It's back to school season, and we've actually been in session for four weeks now! I started library classes by reading several different back to school books to students aging from 18 months to 5th grade.
The biggest hit this year was We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins. Toddlers, Early Childhood, and Kindergarten students all loved the silliness of this one. It naturally lends itself to discussing how to make friends, be kind, and consider others' feelings, so it's not only a great read-aloud, but also a great jumping off point for lessons that need to be gone over at the beginning of the year.
School's First Day of School, written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson, was a close second. I read this one to Early Childhood last year so some students remembered it, but you can never read a great book too many times. This book also led to some great conversations about others' feelings - the concept of a school building being nervous is silly, of course, but it loosened students up and helped them think about how others might feel even if you don't know them well or don't think they would feel certain ways based on their actions.
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love, is actually the first book I read to the Early Childhood classes. The twist ending is delightful for both students and teachers, so it was fun to have a teacher in the library (as they are for the first session) to enjoy this book and help the students realize that the twist ending is actually true!
Back to School with Bigfoot by Samantha Berger and Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Dave Pressler, was a silly read-aloud. I used this one to talk about how students got ready for the first day of school, but mostly we inspected each page of illustration. This book is vibrant and gorgeous, and there are a lot of hidden gems in the pictures that are worth taking a closer look.
For toddlers alone, we enjoyed It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illustrated by Claire Messer. The story is about Busy Bus being nervous as he prepares for his first day of school, but on a simpler level than some of those I read the older students. This book also gives the opportunity for some engagement and movement, for example when Busy Bus tries out his new stop sign, wipers, and horn. I used some of the motions from Wheels on the Bus for those parts.
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School by Mo Willems was, obviously, another hit. Everyone loves the Pigeon, and the endpapers provide a great discussion beyond the book. The front endpapers show empty desks, and the back endpapers have birds sitting in each desk. You can ask students to find each bird (such as an owl, toucan, etc), or have them point to and name each bird.