being a teacher, books, picture books

Our Favorite First Week of School Picture Books

For the past many years, our first day of school has included a read-aloud of a picture book.  This central part of our classroom journey starts us off right, inviting students in to share a moment of wonder, of laughter.  It starts discussions and sets the tone for the year to come.  This is why selecting the first picture book to read aloud is such a big deal for me; what tone do I want to set?  Which book will help students gain an ounce of trust when it comes to the experience we are about to embark on?  Usually, I have students choose the book they want me to read aloud to them, sometimes I choose for them, but in case you need a few ideas, here are the picture books I love choosing from.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanna Kaufman

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

I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoet

Mixed – A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Image result for what if picturebook

What if by Samantha Berger and Mike Curato


Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel

My Teacher is a Monster (No, I am Not) by Peter Brown

After the Fall by Dan Santat

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Baa Baa Smart Sheep created by Mark and Rowan Sommerset

 Let Me Finish written by Minh Le illustrated by Isabel Roxas.


Ferocious Fluffity written by Erica S. Perl and illustrated by Henry Cole

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

8 thoughts on “Our Favorite First Week of School Picture Books”

  1. Love these. I always start with The Big Orange Splot. Fun and sets the tone we are the whole year.

    Thank you for all you do. I love all your thinking work.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer. Take some time and relax and read some Mary Oliver poems.


    Sent from my iPhone


  2. What a lovely assortment! Some are among my favorite read-alouds. Because the first time in our library is the first time in any library for many of my students, I start out the year with Laura Numeroff’s “Beatrice Doesn’t Want To”. Love to start them with the ideas of choice and voice.

  3. I’m a school counselor and former teacher. I have enjoyed using picture books with my middle school students for 15 years. I now use “I Don’t Want to Go to Kindergarten…I’ll Miss You Toooo Much” with all of our 6th grade students to prove that our brain and body chemistry changes when we change our thoughts.

    I begin the classroom guidance lessons the 2nd week of school and have students think back to summer or the end of 5th grade. Every student acknowledges having had some worrisome thoughts such as, “Will I like my new teacher,” or “What if 6th grade is really hard?” Although they are older than the characters starting Kindergarten in the book, they can relate to feeling anxious about transitions such as moving, joining a new team, changing classes, etc.

    “Powering Up” has been especially helpful when teachers model and incorporate changing thoughts into their classroom routine to help shift students out of fight or flight. Students in a calm state are more likely to learn, test well, solve problems in positive ways, stay healthy, be kind, etc.

    I gave away over 400 copies of the Kindle version last month. It will be available for free download again the week of October 18th and 19th in honor of the 2018 California Association of School Counselors’ Conference. Enjoy!

  4. Just got, It’s a Book, but was uncomfortable to read one character calling another character a “Jackass”. I realize one character is a donkey type animal that is called a jackass, but being a ‘jackass’ has a very nasty meaning to it. I’m returning it.

  5. Can you lead me in the right direction to find a picture book to read to my 6th and 8th middle school students about finding their true passion? We as a faculty have had read Tony Wagner’s book ‘Most Likely to Succeed …” that emphasizes leading students to find their passion. I am a math teacher. I follow you since I met you at Longwood University a few years ago.

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