6 Must-Read Back to School Read-Alouds to Build Classroom Community

6 Back-to-School Read-Alouds that Build Classroom Community

These lesson plans will get your class discussing friendship, bullying, manners, kindness, self-assurance, perseverance, and growth mindset at the beginning of the year. 

We chose our first set of books for our read-aloud mini-lessons in September. We strategically chose books with back-to-school themes so we could integrate classroom community building activities with our read-alouds. We selected stories that were complex enough to lend themselves to span across 3-4 days. We plan to dive deep and cover many Common Core Literature Standards while also giving ourselves time to respond to the text with writing and art.

We wrote rigorous text dependent questions where students use evidence from the text to deepen their understanding of the stories. Questions cover 7-8 Common Core Literature standards in each book.  We created graphic organizers and writing in response to text activities to incorporate writing standards. We also incorporated an art piece to compliment each read-aloud and designed bulletin board headings to display the work.

Each lesson plan will guide us through 3-4 days of close reading. Each day we will read the book for a different purpose and students will complete a different activity.

We’re All Wonders by Raquel J. Palacio

This picture book is written by the same author that wrote the ‘Wonder’ series for upper elementary students. We are excited to bring the #choosekind movement into our younger grade classrooms this year! In this story, Auggie knows he is different from other children, yet he hopes that people can change the way they see, look with kindness and find the wonder in everyone! Students will create a flipbook of major events in the story then get up close and personal to discover more about Auggie’s character. Students will also pair up to write about the wonder they see in their partner. See the detailed 4 day We’re All Wonder lesson plans here.

  Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

This book about manners is a must have for the beginning of the year. It is a great way to start a conversation with students about treating otters the same way you’d like them to treat you. It introduces students to the golden rule in a playful way as Rabbit worries about how he will get along with his new neighbors, the otters.   As we dive into the text, students will have the opportunity to respond with activities and writing to ponder how they want others to treat them and how they should treat others. Click here to get your students thinking about manners at the beginning of the year. 

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell and I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont

Molly Lou Melon is a heartwarming story about a confident little girl who wins over Ronald Durkin, the school bully. The gorgeous illustrations and positive message of being true to yourself make this a must-read for back to school. This book is perfect for teaching kids about character traits. These 4 day lesson plans will help you teach all about character traits. We plan to compare and contrast Molly Lou and Ronald Durkin by analyzing how their characters changed throughout the story. We will then have kids draw and write a character map about themselves. I Like Myself is a simple humorous book is about a girl who likes herself no matter what.  Its silly rhyming words and illustrations deliver a powerful message of self-assurance.  We paired this book with Molly Lou Melon to discuss the topic of self-esteem and plan to have kids draw a self-portrait and write an “I Like Me” poem.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

We can’t say enough about this new picture book by Ashley Spires. This inspiring story presents the idea of perseverance and growth mindset to young kids. The little girl and her dog plan to build the most magnificent thing.  Along the way, things don’t turn out the way they plan. They fail and try again many times. Eventually, the girl becomes frustrated and quits when she slams her finger. Her dog convinces her to take a walk to rejuvenate. When they return, her renewed enthusiasm helps them achieve their goal and they finally build the most magnificent thing. This story is perfect for teaching a character’s response to events and challenges.  It is a great back to school read-aloud for teaching children to overcome difficult things. See more how we teach growth mindset, perseverance, character traits, and character’s response to events here. 

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

This heartfelt story brought us to tears as we empathized with Brian, the boy who feels invisible. He is sad and lonely at school until the new kid Justin asks him to join him and another boy for a class project. At the beginning of the story, Brian is drawn in black and white with the world around him in color, which symbolizes his isolation. As he feels more accepted and included, he becomes more colorful. You can learn more how we used these book to teach students empathy and open a discussion about ways to include others here. We plan to have kids illustrate comic strips depicting situations where they have opportunities to include others.

 Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

This is a wonderful story about a creative boy named Ramon, who loves to draw until he is teased by his older brother for the way his pictures look. The boy’s younger sister helps him learn to think “ish-ly” and focus on his creativity rather than getting things just right. This is such an important lesson for our students to learn at the beginning of the year. During these lessons our students will focus on the meaning of the suffix -ish: kind-of like, similar to, or creatively. They will explore drawing objects and feelings while creating poems in an “ish” way. To teach the literature core standards using Ish by Peter A. Reynolds click here. 

We would love to know what read-aloud titles do you enjoy using at the beginning of the year?

Do you want to make your back-to-school planning a breeze? This September Interactive Read-Aloud Lesson Plan Curriculum has been conveniently bundled just for you.

Click on the picture to be taken to our TpT store where you can see detailed previews for each title in this bundle.

Best of luck this school year!

-The Core Coaches

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