BEST Back to School Books

Since it’s back to school season, I want to hone my focus and share my “go to” books for establishing a respectful and positive classroom climate.  These four back to school picture books are prominently displayed and enjoyed during the first few weeks of school (and are subsequently referred to throughout the entire year).


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 The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf:

This is a fantastic story about creating harmony through diversity.  Each child brings unique perspectives and strengths to the classroom, which ultimately creates a vibrant, colorful community of learners.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  by Carol McCloud

This book is a MUST HAVE for teachers who want to develop compassion and kindness in their students.  Many schools use this book as a basis for their school wide behavior plan.  In the past, I purchased a small bucket for each student to keep at his/her desks. Bucket filling behaviors were rewarded with tickets that could be used to purchase privileges in the classroom. Conceptually, this book is brilliant because it concretizes the abstract nature of compassion and kindness.  I love the concepts in this book so much that I created a product in my TPT store which includes ready to use printables and posters.  Here is a small preview of the posters.  Click here to view the whole product.


The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

This sweet story shows students that even small acts of kindness can help others feel included.  This back to school book is versatile because of its appropriateness with a wide age range.  With brilliant illustrations depicting Adam, the invisible boy, Tracy Ludwig takes us on his journey to make friends. Just in time for back to school, this literature unit helps students understand that they have the tools to make a powerful impact on their classmates.back-to-school-books

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

This book is my newest favorite back to school book.  Used for the first time last school year with my ESL groups, students were introduced to Unhei, a new student from Korea.  We took a journey with Unhei as she came face to face with a new school in America, her fears of not being understood, and her ultimate decision to embrace her identity.  This book fosters empathy, understanding, and compassion in its readers.  Click here to view the literature unit that corresponds with The Name Jar.

Creating a community of respect and compassion is my favorite part of back to school each year.

Leave a comment and share your favorite back to school book below.


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I am Kirsten Tulsian, an elementary educator with 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor. My passion lies in empowering students to discover their inherent brilliance through the use of engaging, rigorous, and meaningful activities. I look forward to connecting with you!

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