There are many reasons why we should read books to students in the first weeks of school. Here are a few of the most important reasons:
- It helps students adjust to the new school year. Reading aloud is a great way to help students relax and get into a story-time mindset. It can also help them to bond with their classmates and teacher.
- It exposes students to new vocabulary and concepts. When we read aloud to students, we are exposing them to new words and ideas that they may not have encountered before. This can help to expand their vocabulary and knowledge base.
- It helps students develop a love of reading. When students are exposed to good books on a regular basis, they are more likely to develop a love of reading. This is a valuable skill that will benefit them throughout their lives.
- It helps students improve their listening comprehension skills. When students listen to stories being read aloud, they are practicing their listening comprehension skills. This is an important skill for students to develop, as it will help them to succeed in school and in life.
- It provides a break from the routine. Reading aloud can be a great way to provide a break from the routine of the school day. It can also be a fun and relaxing activity for students to enjoy.
Creating a habit or routine for reading from the very beginning has even more benefits!
- Set the tone for the year. Reading aloud to students sends the message that reading is important and enjoyable. It can also help to create a positive and supportive learning environment. It’s a way to show that you value reading and want your students to as well.
- Build community. When students listen to stories together, they are able to share in a common experience. This can help to build community and a sense of belonging. Not only this, but the choices you make can really help you share about yourself, help to get to know your students, and bring up important issues that you will be tackling all year–from friendship, to growth mindset, to overcoming challenges, and more.
- Promote diversity. There are many books available that feature characters from different cultures and backgrounds. Reading these books to students can help to promote diversity and understanding. I can’t stress enough that students need to “meet” characters that they can relate to–and who can stretch their understanding of the world. Being conscious of gender, race, interests, and more can help students feel seen and connected.
Overall, there are many reasons why we should read books to students in the first weeks of school. It is a great way to help students adjust to the new school year, learn new things, and develop a love of reading.
Here are a few of my favorite books for back to school!
Fish in a Tree: I talk about this book a lot (Here’s a great blog post about it!). It is my “go to” read aloud to start the year. We literally refer to it all year long, and I do SO much teaching–both social emotional learning work AND curriculum work– with it! Check out my novel study if you want help getting the most out of this book! If you do nothing else–use this book to help you track characters and how they change over time. AMAZING DISCUSSIONS!
Save Me a Seat: Similarly, this book is a great text to kick things off because it really hits hard at how students are often judged before others get to know them–and that we are all unique and have things to offer. That whole “popular kid” discussion is SO powerful. The students LOVE that it’s told from two characters’ points of view so it’s a great teaching tool! I can help you teach this novel as well if you are interested. Just click here.
The Picture Books
I can’t even begin to list ALL the picture books I use at the beginning of the year–and each has a purpose (or purposes!) I thought I’d share a few of them with you in case they are new to you!
Let’s start with Peter Reynolds books. Just WOW. His books are so simple but have such important messages.
Click HERE to read a blog post about how I use his book “The Dot” with my students every single year…usually on day 1 or 2. His other books–“The Word Collector” (a GREAT kickoff to vocabulary work), “Say Something” (a book to encourage students to use their voices to stand up for others), “Ish” (A great introduction to creativity)…and so many more. You can’t go wrong. (I’ve listed some of them below–these area affliate links, to be fully transparent.).
I also love using:
Enemy Pie (Great for discussions about making new friends and not making judgments about others)
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes (I love to use this to talk about the power of making mistakes and being ok with it! Perfect for incorporating with Jo Boaler’s work about mistakes!)
The Most Magnificent Thing (Perfect for talking about perseverance!)
Because I find these books to be SO powerful, I have created guides to use right with students–from comprehension questions for before, during, and after reading to vocabulary and writing prompts–I’ve created these no prep resources to help you better use these amazing books. Just click the titles above to see more.
Here are the Amazon links if you want to get more details about the books themselves.
Using Your Read Alouds to Teach Reading Lessons
I could list dozens more…from “Only One You” to “Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big” to “Quiet Please, Owen McPhee” to “The Recess Queen”–and countless others. My challenge to you is to continue to work to find books that you can use to build community in your classroom along with starting the important work of reading instruction…with these books you can:
- Practice retelling
- Discuss characters and character change
- Identify character traits
- List problems and solutions
- Identify settings
- Look for examples of how dialogue is important
- Find interesting vocabulary words
- And more!
I hope you find some amazing books to read with YOUR students this year!