Read Alouds & Activities for the Beginning of the School Year

I am always on the lookout for new back to school read alouds. I just get SO excited to share amazing books with my students. A great read aloud on the first day of school sets the tone for the school year. Here are a few of my favorites that I will be using this year along with activities we will be pairing with them. I purchased all of my books off of Amazon but I am sure you could find them through Scholastic, at the library or other book stores!

Dear Teacher & Summer Puzzles

I used to read How I Spent My Summer Vacation before we worked on summer vacation puzzles. I love that book, it’s great! But I decided to replace the word “vacation” with “adventures” since I realized this last year that not every family goes on a summer vacation and I want to be as inclusive as possible. I found this book Dear Teacher which is a collection of letters and student writes to his new teacher about his imaginary adventures all in the name of avoiding going back to school. It’s kind of a long one so I might break it up into two chunks for my listeners. But I just love how it ends!


After we read, students will draw about something they did over the summer on the puzzle piece paper. Then, they cut it out and put it in a plastic baggie or envelop. (I have them write their name or initials on the back of each piece in case one gets lost). Once they are all done, they pair up with another student to swap puzzles. When they have put the puzzles together, they get to share about their summer! I included some sentence starters to help them with sharing. I LOVE this activity because it combines perseverance (someone always has a hard time putting theirs together), teamwork (so I let them work together) and socializing!

 You can get the free summer puzzle paper here.
Find the book here: Dear Teacher
This book had to be written by a teacher because it lists ALL of the things you should NOT do in school and it is SPOT ON! I found myself smirking as I read it and thinking “AMEN!!”


While that may sound a little negative, it is written in a fun way with rhyming and bright illustrations. We will use this book to develop our classroom expectations. We’ll start by taking all of the “don’ts” and turning them into “do’s”. 



Next, we will sort the “do’s” into the expectation categories. This will help students connect the relationship between rules and expectations. Then, we will agree upon on our class expectations.


You can find the full lesson plan and all the materials for this book in my back to school rules and expectations resource.

You can find the book Back to School Rules here.

Next up is one of the most impactful books I’ve ever purchased–not just for my classroom but for my own kids too! What Should Danny Do? takes me right back to my “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books. Except, with Danny’s story, it really teaches children about how their choices have logical consequences. The lessons for teaching this concept are based on positive choices resulting in positive consequences and negative choices resulting in negative consequences. I think we often hear the word “consequence” and automatically, our mind goes to the negative. But, really, almost every choice we make has a consequence and it’s either a pleasant or unpleasant one. I firmly believe that we do not need to reward every behavior. Intrinsic rewards will suffice for most students.

You can find this book on Amazon here: What Should Danny Do?
Finally, Tony Baloney is an excited penguin with the best intentions. But, he has a hard time getting used to the rules on the first day of school. He is trying but he keeps messing up. I love this book because it shows that mistakes happen! This lesson focuses on the fact that we all make mistakes and that’s okay but correcting our mistakes is crucial!
After creating an anchor chart as a class and guiding students through the sort and stick activity, students will independently problem solve with this application activity.
You can find the book here: Tony Baloney School Rules
I was SO excited about creating these resources for my classroom that now I am PREPPED and ready for the first week of school with a lot of summer left to enjoy 🙂 I hope you have found a new book or idea you can use in your first few weeks of school this year!
If you are interested in the resources to go with the books shared in this post, click here
Happy Teaching!

Disclaimer: The links to the books in this post are affiliate links. This means, if you purchase the item through that link, I will receive a small compensation as an Amazon Affiliate. This is at no additional cost to you. I only recommend books that I personally love and use in my classroom.
Share it:

You might also like...