Starting the year with rich and engaging read alouds sets the tone for the rest of the year. These incredible back to school books will help you ease nerves, ignite excitement, build community, and promote a growth mindset.
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Back to School Books for the First Day
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
I love starting the year with this book and ending it with Last Day Blues. I just recently found the others in the series and love them as well: First Year Letters, Field-Trip Fiasco, and Big Test Jitters.
This School Year Will Be the Best! by Kay Winters
This is a fun book to begin a class conversation about what everyone’s hopes are for the school year.
Back to School Books About Names
Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
This is an excellent back to school book because it helps us see and share the beauty and musicality of each others’ names. It also helps you express your desire to pronounce your students’ names correctly and promotes students to speak up if theirs isn’t said quite right.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Unhei, the new kid at school, is embarrassed by her name because it is difficult to pronounce and tells the class that she is going to choose a new name. She is encouraged by a classmate to keep her own name after he learned that it had a deeper meaning.
Back to School Books to Build Community
Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen
This sweet book is wonderful for building a sense of community in the classroom. Plus, the author is a 2nd grade teacher! You can find her on Instagram @lifebetweensummers. You should definitely go check her out! She shares some amazing ideas.
Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor
This book has my heart y’all. It teaches kids to celebrate that we all have unique abilities to share with the world. I honestly can’t do it justice here. You really just need to go check it out.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
This book is a must read during back to school. It’s the perfect way to start conversations with kids about how we don’t always get that second chance to show kindness, making out decisions about how we treat others the first time around all the more important.
Say Something by Peggy Moss
Peggy Moss shows kids that it’s not enough to just not be the one that’s being mean in this book. It’s great for starting conversations about standing up for one another.
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
This book is perfect for starting conversations about empathy and kindness. It is more accessible than the novel Wonder, which would be more appropriate after building your readers up a bit.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
I LOVE THIS BOOK. But really, I love everything by Jacqueline Woodson. The Day You Begin shows our students that we all feel like outsiders from time to time and that it’s so important to not be afraid to show who we are. When we reach out and share our stories, we find ways to connect and celebrate each other.
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
This adorable book is perfect for promoting self love and confidence. It is a lower level book, but I just love it too much (and I think your students will, too) to not include it in this list.
Back to School Books to Promote Growth Mindset
The Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi
This uplifting book is a great introduction to having a growth mindset and the Power of Yet.
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
This book is particularly helpful for our little perfectionists because it shows how mistakes can be made into something beautiful.
Back to School Chapter Books
How to Be Cool in the Third Grade by Betsy Duffey
This is a fun and quick chapter book that tells an important story about a boy who learns there is so much more to being “cool” than he thought. It’s very relatable to incoming third graders.
Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli
Jerry Spinelli’s fascinating characters are sure to keep your students engaged with this book. Besides it being such a fun read, I love it because it teaches an important lesson about being sincere when doing good things and treating others nicely.
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes
This spunky third grader is new in town and is determined to make a place for herself. Her upbeat attitude will have your students rooting for her throughout the book.