The classroom climate is extremely important for students and for teachers too. As teachers, we want our classroom to have a positive atmosphere, to be a place where students exhibit kindness, work cooperatively, are helpful and polite, and perhaps most importantly, are respectful.
All of these things set the stage for learning. They also make the classroom a place where students feel comfortable, accepted, and safe.
One of the ways we can build classroom climate is through read alouds. These picture books, coupled with class discussions, are a great way to reinforce the way we want our classroom to be.
Here are ten of my favorite read alouds to nurture classroom climate.
1. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
This book is a great one to show how every little kind thing that we do, has a positive impact. The story is about Mary, who is just an ordinary girl. One day on her way to her ordinary school, Mary decides to pick some blueberries to give to her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop.
This small act of kindness creates a chain reaction that multiplies around the world! Love this book to encourage kindness and even as a springboard to start a Random Acts of Kindness Day, Week, or Month!
2. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
This book is all about friendship! It encourages kids to give other kids a chance and to get to know them before deciding they won’t be friends. The story takes place in the summertime when Jeremy Ross moves down the street.
Right away, the narrator declares that he is his number one enemy. When the narrator’s dad tricks him into spending the day with the new kid, they learn to be friends.
3. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
I love this story which encourages kids to be accepting of each other, regardless of differences. In this book, Unhei is the new kid in school. Her family just moved from Korea!
She’s not only worried about being the new kid but is afraid no one will be able to pronounce her name. Unhei tells the class she’ll announce her name the next week and her classmates decide to fill a glass jar with name suggestions.
As the days go by, Unhei feels encouraged by her new friends and decides to choose her real name. In the end, she teaches her class to pronounce it too (Yoon – Hey).
4. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
One of the lessons which is important to me is that we all make mistakes and that it’s okay! This book focuses on a girl who is a maker of things.
She “tinkers and hammers and measures, she smoothes and wrenches and fiddles, she twists and tweaks and fastens.”
Unfortunately, when she decides to make the most magnificent thing, she fails over and over again. After getting really mad, she finally quits! Her dog convinces her though, to take a walk and cool down. After her walk, she is able to finish her project successfully!
Besides the making mistakes is part of life theme, it’s a great example of perseverance too!
5. The Potato Chip Champ by Maria Dismondy
This story tells about the value of friendship and kindness. It is about two boys, Champ and Walter, who don’t seem to have much in common at first.
Champ is somewhat of a bully towards Walter but when Champ is injured, Walter shows him what it means to be a true friend through sharing, empathy, and kindness.
6. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
I have always loved this book from the minute it was introduced to me. Although the story tells of a baby bat who accidentally falls into a bird’s nest and is raised by the mama bird, the true message behind the story is one of acceptance.
In a classroom, each person is unique, with different abilities, different backgrounds, different experiences, and world views, but in many ways, we share commonalities. The goal is to promote respect for all regardless of what differences we may have.
7. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
This book highlights the diversity we may see in our classrooms regarding different family situations and different economic situations. In the book, Jeremy lives with his grandmother and the family doesn’t have much money.
When everyone at school is wearing black high-tops with two white stripes, Jeremy wants them too. His grandmother explains that he needs winter boots and that these shoes are only a want that they can’t afford.
In the end, Jeremy resigns himself to the fact that he won’t get the shoes but he can still enjoy the friendships of his classmates. This is a great story of being happy with who you are and what you have, and of friendship.
8. Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
I don’t know about you, but I see a huge need for better manners in the classroom these days! This book is all about a not so sweet cake who is in serious need of some manner lessons.
The book shows examples and non-examples of cakes and surprisingly cyclops (what???) saying please and thank you and showing good manners. The book is a little absurd but gets the point across in an entertaining way! Great way to promote respect through manners!
9. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
This book was originally written in 1944 and is still relevant today. The book tells of a poor Polish immigrant girl named Wanda, who wears the same faded blue dress to school every day. She is shamed by some of her classmates for this and called a liar since she tells the girls that she has 100 dresses at home.
A girl named Maddie feels bad for Wanda but does nothing to help her. When Wanda moves away, Maddie realizes she should have stood up for her. A very powerful story of taking action and standing up for what is right.
10. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
This is one of my favorite read alouds! It tells the story of Brian who is a quiet kid that no one notices. He’s never invited to join in groups or games or even birthday parties.
Finally, a new boy in class, Justin, changes everything when he offers Brian the gift of friendship! This book is an excellent one to discuss kindness, compassion, and making sure to include others.
One fun part of this book is that the illustrations of Brian change from gray to brighter colors as his life gets better.
I hope these read alouds have given you a few new ideas for some mentor texts to share with your students.
Besides mentor texts, I love to do other social-emotional activities in the classroom.
This Kindness FREEBIE includes discussion task cards, a self-reflection quiz, a mentor text list, kindness activities page, a Random Acts of Kindness Journal, a character trait poster, kindness awards, and detailed teacher notes, click here:
If you’d like to take a look at the very complete Character Education Unit, which has enough materials to help you teach Character Education for the entire year, click here:
To read more about how I incorporate character education in the classroom, here’s a post I wrote that you might like:
Incorporating Character Education in the Classroom
Thanks so much for stopping by!