Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Five Favorite Back to School Books

What are your favorite back-to-school books? I'd love to read about what you use, so please leave a comment.  I have a few favorite books for the first week of school.

I spend a lot of time setting expectations for kindness and respect.  I also try to encourage a willingness to take risks.  These books help me to do that.

Vashti thinks she can't draw and refuses to even try until her teacher says, "Make a mark and see where it takes you."  Vashti discovers that she is an artist after all. I always read this book aloud during the first week of school.  This year, I plan to have students create their own dots. I'll display them along with a summary of the story, which we will write together as a class.  

#2  Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Ramon LOVES to draw, but he gets discouraged when his brother makes a careless remark.  Ramon struggles until his sister shows him that thinking "ishly" is more important than creating perfect products.

#3  Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud

I discovered this book last year, and it set the tone for the entire school year.  Many of you are probably familiar with it.  The idea is that we all have invisible "buckets".  We fill people's buckets when we show kindness and respect.  We dip into people's buckets when we are inconsiderate, rude, or unkind.  There are so many ideas inspired by this book on Pinterest.

To get a set of absolutely adorable posters to go along with this book, you can go to

#4 Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna 

In this story, a boy assumes that a teacher, Mr. Peabody, is doing something wrong. He doesn't have all the facts, but he spreads a rumor anyway.  Mr. Peabody creatively teaches the boy at the end that there is really no way to completely heal the damage that can be done by spreading gossip. We all have those students who sometimes blame others without all the facts.  I use this book to address that.  

There's an activity that goes perfectly with this book. Students squeeze all of the toothpaste out of a travel-sized tube.  Then, you give students a toothpick and tell them to try and put ALL of the toothpaste back!  Of course, it's impossible.  The point of the object lesson is that you can't ever take your words back.  You can apologize, but you can't ever change that you said something hurtful.

#5 The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

This book won a Newbery Honor Award in 1945.  It is the story of a poor girl named Wanda who is teased by the girls in her school.  It is similar in some ways to Mr. Peabody's Apples, because the teasers form judgements without all of the facts.  It's interesting that this book is told from the point of view of the girls who are doing the teasing.

Here are some related free activities. Click on each description for a link to the resources.

Classroom Guide for The Dot and Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

A Bucket Fillers/Bucket Dippers sorting activity to do with the whole class from Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts

Thanks to Ashley Hughes and Krista Wallden of Creative Clips  
for the graphics used to create the "favorite books" image.

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