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  • Writer's pictureAlways Upper Elementary

5 Read Alouds for the First Week of School (#3 will surprise you!)

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

My love for picture books all started because of my sweet mom. Growing up, she would read dozens of picture books to me and my sister every night. When I say dozens, I mean DOZENS. We would read for hours together every single night! Not only did I love and cherish this time together, but I also fell in love with picture books.

As a teacher and adult, I still adore picture books! I especially love filling the first week of school with high-quality read alouds. I specifically choose books that foster community, spark deep conversation, and remind my students how enjoyable reading can be.

As you are thinking about how to structure your first week of school, you may want to add some of these into your schedule!

Here are my top 5 favorite books to read during the first week of school:

This is my favorite book for the actual first day of school. The overall message of the book is that everyone gets nervous on the first day of school–even teachers! This book is funny, honest, and has a creative twist at the end of the story. There is also a companion text called, Last Day Blues. It is written by the same author and has the same characters, but is specifically written for the last day of school. Both books are perfect for your first and last day read alouds! Click here to get this book for your classroom!

Our Class is a Family is about creating a positive, respectful classroom community. The author highlights the fact that we spend a considerable amount of time at school, so we should make our classroom as enjoyable as possible by treating each other with respect. This book explains that if everyone works together to show kindness, then the whole class will benefit. Our Class is a Family has the potential to spark lots of productive conversation about cultivating a respectful classroom community. That being said, it would work well to read this book before creating a classroom agreement or expectations! Click here to get this book for your classroom!

This one might surprise you, but hear me out! As educators, we try to actively teach students how to accept one another’s differences. One aspect that makes us each unique is our hair! So, we need to teach our students how to accept each other’s different hair styles! Think about it. Throughout the year, students are constantly changing their hair. Whether a student gets a drastic haircut, changes their hair to a different style, gets new braids, or dyes their hair, there are always changes being made to our student’s hair.

Last year, I had an incident happen between six of my students where feelings were deeply hurt because of comments made about each other’s hair. I ended up canceling the lessons I had planned for the day and we all read Hair Love together. After we read the book together as a class, I had students reflect on the story individually. Then, we had a whole group discussion about how we could apply the book’s theme to our own classroom and interactions with each other. After our discussion, we watched the short film about Hair Love to reinforce the moral of the story and to interact with the book in a different way (the link is here if you are interested!). This all happened in September. From that point forward, whenever a student’s hair style or cut or color was mentioned, I would say, “Amazing! Hair love!” My students latched onto the phrase, “Hair love!” too and started saying it to each other as well. The book Hair Love gave us a foundation to have positive conversations about each other’s hair. The reality is that hair is a huge part of our identities! Students (and all of us!) are sensitive about our hair (or lack thereof!) because it is a part of us. It is a part of our identities. Hair Love helped me teach my students how to accept each other’s differences and celebrate self-expression. I found it so valuable that I will definitely be reading this book during the first week of school forevermore! Click here to get this book for your classroom!

This is a great read aloud with such colorful illustrations! The message of this book is about welcoming everyone into the classroom and celebrating different backgrounds. I personally think this book is great for Kindergarten through 4th grade. It is also a shorter book, so it is easy to fit into your schedule or use when you finish a lesson early! Click here to get this book for your classroom!

The Magical Yet is all about having a growth mindset! This book illustrates how everyone goes through challenges and makes mistakes. The theme of this book is that we all mess up and that is okay–it is how we respond to adversity that matters!

Hard work and perseverance pay off!

My favorite part about this book is that it gives meaning to the word YET. That way, I can help my students rewrite their negative self-talk. I can help them change, “I’ll never understand fractions” into “I don’t understand fractions YET. I will keep trying, even though it’s hard.” If I am able to help my students rewrite their negative self-talk, then that is an incredible win! Click here to get this book for your classroom!

If you end up reading any of these books to your class, let me know what you think by sending me a message over on Instagram @always.upper.elementary or tagging me in your posts! I would love to hear about which books you enjoyed! :)

Also, make sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers at this link! You will be the first to know about my sales, freebies, and newest products.

Happy teaching!

Ms. Ringold

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