BookNook Insights

16 Great Back to School Books to Read With Your Students



What books will you read your first week back?  The first books you read with your students give you the opportunity to discuss all those “Back to School” feelings and set the tone for the learning environment you want to create with them this school year.  I like a balanced mix of “Back to School” books and books that encourage values I feel are especially important in my classroom. Check out the list below for my favorite books to kick the year off!

School’s First Day of School | by Adam Rex

This is one of my new favorite back-to-school reads.  It’s a book about the first day of school, written from the point of view of a newly built school that has never had students before.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? | by Carol McCloud

Prompts conversation about the importance of kindness and how it makes you and others feel.

First Day Jitters | by Julie Danneberg

It is a charming and familiar story of first-day nerves that ends with a twist.  It’s not just the students that get nervous about a new school year…

The Book With No Pictures | by B.J. Novak

It's a hilarious book that proves books don’t need pictures to be fun.  This book is great for children transitioning from picture books to books with more text and fewer or no pictures.

David Goes to School | by David Shannon

David shows readers what you are not supposed to do at school, which makes it a great book to bring up school rules naturally and why they are important to follow.

H is for Happy – An Emoji ABC Book | by Evan Nimke

When I found this book last year, it quickly became one of my new favorites.  It uses emojis to discuss social-emotional language from A to Z. Being able to identify and communicate feelings is a powerful tool for children that will help them both socially and academically.

Beautiful Oops! | by Barney Saltzberg

This book teaches that it’s okay to make mistakes and that mistakes can be marvelous learning experiences.  This book is especially great to read before trying a new type of project in class. It encourages perseverance and creativity, two key skills in 21st-century learning.

I’m A Frog | by Mo Willems

This book is a great conversation starter for discussing what imagination and pretend play are.

A Bad Case of the Stripes | by David Shannon

This book is about a girl who is worried about what others think of her.  This story engages students in conversation about learning to be yourself and being comfortable in your own skin.

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses | by Kimberly and James Dean

The Pete the Cat series is all about being positive and looking on the bright side.  This book from the series, in particular, is great for various ages.

What Should Danny Do? | by Ganit and Adir Levy

An interactive book that is written in a “Choose Your Own Story” style.  The reader helps the main character, Danny, make choices throughout his day that are choices children face on a daily basis.  This is a book you can read many times, and children enjoy seeing how making different decisions for Danny changes the story. This book is great for empowering children to take ownership of the decisions they make.

The Kissing Hand | by Audrey Penn

This classic is great to read for a pre-first day meet and greet or on the first day of school.  Separation can be very difficult for some children and parents, and this story does a beautiful job of bringing those feelings to light and giving comfort.

My Mouth Is a Volcano | by Julia Cook

This book shows what it means to interrupt and how it can be frustrating and gives us the opportunity to discuss why we try not to interrupt others as well as techniques to help us wait our turn.

The Paper Bag Princess | by Robert Munsch

This story defies the typical princess stereotype and shows that princesses can be heroes, too.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar | by Eric Carle

A familiar story that is great for reviewing the days of the week.

Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a BIG Deal: A Tale of Tattles | by Jeanie Franz Ransom

This book helps children figure out the difference between problems they can work out themselves and problems they need adult assistance with.


More Great Back-to-School Reads:

Chrysanthemum | by Kevin Henke

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? | by Jane Yolen

What if Everybody Did That? | Ellen Javernick

Pete the Cat: Too Cool For School | by Kimberley and James Dean

The Day the Crayons Quit | by Drew Daywalt

She Persisted – 13 American Women Who Changed the World | by Chelsea Clinton

If You Take a Mouse to School | by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Rosie Revere, Engineer | by Andrea Beaty

Maddi’s Fridge | by Lois Brandt, illustrated by Vin Vogel

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School | Deborah Diesen

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse | by Kevin Henkes

Dinosaur vs. School | by Bob Shea

The Interrupting Chicken | by David Ezra Stein

Samantha Burke is a Bay Area educator who is passionate about teaching literacy and social-emotional development.  She is a credentialed reading specialist who has worked with children for ten years and enjoys creating innovative learning opportunities for students and resources for parents through her tutoring company, Valley of the Moon Learning.