Quality picture books are a staple classroom resource for any classroom teacher.
An (ever-growing) list of good children's books is certainly an essential in your first year of teaching. However, if you are a more experienced teacher, the good news is that these lists will continue to come in handy throughout your entire teaching career. An effective teacher has the ability to not only find creative ways to embed rich texts into their lesson plans, but to also use them for incidental teaching and learning opportunities throughout the school day.
Teaching and Modelling Classroom Expectations with Quality Picture Books
There are many easy ways to incorporate picture books into your daily classroom routines. One of my favourite ways to use them is for explicitly teaching and modelling classroom expectations and social skills. From first day jitters, to helpful strategies for navigating the first day of school and the first weeks of school, the following books are a teacher's best friend at the start of the school year. They can also be used to re-teach and re-visit expectations and social-emotional skills throughout the year as well.
Clear classroom expectations will support student learning and increase student engagement. And, by supporting students in developing social-emotional skills, teachers can have a lasting impact and help children succeed in life, no matter what is thrown at them. Many books provide practical strategies that can help teachers to implement best practices when it comes to positive classroom management and social-emotional learning.
No matter what social skill or classroom expectation which you are looking to explicitly teach, there are picture books to support your teaching needs and teaching style. Feel free to share this list with your teacher friends so that they can incorporate these effective teaching books into their classroom practice too!
My Mouth is a Volcano
Whenever Louis has a thought, it's like a volcano just ready to erupt. His words begin to quiver and dance around; then his tongue forces all of these vital ideas against his teeth until suddenly Louis is blurting out what needs to be said - even if that means cutting people off! With My Mouth Is A Volcano, children learn about controlling their habit of interrupting in a respectful and understanding manner. Told from Louis' point-of-view, this story provides teachers with an amusing way to communicate the value of listening attentively and waiting for one's turn to speak.
What If Everybody Did That?
Have you ever thought that dropping one piece of rubbish out of the window isn't a big deal? But what if everyone did it? If we all broke rules, chatted during story time, failed to wash up or splashed too much at the pool - would our world become a mess? Is there a better way? This helpful book helps children to imagine an alternate reality where everybody obeyed the rules. It answers these questions in an easy-to-understand way and demonstrates how unthoughtful behaviour can have consequences.
That Rule Doesn't Apply To Me
Noodle has had a few challenging days - mostly due to frustrating rules that take all the fun out of life! Rules upon rules, it seems like he can't get away from them. He just doesn't understand why these rules apply to him specifically. Is there no such thing as a day free of them? It's time Noodle got some relief in his rule-bound world! The kids will laugh as Noodle explains his experience dealing with rules. His mother assists him to imagine what would happen if there were no rules at all and Noodle finally learns that rules help to keep everyone safe.
A Little Respectful Spot
Respect is about more than just others - it's also about yourself. Follow along with a little yellow Spot as he illustrates various ways to show respect towards people, places and objects. Students will discover the meaning of respect while learning how to be polite, respecting personal boundaries and belongings!
Do Unto Otters
When a family of otters moves in next to Mr. Rabbit, he begins to worry if they'll get along with one another. Luckily, he remembers the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated! This book demonstrates how treating people fairly and respectfully is the foundation for forming friendship, working together, and being generous towards one another.
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes
Beatrice is the epitome of perfection, or so it seems. She always completes her tasks perfectly—from homework to taking care of her brother and hamster—and wins the town's talent competition every year while juggling. This year, however, Beatrice makes an error that causes her to lose. Suddenly she finds herself faced with something new: failure. How will she cope when everything isn't perfect anymore? This story is a great one for students who struggle with making mistakes, and it's a great way to open up a conversation about the pressure to be 'perfect' and the impact that this can have on our mental health. It helps to emphasise that not only is it okay to make mistakes, but it's important as it helps us to learn.
Have You Filled A Bucket Today?
This is another really good teacher book to have up your sleeve. The idea of bucket filling is a beautiful model for teaching both children and adults the value of being kind, thoughtful, and respectful towards others. This book emphasises the significance of positive behaviour and how our decisions can affect those around us. Utilising the tangible concept of an 'invisible bucket', it demonstrates that when we do something kind, we fill someone's bucket with good thoughts and feelings; however if we choose to be mean or unkind in any way, some of these positive emotions will be removed from their invisible bucket. This concept encourages children to make conscious daily choices to be kind and positive towards those around them, and provides them with practical tips for how they can do this.
What Should Danny Do?
This is a great book for illustrating the power of positive (and negative) choices. In this 'choose-your-own-adventure' style story, students determine the results of Danny's school day. Students will love having control over a superhero-in-training as they help him to make decisions. Allowing them to choose how this story ends engages children, whilst also showing them the best way to respond to different social situations that they may encounter throughout the school day. There are 8 alternative endings that you can reach.
This list of books will be helpful for both new teachers and veteran teachers, as you establish effective classroom management systems in the first days of school. Many of the best books can apply to a range of grade levels, but are particularly helpful for supporting student success in the early years.
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SECTION 3: First Day Activities
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