Friday, August 16, 2019

The Most Inspiring Back to School Picture Books

I love coming back to school! It’s a fresh start for my students and for me. Yeah, it can be difficult coming off the fun of summer break but diving into literature, teaching kids how to read, analyzing meaning, and reading in silly voices is my jam. I just love it.

My favorite part of coming back to school with a fresh group of students is getting to set the tone for the whole year. From day one I want my students to know that my priority is for them to love learning.

Read alouds are the gateway to inspire, motivate, and encourage students to be their best and do their best.

Here are some of the picture books I use on the first day of school and over the first few weeks to invite my students to our classroom and inspire them to love learning as much as I do.

The Most Inspiring Back to School Picture Books to set up your classroom on the right track for the whole year. #picturebooks #classroommanagement #behavior #grit #perseverance #growthmindset

The Most Inspiring Back to School Picture Books

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Book Description: Rosie Revere dreamed of becoming a great engineer. Where some people see rubbish, Rosie sees inspiration. Alone in her room at night, shy Rosie constructs great inventions from odds and ends. Hot dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats: Rosie’s gizmos would astound—if she ever let anyone see them.

Afraid of failure, she hides them away under her bed. Until a fateful visit from her great-great-aunt Rose (AKA Rosie the Riveter!), who shows her that the first flop isn’t something to fear—it’s something to celebrate. And you can only truly fail, if you quit.

Why I Love It: Rosie Revere celebrates that first tries are often a flop but that you take the small successes from a first try and build it into a second, third, and fourth try. Persistence and passion pay off.


We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins 

Book Description: It's the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can't wait to meet her classmates. But it's hard to make human friends when they're so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . .

Why I Love It: Kids laugh out loud with this book and can relate to Penelope’s plight – sometimes we impulsively want to do something because it seems fun or yummy, but we should consider how our actions make others feel.


The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett

Book Description:  Beatrice Bottomwell has NEVER (not once!) made a mistake. She never forgets her math homework, she never wears mismatched socks, and she ALWAYS wins the yearly talent show at school. In fact, the entire town calls her The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes! One day, the inevitable happens: Beatrice makes a huge mistake in front of everyone! But in the end, readers (and perfectionists) will realize that life is more fun when you enjoy everything―even the mistakes.

Why I Love It: This book hits home for the perfectionists out there (I have a guilty look on my face right now). It shows students that everyone makes mistakes and that’s okay. It’s important to be kind to yourself, give yourself a little grace, and remember to have fun.


Book Description: At the 1929 Rose Bowl, talented center Roy Riegels picked up a fumble and made an incredible sixty-five-yard run. There was just one problem: Roy Riegels was running the wrong way!

Renowned author Dan Gutman recreates this painful (but funny) moment in sports history in a picture book play-by-play of the game's most thrilling moments-all framed by a friendly grandpa remembering the game for his grandson. Told with the excitement of a sports announcer calling the greatest game of his life, and shown through vivid, cartoonlike illustrations by Kerry Talbott, The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way is a feast of humor and history for any sports fan.

Why I Love It: Again, it hits the theme that we all make mistakes but with a real-life example. This one is a hit with football lovers. Plus, kids appreciate and are astounded by the fact that it really happened.


Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae 

Book Description: Gerald the giraffe longs to go to the great Jungle Dance, but how can he join in when he doesn't know how to tango or two-step? Everyone knows that giraffes can't dance ... or can they?

A funny, touching and triumphant story about being yourself and finding your own tune, Giraffes Can't Dance has been a family favorite for 20 years.

Why I Love It: Sometimes other people will think you can’t do something and they may even be mean about it. If there is something you want to do, don’t let others hold you back.


Sticks by Diane Alber 

Book Description: Sticks is about a Popsicle that accidentally melts and becomes just a plain stick. He has a hard time adjusting to his new normal but with the help of some new friends (who happen to be sticks too) he realizes that everything happened for a reason and that melting was part of his journey.

Why I Love It: This book emphasizes the importance of kindness, empathy, and perseverance. I like to discuss how some days we are like Stick who needs a friend. Some days we have the opportunity to be like Twig and reach out to others.


I Can Handle It by Laurie Wright

Book Description: Your children will incorporate the mindful mantra I Can Handle It almost immediately after reading this book!

In a tough situation, they will think 'I can handle it', and when they are dealing with tough emotions, they will think 'I can handle it!' Even if they aren't saying the words out loud, if they learn and practice this mantra it will become a part of their self-talk.

Why I Love It: Positive self-talk can be difficult for kids (and adults) if it has never been modeled for them. This book provides a simple phrase that can help students through difficult situations. It will quickly become a classroom mantra that even teachers can model when the unexpected comes up.


Book Description: This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared.

Why I Love It: This one is an important read at any age. Sometimes our problems seem insurmountable. We may try to ignore them, yell at them, or hide from them but problems can be persistent. The best thing to do is face a problem and often you realize that it’s not as bad as you thought and something entirely different may be hiding within it.


Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Book Description: Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Why I Love It: I want students to know that they can overcome any fears they have, especially about learning. Sometimes we may dawdle and come up with excuses, but I will be there patiently encouraging students to be their best and do their best. Also, I love that this book features such a positive father.


Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube 

Book Description: Every day after school, Hannah’s school bus is greeted by her classmate’s dog, Sugar. All of the other kids love Sugar, but Hannah just can’t conquer her fear of dogs. Then, one day, Sugar goes missing, so Hannah joins the search with her classmates. Will Hannah find a way to be brave, and make a new friend in the process?

Why I Love It: This is another book about being brave and facing your fears. Sometimes we are put in situations that push us to be braver than we want. It shows that when we face our fears, the outcome is often unexpectedly positive.


The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Book Description: Lou and her friends are BRAVE adventurers. They run FASTER than airplanes. They build MIGHTY fortresses. They rescue WILD animals. But one day, when they’re looking for a ship to play pirates in, Lou s friend has an idea: Up there! The tree can be our ship! Ummm ... says Lou. This is something new. Lou has never climbed a tree before, and she is sure she can’t do it. So she tries to convince her friends to play a not-up-a-tree game. When that doesn’t work, she comes up with reasons for not joining them her arm is sore, her cat needs a walk, you shouldn’t climb so soon after eating. Finally, she tells herself she doesn’t want to climb the tree. But is that true, or is this brave adventurer just too afraid to try?

Why I Love It: This is yet another book about facing your fears, but it is a little different. Like the other books listed, Lou avoids what she fears and then finally tries it. But in this book, when she finally tries to climb that tree, Lou fails. She can’t do it. But, she decides she’ll try again tomorrow. I really love the one-two punch of facing your fears and having persistence and grit when things don’t go how you want.  


After the Fall by Dan Santat

Book Description: Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?

Why I Love It: Humpty Dumpty has a good reason to be afraid of heights. The last time he was on that wall, he fell! I want my students to know that even when we fall and even when it’s scary, we can get back up again and amazing things can happen.


List of all The Most Inspiring Back to School Picture Books


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