Choosing a great back to school read-aloud is important for students and teachers alike!
Not only do these fun stories entertain, but they help students process and deal with the fears and anxieties that go along with beginning school for the first time, transitioning to a new grade, or starting at a new school.
Below you will find some of my favorite back to school read alouds for lower elementary along with a suggested activity for each.
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Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat is a kid favorite and at the top of my list for back-to-school read alouds! Pete is headed into his first day of school in his cool, red school shoes. As he travels through his first day, kids can follow along with Pete as he discovers all of the different rooms/places within a school (e.g. library, playground, lunchroom). This book includes repeated phrases that kids can sing along to and there are tie-in resources available at http://www.petethecatbooks.com/
Have students draw a picture of their favorite place at school and/or color Pete’s school shoes.
Splat the Cat: Back to School Splat based on the stories by Rob Scotton
This book is a great way to get students talking about their summer vacations! Splat the Cat heads into his first day of school excited to see his friends and teachers. At the end of the day he is no longer excited because his first homework assignment requires him to pick JUST ONE of the super things he did over the summer and bring it for show-and-tell. The remainder of the book follows Splat as he recounts his summer vacation with his little sister tagging along for every event. In the end, Splat realizes that the best part of his summer was spending time with his sister and decides to bring her for show-and-tell.
Have students write about, draw, or orally share about their summer vacation.
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Sarah does not want to get out of bed. It’s her first day at a new school and she has many of the common fears that students experience on their first day. She worries about whether everyone will like her and what they will think of her. She makes up excuses as to why she can’t go: she says her head hurts and that she feels sick. When she finally gets out of bed, gets dressed, and makes it to school, the principal offers to take Sarah to her classroom. When they arrive, all of the other students are already in their seats and the principal introduces Sarah. This is when readers discover that Sarah is actually the teacher (not a student) and helps them to see that first day jitters are normal for students and teachers alike.
Have students draw and/or write about their school day morning routine. Give out first day of school certificates after reading.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro
Students are most likely familiar with this series and will enjoy this back to school twist. In this rendition, the old lady swallows a book, a pen, a pencil case, a ruler, a folder, some chalk, and a bookbag. The rhyming words and rhythm help to make this a fun and entertaining read aloud.
Read this book before talking about school supplies and the materials that students will need to bring in for the school year. Also, have students list and/or draw all of the school supplies swallowed by the old lady.
Click, Clack, Quack to School by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Farmer Brown receives a letter inviting him and his animals to be guests for the school’s Farm Day. Farmer Brown is very excited and talks to each of the animals about how they are expected to behave at school: no stomping, clomping, hooting, or hollering. The animals are on their best behavior on the way to school and Farmer Brown is so proud of them. Once they arrive, the school yard is quiet until the recess bell rings and all the students run out hooting and hollering. So, of course, the animals abandon their good behavior and stomp, clomp, hoot, and holler right along with the children. Get it here.
After reading, have students help brainstorm classroom guidelines/rules for the year.
Teacher tip: This post had many activity suggestions. Once you have the books, get a sticky note and write down the activity and stick it on the inside cover of the book. Any time you do the read aloud, you can remember the easy no-prep activity!
This post was written by my friend Erienne Jones. She is a former school librarian turned entrepreneur who continues to immerse herself in the world of books!