One of my favorite ways to prepare for the new school year is setting up my bookshelf with my favorite back to school books.
These 10 books are tried and true in my own classroom and are both teacher and student approved! #winning
Ahhh, back to school! Some people call me crazy, but it is my FAVORITE time of the school year. I love setting up my classroom for success.
In the first few weeks of school, I define “success” as a positive classroom climate: students know their responsibilities, they are excited to be here, and they can’t wait to learn.
I use books to build understanding between my students and me. We can build our expectations together. I find this works much better than sitting them down and talking at them.
Books give a common ground to have important conversations like:
👉 Why should I listen when someone else is talking?
👉 It is okay if someone thinks differently from me?
👉 Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we handle them that matters.
…and SO many more!
10 Back to School Books I LOVE
Louis, the main character in this book, has very important thoughts. (Don’t we all? 😂) He has such a hard time keeping these thoughts to himself that it can get him in trouble.
Do you ever feel this way? I SURE do. Sometimes I just can’t help the lava flow from my own mouth.
Expecting students to get this right from day one without talking about it is just setting us all up for failure. Reading this book before setting expectations for talking can help students identify times when it’s perfectly acceptable to talk and times when they should wait.
Is there a cuter book out there about manners? I don’t think so. Mr. Rabbit is VERY concerned when he sees a family of otters is moving in next door. He doesn’t know anything about otters!
Mr. Owl advises Mr. Rabbit: treat them the way you want to be treated.
Mr. Rabbit thinks about all of the things he wants a good neighbor to do: say please and thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry. Most of all: be kind. (Wow. What a lesson for all of us!)
Is there better book out there about manners? I don’t think so. (Okay, maybe, but this is definitely my favorite!) Kids are enamored by the style this book is written in and can really relate to the characters. It’s a winner in my classroom!
This is the book I pull of the shelf when I start to see my kids really watching each other. Maybe they see another kid coloring really nicely or going across the monkey bars like a pro.
Before they start to think “I need to be more like ____,” I want to reassure them that they are perfect just the way they are.
Spoon thinks that he’s perfect at first, but then he sees Knife, Fork, and Chopsticks and they can all do different things than him. In the end, Spoon learns that they all have a little something that makes them special, including him!
This book is a favorite in many classrooms for good reason: it teaches students to be themselves and own their little quirks.
Camilla, the main character, is so worried about what other people will think of her love of lima beans that she breaks out in a terrible case of stripes.
No one can quite figure out what is wrong (though many people try and make her stripes even worse!) and Camilla is miserable. She doesn’t feel better until she really accepts herself.
This is a must read at the beginning of the school year. With so many new kids in one classroom, we want to encourage them to continue to be unique. A positive classroom community is only possible when everyone is comfortable to be themselves.
(Bonus: A Bad Case of Stripes is read aloud online by Sean Astin. I always read it myself the first time but it’s fun to hear it read by someone else, too!)
This book is such a sweet introduction to a school day. A little boy takes his mouse to school and so many fun adventures ensue. My students love to see what the mouse wants to do next.
I keep this on my “back to school bookshelf” (read: white board marker tray 🤣) to read if we ever have a few minutes to spare in our day.
I love, love, love all of these books by Laura Numeroff! We have a little joke in my house – my husband calls me the mouse! “If Lauren gets a new purse she will want a new wallet to go with it….” 🤨🙄😂 Way to take my love of picture books and use it against me, LOL!
There are several books in this series that we read throughout the year. (If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, If you Take a Mouse to the Movies, If you Give a Dog a Donut, just to name a few!) They love to listen to the familiar but new storyline with each new book we read!
Ah, tattling. The great nemesis of teachers. Josh, the main character in this story, has a big problem with tattling on EVERYONE about EVERYTHING. He learns a tough lesson when his tongue becomes long, yellow and itchy. #yuck
One of the hardest lessons for kids to learn is the difference between “tattling” and “telling.” This book does an excellent job of differentiating the two in a way that is meaningful and easy to remember for even our littlest students.
Did you know that David Shannon, the author of the “David” books wrote his first one when he was 5 years old?! Every page said “No, David!” I bet we can guess what he was used to hearing everywhere he went.
We can also probably picture what he was doing everywhere he went, too 😉
This book is an excellent reminder to ME as I read it to my students: every kid misbehaves sometimes. Every kid struggles to follow the rules sometimes. Every kid is special and deserves an awesome teacher. #truth
I like to read this book to my students to assure them of all of those things I want to remember myself. Our goal is to do the best we can each day.
It’s all good when you’re reading a Pete the Cat book. I always have a few students who just can’t get enough of him! This book is perfect for introducing the new places in our school.
I save this book for a few days into the school year when I see that students may be getting overwhelmed. Pete gives us the perfect way to handle a lot of new experiences at one time: we keep movin’, and groovin’, and singing our song.
Students love Pete’s cool vibe. We read all of these books at some point in the year but this one is the first!
Your students will get a kick out of Penelope’s plight as she realizes that (a) her human classmates are delicious and (b) she may not be the top of the food chain.
This super funny book is a great introduction to boundaries. My number one goal (during the first few weeks of school especially!) is for my students to be kind and respectful to one another. Learning to respect one another’s boundaries is the first step towards that goal.
I’m ending this list with one of my favorite new books. Do you think your kids know what the word “empathy” means? It is never too early in the year to introduce the concept and begin to build it within your classroom.
I love this book because it encourages students to own up to their mistakes and make good choices. Part of our classroom culture is understanding that it’s okay to make mistakes, everyone does!
All of these books have earned a special place on my bookshelf at the beginning of the year because they help me towards my goal of a positive climate.
I know there are SO many more back to school books I could add, but I thought you might have other things to do aside from reading my essay of a blog post. 🤪 But, if you do have 5 more minutes 😉 I have a whole post dedicated to 10 MORE books that I put on my shelf for the first day of school! #bookobsessed
Are there any more I should add to my shelf? Let me know below (just don’t tell my husband)! #iguessiamthemouse