What is the first book you read aloud to your students on the first day of school? In the past, my go-to picture book has been First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. However, that book’s popularity has soared immensely in the past few years and many of the students are familiar with it. There’s nothing wrong with reading it to them again. After all, they haven’t heard ME read it, but I think it’s important to have a few alternatives available. Here are some great books to have on hand for the first day of school!
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
I fell in love with this book the first time I read it. This is a picture book that needs to be shared in classrooms. All Are Welcome follows a group of children who are welcomed with open arms no matter their race, religion, or background. My favorite part: “We’re part of a community. Our strength is our diversity. A shelter from adversity. All are welcome here.” This book would be perfect for the first day of school!
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex
When your students are feeling nervous, it can be comforting to know that others are feeling that way, too. This story is told from the perspective of School, who is both nervous and excited about the first day of school since he doesn’t know what to expect. I love the relationship between School and Janitor in this story. My favorite part is when School asks Janitor to invite everyone back to the school for another day.
You can find activities to pair with this story here.
A Tiger Tail (or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School) by Mike Boldt
Many kids are nervous about the first day of school and Anya is one of them. Unfortunately, that is also the day she wakes to discover she has a tiger tail! Despite her best efforts to remove the tail, hide the tail, and even miss the bus, Anya makes it to school. The ending will make your students smile as they find that Anya fits right in! Reading this book on the first day will help set the tone that there is a place in your classroom for every student.
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
As I mentioned earlier, this was my go-to book to read on the first day of school. The story follows Sarah, who doesn’t want to get out of bed and start her first day at a new school. Students have always loved this story because they are surprised to discover that Sarah is the teacher. I love being able to share with students that teachers are nervous about the first day, too. If you choose to read this one, keep in mind the author also wrote a book for the last day of school, too!
Back-to-School Rules by Laurie Friedman
Back-to-School Rules is a great book to read before establishing your routines and expectations. This rhyming story has a humorous way of explaining all of the things you shouldn’t do at school. The final rule does remind students to have fun. This would be a great way to start a discussion on what your classroom should look and sound like each day.
Second Grade, Here I Come by D.J. Steinberg
I actually bought this book for my own daughter who is headed into second grade this fall. This rhyming story dives into all of the exciting things the class will be doing during the school year. It’s a great lead-in to discussing what exciting things you have in store for your own students!
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
I couldn’t share a post about books for the first day of school without mentioning Chrysanthemum. If you aren’t familiar with this one, Chrysanthemum loves her name until the first day of school arrives and the other kids tease her about her name. This book is treasured in many primary classrooms because Kevin Henkes writes an honest story about teasing, self-esteem, and acceptance. Any student with a unique name is sure to find connections with this one.
Brand-New Pencils, Brand-New Books by Diane deGroat
This story would be a great choice for students entering first grade. It’s a little longer in length, but students can easily relate to Gilbert. He only knows one student in his class, he has a new teacher, and the rules are very different from Kindergarten. This book also has another in the series that works well for the last day of school.
First Day, Hooray! by Nancy Poydar
This book follows many different characters as they each get ready for the first day of school, but Ivy is the main character. I like how easily students can make connections with this one as Ivy worries about forgetting her lunch, missing the bus, and getting lost in the school. Ivy even shares her dreams about all of the things that could go wrong on the first day of school. Like a few others mentioned above, if you like this one, be sure to check out the book the author wrote for the last day of school, too.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
I added this one for fun simply because many teachers ask students to share something they did over summer break. This rhyming story tells an adventurous story of a summer trip out west. One that involves a train, cowboys, roping, riding, and even a stampede. Is it real? That will be up to your students to decide!
If you don’t already have a copy of these books in your classroom or school library, you can find them on Amazon. Click on any of the covers below to learn more.
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If you enjoy these book suggestions, you might want to check out my Instagram page. I usually share at least one book I love each week.