Best Back to School Books for Upper Elementary

back to school reading Jun 07, 2022

In today’s post, I want to share with you the best back to school books for upper elementary students that I typically read aloud to students throughout the first week of class. Classroom read alouds are most often associated with younger students, but reading aloud to older students is just as important. According to Edutopia, research shows that reading aloud to older students has proven benefits such as, “improved comprehension, reduced stress, and expanded exposure to different types of materials.”

**This post may contain affiliate links. You pay the same amount and I get a small commission. If you click on any of the book titles, they will take you to the Amazon page for that book.**

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

In this book, the author and illustrator work together to create a story about how it is sometimes difficult to feel like you belong, especially when you are in a new environment. Whether it be the color of your skin, the way you talk, the food that you eat, or the games you play, there are many reasons why walking into a classroom for the first time can feel really scary and lonely. The story continues by celebrating the fact that taking steps outside our comfort zones to tell our own stories, no matter how different they may be, is a very brave and courageous act. And how showing up and sharing our perspectives and viewpoints helps us to connect with people who are different than us.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague

Having kids write about their summer is a classic back to school activity. What I like about this book is that instead of telling the usual “What I Did Over the Summer” story, the boy in this book tells the class about his summer by starting out realistically, but eventually he weaves it into a very tall tale that your students will enjoy. This makes a great springboard for your students to do a different kind of summer vacation writing activity, instead of the traditional one they may have done before. Students that may not have gotten to take a real vacation will be able to get creative with a story they could share with their classmates.

Because You Are My Teacher by Sherry North

This is a fantastic book about a teacher who takes her students on an amazing adventure around the world. You can use it to share with your students all of the places (topics/themes) that you’re excited to share with them or perhaps use it to talk about how books take us places.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco’s autobiographical story tells about her struggles with reading and all of the frustrations that came along with it. She also shares how that all changed when her 5th grade teacher, Mr. Falker, helped to encourage her. 

Decibella and Her Six-Inch Voice by Julia Cook

This is a cute book about a girl with a very loud book. I enjoy reading this book at the beginning of the year because I always have very loud students and also very quiet students, as I’m sure we all do. This book is perfect for setting the expectations for voice levels throughout the various school day activities. I always use this book to make a voice level chart that my students and I can refer to throughout the school year as needed.