25+ Back to School Books Teachers Should Read Aloud

Inside: Back to school books for teachers to read aloud at the beginning of the school year.

Back to school books for teacher to read aloud at the beginning of the school year
Apple image credit: Best Teacher Tools

My class grew quiet as I read aloud my new favorite book to them on the first day of school. I’d spent hours (yes, hours!) searching for fresh back-to-school books to read. I needed to start off with a story that made every student feel comfortable, and that projected just the right message about my classroom.

Would they love what I finally picked? I relaxed as I saw by their rapt expressions that they did.

If only I’d had this list back then. Okay, I’ve spent even more hours — weeks, really — compiling it, but now that it’s done I’m thrilled to have all the titles and quick summaries in one place.

I hope you’ll be thrilled too.

25+ Back to School Books

As you can see, I’ve organized this book list into useful categories for you. Whether you’re trying to set the tone on the first day of school, open a lesson on classroom rules, spark a character education discussion, or just hoping to make preschoolers or kindergartners more comfortable, you’ll find some excellent choices here.

(Disclosure: Books and Giggles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. All book title links in this carefully curated post are affiliate links.)

Back to School Books about Rules & Routines

When it comes to teaching rules and routines, it seems like there’s a book for everything. However, some stories are a little pushier than others. I think these choices get the point across more creatively, without being heavy-handed.

Back to School Books About Following the Rules

First up is Z Goes First: An Alphabet Story Z-to-A by Sean Lamb – you can talk about walking in line as well as about letters after reading this engaging alphabet book.

How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? by Jane Yolen – This engaging and simple read-aloud teaches little dinosaur lovers how to behave at school.

No Frogs in School book cover

No Frogs in School by A. LaFaye. This fun, silly book is an engaging opening to a lesson on classroom rules or even class pets. Bartholomew Botts brings a different pet to school each day. Each day the pet causes hilarious chaos.

The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten by Maureen Fergus – I spied this book in the library and knew right away it belonged on this list. A little girl gently explains to her mom the importance of rules. For example, she patiently explains why we use inside voices and don’t cut in line. Your students are sure to giggle along as you read.

Books about Specific Rules & Routines

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – If you mistreat your crayons, they might quit on you! This modern classic will bring giggles as you teach your students how to take care of their school supplies.

school's first day book cover

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex – Round out your lesson about how to respect the school building with this relatable back-to-school book where the school itself is the main character.

My Teacher’s Not Here! by Lana Button  – Prepare your class for unexpected substitute teachers with this sweetly illustrated, relatable story.

(Disclosure: I asked for and received a free review copy of this new book from the publisher. It was entirely my choice to include it in this list.)

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre – Hilarity ensues when a boy uses too much glue, in this kindergarten teacher favorite for the beginning of the school year.

RELATED:  Free Glue Activity for Put Me in the Zoo

My Mouth Is a Volcano! by Julia Cook – Help kids learn not to blurt out in class with this sensitive and engaging story.

Growth Mindset Books

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to teach students about developing a growth mindset.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – Start the school year with a growth mindset by reading aloud this delightful story about a girl who learns not to give up.

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett – I’d missed including this book on my first draft of this list, but as I was browsing back to school books one more time, my daughter Sophie insisted I include this one. It’s about a girl who’s obsessed with being perfect who learns the power of making mistakes.

Flight School by Lita Judge – If you talk about goal setting at the beginning of the year, this tubby penguin who wants to fly is a fun intro.

A Mighty Fine Time Machine by Suzanne Bloom – An aardvark and an armadillo persist and learn that reading can take you anywhere.

Back to School Character Education Books

Stories can go a long way in helping children understand abstract social-emotional concepts. These back to school books cover character education subjects including friendship, fairness, and anti-bullying.

RELATED BOOK LIST: Children’s Books about Friendship  – Lovable stories about making friends, being a good friend, and more.

Odd Velvet by Mary Whitcomb – I had a partner teacher once who read this every year on the first day of school. It’s an endearing long-ish story about the beauty of being different.

You Get What You Get by Julie Gassman – A squirrel learns that his teacher’s rule “you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit” applies both at school and at home.

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins – Making new friends at school is hard. It’s even harder when you’re a hungry little dinosaur, but Penelope Rex ultimately learns how in this funny book.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts – Even the smallest child in the school can stand up to a bully. Simple language and colorful illustrations make this book a standout.

I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien – Tells the stories of 4 immigrant children who learn to fit into their new school, and also have much to teach their classmates.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage To Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy – A relatable story about being different and seeing that everyone has feelings.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes – Open discussions about name-teasing with this perennial favorite. 

Another anti-bullying classic is One by Kathryn Otoshi – It’s a simple story with a powerful message.

RELATED – Invitation to play activity for the book One

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson is a beautiful book that helps children feel positive about being different.

First Day of School Books for Kindergarten or Preschool

Some children plunge head first into new experiences. Others cling desperately onto a parent’s legs, anxious to even step into your classroom. Help soothe their anxieties with these sweet and entertaining classic back to school books.

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney – Show your empathy with this sweet back to school classic about starting preschool.

RELATED: Llama Llama Print Awareness Activity

Another touching story is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn – A heartwarming, classic back to school book, about a raccoon whose mother’s kiss goes with him to school. My own kids loved this reassuring story.

Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman – Calm their nerves with this endearing story about a panda who’s nervous about starting school.

Last but not least is Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean (Illustrator), Eric Litwin (Author) – Pete is too cool to be nervous! Get kids up and moving, and introduce them to a favorite book character. There are lots of activities to go with this story too – I like this one.

Finally, in case you’re still here and wondering, the book I read my class that year was Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino.

I hope you found a few new favorite back to school books here. If I missed any of your old faves, I’d love to hear about them.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.