10 Read Alouds for Building Classroom Culture

As a teacher, each September, I pulled out my favorite back-to-school read alouds and planned how I would use each to launch a certain routine, focus, or mindset for my new class. Even though I was pretty stuck on my favorites, I always found myself scouring teacher boards and asking my colleagues for new suggestions. As teachers, we are continuously looking for books to light that spark in students and really get them turned on to whatever topic we are teaching that day. Whether it’s sharing first day worries, learning how to take responsibility for our materials, or feeling inspired to write that first draft of a story, read alouds are a great way to get kids excited about school and learning.

Here are some of my favorites for this time of year

The Golden Rule — By Ilene Cooper and Gabi Swiatkowska

The beautiful illustrations and timeless message of this book keep me coming back year after year. This book talks about how the golden rule is part of so many different cultures — even if they say it with different words, the idea is the same. Use this book to introduce the simple concept of the golden rule and to start a conversation about how you can embody it as a class community. (Grades K-3)

It’s Okay to be Different — By Todd Parr

In classic Todd Parr style, we celebrate differences and embrace diversity in this book. The simple, bright pictures and short, direct sentences are perfect for younger students and language learners, and kids can make connections to so many of the examples in the pages. Use this book to talk about diversity, acceptance, and to promote self-confidence. (Grades K-2)

Enemy Pie — By Derek Munson

Kids really connect to this story about a boy who thinks a new neighbor is his “enemy” until he’s tricked into getting to know him better. Use this read aloud to spark a conversation around making new friends and being open-minded when new people come along. (Grades K-3)

Piggybook — By Anthony Browne

Do you need a fun way to teach about accountability and teamwork? This book is a must! Your kids will be entranced by the hidden details in the illustrations that give clues to the underlying message of the story. The storyline is simple, and the pictures are so telling that it makes it a great read for language learners. Use this to jumpstart a conversation about classroom jobs and responsibilities. (Grades K-3)

One — By Kathryn Otoshi

Start a conversation about leadership and being allies with this book that uses colors as characters. The simple language, color words, and numbers are a great support for younger students and language learners. (Grades K-3)

Do Unto Otters — By Laurie Keller

My students loved the cartoon animals and speech bubbles in this book so much that they created their books in the same style! This is definitely one they will read over and over. Use it to prompt discussion about how to get along with all kinds of people and to use good manners. (Grades K-3)

My Mouth is a Volcano — By Julia Cook

This is a must-have read aloud for teachers in grades K-3! Kids will totally relate to Louis and his constant struggle to “explode” his thoughts out loud at really inopportune times. Use this book to start a conversation about self-control and the effect your actions have on others. (Grades K-3)

Author: A True Story — By Helen Lester

This is my favorite book to kick off a year of writer’s workshop! Author, Helen Lester, describes how her relationship with writing started as a young girl. It turns out even authors think writing is really, really hard. Use this book to help kids understand that writing is hard for everyone and that we all make mistakes. (Grades K-3)

What if Everybody Did That? — By Ellen Javernick

This book really captures students’ attention by introducing important issues in a humorous way. The illustrations show kids what the world would be like if everybody did little actions that they thought weren’t such a big deal. It would really add up! Use this book to talk about individual responsibility and the consequences of our actions. (Grades K-3)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore — By William Joyce

This is a powerful book that you can use to kick off your reading block and encourage kids to think about the magic of stories and the draw they have on us. It sets the tone for falling in love with books and reading this year! (Grades K-3)

Now that I’m writing content for Lalilo, I draw inspiration from these and the countless other books I have seen kids fall in love with again and again. Lalilo’s new comprehension feature resembles an interactive read aloud experience by reading books aloud to students and asking them to respond in different ways. Check out what we have so far on Lalilo and treat your students to some extra read aloud time!

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