Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Books for the Beginning of School

I love this time of the summer.  I have had a few weeks to wind down and regenerate.  I've been to the beach and we just finished Vacation Bible School. I've gotten a lot of "summer chores" done at home, so now I have time to leisurely plan for next year - to tweek my classroom design or start a new project.  A friend of mine was just hired to teach 3rd grade next year at a neighboring school, so we have been "teacher-talking" for a week.  One of the things we discussed were the books I use at the beginning of school.  Here are a few...

You Are Special by Max Lucado is one of my favorites. 

You Are Special (Wemmicks Series)
In this book...
Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones--those with smooth wood and fine paint--always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.

In this heartwarming children's tale from the best-selling pen of author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is--no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It's a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.  A more secular message might be that now matter how the world evaluates them, they are special just as they are. 

Here is the link to it read aloud on You Tube...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15QuHygLwFU

Another favorite is the book, The First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
First Day Jitters

In the book...
Sarah Jane is worried about going to a new school. She refuses to get out of bed because she keeps imagining all the bad things that can happen. Readers will understand and sympathize with Sarah's feelings and laugh when they discover the surprise ending to this delightful story.

After we read this book, I hand out templates of kids and my students trace them and cut them out.  We decorate ourselves and attach a speech bubble describing each of our "first day jitters."  My students love reading these as they hang on the wall in the hall. 

Here is the link to it read aloud on You Tube...

Here are some other favorites...

Jessica by Kevin Henkes
In this book...
"There is no Jessica," said Ruthie's parents. But of course there was. She ate with Ruthie, played with Ruthie, and was sorry when Ruthie was bad. Nobody could see Jessica — except Ruthie. When it came time for Ruthie to go to school, Jessica went with her. Her parents hoped Ruthie would find a friend at school who would replace Jessica. They were in for a (happy) surprise!
Ruthie does everything with her imaginary friend Jessica; and then on her first day at kindergarten, she meets a real new friend with the same name.

Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.
Miss Nelson Is Missing!
The kids in Room 207 take advantage of their teacher's good nature until she disappears and they are faced with a substitute.
This is a great lead into a group discussion about classroom/school rules and good behavior.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes 

She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. "I'm named after my grandmother," said Victoria. "You're named after a flower." Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn't improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed....
Chrysanthemum loves her name, until she starts going to school and the other children make fun of it.

Just like the book, You Are Special, this makes a good start to discussing how to accept the differences of others, our classmates.

In the near future, I plan to share some of the great finds we picked up on our shopping trip to the local Teacher Supply store, as well as cool DIY projects for my classroom and other "beginning-of-the-year" ideas and projects.

 Continue to enjoy your summer!!!


  1. You Are Special-amazing and one our little ones will never forget!!!

    1. I agree! You Are Special is such an awesome book, yet one that many teachers don't know about. I'm glad its one of your favorites too!

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  3. I just heard of "You're Finally Here." It sounded really cute for the first day of school (or one for the beginning). I haven't received it yet.

  4. I couldn't write anything more than what was in that box up there but I wanted to tell you that I'm new to third grade this year. I'm definitely going to be checking out your blog for ideas! :o)

    1. Mrs. Muniak,
      When I first started teaching, it would have been so helpful to have found teacher blogs that offered help and advice. I was lucky that my mom was a successful and dedicated teacher, so she was my "go to" resource. I look forward to your regular visits. Feel free to ask questions if you have them. Have a great year, and hope to see you soon!


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