Our students have gone through unimaginable times over the past few months. Now we are starting a new school year that looks drastically different from those of the past. More than ever, we need to provide an environment that makes students feel welcome and loved. Our team has researched a variety of Read Alouds for the Beginning of the Year for your class and have come up with our Top 20! ❤️
#1 — All Are Welcome
“Discover a school where—no matter what—young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.”
“It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?
The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.”
Read Aloud #3 — You Matter
“In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters.”
#4 — I Can Do Hard Things
“What we tell ourselves matters! This is just as true for kids as it is for adults.
Help your child tap into their inner strength and find the encouragement they need to navigate their daily environments.
Mindful affirmations can help your child tune out the streams of messages they get about how they should be in the world.”
“Kindness matters! Especially to ourselves.
We talk to kids a lot about how to be friends to others, but not much about how to be friends to themselves. Yet self-acceptance and positive self-talk help them build emotional resilience, happiness and well-being.
When Esperanza finds a heart shaped rock, she sees it as a reminder to spread kindness and love in the world. But when the school play doesn’t go the way she’d hoped, will she remember to show it to herself?”
Read Aloud #6 — It’s Okay to be Different
“Every Child is Unique! Whether they are big or small, short or tall, like to swim, dance, sing or bike. Perhaps they have a special need or are from a different ethnic background. Maybe they wear glasses or talk differently. The truth is that all children are different and their individuality should be celebrated, not shunned. And this inspiring and brightly illustrated rhyming picture book does just that.”
#7 — The Word Collector
“Some people collect stamps. Others collect coins. Some people collect art. And Jerome? Jerome collected words . . .
In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower.”
#8 — The Day You Begin
“There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.”
Read Aloud #9 — Our Class is a Family
“Teachers do so much more than just teach academics. They build a sense of community within their classrooms, creating a home away from home where they make their students feel safe, included, and loved.
With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen that class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family.
And currently, during such an unprecedented time when many teachers and students are not physically in the classroom due to COVID-19 school closures, it’s more important than it’s ever been to give kids the message that their class is a family. Even at a distance, they still stick together.”
#10 — I’m Not Just a SCRIBBLE
“A story about kindness and inclusion.
Scribble, the book’s main character, never thought he was different until he met his first drawing. Then, After being left out because he didn’t look like everyone else. Scribble teaches the drawings how to accept each other for who they are. Which enables them to create amazing art.”
#11 — Where Are You From?
“When a girl is asked where she’s from—where she’s really from—none of her answers seems to be the right one.
Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn’t give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one.
Where am I from?
You’re from hurricanes and dark storms, and a tiny singing frog that calls the island people home when the sun goes to sleep….
With themes of self-acceptance, identity, and home, this powerful, lyrical picture book will resonate with readers young and old, from all backgrounds and of all colors—especially anyone who ever felt that they don’t belong.”
#12 — Happy In Our Skin
“Is there anything more splendid than a baby’s skin? Cocoa-brown, cinnamon, peaches and cream. As children grow, their clever skin does, too, enjoying hugs and tickles, protecting them inside and out, and making them one of a kind. Fran Manushkin’s rollicking text and Lauren Tobia’s delicious illustrations paint a breezy and irresistible picture of the human family — and how wonderful it is to be just who you are.”
Read Aloud #13 — We’re Different, We’re The Same
“Who better than Sesame Street to teach us that we may all look different on the outside—but it’s important to remember that deep down, we are all very much alike. We all have the same needs, desires, and feelings. Elmo and his Sesame Street friends help teach toddlers and the adults in their lives that everyone is the same on the inside, and it’s our differences that make this wonderful world, which is home to us all, an interesting—and special—place. This enduring, colorful, and charmingly illustrated book offers an easy, enjoyable way to learn about differences—and what truly matters. It is an engaging read for toddlers and adults alike.”
#14 — The King of Kindergarten
“The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.It sits and shines behind your head–like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten!
Starting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements–and then wake up to start another day.”
#15 — The Name Jar
“Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.”
Read Aloud #16 — Skin Like Mine
“From the Creators of Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine is a fun, easy-to- read for beginners as well as advanced readers. An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children. Guaranteed to make you smile.”
“It’s Gabe’s first day of school in America, and he doesn’t speak English. This story shows how a simple act of kindness is worth more than a thousand words. Kindness really is a universal language.”
#18 — A Boy Like You / A Girl Like You
“There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.”
#19 — The Arabic Quilt
“Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts.
That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a “quilt” (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.”
Read Aloud #20 — I Am Enough
“This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
We are all here for a purpose. All of us are more than enough. We just need to believe it.”
We hope that you find these Read Alouds for the Beginning of the Year valuable additions to your classroom library. They are wonderful books to help our students work on getting back into some kind of “normal” for the school year.
-Written by Janessa Fletcher
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