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First Grade Back to School Books

First Grade Back to School Books

I love sharing my most-loved books with a new class of students. As a seasoned teacher and a long-time lover of literacy, I have more favorite books than I can count! Here are my top 5 go-to first grade back to school books. 

Bonus tip: you can use the Reading Responses for ANY Book with any of these titles! This LOADED resource includes 50 Reading Response worksheets adaptable to ANY fiction or nonfiction book! In addition, each activity aligns with Common Core Reading Standards. Finally, they are also flexible enough to meet the varying needs of the learners within your classroom.

Let’s get on to the good stuff! Read on for the titles, links, and fun activities your new students will love. ⤵️

first grade back to school books

The Invisible Boy is one of my favorite first grade back to school books. Students can feel lost in a new classroom and a sea of new faces at the beginning of the year. I love to watch them relate to this story! The book features Brian, the invisible boy, who seems to go unnoticed by his classmates. As the story unfolds, Brian shows kindness to a new student, and the reader starts to see Brian differently. The Invisible Boy demonstrates themes like inclusion, friendship, and small acts of kindness. It’s a must-read for every classroom!

We use our Reading Responses for ANY Book for this activity to identify when a character’s feelings change within a story.

  • First, draw a boy with a white crayon on a piece of art paper.
  • Then, color over him with a marker to make him appear!
  • Next, identify how Brian felt at the story’s beginning compared to the end.
  • Finally, discuss how Brian’s feelings change throughout the story.


The above activity puts a tangible twist on the concept of feeling invisible. I love watching the story “click” for students!

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

first grade back to school books

Chrysanthemum is an adorable story about a little mouse whose parents have always told her that she has an absolutely perfect name! Unfortunately, her classmates don’t think so! We walk through the story as she navigates teasing and self-acceptance. This fantastic first grade back to school book facilitates talks about classroom behavior and how to treat each other.

This title works wonderfully with our Reading Responses for ANY Book because there are options for drawing and writing, which allows students to demonstrate their skills across different mediums. First, students draw their interpretation of the cover of the book. Then, they reflect on how the book made them feel. Finally, they evaluate if their friends would like the book! Spoiler alert: they love these activities!

Chrysanthemum is an excellent story for read-alouds, shared reading, independent reading, and reading centers. Plus, you’ll find options to match every K-2 standard!

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is a hilarious take on the first day of school jitters. We read the story from the point of view of Penelope Rex. Penelope learns it’s hard to make human friends in her classroom when she finds them so tasty! Kids love the illustrations and sweet message behind this book. In the end, Penelope learns a lesson from an unlikely classroom friend.


We use our Reading Responses for ANY Book for this activity to work on our comprehension skills. Students are encouraged to think about their favorite part of the book and to share through drawing and writing.


Pro tip: This is a great book and activity for substitutes. It also lends itself to a perfect opportunity for student-centered sharing.


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I Promise by LeBron James

I Promise is a beautifully written picture book that teaches students the value of integrity and hard work. I love this as a first grade back to school book because it shows students that what we do today impacts our future! They see that tomorrow’s goals are tied closely to the hard work we contribute today. It is an influential book to set the stage for classroom work ethic and goal setting!

To accompany this book, we used the Classroom Promises activity. This activity helps students sort classroom promises VS classroom problems. It lends itself to great classroom talks about problem-solving opportunities. In the end, students create their own classroom promises that you can refer back to throughout the year!

first grade back to school books

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog is a heartwarming story about a little girl who is struggling with learning to read aloud. As readers, we get a front-row seat as Madeline gains reading confidence with the help of her friend Bonnie, the library dog. Students can often relate to Madeline’s frustration (and triumphs!) throughout the story.

We used the Ready to Read Classroom Activities to accompany this book! However, you can use this book for other awesome back to school reading lessons and activities included in this post: First Week of Reading Workshop.

I hope that your students LOVE these first grade back to school books! I want you to be able to connect with them in creative ways as you begin to build your classroom community this year. Each title that I shared works with the Reading Responses for ANY Book. Your students are sure to love these activities. I’d love to hear how you use these books in your classroom. As always, I’m rooting for you! Your students are lucky to have such a fantastic teacher who uses literacy to connect in meaningful ways!

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Emily Yerty

I’m a teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

One Response

  1. Thank you for all the suggested Back to School books! I have used “Chrysanthemum” and “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” but have not used the other three titles yet.

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