My Top 11 Favorite Back-to-School Read-Alouds for 2023

June 15, 2023
List of my Favorite Back to School Read Aloud Books

Choosing the perfect back-to-school read-aloud for the first few weeks of school can be exciting and overwhelming. With so many incredible authors and books, narrowing the choices can be challenging. However, these back-to-school read-alouds are crucial for setting the tone and expectations for the rest of the year. Even if students have read the books, hearing them again can provide valuable lessons and insights. 

As a teacher, it’s essential to put thought into selecting these books and stocking the classroom library with a variety of options. This year has taught me the importance of being intentional in my choices and considering diverse perspectives.

Whether you’re a teacher or a student, it’s vital to cultivate certain character traits that will help you navigate the challenges ahead. One way to do this is by reading inspiring and uplifting books that set the tone for a successful school year. Check out some of my favorite back-to-school read-alouds below!

Back-to-School Read-Alouds are Vital for Building Classroom Environment

Selecting the right back-to-school read-alouds for the first few weeks of school is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of the year. Here are some back-to-school read-alouds that can help foster a positive classroom environment and promote individuality and values.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #1: 

Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro

Back to School Read Aloud

Rosie is filled with excitement and anticipation on the eve of her first day of kindergarten. However, as the night wears on, she begins to feel a nervous flutter in her stomach. Her mother assures her that it’s just butterflies and that they will soon fly away. To Rosie’s surprise, when she meets a new friend on the bus, a butterfly literally flies out of her mouth!  Throughout the day, Rosie releases all her butterflies and helps another shy student do the same.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #2:

A Letter From Your Teacher:  Pn the First Day of School by Shannon Olsen

A heartwarming picture book for the first day of school.

As the new school year begins, teachers are eager to create a welcoming and supportive environment for their students. A heartwarming picture book written from a teacher’s perspective helps set the tone for the year ahead. The book emphasizes the special bond that can be formed between a teacher and their students and the importance of creating a caring and safe learning environment. This read-aloud is a great starting point for get-to-know-you activities and class community building, helping establish positive relationships from the beginning of the school year.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #3:

The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric

A great read aloud for being a new student in school.

Ellie and Carrie were excited to start their second-grade year, but things took a turn when a new student, Lazlo S. Gasky, joined their class. Despite the teacher’s request to welcome him, the other students mocked him for being different. Lazlo became increasingly unhappy as he was ostracized and taunted. However, when Ellie saw his mother looking sad and worried, she realized how hard it must be to be a new kid and decided to get to know Lazlo. Even though her friends ridiculed her for it, Ellie stood up for Lazlo and showed that he wasn’t so different after all.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #4:

My School Stinks by Becky Scharnhorst 

Back to School Read Alouds

My School Stinks is the perfect book for back-to-school time.  As the back-to-school season approaches, children may feel anxious about returning to the classroom. However, books like this one can help ease their worries with humorous stories and relatable characters. In one scene, Stuart tries to avoid going to school by faking an illness with paper cutouts of red dots. Kids will laugh along with Stuart’s antics and maybe even feel inspired to face their own back-to-school jitters. 

This heartwarming and humorous tale is about a young boy who finds himself attending a school for animals by mistake. He learns valuable lessons about friendship and acceptance as he navigates this unexpected environment. This delightful story is perfect for kindergarten through second-grade children and will ease any back-to-school jitters.  This is a must-have for all classroom libraries!

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #5:

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

This colorfully illustrated book shows that it's possible to be true to oneself while adapting to new social situations.

As the first day of school approaches, Vanessa feels anxious about fitting in with her classmates. She wears a special outfit that reflects her unique personality, but unfortunately, it doesn’t go over well with her peers. To make matters worse, she struggles to write her name and decides to take on a classmate’s name instead. Vanessa keeps her struggles to herself, but the next day she learns something special about her own name.

Through Vanessa’s story, author Vanessa Brantley-Newton teaches young readers about self-identity and inclusivity. This colorfully illustrated book shows that it’s possible to be true to oneself while adapting to new social situations. Parents and teachers can use this book as a tool to teach children about embracing their individuality and navigating new environments.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #6:

What Should Danny Do? School Day (The Power to Choose Series) by Adir and Ganit Levy

Interactive Back to School Read Aloud

Get your kids excited for the new school year with Danny’s latest adventure! In this interactive book, children get to decide how Danny’s day at school will end. With eight different possible endings, kids will love being in control of the story and seeing the consequences of their choices. And parents and teachers will appreciate the valuable lessons woven throughout the book. Join Danny on his “Choose Your Own Story” adventure and see if you can reach all eight endings!

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #7:

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

Back-to-School Read-Alouds for 2023

Being unique can be challenging, especially in a new environment like a classroom. It’s natural to feel self-conscious when you don’t look or sound like everyone else. But sometimes, the things that make us different can bring us together. Parents, teachers, and caregivers can use this story as a tool to start conversations about acceptance and inclusion.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #8:

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad

A powerful story about the first day of school.

Faizah is excited for the first day of school, especially because her older sister Asiya will be wearing her hijab for the first time. Asiya’s hijab is a beautiful shade of blue, reminiscent of the ocean. However, not everyone at school understands or appreciates the significance of the hijab, and Faizah must find the strength to stand up against hurtful comments and attitudes. Despite the challenges, Faizah is determined to make the most of her first day of school and show the world the beauty of her family’s traditions.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #9:

Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathman

The children's book "Ruby the Copycat" tells the story of a new student who tries to fit in by copying everything her classmate Angela does.

The children’s book “Ruby the Copycat” tells the story of a new student who tries to fit in by copying everything her classmate Angela does. However, Angela becomes frustrated with Ruby’s behavior. With the help of their teacher, the children learn the importance of being unique and embracing their individuality. This story can be used to encourage students to reflect on their unique qualities, both inside and out. Students can build confidence and develop a sense of self-worth by identifying and celebrating their strengths.

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #10:

I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook

 This book is a great discussion starter on strategies students can use when they begin to feel restless.

In I Have Ants in My Pants, author Julia Cook addresses the common struggle many kids face when controlling their wiggles. The main character, Louis, can’t seem to sit still, no matter how hard he tries. He accidentally kicks his friend during story time, can’t stand still in line, and wiggles in his seat at the movie theater. Despite being told he has “ants in his pants,” Louis doesn’t understand what that means. His mom explains that it just means he wiggles a lot and teaches him a special tool called the Wiggle Dance to help him control his impulses. This book is a great discussion starter on strategies students can use when they begin to feel restless. 

Favorite Back to School Read Aloud #11:

How Full is Your Bucket? By Tom Rath

A powerful book to teach students about kindness and empathy.

The concept of being a “bucket filler” is a simple yet powerful way to teach children about kindness and empathy. The idea is that everyone has an invisible bucket that can be filled or emptied depending on the interactions they have with others. In the book How Full Is Your Bucket?

For Kids, the main character Felix learns to be a great bucket filler by being kind and considerate to his classmates, teachers, and family members. By filling someone else’s bucket, he also fills his own and experiences the joy of making others feel good. It’s a valuable lesson for children (and adults) to learn about the importance of being kind and spreading positivity.

Did you discover any new back-to-school read-alouds to add to your collection? Let me know which is your favorite back-to-school read-alouds so I can add it to my list.

Check out these posts for more back-to-school ideas and activities.

Back-to-School Activities and Freebies

21 Back to School Freebies for First and Second Grade

Back-to-School Read-Alouds: The Top 13 Choices for Classrooms

My Top 5 Activities for First Day of School for Second Grade

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