Monday, August 17, 2015

Best Books to Read at the Beginning of the School Year

The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read stories for the beginning of the school year. This is also the FINAL week of Must Read Monday (sniff, sniff).  This has been a great summer linky party and I am so happy you came along on this reading adventure!

Some of you have already started school and I hope it is going well.  Some of you are like me, and won't get to meet your new little sweeties until September.  In any event, these are books that can be read at the beginning of the school year, and may also be revisited throughout the year.  Many of these become class favorites and students love to hear these stories more than once.

We wanted to end Must Read Monday with a giveaway!  Make sure to stick around so you can enter the rafflecopter below!

The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know  - what are your favorite book(s) to read at the beginning of the school year?  You can link up with us and/or leave us a comment down below!  Here are a few of my favorites!

No David!,  David Goes to School and David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon are must reads for any primary grade classroom.  The books have easy language for children to learn and funny illustrations.  The David books are great because they show non-examples (or wrong examples) of behavior, and it leads to a class discussion about what the behavior should look like.  I always read these books within the first week of school and they help guide our discussion while developing our classroom rules.

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen is another fun book that illustrates challenging behaviors.  The story asks questions about how dinosaurs go to school and throughout the book I ask the children if the different behaviors are appropriate.  They always answer "No!"  The second half of the story talks about the correct behavior a dinosaur should exhibit at school.  The dinosaur books rhyme, are silly, and the students enjoy them.

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate is a book that teachers setting up their classrooms can definitely relate to.  Miss Bindergarten comes into her classroom and unpacks, decorates, and gets ready for her sweet students at the beginning of the school year.  This story is a wonderful rhyming book and the students' names in the story start with each letter of the alphabet A-Z.  I tell my students that I have to do similar things when setting up our classroom - just like Miss Bindergarten.  I read this story at the start of the year, and so my kindergarteners usually just stare at me!  Ha! This is a charming story and a great beginning of the school year read!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is a wonderfully playful alphabet book with rich and silly language.  The letters are trying to go up the coconut tree, but can they all do it?  There are capital and lowercase letters featured in this story.  I have the audio version of this story.  I never just read it.  Instead, I always play the song, and we sing along.  It is quite fun!

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books! by Lucille Colandro is another fun Old Lady story with a repeating structure.  She swallows many different school supplies and this story is perfect for retelling the order in which she swallowed them.

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing follows the pattern of the other The Night Before stories.    This story focuses on several children who are getting ready for kindergarten and dreaming about school supplies on the night before the first day of school.  The parents bring their children to school and everyone meets the teacher.  Tears may be shed in this sweet rhyming story!

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a favorite story of mine that I read to initiate discussions about treating each other kindly.  It is a lovely story about a little girl with a long and pretty name who gets made fun of by a group of not so nice girls.  Chrysanthemum feels awful after school each day and her parents try to help her feel better.  It is only when the music teacher enters the picture that things begin to change for all involved.  This story is very relatable when talking about being a kind friend and what using un-kind words might feel like.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is the book I read right away to my kindergarten students - like on the first day of school right away.  After backpacks are put away, I gather the children on the carpet.  There are many sniffles from children and parents simultaneously but that is when I start to share the story about Chester the raccoon going to school and not wanting to leave his mother.  The mother shares "the kissing hand" with Chester and that helps him go to school with a smile.  After I read this story, I tell the children that we are going to give the kissing hand to our parents and say goodbye and we will see them at the end of the day.  This is a nice way to have a large group of parents slowly exit the room, and a good way for us to get started with our kindergarten day.  Warning: this also causes some children to cry harder!

Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes, Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin are also must reads for your primary classroom!  The children love Pete the Cat, and why not?  He is easygoing, chill, and flexible.  He has great lessons to teach us as well.  After all, "It's All Good!"

We read, or shall I say listen, to the CD's at the beginning of the year, as well as throughout the year.  The children love to listen to Pete the Cat over and over again.  My grade level has also put together a Pete the Cat school tour after we read this story on the first day of school - which will be here September 9th!

For More Book Recommendations, please check out:

Must Read Books About Math

Must Read Books About Cooperation

Must Read Books About Compassion

Must Read Books About Rhyming

Must Read Books Just for Fun!

Must Read Holiday Books

Must Read Modern Fairy Tale Books

This post contains affiliate links.

Thanks again for reading along this summer!  It has been wonderful writing about many of my favorite children's books and I always looked forward to Must Read Monday!  Thank you to all of the bloggers who linked up with us, and everyone who read along.  You helped to make this so very special!

                                                             Time for a Giveaway!

We are giving away two $25.00 Amazon gift cards and two $10.00 Starbucks gift cards to two lucky winners!  We hope this makes your time heading back to school very sweet!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Must Read Monday: Modern Fairy Tales

The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read modern fairy tales.  These always add a fun twist to your classroom library.  It is great to read the original story, and then read the modern version and compare and contrast the versions.

The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know  - what are your favorite modern fairy tales?  You can link up with us and/or leave a comment down below!  Here are a few of my favorites!

Humpty Dumpty by Daniel Kirk is an adorable book that rhymes and is a clever way to tell the story of Humpty Dumpty's fall.  Humpty wants to go the birthday parade of King Mo.  Humpty is friendly and adventurous.  King Mo is shy and loves puzzles.  How does Humpty fall?  Does he get put back together again?  This story is the beginning of a wonderful friendship!

I love to read this at the end of the school year.  Then, we begin an art project where we create a brick wall holder and a Humpty Dumpty egg (one side is cracked and the other side is fine).  It is a nice culminating activity.  The children can use the props to retell the Humpty Dumpty poem. You can see that activity in this photo I posted on Instagram here.

Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox is a funny spoof on this popular tale.  This books also rhymes and the rhymes are hilarious.  A prince comes to the tower and asks Rapunzel to throw down her hair...........she thought he said her underwear!  The kids crack up and it makes for a cute guessing game.  They try to guess what she will throw down that could rhyme with what the prince asks for.  Does the prince get the princess? Or, is there a surprise at the end?  You will have to read it to find out!

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka is the tale of The Three Little Pigs as told from the wolf's point of view.  He claims it is all a misunderstanding.  Or is it?  He is able to explain everything and it makes for a funny story.  At the end, the students can vote which one they think is the "truth" - the original or the modern day story.

The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Jeffrey Dinardo is an amusing twist on the familiar story The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  A young wolf is bored so he cries "Help, a boy is after me!"  The animals in town come running and he laughs as he tells them it is a joke.  The animals don't like it.  He does this one too many times and when a boy does come after him, nobody comes to help him.  The animals get the last laugh with a little trick and the wolf learns his lesson!


If the Shoe Fits by Alison Jackson is a creative fairy tale that starts off with the old woman who lived in a shoe with her many children.  She decides that they need to move and so they wander through various fairy tale poems - Hey Diddle Diddle, Hickory Dickory Dock, Humpty Dumpty, etc. There is something wrong with each home and so they flee back to the shoe, which they realize - is perfect for them!

Next week is our very last Must Read Monday blog post.  We will also have a rafflecopter giveaway so be sure to link up and visit our blogs for your chance to win!

For More Book Recommendations, please check out:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Must Read Monday: Holiday Books

The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read holiday books.  This was sort of a tricky post to do because there are so many holidays and loads of books to go with each one.  I chose a few major holidays that we celebrate in my home and classroom and picked my favorite books for each. This post has a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.

The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know - what are your favorite book(s) to read at the holidays?  You can link up with us and/or leave us a comment down below!  Here are a few of my favorites!

I want to say that before I do any of my official "reviews" if you don't own any of these books - GO BUY THEM!  Ha!  But seriously, I think all of these are excellent choices.  Some can be read around a holiday, some can be read during the holiday season (or both).  But these are some fabulous books - favorites for sure!

Halloween Favorites:

Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi is a story about a little mummy who goes looking for his "mummy".  While it might have a few scary monsters, it is a cute story that plays on words (like playing "hide and shriek"), fun sound effects, and different creatures of the ghoulish night.  There are many questions and answers in this story which allow you to talk about punctuation and tone of voice.  But the moral of the story is that there is no place like home - with his mummy!

GO AWAY, BIG GREEN MONSTER! by Ed Emberley is a fun and short book to read.  The amazing feature of this di-cut book is that, as the pages are turned, the di-cuts slowly reveal the monster's different features. The book begins with round yellow eyes on an otherwise back page.  The monster slowly comes into focus as the story goes on and the monster is described.  Eventually, we see the entire monster!  Gradually, the monster starts to "go away" as its features disappear with each turn of the page.

A fun project to do after reading this story is a tear art project where you recreate the monster!  They turn out adorable!

Thanksgiving Favorites:

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey is definitely one of my all time favorite stories.  It is the day before Thanksgiving and children go on a school field trip to a farm.  The children meet some turkeys and are so happy to be around them - they become friends.  The children also meet Farmer Mack Nuggett who talks to them about how he is going to chop up the turkeys and turn them into Thanksgiving feasts.  The children freak - the teacher and farmer run to the well for water (because, doesn't water cure so many problems with our little ones!?!?) - and they calm the children down.  The children board the bus to go home (and look a little fatter).  Turns out, the children brought the turkeys home!  On Thanksgiving Day, the families dine on veggies, and the turkeys are guests.  This vegetarian loves a veggie filled Thanksgiving dinner!

This story follows the pattern of Twas the Night Before Christmas (rhyming!!!), has nods to many famous works of art, and is just as cute and kind as can be!

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting is another Thanksgiving story (spoiler alert!) where the turkey lives!  Yeah!  Mr. Moose promises Mrs. Moose a turkey for Thanksgiving so he goes on the hunt for one.  Other animal friends join in the search.  They finally find the turkey hiding down by the river.  Turkey is petrified.  Mr. Moose makes him come home with him.  They want him for Thanksgiving and he promised Mrs. Moose a turkey.  What turkey doesn't know is that he is a guest, not the meal.  Phew!

Christmas Favorites:

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is a magical little story about a boy who goes to the North Pole on the Polar Express train and meets Santa.  It is a story about believing, fun, and childhood/adulthood.  There is something about the end of the book that always makes me teary-eyed.  Maybe I am wrong,  but I assume most of you know this book.  It is a such a sweet story.  It is a little long, but my kinders sit through it.  And of course, I ring bells at the end of the story and ask the students if they are able to hear the ringing.

Valentine Favorites:

The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning is another one of my all time favorites!!!!!  This is just adorable! I LOVE reading this story and I always read it on Valentine's Day.  This isn't even a Valentine's book - it is actually focused on a birthday present, but it is all about love!  Owen wants to send a GIANT hug to his granny for her birthday through the mail.  He doesn't want to draw her a picture of a hug, he wants to send an ACTUAL hug.  Owen and his mom address an envelope and go down to the post office.  Owen gives the worker behind the counter a GIANT hug.  That worker gives a GIANT hug to the mail sorter, who in turns gives a GIANT hug to the driver, who then gives a GIANT hug to the driver who is delivering it to the airport...........and so on and so forth until a GIANT hug is actually given to Granny.  Along the way, people blush, others kick up their heels, a date is made, and this hug just makes people happy!  Guess what Granny wants to send back to her grandson?  Wait for it............a BIG Kiss!  The children go WILD at this and the story ends with a red lipstick smooch on Owen's cheek.

This is also a good opportunity to talk about the postal service and the process of mail traveling across town and country.  It shows many different components to mail delivery and it makes for a good conversation.

Never Too Little to Love by Jeanne Willis is a very sweet book about an unlikely love between a mouse and a tall animal.  The mouse "Tiny Too-Little" is trying to get up high because he loves somebody and wants a kiss.  So he starts stacking things - a thimble, a matchbox, a candle, etc. so he can get up high.  The pile grows taller, and the pages become layered to illustrate the pile growing tall.  Eventually, there is a crash and "Topsy Too-Tall" has to bend down low for a kiss.  Topsy Too-Tall is actually a giraffe and the children discover this at the end and laugh so much!  It is great to predict who mouse is trying to reach.  There is also a little pop up feature of the giraffe's neck at the end of the book reaching her love.  Just plain ol' sweetness!

Saint Patrick's Day Favorites:

Clever Tom and the Leprechaun by Linda Shute is a book that is just that - clever!  Tom Fitzpatrick is out for a walk one day and finds a leprechaun.  Tom captures the leprechaun and makes him reveal where the gold is buried.  Since a leprechaun must show where the gold is buried if caught, he complies.  He takes Tom on a journey, and shows Tom that it is under a particular bush.  The problem is, Tom doesn't have a shovel.  Tom ties a red ribbon around the plant so he can identify it when he returns, and before he leaves to get his shovel he makes the leprechaun promise not to remove the ribbon.  The leprechaun promises and since they stand by their word, Tom felt comfortable leaving to get his shovel.  When he gets back to the field, he noticed his red ribbon was not removed...............but, there happened to be a red ribbon tied around EVERY plant.  Oh, the tomfoolery!!!!!  Clever, indeed!

 For More Book Recommendations, please check out: