And Chrissy at First Grade Found Me is starting a recurring linky for sharing holiday picture books. We're starting with great Back To School reads.
A lot of my favorite first read-alouds I shared on my Must Have Picture Books post, so you'll want to check that out too, if you haven't already, for some suggestions. But Since I loooooove books, I have others I can mention:
Shredderman by Wendelin Van Draanen is a chapter book- but a great read-aloud that also offers some awesome cartoony pictures that my second graders have always loved - This is the story of a fifth grader, Nolan, and his fight for justice against a bully Bubba Bixby. There is a lot of humor, you get to say the word "butt" and make the kids think you're ultra cool, but also provide them with a solid story you can refer to all year about making good choices and preventing bullying behaviors. There are four books in the series if it becomes a favorite, and if you do end up reading the whole series to your class, you get to see the eventual character transformations of both Nolan AND Bubba. And I have always liked that about the series, that you can see how Nolan was able to change Bubba. Kids need to know that it is possible for people to change and be forgiven.
I know everyone has mentioned Chysanthemum by Kevin Henkes- but I have to make mention of it too, since it is indeed perfect for the beginning of the year and there are so many millions upon BILLIONS of activities that you can do with this book at any grade level. I found this website Teaching Heart that takes a stab at sharing a good many of these ideas. I plan to use it mostly with starting off my word wall with the student names, so we can do lots of related art and math activities and get-to-know you games all with our names, put them on the word wall, and then use them all year long to point out phonics and syllables and everything else. And it also does double duty as a morning meeting sort of read-aloud to talk about hurtful words. There is a very sweet wrinkled heart activity that goes with this book that I found at First Grade Wow. Plus, Kevin Henkes makes for a great author study, so this is a perfect start to sharing his wonderful books.
An excellent first month of school book, since it sets up for using the whole series through out the year for teaching cause and effect as well as compare/contrast, and authors as mentors where kids can write their own cause and effect book in the style of Laura Numeroff. Here at Teach With Me, they have a free 16 page .pdf download of mice activities to go with this book. And here at Teacher Vision they have a printable of tons of cross curricular extension activities. If you've never used Teacher Vision before, you can have 5 free items, and then you have to subscribe. But you can also just view the page for free and get ideas if you don't want to print it. This is a great book for making text-to-self connections as well, since this can open up for a discussion about what the students expect to do at school.
Seriously, this is CLASSIC. It must be read! Although, I do shy away from it a bit because I always expect the kids to have heard it a million times already. But the thing is- I'm not the only one thinking that, so I'm starting to come across kids who have never heard of it before. And is it not perfect for morning meetings to generate ideas on how behavior choices affect the classroom environment? A wonderful opportunity to look into Miss Nelson's perspective and think about how the children's choices affected her emotionally. And then how her deciding to be negative Viola Swamp affected the children emotionally. The consequences of our behaviors on the heart. A good good read. You can also check out The Busy Teachers Cafe for lots of activities to go along with this book.
And lastly, Follow the Line to School by Laura Ljungkvist. It's sort of meant for Pre-K, but there is a lot in here that can be used for anybody in primary. It plays out a bit like an I Spy book (which come on, you know even fifth graders eat those books up!)- but it has such great illustration techniques that it's perfect for the Illustration Unit that we use in Writer's Workshop at the beginning of the year. Kids can really see the diversity that is possible with simple line illustration and also embellishment. I haven't seen any posts for extensions on this book, but I think it fits well with the idea of mapping as a social studies extension. Kids can create "follow that line" maps of their homes or neighborhoods, or even their own school. Anybody have any other ideas for this cute book?
Okay, writing about all this back to school stuff has left me with an intense desire to write some lesson plans. Look at that! Already working on one of my resolutions. Crazy.