Skip to content

Beginning Year Read Alouds

As a literacy coach, I try to offer valuable support to the classroom teachers during the first few weeks of school.  This year, I compiled a list of possible read aloud books for the opening days of the school year.  Although there are so many other wonderful titles I wanted to include, I limited my list to only those titles I had on hand, either in my personal collection or in our school library. The books were stacked in my office, readily accessible to teachers.  All they had to do was walk in and grab one.  Here are the books and notes I shared with the teachers:

Books to Help You Create a Positive Classroom Climate

by Peter Reynolds

There are some big messages in this book. I would imagine this book leading to a discussion about how our words matter, or maybe about appreciating our unique gifts, or maybe how about it is not necessary to be perfect. Lots of messages in this one. This book might also give your students some new language this year, using ‘ish’ words like the character in the book.

Hello My Name is Ruby

Hello, My Name is Ruby
by Philip C. Stead

This is a feel good story about finding friends in all sorts of places.  It is probably geared more towards primary kids.  A simple story with a good message.

The DotThe Dot
by Peter Reynolds

This is a great beginning of the year book if you are looking to set a climate of positive attitude.  This book is about how our perspective and attitude make all the difference. Plus, you will love the ending.

Mr Tiger Goes Wild

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
by Peter Brown

There was a lot of buzz among book enthusiasts for this one last year.  Mr. Tiger learns the importance of being true to himself.  The kids will love this one – perfect for any age!

Books to Help You Jump Start your Workshop

Max's Words

Max’s Words
by Kate Banks

If a section of your writer’s notebooks are dedicated to collecting words, this book is a must read.  This book is also a great start to a discussion about the wonder of words, or even to kick off your year of vocabulary study.

Ralph Tells a Story

Ralph Tells a Story
by Abby Hanlon

This book really made the rounds last year, but it is worth repeating.   This is the ultimate book for Day #1 of writing workshop. Ralph learns that stories are everywhere!  A must-read for kindergarteners, I think!

Wordless Picture Books

Please browse through my stack of wordless picture books.  These books are great for the opening days of school.  They are completely accessible to the primary kids (no words!), and most of them are complicated enough in story for the older kids.  You can use these books to teach your turn-and-talk routines since the kids will be bursting at the seams to talk about the unfolding story.  If you want to start off the year teaching kids how to talk about their thinking, grab one of these books!  Kids could even do some writing afterwards.

The Boys

The Boys by Jeff Newman – I do not want to say too much about this book because it will ruin your reading experience.  Highly recommended.

Hank Finds an Egg

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley – Adorable Hank finds an egg.  What will he do with it?  Recommended for primary age.

Sidewalk Circus

Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman & Kevin Hawkes – This one will require multiple readings.  You will want to linger over the illustrations.


Journey by Aaron Becker – Go on a journey with the young girl in the red boat.  You will want to go again and again.  There is a lot to to talk about and look at with this book.  The kids will want it in their hands when you are finished.

Mr Wuffles

Mr. Wuffles by David Weisner – Recommended for intermediate and junior high.  I had to read this book multiple times.  The kids will need to linger with the illustrations and discuss this one.  It is more than meets the eye.

If you have a favorite read aloud book for the beginning of the year, please share the title in the comments section below!  I hope your school year is off to a great start!

Dana Murphy View All

Literacy Coach, Reader, Writer

19 thoughts on “Beginning Year Read Alouds Leave a comment

  1. I teach 2nd grade…and read Kevin Henkes’ books, Wemberly Worried, Lily and Her Purple Purse….I find the children can relate to them and we talk about being friends….they read them all year in my Henkes’ basket 🙂


  2. Thanks for the suggestions. I devour these lists and go running to the librarian at my international school with suggestions for future book orders. I would love some suggestions for read alouds geared to middle school students, specifically.


  3. I used WHAT DO YOU DO WITH AN IDEA? as a read aloud on the first day with some of my 7th grade students. It has a great message about changing your world. I also used William Joyce’s THE NUMBERLYS with other 7th grade classes. It has some great tie ins with science and engineering.


  4. Dana, I have used many of these picture books in my middle school classroom! First, my students say things like, “My little brother has that book at home,” or “We read that book in first grade.” But then, I love how the “take-me-back-in-time” scenario helps students to remember where they have been, and look forward to the beautiful opportunities ahead of them! Go writers!


  5. Thanks, Dana!
    I gave K and 1st grade teachers “Ralph Tells a Story, 2nd and 3rd “The Best Story Ever” by Eileen Spinelli and 4th and 5th “Little Red Writing” by Holub and Sweet to kick off the year. There are many books but I love your idea of a note to go with the book.


  6. Many years I have started with “Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons” by Amy Rosenthal. It’s a great book about manners and respecting others. This year I am vacillating between “My Teacher is Monster (No, I’m Not)” by Peter Brown, and “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkes. I love Lilly!


%d bloggers like this: