her! 

Understanding Emotions

Read aloud for first day of school
  • The Color Monster by Anna Llenas- My bet is you have had a student in your class who may have trouble controlling their emotions or a student who can’t always express their emotions. This book is a great read on the first day of school. But, it is also a great read during any time of the year. It helps teach students about emotions and how it is ok to feel a range of emotions during a day. 

Monster wakes up and his emotions are all over the place, scared, happy, nervous, etc. A little girl helps him figure out what each emotion means using a different color. The monster learns how to figure out his emotions and also gains self-awareness and peace. 

First Day of school read aloud
  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg- This is a classic back-to-school read-aloud. I have been enjoying this book with my students for many years and the surprise twist gets them every time!

 Sarah just doesn’t want to get out of bed and go to her new school. Scared of what the students will be like and if she’ll be able to make any friends. It turns out, Sarah is the teacher! This back-to-school read-aloud is perfect to show students that teachers are nervous on the first day of school just like them and it is totally okay to be nervous! 

Back to School Read aloud
  • What Should Danny Do? School Day by Adir Levy- This is my class’s FAVORITE back-to-school read-aloud. It is a choose your own adventure and the students can decide what actions Danny takes throughout the book. It discusses a lot of social-emotional ideas and really allows one to see how they can make their own choices throughout their day as well. Getting students into reading by allowing them to make choices in a book makes this a top contender on this back-to-school read-aloud book list.

Danny is at school and has a lot of choices to make. Should he raise his hand since he doesn’t understand or not? Should he keep trying or give up? You and your student choose what Danny does in this book! This back-to-school read-aloud can end differently every time.

Classroom Behaviors

Book for tattling
  • The Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook- Tattling is something every grade level experiences. It often runs rampant in the lower elementary school grades. Tattling is a classroom behavior that can really lead to great lessons to help teach students what needs to be told and what doesn’t.

Josh is a tattler. He tattles on his brother, his classmates, and even his dog. But one night, his tongue turns yellow with purple dots and is itchy, itchy, itchy. Hopefully, a case of the tattle tongue will help Josh learn his lesson.

Book for teaching self control
  • Clark the Shark by  Bruce Hail- I found this book during a year with a very rowdy bunch of students. They meant well and were so sweet. But they did not have very good self-control or management of their emotions. I knew this book would help them realize there is always a time to run, jump, and yell but inside the school/classroom is not it! Plus, it is full of rhymes and rhythm. This is one of my favorite back-to-school read-alouds now! 

Clark is always exciting and loves life. He is always zooming into the classroom, is often crazy and loud at recess, and means well. But one day he is just a little too much for his friends and his teacher shows him a valuable lesson.

Books for Teaching Self Control

Book for teaching self control
  • My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook- Students who call out rarely realize they are doing something wrong. They get excited, or nervous, or are trying to be funny and get others to laugh and like them. This book is always a go when looking for a good back-to-school, read-aloud for a classroom with many students who seem to love to call out! 

Louis is always interrupting. He feels like his thoughts are so important they need to work their way out of him. But when others interrupt Louis, he realizes how to respectfully wait his turn to talk. 

Great book for the first week of school
  • Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne C. Jones- During the first day of school is always a great time to discuss the best times to talk and the not-so-great times to talk. This back-to-school read-aloud is perfect for preschoolers and older! Help show students the correct times to talk and the correct times to listen. 

Lacey Walker is a talker. She talks all day and all night. But one day she loses her voice and learns how important it is to listen. She realizes how much she misses during her day when she is talking. 

Great book for teaching self control
  • Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice by Julia Cook- I really enjoy reading this book with upper elementary-age students. They seem to understand the nickname “Decibella” a little more than the younger ones. However, it is definitely a book you can read K-6. Teaching students voice control and emotions, this book is a perfect book to read on the first day of school. I love to look at a ruler and discuss how a 6-inch voice may sound very different from a 2-inch voice. Discussing the five volumes from the book, I use this terminology in my class the rest of the year! 

Isabella is loud, interrupts, and irritates friends. They nickname her Decibella, which is not a nickname to be proud of. She is like this until her teacher introduces the five volumes of voice. 

Reading aloud is one of my favorite things to do inside my classroom. I love the looks and laughs and gasps as we read a new book. Back to School read-aloud books make for such a fun beginning of the year experience and really can help you teach students all about their classroom and your expectations. I hope you find this list of back-to-school read-alouds helpful!

You can find more of my favorite First Day of School activities over at my blog.

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