The Best Back To School Books
for the First Month Back to School
by Teaching Heart

Some MORE Great Books to Read the First Day of School! The first week of school is a great time to share some awesome children's literature that is perfect for teaching about school procedures. Many of the books will be a springboard for a discussion on many back to school topics.   Start with a book and get your kids thinking!  Below is a list of some of my favorite back to school books.  These are books I choose to read over the first few weeks of school.  Along with some of the book are ideas to match.  A big thanks to the many teachers that have shared how they use these books in their classrooms… To learn more about a book, click on it and you will be taken to AMAZON.COM!!!

Updated 2013

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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books . If you have read one of the old lady books you know she will be eating odd things to spit out a surprise at the end. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books continues the pattern of eating and spitting out something related to the theme at the end. In this story she swallows some books, a pen, a pencil case, a ruler, folder, chalk, and a bag… Until she hops on the school bus, says a cheer, and out pops a ______ (O, I can’t tell you, that would spoil the ending for you). The illustrations are well done and the rhyming text is always a hit with grades Pre-K to first grade. It is a great read for back to school. Do a search on Google for There Was An Old Lady Printables and you will find many activities you can use at home or in the classroom with this book and many other Old Lady Books.

I have two pages of free printables to share. The first page is a dice game. Students take turns rolling the dice to collect all the things the lady swallowed in the story. First person to get all the story pieces, wins. Page 2 of the file contains story pieces you can use with our Old Lady baggie and Apron Pattern. Click here to learn about the pattern. You will also see the Old Lady Apron here.

The dice game is free to download.---
Click Here to Download the Old Lady Swallowed Some Books Dice Game and Story Props.

Bailey, by Harry Bliss!

This book is about Bailey, a little loveable white dog with a big personality, who goes to school with human friends. Bailey is an adorable story just perfect for a preschool to first grade class setting. Students will connect to the character of Bailey as he goes to school. It’s a wonderful first week of school read. From dancing to math Bailey spends the day doing things other kids do, only a little bit more dog-like. Bailey loves school and his love is contagious for the reader. At school, everyone likes to sit beside him on the school bus and in class. They like to talk to him at recess. He’s one cool pup! Bailey’s day is very much like an average school day, but with Bailey the day is always more exciting. You will even find that it is true, dogs do eat homework. In fact, Bailey eats his own and ends up with a stomach ache.

Both my nine and four year old enjoyed this book very much. They laughed and enjoyed following Bailey on his adventure at school!

The illustrations in this book are fantastic and the book is the perfect length for younger kids that do not have a huge attention span. It is also a great read for back to school time for grades Pre-k to first. School aged readers will make a connection to the text and the characters. It’s likely you will hear lots of giggles. Hopefully Bailey’s love for school will be caught by the reader. Much of the text is done in comic bubbles. Comic bubbles are a great way to teach a lesson on prediction. Also this site has a great lesson on using comic bubbles that could easily be used with the book Bailey.

Get Bailey on Amazon!

Brimful Curiosities shares this snack.

I also enjoyed Brimful Curiosities reveiw of Bailey.
You will love the treat they made to match the book.
Follow the link and you can learn more.

All his classmates make fun of Rodney because he can’t pronounce his name correctly. In the end, Rodney’s speech problem helps solve a big classroom problem. A great book to show that all our friends have special talents!












More Resources


The Teacher from the Black Lagoon....

I teach first grade and this is one of the first books I read during story-time. After the story I produce 2 pictures: a 5x7 photo of me (hint: just one way to use up those lovely school pictures we get each year!) and a picture of Mrs. Green that I have traced and colored. We talk about similarities and differences between the 2 teachers. It is a fun, easy activity! We read all the books from the series during September. I think I like them more than the kiddos! Posted by Sophie on 8/21/02

I read it to my class, and then they write letters to their favorite teacher. My class is 3rd, so they have K,1,2 to choose from. Also, as one of their journal entries, they describe a good teacher. The next day, they describe a bad teacher. This helps me deal with their expectations for me and what to avoid. Posted by Carla on 8/20/02

Hey, I used these books last year as my beginning of the year. I began with the explanation that it is sometimes scary coming into a new grade or maybe even being a new student...and then that just naturally led into these books.

We made posters for each book and gave it to the person around school, we told them thank you for not being a custodian, librarian, lunchroom lady, etc from the black lagoon. They all loved them! It also let my new students learn about our school and who is who without the others being bored. Good Luck! Lorri

Hands as Warm as Toast

Recently Lisa Himle the author of Hands as Warm as Toast sent me a copy of her book to review. Hands as Warm as Toast is a heartwarming story that any kindergarten teacher, parent, or student can make a connection to. According to Ms. Himle this is a true, yet slightly embellished story about an event that happened when she was a Kindergarten teacher. The teacher is
Ms. Himle’s book is Miss Darling. Everyone knows a kindergarten teacher that seems to have a magic touch with young children. Miss Darling is one of those kindergarten teachers with that magic way of making children want to be at school. In fact, when Libby, the little girl in the story, does not want to leave the side of her mother to attend the first day of school Miss Darling appears with cold hands and a job for Libby. Miss Darling’s magic touch and way with Libby make school a place Libby wants to be a part of. This is a great story for back to school. It would make a good gift for a favorite kindergarten teacher that touched your child’s life. The illustrations beautifully match the text. The story held the attention of my very own kindergarten student. I enjoyed reading this book to my son and he found many parts in the story that reminded him of his first day of school. There are many opportunities to make a text to self connection. Lisa Himle has written a wonderful story that I am sure will touch the hearts of many students, teachers, and parents.

***An activity guide to match this book can be found at: - Ideas and printables to match this book!!!

Go Home, Mrs. Beekman

Ann Stampler, the author of "Go Home, Mrs. Beekman", recently sent me a copy of this adorable book. The night I got it was the second day of Kindergarten for my son. We sat down and read it together. In the story, Emily Beekman refuses come out of the fort she's built in her bedroom and go to the first day of school unless her mother promises to stay at school with her forever.   Mrs. Beekman promises.  However, even after Emily forms a bond with her teacher, makes new friends, and is perfectly happy to go to school on her own, Mrs. Beekman just won't leave.

I immediately made a connection with the mother in the story. Unlike the child in the story my son was soooooo excited about the first day of school. Me on the other hand, I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to let him go to this unusual place all by himself. I connected with Mrs. Beekman's need to watch over her child. She became a fly on the wall at her daughter's school by transforming herself into a coat rack, a hat, a hula hoop, and some other interesting things. As we read, I could relate. Those first few days of school had me wondering how my son was doing, if he was listening to the teacher, if he was having fun, and if he missed me. Much to the dismay of the teacher in the story, Mrs. Beekman saw it all in her daughters class! That lucky Mrs. Beekman!!!!

The book is adorable. The story entertained both me and my son. I think this would be a great gift to give to a parent who has a child going into grade K. Not many (if any) back to school books display how a parent may have a more difficult time letting go of a child; than the child has of letting go of the parent. Ann Stampler does a super job of making this story flow. My son of course thought the story was funny and I thought the story had a hidden truth in it about how parents have anxiety too about the first day of school.

I also think this would make a fun read for the first few days of school. It would be fun to have the class draw a picture of their parents at school with them. You could discuss: How would your mom or dad hide if he or she came to school? Would you like your mom or dad to be at school with you everyday?

Amelia Bedelia Goes to School

I love Amelia Bedelia books and read all of them as a child and as a teacher, I was sure to share them with my students. This book is super special because haven't all Amelia Badelia fans wondered what Amelia Bedelia was like as a child? I know I have and this book shows Amelia as a first grader. This is the first time Amelia Bedelia has been shown as a child. With this great story we now know that Amelia started out silly and that is just the way she will always be. Ordinary first grade happenings become extraordinary with Amelia Bedelia's literal take on all things first grade. Teachers can see themselves in Miss Edwards. She is patient but knows when enough is enough and tells Amelia, after she has gotten out of her seat many times to, “Please glue yourself to your seat.” If you know Amelia Bedelia, you can guess what she does when Miss Edwards just wants her to stay in her seat. Students get a look at a fun filled day and will laugh out loud when Amelia Bedelia does what she is told. The pictures by Lynne Avril really compliment the text and make the story even more exciting. My son loved seeing Amelia Bedelia try to put her nose in a book because he hears me tell him to do that often. This would be a great first week of school read or a special book to share with your child the night before they start school. This would also be a fantastic gift for a new teacher. I love Amelia Bedelia and enjoyed seeing her as a child in this terrific picture book!

Listen Buddy

One of my favorite books to read on the first day of school is called "Listen Buddy!". It's about a rabbit family that all have good characteristics...Buddy has big ears...the only problem is he doesn't use them. When his parents ask him questions, he doesn't hear them the right way. They might ask for a pen and he brings them a hen (not in the book I think but you get the idea... One day he needs to go somewhere and his parents tell him not to go down a certain road...well, of course he goes down the road. I won't tell you the WHOLE book but he finally learns that you have to pay attention and LISTEN. The kids really seem to like it. Posted by
Chris on 8/05/02

'Never Spit on Your Shoes (Orchard Paperbacks)

It's about a first grade hippo talking about his first day of school. It's VERY cute and I have used it to read to my second graders. I've also read Spider School which talks about first day jitters. The kids absolutely loved that book! Chrysanthemum is another good one. Mailbox has a BINGO sheet that goes along with that book for the beginning of school. I've used it the first day and the kids loved it. There are 9 squares in which you have to put the name of someone that goes with the phrase: name of someone they missed, name of someone sitting next to them, name of someone you want to play with at recess, etc...

Lunch Bunnies

It is about a little rabbit who is terrified about the procedures at lunch time (dropping his tray, messing up his money, etc.) This is a great read to introduce first graders to the lunch routine!

Miss Nelson!

 I had a class last year that could not get along.  They loved to tattle and make fun of others when the teachers weren't listening.  When I did group work I had a couple of students that couldn't get along with others no matter how I arranged the class. 

I got tired of all the bickering so I brought out the book "Miss Nelson is Missing".  It is a very funny book about the teacher that leaves and out comes mean Viola Swamp.   I talked to the kids afterward about whether they wanted the nice teacher or the mean teacher, and that the mean teacher wouldn't be able to do fun group activities because the students couldn't get along, and how their behavior determined what we were able to do as a class.  It helped some.  They were able to understand that one.  I told them they could either have the mean teacher or the nice one!


Get this book for your listening center

Cherie, last year, several months after reading "Miss Nelson is Missing", I dressed up as Viola Swamp.  You could have heard a pin drop in my class.  If you wish to see what I looked like, I have a picture on my web site,1872,0-145616-27-2993,00.html along with a little write up of what I did.  Fun! Pam

Parents & Teachers: Must have books for students entering Kindergarten or PreK

I start my school year off with the book The Kissing Hand. We then read the LTR book Five Little Monsters Went to School.  Then we "pull" our "rules" from this book.  My one rule is respect but usually the children need more then that to go on.  I do up a Respect BB each Fall before the first day of school.  They help me finish it by making a Rainbow of Respect by tracing their hands in various rainbow colours.  We talk about how following their rules (the ones from the monster story) shows Respect - my only rule.    I also read Little Bear Your Manners Are Showing.  One of the other grade one teachers just got this book - I think through Scholastics.  I think my mother found it years a go at a yard sale for me...  I don't know the author or ISBN off the top of my head.  This Bear forgets that he must say Please, Thank you, Excuse me and I'm Sorry.  Mama Bear stamps these on his four paws and by the time the Spring rain washes them off he has practiced them so many times they become automatic.  We've even got a Bear poster with the manners on them that is posted by my door.  Next year I will post it with the calendar in the Fall for daily review for the first few weeks or so.  Also I got a picture of a teddy bear blown up on 11x 17 paper for the children to colour and take home with the manners written on the paws.  I also say "Little Bear, your manners are showing" the first few weeks to praise them for using their manners.   We have a lot of trouble with "teasing" and the first few weeks and through out the year I read books on bullying because Teasing could be that someone hit you or looked at you.  My students are all ESL and it is sometimes hard for them to communicate what has actually happened.  It is something we work on all year.   sdwl;)

I use a book called "The Thingamajig Book of Manners" the thingamajig are monsters who behave awfully, we discuss good manners and then move into making 3-5 rules for our room. Reminding them not to be a thingamajig works all year! Ally/1st/IL

Click on a book to learn more about it!

When Kangaroo Goes To School is a delightful story of a kangaroo's preparations and expectations for his first day at school..."do you know the rules?", "What about show and tell?", "Where will we eat?" and so on. Kangaroo will steal your heart and share the rules of "school etiquette" with your children.

"The pups are all going to canine manners class, but Scamp just can't seem to get the hang of it. He shows up late, talks when his teacher is speaking, and chases a fly. But when the other pups start teasing Scamp for his classroom clumsiness, everyone learns a little something about good manners. "
Scamp's School Daze


The Meanest Thing to Say..Bill Cosby

Discuss what is means to respect others...I do a chart that has looks like/sounds like on it...discuss what the characters did that show respect and disrespect

Have a paper doll (from a 12x18 sheet) ...have children sit in a circle and play the game Michael played from the book...insults. As children insult the doll, have them wad up the doll as it goes around the circle. When everyone has had a turn...smoothe out the doll and explain to children words do hurt feelings and even though we say we are sorry it takes a lot of time and trust to get over what has been said...the doll looks better than she did when she was wadded up...but she will never be the same. Children then roll played different scenarios of possible responses and actions we could use if someone was rude or disrespectful to us!

This was very powerful! Last year, the doll was given a name and referred back to many times during the year when feelings were hurt and problems arose on the playground!

Thought I might share something I used last worked well. I got most of these ideas from the web -ring last year!

Tina Jordan Sherman,Texas

Little Bill books by Bill Cosby are great for behaviors. 
Click on a book to learn more

I actually have 2 that are a must read on the first day~ T
he Little Engine That Could by Wyatt Piper...teaches children no matter how hard something can be never give up, hard work pays off.

I also like to read
The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone~ This teaches them how important team work is. Working together gets the job done faster and everyone reaps the benefits! :) - Chrissy Silvester

I read NO, David, NO, and DAvid Goes to  School.  My kids think David is so funny.  We have a big laugh and then write our own rules.  Good to get the juices flowing.  I always remind my class that I LOVE (yes I use that word) them even when they are naughty just like David.  It seems to help in some cases.

Stockton, CA

My class is CRAZY about No, David! This year we wrote a group dictated book (on big pieces of construction paper) continuing the story No, David. The kids came up with additional no's. I gave pairs of students the pages to illustrate. We compiled the pages to make a class book--it's a read aloud favorite!
We also made individual Yes, _____ books. Everyone wrote yes and there name and a picture of themselselves doing a yes thing. Have fun with No, David! Sue Gruber

My classes have loved David so much the past 3 years that I purchased 10 copies at the Scholastic sale last year. We have averaged about 3 copies a year so far... We did the individual "no" books for each child, we also did a class story extension big book and made more things that David could do, they had a ball with that. The best thing that we did was to put David's picture up on our word wall under the letter "D" along with all the other kids names and pictures. Since he was such a big part of our class we made him an honorary member, the kids got a big kick out of that.I also used No David when I introduced centers for the first time. I went to each center and modeled appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and the kids had to shout "No, Mrs. L" or "Good job Mrs. L" when I modeled each behavior. They LOVED this and we did it over and over each day until they learned how to act appropriately at centers. I hope they come out with a David doll soon, they would love that and I could make a take home backpack with the book and doll..hmmm...I'll have to call Scholastic with that idea...Good Luck, Vanna/tx

My class really enjoyed the book too. At the scholastic book fair they sold out on the first day. I dress up as David the second time I read the book and acted it out. I pick out one bad action that I did as David and model how to write a simple apology card. I write "I'm sorry for _________" Then I illustrate what I will do to be better. ie. I'm sorry for breaking the vase. I illustrate playing baseball outside instead of in the house.

The children then get to pretend to be David too and write apology cards for one bad action with illustrations of a good action.

I found them writing apology cards to each other when they hurt each others feelings. Parents have also commented about how they have done this at home when they have done something wrong. We added the word "Sorry" to the word wall too. Posted by flteach on 6/20/02

My children were always breathless waiting for the picture of the nude David. One afternoon I took a tiny blue Post-It note and cut out a pair of undies and pressed it onto his backside. When I got to that page, they just rolled. They insisted I keep it there until all the sticky ran out from being replaced over and over. Then, each day, they would be guessing if he was dressed or "nekkid"! It takes so little to stir up a five-year-old... (I guess that's why they're so lovable!) wallabear/k/fl on 6/22/02

When I used the No, David book in my 2nd grade class, I had them write their own stories that follow the same simple sequence as in the book. I'll try to explain it as best as I can. We took a large piece of construction paper and folded it into 6 or 8 squares (can't remember which). Each square had a sentence and a picture to go with it. The example story that I used went something like this...The teacher says (square 1) Eyes on me (square 2)... Mouths quiet (#3)... Hands on your desk (#4)...and so on. The last square ended with...because she cares! I had students come up with very cute stories. My favorite one was where the student wrote "On the playground we..." and then listed her favorite activities on the playground. I can't remember what she ended it with, but it was really cute with great pics. We brainstormed a lot of ideas and the kids enjoyed making a simple story like the book. They also had great pictures with them. Hope this helps!
Jennifer - Posted at

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

My second graders really enjoyed How I Spent My Summer Vacation. After a classroom discussion of what we thought could have really happened on his vacation the students were anxious to write and tell me all about their summer vacations. It was a wonderful first day activity and gave me terrific insight into their writing skills and abilities. We then spent the rest of the week sharing a few a day. Posted by
SharonL on 7/17/02

Click Here to Find a Great Lesson For Grade 3

Starting the year with introducing Bucket Filling is an awesome way to get your class working as a kidn team. Teaching Heart has a page devoted to Bucket Filling. It includes ideas to match the book and many free printables. Click here to check it out!

Mary Wore Her Red Dress, and Henry Wore His Green Sneakers

This book always ends up being my favorite class book! Very easy and simple and so cute. The children draw a picture of themselves with black markers (I use permanent, but in the past used plain markers)Then they use watercolor paints to paint ONE item of clothing ONE color on their drawing. After it dries, cut out the person (I cut a "blob" shape around the body.) Glue the picture on a background color the same color as the one they painted, and then add the verse for their name and color. For example: Alex wore his orange shirt, orange shirt, orange shirt Alex wore his orange shirt all day long.(this sounds confusing...I wish I had a picture!) Hope it makes sense. Then just put all together into class book! It really does turn out cute. - Barb/MN on 8/30/02

Our class big book was very simple. I wore a red dress the
day we read the book. Our aide took a digital picture of me
and all the children (individually). The title of our book
was "Mrs. Karen Wore Her Red Dress" with my picture on the
cover. Each child responded to the sentence ___________ wore
a _______ _______________. They were asked to pick out one
article of clothing. This is probably the most loved book in
our room at this time. While the pics are not the work of the
children, the book has helped with name recognition and
learning the names of classmates.
Hope this is something you can use! Posted by
Kinderkiddos on 8/30/02

I draw an outline of a person on a white piece of paper
(holding the paper vertical) on the bottom I write-
_____________ wore (a) ___________ _____________.

I run off a class set. The children add features, hair and
clothing to the outline. Then they pick one clothing item and
dictate the sentence.
Example, Alex wore a blue shirt.
We use the book for shared reading and then can be read again
and again during centers.Rona/K/NY

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

Ideas from the Virtual Vine

Class Book Idea
Make up class story: Mrs. Gallagher Gets Ready for Kindergarten. . . Make up rhymes for each child.

Have the children each complete a page for a class book about how they got ready for kindergarten.

(________ got ready for kindergarten by ______________)

For a math activity, graph each students name by first letter!

Rhyme Your Name Lesson

Use highlighter tape to have the children help identify the words that rhyme in the story!

Click Here For MANY Kevin Henkes Book Ideas


Wimberly Worried

I use the little flip book : On the First Day of School My Teacher Read...

After reading the story and discussing the setting, characters, problem/solution, and personla connections as a class; the students complete this little book which is part of this pack. Click here to learn more!

Teachers Share Their FAvorite Read Alouds for a year of reading fun!!!

Click to check out this post!!!

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