Read-alouds are a huge component of building classroom community during those first few weeks back to school. This year, with so many of us starting the school year remotely, they’ll be even more important.
In the list below, I’m sharing some of my favorite back to school read alouds to use with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to support discussions on community, kindness, empathy, and belonging. I hope you find some new books you’re excited to try!
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Okay, it’s all I can do to read this book aloud and not tear up.This is one of my all-time favorite books to read with students. I love that it addresses the feelings that so many of our students (and even staff) feel as the new kid at school. I especially love that it’s written directly to the reader and that it empowers the reader to celebrate what makes you you. And the illustrations are equally as beautiful as the words!
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
If you want to set expectations for how students treat each other from the very beginning of the school year, this is a great book to use. It’s all about a young boy named Brian who is left out of games by classmates and even ignored by his teacher. When a new student joins the class, Brian takes the opportunity to reach out to him, and a friendship begins. I love using this book to spark conversations about inclusivity and the golden rule!
Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
If you’re on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen lots of posts about this lovely book. This is a great one to use in the classroom to discuss respect, identity, and similar themes with your students.
I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids by Gabi Garcia
If there was ever a time we needed to start using positive affirmations, BTS 2020 is it. Even if you aren’t distance teaching this year, you and your students are still likely feeling the stress of teaching and learning during a pandemic. This book is a great way to introduce affirmations to your students (and to staff and families, too). I love the simplicity of this book and definitely think it’s one you can refer back to all year long.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
This is an amazing book to use to reinforce the message that all students are welcome in our classrooms and our schools. I love the way this book showcases and celebrates diversity and I just love how that phrase, “all are welcome here,” repeats throughout the book. By the end, your students will be saying it with you! Great way to deliver this important message to our students.
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander
Anything Kwame Alexander touches is gold, and this book is no exception! Vibrant art, interactive cut-outs, and lyrical poetry make this book a hit for discussing the importance and value of reading. Definitely a book to revisit to during a poetry unit, too!
Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
The last book I’m sharing today is an oldie but goodie. I love using this book to create some conversations about the types of relationships I want to have with students as their teacher.
There are SO many amazing books to share that it’s hard to narrow it down to my favorites, but I hope this list gives you some inspiration as you get started this school year. Keep in mind that you can read these books throughout your first month of school, not just the first day or week, as well as all year long!
If you have some favorites that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments!