There is a plethora of wonderful children’s books available. Sometimes it’s hard to decide which ones to read and which ones to skip. The majority of children’s books that I have read have fallen into the “I LOVE THIS BOOK” column. I have also read some children’s books that I did not like, but they are definitely in the minority. These are some books that I read to my class every year at the beginning of the school year. Hopefully, you’ll find some that you didn’t know about and will love them too.
Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes, by Eric Litwin and James Dean: This is ALWAYS the first book that I read to my class. It tells the story of Pete the Cat on his first day of school. He visits the different areas of the school, taking his school shoes along. After we read this book, a note falls out of the book from Pete (I wrote it) and it tells the class to find him in the school. Each place that we visit has a clue to the next place to visit. It is a fun way to do a tour of the school. At the end, we are back in our classroom and Pete has left the building. They LOVE it!
Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes, by Eric Litwin and James Dean: Pete the Cat is back again. This time he is wearing brand new white shoes that get stained by each thing he walks through. The end up clean in the end. We then color in our own white shoes according to what the students say they walked through. Very easy beginning of the year project.
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, by Eric Litwin and James Dean: Yup, he’s back. This time he has a coat with 4 buttons and he loses one at a time. Great introduction to subtraction. There are quite a few Pete the Cat books that I read throughout the year. The students LOVE to listen to them because it’s a familiar character and he gets into silly situations. You can’t fail with any of the Pete the Cat books.
Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein: This is a great book to read to introduce the concept of interrupting and how the group really misses out when anyone interrupts instead of raising their hand to speak. They LOVE the little chicken because they may see a little of themselves in him. There are many activities to go along with this story, so give it a Google. There is a behavior program that I’ve tried in the past and it has been helpful, too.
Elephant and Piggy books, by Mo Willems: I hope that everyone knows about Elephant and Piggy books. If you don’t, you have been missing out. The students ABSOLUTELY love these books. They are all written in the form of a long comic with speech bubbles for all the characters. Even Pigeon (another series of Mo Willems books) makes cameo appearances. They are also great for beginning readers because there are only a few words on each page. Be sure to get some of these; you will NOT be sorry.
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, by Doreen Cronin: Another series of books that, you guessed it, students LOVE. This first book in the series is about unhappy cows who type a letter to the farmer to get electric blankets. Duck gets involved and chaos breaks out. This will grab your students’ attention and can help with discussing conflict resolution.
Giggle, Giggle, Quack, by Doreen Cronin: Duck is at it again and he is a sneaky one! Farmer Brown goes on vacation and leaves his brother in charge. Duck changes all the notes that the farmer wrote and silliness ensues. Another attention grabber. It also shows examples of letter writing.
Duck for President, by Doreen Cronin: This a great book to read around Election Day. It shows how voting works with a funny story line. In years of presidential elections, I usually do a vote in the classroom. I have the students vote for either Farmer Brown or Duck. They need to explain why one is a better choice than the other and they have done a great job with it.
Farmer Brown/Duck books, by Doreen Cronin: There are quite a few of these books and they all follow the same story line of Duck doing something to get himself in trouble. Somehow he always gets himself out of trouble. Another must read series.
Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester: Tacky is an odd bird, but a great bird to have around. That is the ending sentence of every one of these books. So silly and fun. I like to read these books at the beginning of the year because they grab the students’ attention and when you need a time filler for just a few minutes, they fit in perfectly. Add this to the must read series list.
Magic Treehouse series, by Mary Pope Osbourne: These are the perfect series of chapter books to introduce to advanced kindergarten and first grade readers. You can read them aloud to the class or have students read them in literature circles. I’m not sure, but I think this series is now 30+ books long, so you will not run out of titles to read. Also, they each take place in a historic period or an area of the world that has had an important occurrence. Some of the books also have a non-fiction research book that goes along with it for a deeper dive into the topics.
Ishi: Simple Tips from a Solid Friend, by Akiko Yabuki: I am going to be working on mindfulness, happiness and calm in my classroom this year. Research shows that students who have a daily mindfulness practice each day are able to focus better and have a more positive outlook on school. I’m all for that. This book is about a little stone named Ishi who chooses and shares happinessJ
A Hand of Quiet, by Thich Nhat Hanh: Thich Nhat Hanh was a Zen teacher who started the Plum Village Community in France. This book is about the meditation using 4 pebbles and focuses on calm and mindfulness. It is hands-on and is a great first introduction to meditation and mindfulness.
The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness with the World, by Maria Dismondy: This is a story about kindness, caring and generosity. These are all things that we want to instill in our own children and students. Any book that spreads ideas of kindness are on my list of must reads.
You’re Finally Here, by Melanie Watt: The rabbit in this story is so glad that your students are here, but he’s not happy that he had to wait. Another engaging book that students will love.
First Day Jitters, by Julia Danneberg: Students may think that they are the only ones that get nervous about coming to school. They never think that their teacher would be nervous. This book looks at how jitters are present for all ages of learners.
Kevin Henkes books: This author has a great group of books that always try to get an important message across. This is an author that you can do as an author study in your classroom along with read alouds.
Eric Carle books: This iconic author/illustrator is a must for all early childhood classrooms. You cannot go through a year without utilizing at least a few of his books. His illustrations are his calling card.
Dr Seuss books: Whether you like them or not, these are the perfect books to introduce your class to rhyming words. Rhyming is such an important skill that supports learning to read. Many children are familiar with these books and they love hearing them read over and over. Also, many children read one of his easier books as their first fully read book.
Of course, this is not the be all and end all of children’s books. There are hundreds of wonderful books out there that are just waiting to be discovered. If you have book orders at your school, it is the perfect place to get books at a great price. Community book sales are another great place to find great children’s books. As children outgrow their books, many are put into these sales and are sold for next to nothing. Start your collection of outstanding children’s books today!