Monday, August 4, 2014

picture books for the first week(s) of school

It's been a couple weeks since I've posted - I feel that it's going to take me a little bit of time to become more of a 'regular' blogger. I'm constantly thinking, "who is even going to read this? is what I have to say interesting? what if someone doesn't agree with me?" yada yada yada...

Anyway, I have to get past these thoughts and write for me - that's the reason I started this whole blog: to get my ideas down in one spot, to reflect on what I love to do, and to connect with other educators. So, here goes another post!

The first week of school is quickly approaching and in the midst of setting up new classrooms, labeling books, laminating, organizing, and all that fun stuff, one has to have a solid plan of what to do with their kiddos the first week of school! Someone once told me that you can have the prettiest, most organized classroom, but without a plan for the first day (& week) of school all that means nothing.

On the first day of school I have always read First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg. It's a super cute story about a girl named Sarah who is very nervous for the first day of school. She imagines many terrible things happening in her classroom but finally her dad convinces her to get up, eat some toast, and get in the car for school. When she gets there, her principal introduces her as the new teacher, Ms. Sarah Jane Hartwell.  Surprise! :)

This book is fabulous for the first day because I always have the first day jitters (and second day jitters, too). It definitely makes the students feel more comfortable hearing me talk about how nervous, anxious, and excited I was for the first day of school that I couldn't sleep at all the night before. I then open the conversation up to the students to talk about what they are nervous for and it makes us all feel a bit better knowing many of us had those same feelings!


Another one I always read was Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. This is a popular book about a girl named Chrysanthemum, who always loved and felt proud of her name, until she started her first day of school. She gets teased by some girls and her self-esteem has wilted. She then meets her music teacher who is also named after a flower and is pregnant with a baby. When the teacher tells Chrysanthemum that she plans to name her baby Chrysanthemum if it's a girl, she blossoms again and learns to love who she is.

This book tugged on my heart strings because my first name has 9 letters and although my teachers could pronounce it, it barely fit on a name tag. The letters always got smaller toward the end or my last name would be squeezed in on the bottom. What was worse than that? During standardized test time, my whole first name wouldn't fit in the squares and it always ended up saying "Christ" instead of "Christine" - so embarrassing for a 3rd grader.  One may think, "oh no big deal, it's a name" but many kids get made fun of for their names and those types of things stick with kids. This book always helped me to discuss the differences among us with my students and to be proud of who we are.

The last one I always read was The New Bear at School by Carrie Weston. This is a simple book about a grizzly bear joining the classroom after the first day of school and friendships have already been made. He has a hard time fitting in since he's so "hairy and scary," but when he saves the other animals from a bully, they all learn to love him. I actually liked to read this one during the second or third week of school because when I was teaching in the inner-city, we would have about 10-15 students on the first day of school and gradually get more throughout the first month until our class was full. So, there were always those "new" students!

There are a ton more books that I loved to read to my class during those first few weeks of school, but these 3 were always on the "must-read" list. What books do you make sure to read to your students during those crucial first few weeks of school? :)


  1. Hey Jantz! I'm so glad you wrote and I LOVE reading your blog, so thanks for this post! When I was in middle school, mean boys called me Breeze and Bezerk. I hated my last name! I guess there really is a lot to names, so great pick with your three faves! I always read First Day Jitters, too. Maybe we can read to each other on the first day! :-)

    1. Geez! Kids can be so mean :( Let's totally read to each other on the first day!!! :)


sol18: it's okay to cry

Being a parent requires an insane amount of patience, love, and understanding. It's the best and hardest job in the world. It means mis...