Pernille Ripp Suggests, Picture Books to Read the First Week of School

On August 1st, Pernille Ripp shared a blog post of her favorite picture books to kick off the school year. I immediately headed over to the public library to pick up two, three... okay, I borrowed all that they had available (and placed the others on hold)!

Without further ado, here are a few book recommendations to read on the first few days of school:

Drawn Together by Minh Le 

At first, it was difficult to share out loud the pictures that I saw as I "read" aloud the book. But then, as I began to see what was happening, I retraced my steps and explained the pictures and asked questions. The beginning would be an incredible way to complete a Think Aloud with your students, modeling the ability to make inferences on the images. Similarly, the young boy and the Grandfather were having a difficult time communicating with one another based on a language barrier. After several attempts, the young boy seems to have given up and begins to complete his own activity. Grandpa takes interest in his new task and surprises him by joining him in his own way. You will want to share this story with your students, to see how these two broke the barrier and found common ground. 

I really like how the book expresses communication in a different form. Sometimes a barrier comes between two people and they are not able to express themselves with each other. But if we seek out new creative ways, we can still come together and communicate.

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown

Robert believes his teacher is a monster; yelling at him, stomping around, and keeping him from attending recess. One day, he saw his monster  teacher outside of school and was given a different perspective. 

This book is a beautiful explanation of what happens between a student and a teacher when a relationship is formed. My only wish is that this happened for Robert at school rather than at the park. I know the message for students is that we should not judge a book by its cover and its what is written in the pages that matters. But, my teacher voice in my head questions how many students still see her as a monster at the end of the story? Of course, this book is all about perspective.. right?

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again by Dan Santat 

Are you afraid of doing something? Is something holding your students back from succeeding? Humpty Dumpty can relate; he fell off the wall and became afraid of heights. Falling was such a dramatic event that it began to keep him from enjoying life (make sure to point the details in the pictures while you are reading, it will add to the story). Can he face his fears and live his life again?

Inspiring and uplifting story for those who have a fear that could be overcome, if given the right opportunity. I like how the story focuses on the fear as an individual and how he handled it. Sure, it is great to have cheerleaders in your life to help you get there; however, at the end of the day it is up to you. 

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall 

Sometimes we prepare for something and then get to the moment of action only to find that we are afraid to take the next step. The fear of the unknown begins to settle in. It's a new adventure, you have never done it before and that can be scary. 

Jabari learned how to swim and has been checked off for the diving board. Read this motivating story of building up courage to do what you have worked so hard to accomplish.

What I love the most about this book is that once he meets his goal, he quickly creates a new goal for himself. That is an impressive attribute that is learned in life and keeps us growing!

School's First Day of School by Adam Rex 

The new school year is about to begin and the brand new school building is having anxiety about the first day. There are many stories of those that focus on the feelings of students and teachers. But this one, focuses on how the new school is handling it's back to school jitters. 

As a student of history, I love books that provide us with different perspectives. This book will make us all laugh because of its fictional quality of a building human like qualities. Yet at the same time students (and teachers) can relate to being the new kid or experiencing a variety of emotions with a new teacher and new classmates.

Elwood Bigfoot: Wanted: Birdie Friends! by Jill Esbaum

Making friends is difficult to do, just ask Elwood Bigfoot. He is the only bigfoot in the forest and is trying to make a friend or two with the birdies. Unfortunately, he is big and scary to the cute little birds. He tries everything to get them to like him. Does he give up? Is he able to gain a friend? 

This well illustrated picture book is relatable to all children who have found themselves alone; whether they are the new kid in the neighborhood, the new kid in school, or someone who has a difficult time finding people to play with. 

I like how Esabum shows us that it is not how we look or what flashy thing we make that will gain us friendships but it is when we are true to ourselves and allow nature to take its course we are able to settle into our community, just as it should be.

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

Berkeley Breathed teaches us an important lesson about our lives; how it is, what we think it is, and how it should be. Pete is a practical pig who has it all figured out. A perfect life on his own. He thinks his life is quite grand and goes day by day being practically perfect. Until, he meets Pickles. Pete does not think he needs Pickles in his life. Pickles adds a bit of sparkle and spunk to Pete's mundane and routine day to day. This causes Pete to become quite furious when he notices how much chaos Pickles is really creating in his schedule. But what happens next will come as a surprise to both Pete and the readers of the book. 

This picture book inspires us to let go and let live. Sometimes, we think we know what is best for ourselves.. but maybe we just do not know any better. I think we all need a little sparkle in our lives, don't we?

In addition, the picture books All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal was on this list; however, I have already read and shared. For more picture book lists by Pernille Ripp, visit her blog page: Our Favorite Books. (I think I may need another trip to the library).

Believing wholeheartedly in the practice of student choice, I would give a little 20 second commercial on the books available and have the students choose which one they would like to have read. This could be done by survey or by a democratic vote. This is not to say that others will not be read; however, they will be given an opportunity to choose the book of the day. How do you choose the picture books you are reading to your class? Please share in the comments below!

I read these books as a part of my #BookaDay Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...

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