Favorite Read Alouds for Back to School

Read Alouds for the Beginning of the Year Pin

Back to school is such a special (and important) time! Everything is new, everyone is excited, and the school world is so FULL of possibilities! 

Choosing just the right picture books to read aloud during this exciting time can help you set the tone in your classroom and get the year started off on the right foot.

Here are 10 of my favorite back-to-school read alouds that will help lay the groundwork for a successful year! 

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1. Songbird 

Songbird by Jenn Larson (that’s me!) is a story about Sydney Sparrow, a small bird with an out-of-the-ordinary dream!  After hearing the New York Philharmonic Orchestra play in Central Park near her home, Sydney decides that she wants to become a conductor! Even though no one else believes in her dream, Sydney finds the courage to believe in herself. Sydney works hard and is determined, but can she make her dream come true?

This is a perfect book to read at the beginning of the year. It’s a great starting point for a discussion about dreaming big and believing in yourself!


2. Thank You, Mr. Falker

This one is a true story about author Patricia Polacco’s struggle with learning to read as a child, and how one special teacher made a huge difference for her.

If you want to send a subtle message to the struggling learners in your class, to let them know that there is hope, no matter what learning struggles they have had in the past… then you’ll definitely want to include this one! This book will also let students know that you’re there to be their Mr. Falker!


3. The Book With No Pictures 

Be warned: this book is super silly, and it may not work for everyone.

The purpose of this book is to show that a book with no pictures can still be fun, and boy does it deliver!

If you are the kind of teacher who likes to have some lighthearted fun in your classroom and you want to let students know that, definitely take a look at this one! (Be prepared to use all of your different read aloud voices with this one.)


4. The Gruffalo

On the surface, this sweet story about a clever mouse who tricks all of the animals in the forest who want to eat him for lunch has NOTHING to do with the first day of school. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll see that it’s an amazing way to spark a discussion about the power of believing in yourself!

What could be more important than that at the beginning of a new school year?

Plus, break this read-aloud back out before you start your persuasive writing unit! No one said you can’t read a book aloud twice! 🙂


5. The Day the Crayons Quit

Poor Duncan, he’s just a kid who wants to draw, but all of his crayons “quit,” because of various complaints they had about how he was using (or not using) them.

I love to use this story as inspiration to talk about how we can deal with things that bother us. In the book, the crayons were annoyed so they quit, but that won’t be an option for kids in our class!

You can talk about big problems versus small annoyances, and have kids brainstorm appropriate ways to deal with each.

I love a good example of how not to solve your problems!


6. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

Beatrice is a teacher’s dream…conscientious, careful, methodical. Could she be a bit too perfect? Her brother, Carl, on the other hand, is quite the opposite.

This is the story of what happens when Beatrice finally makes a mistake and how she learns to deal with it. It’s a great way to start off a discussion about growth mindset and how EVERYONE makes mistakes.


7. Diary of a Worm

This one is exactly what it sounds like, a diary written by a worm. He shares good things and bad things about friends, school, family, and more.

I love to use this book as an example for writing about our own lives. Worm writes about tons of things from his life, they are all small details but together they make an interesting story. This is a great mentor text to get students thinking about using their own experiences in their writing.

Plus, it’s a must-have if you run writer’s workshop in your class!


8. Ada Twist, Scientist

If you are lucky enough to be teaching science this year, don’t miss this awesome read aloud!

Ada Twist is a little girl who is curious about EVERYTHING! Sometimes her curiosity (and the chaos that often follows) gets her into trouble. In the end, Ada learns how to harness her curiosity and use it to answer some of her questions…which often lead to MORE questions!


9. My Name is Yoon 

This story is about a little girl named Yoon, who recently moved to America from Korea. Yoon is just starting school, and she doesn’t want to learn to write her name in English. (Teachers, fair warning, this story will pull on your heartstrings.)

This book does a great job of exploring the relationship between a teacher and a struggling student. At first, it seems like the teacher is pretty hard on little Yoon, but in the end, it becomes clear how much the teacher cares about Yoon and wants her to succeed.


10. Because You Are My Teacher

In this heartwarming tale, a teacher takes her students on amazing adventures all around the world! I love to read this one to lead into a discussion about how books can really take us places, and how excited I am to go on a learning journey together this year!

If you run reader’s workshop in your classroom, you’ll likely want to kick of the year with this book! (PS – It’s also a great discussion starter for how we visualize stories in our minds through the use of the author’s words.)




Are you in need of some activities to spice up your back-to-school routine? Take a peek at these resources that’ll help you do just that!

Back to School Activities for 3rd - 5th Grades

“This was so helpful this week! I am really grateful I bought this. My kids loved being able to get up and play the would you rather, Stand up if, and 4 corners activities. We didn’t get through all of them either, so now I have backups for brain breaks and downtime!” – Kimberly M., 4th Grade Teacher

Back to School Procedures Game and Posters

“A great help for setting expectations at the beginning of the year and a great way to review throughout!” – Tana, Upper Elementary Teacher


Interested in even more ideas for Mentor Texts? Take a look at these posts!


Thank you so much for stopping by!

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