When looking for good back to school books to read aloud to your upper elementary students, you will likely come across many suggestions that just aren't that appropriate for a 4th or 5th grader.
Many back to school books focus on emotions that are more geared towards younger students. Older students just aren't as concerned about leaving their parents or being away from home for the day.
Below, find some back to school book suggestions that might be more appropriate for your third, fourth, and fifth grade students. Several of them easily lend themselves to some fun back to school writing activities as well.
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You might also like these other back to school ideas.
Read Aloud Ideas for Back to School
This is a great book to help build a positive classroom community and a positive self image from the first week of school. It has photographs and words from real children describing what they think is the best part of themselves.
The follow up activity for this book is a no-brainer and makes a great lesson for the first week of school or to display during Open House.
Have students photograph the body part that they think is the best part of themselves (making sure it is school appropriate, of course), and then write about it, using the examples from the book as models.
A Primary Kind of Life has a freebie for this activity that can be used to display student work.
This is a fun twist on the typical first day of school book. Instead of a child being nervous about going back to school, it's the school building that's nervous!
It tells about how the school building feels about lunch, recess, and how it's feelings got hurt by some students.
An added bonus is that you can begin teaching point of view / perspective the first week of school.
Yangsook Choi's The Name Jar tells the story of a girl named Unhei who moves from Korea to America. Some kids on the school bus have trouble pronouncing her name, and some other kids mock her name. She is embarrassed, and decides she wants a different name.
The kids in her classroom decide to help, creating a "name jar" so that Unhei can find a name she likes. Eventually, however, Unhei decides to keep her own name.
This book pairs well with an All About Me Activity or ice breaker, encouraging students to be proud of what makes them unique instead of try to hide it.
Save time and stress this school year with these no prep reading response activities - that can be used with ANY fiction book.
The activities ask students to respond through reading, writing, - including writing poetry - speaking, listening, drawing, interviewing, and more.
You can use them over and over again throughout the school year - just print and go!
This book can be read aloud all year long, but makes a great back to school book because it sets a positive tone for your classroom. If your students haven't had this book read-aloud to them yet, then they should!
This is a story about a girl frustrated that she can't draw. Her teacher encourages her, and eventually she puts a dot on the page. After a little more encouragement, she begins drawing all sorts of dots - and then encourages another students in the same way.
This book also lends itself to some fun back to school art projects - having students creating their own "dot."
This is a book about a child that wakes up on the wrong side of bed, which leads to a terrible first day of school. The teacher doesn't teach, there are no bathrooms, and the cafeteria serves spiders for lunch. Terrified, the child eventually runs home.
The next morning, after waking up on the right side of the bed, school is wonderful.
This book might not be a good fit for younger students that are really nervous about the first day of school. 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students, who have experienced plenty of first days back to school, will recognize some of their own fears in this book and see them exaggerated in a funny way.
The theme of this book is perfect to help set classroom expectations that first week of school.
In Enemy Pie, a boy is "tricked" into spending time with his biggest enemy. After spending time with his enemy, the boy learns that he actually likes the kid - and an enemy turns into a friend!
If you decide to use this as a back to school read aloud, then check out these questions and activity ideas to go along with Enemy Pie.
In this book, a student tells the class about his summer vacation. His story is clearly exaggerated - and what kid can't relate to that?
It's a fairly easy read, but the content will be interesting to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.
This leads easily into a fun writing activity where students could write about their own summer vacations. Some kids could create a fantastic story like the child in the book, while others could tell more factual information about their summers.
Patricia Polacco's autobiographical story, Thank You Mr. Falker, tells of her struggle with reading - and all the frustrations that came along with that - until her 5th grade teacher Mr. Falker helped encourage her.
While this makes a great read aloud for 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade students at any point during the school year, starting the year off with this book might offer hope to some of your struggling students.
To be honest, this book doesn't have a great story or plot. But the idea behind it - having students choose one word to help set the tone of their year - is an inspiring one.
On the first day of school, Stevie's teacher tells the class that there is one word that will help them find their best year ever. The students all eventually choose one word that they will live out during the school year.
The tips this book gives to help students find the "one word" aren't that helpful, but this makes a great book and back to school activity because the idea behind it is so powerful.
Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!
Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!