Books to Build Classroom Community

These lesson plans and activities are perfect for the beginning of the school year. 

We are thrilled to introduce our new line of read-alouds. We have enjoyed using interactive read-alouds in our classrooms so much, we decided to extend our read-aloud curriculum especially for Kindergarten. Each read-aloud includes rigorous text dependent questions, differentiated graphic organizers, response to text writing activities, a craftivity, and detailed lesson plans to help you meet several core standards while maintaining your tradition of reading aloud for pleasure. You will guide students to use evidence from the text to deepen their understanding of the story and respond in meaningful ways. Below are some highlights of the perfect back-to-school books for Kindergarten, which we have included in our September back-to-school read-aloud bundle.

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry

We fell in love with Stick and Stone the second we came across it at our public library. All three of us had a copy shipped to our homes before returning it. This book can’t help but make you smile. Stick and Stone become life-long friends when Stick stands up for Stone as the bully, Pinecone taunts him. At first glance, we weren’t sure if this text was complex enough for a close read extended over several days. After reading it, we realized the rhyming text and illustrations work harmoniously together to tell the story. Our strategic lesson plans cover many Common Core standards through the use of deeper text dependent questions that focus on how the text and illustrations work together. There are many parts of the story worth revisiting to discuss why the author made certain decisions about text structure. There are also multiple opportunities to make inferences about characters and events using the illustrations. This book is a great springboard to talk to students about friendship. Students complete a story map, analyze phrases, decipher character feelings by studying the text and illustrations, and write ways to “stick” with their friends.

Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border

Peanut Butter and Cupcake is another great book for building classroom community at the beginning of the year.  We chose it because it has a simple plot that is easy to for kids to comprehend and practice retelling.  Its cute message is a perfect springboard for talking about friendship.  The darling photographs and rhythm make it a fun read for kids. Kindergartners and first graders are sure to remember this book all year long. During the first lesson, students complete a simple story map and make stick puppets to practice retelling. In the second lesson, students revisit and discuss the humorous phrases for better understanding. On the third and fourth days students use what they learned from the story to write ways they can make friends at school. They also complete a cute peanut butter and jelly craft to accompany the writing.

The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf

The Crayon Box That Talked is a wonderful story about appreciating each other’s differences. At the beginning of the story the crayons don’t like each other because they are different. Then, a little girl buys the box of crayons, takes them home, and draws a picture using all of the colors. The crayons realize they are each unique, but it takes all of them to make the picture complete. They learn to get along and appreciate each other for their differences. This is another great conversation starter for the beginning of the year. As you dig into the text with your class, students will discuss how the class is similar to the box of crayons, complete several response to text activities, and work on a collaborative art project.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus

 Leo the Late Bloomer is an old favorite. This book is about a little lion who hasn’t learned how to read, write, speak, and eat like all of his friends. His dad gets worried because he hasn’t bloomed yet, but his mom knows he will bloom in his own time and they just need to be patient. Leo eventually learns to read, write, speak, and eat just like all of his friends. This is a great book to get students thinking about things they can already do and how they want to bloom this year in school.

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Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton

These back-to school read-alouds wouldn’t be complete without Splat the Cat.  Kindergarteners and first graders can relate to Splat, who has the first day of school jitters.  He’s especially nervous that he won’t make friends so he hides his pet mouse, Seymour in his lunchbox and brings him to school. His teacher Mrs. Wimpydimple teaches important lessons about cats but Splat doesn’t understand why cats chase mice.  When the milk cupboard gets stuck, Seymour saves the day and convinces the cats that they “don’t chase mice.”  Splat is thrilled that his new friends love his best friend Seymour.  His can’t wait for his second day of school.  Splat the Cat is a perfect springboard for reflecting and writing about feelings the first week of school.

You can purchase each of these read-alouds individually or as a bundle from our TPT store. Teaching with this bundle will help you meet many more Core Standards during your read-aloud time and have meaningful conversations about classroom community, which will benefit you and your class all year long.

We hope you have a great school year!

-The Core Coaches