A new school year is just around the corner and for those of us who view real-life through the lens of picture books then I bet you’re looking for a few titles that will help set the tone in your classroom come September.
When I think about those first few days of a school year I think about how I would want the class to gel as a community. That –
-“we’re all in this together”;
-“we all have something to contribute”;
-we must be respectful, kind and helpful with each other;
-being different is ok and we all have a place here;
-we need to be ‘open’ to the experience of being in a new class.
You get the idea. It’s all about being full to the brim with positivity and potential.
So here are some books that I think fit with this theme:
You’re Finally Here! by Melanie Watts
Great at conveying the excitment and anticipation of meeting new people. It also offers the opportunity to discuss how to behave when you’re in a group. Things like not interrupting, being patient, what being polite looks like and trying not to keep others waiting. It’s typical Melanie Watts fair with lots of humour and zaniness. (For K - Gr. 2/3)
Exclamation mark by Any Krouse Rosenthal
This one really speaks to appreciating differences and that we all have something to offer. Fitting in is important but also knowing who you are is just as crucial. See also, Red:a crayon’s story by Michael Hall. (For grades K. - Gr. 2/3)
Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds
This one also tells the story of how the title character, Nerdy Birdy comes to realize that there are more nerdy-birdy-type birds than “cool birdies” and this means you can always find a friend who will be very much like you. The book does a terrific job going beyond this idea though. When Nerdy Birdy becomes friends with vulture who doesn’t really fit with either the nerd-birds or the cool-birds, he learns that even though they’re not alike and have many differences, this is just fine. I love the illustrations by Matt Davies, too. You can pair this with Be A Friend by Salina Yoon and Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. (For grades 1-3)
Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco
A good one for older kids about a class of students with learning challenges. The notions of “being in this together” and “we all have something to contribute” really shine through in this book. This is a class that has definitely gelled. (For grades 3-6)
A lovely, philosophical kind of book that encourages children to being open to new experiences; to follow unknown paths, to be curious, playful and adventurous, to discover who you are and want to be, learn from your experiences and from this to trust yourself and finally, to take comfort in the constant things in your life. This book is a terrific for either starting off a school year or finishing the school year. (All ages)