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The Perfect Back-to-School Books to Kick off Learning

It’s that busy time of the year again—the time when your child swings their backpack over their shoulder and runs out the door to make the bus, when students greet new teachers and wave to their friends after a long summer apart.

With the many disruptions of the past year, many parents may have been worried about their children falling behind in their reading level. In the classroom, teachers are still taking full advantage of isolated activities like solo reading time. So, as schools reopen, it seems there’s no better way for children to head back to the classroom than with a new book in their hands.


Not sure what to read? We’ve put together some essential books for teachers to incorporate into the curriculum that can help students stay on track and make learning fun!

Some of these books are directly related to the school environment, while others address important themes and lessons, such as overcoming shyness, confronting bullies, pollution and climate change, finding hope in the pandemic, facing the common fear of shots, adjusting to new surroundings, and more.

See for yourself below:


The Secret of Sondra Byer’s Second Grade Class



By Susan Schwartz

Everyone knows the legend of Ms. Sondra Byer, the enigmatic teacher who returns to Cory Hall every five years to teach one group of second grade students, and then disappears again, leaving magic and mystery in her wake. When the longed-for letter arrives on crisp, white school stationary announcing their placement in Ms. Byer’s class, her students think they know what lies ahead, but none of them could have anticipated the enchantment that awaited…

The Secret of Sondra Byer’s Second Grade Class follows the adventures of a group of  second grade students as they discover parts of the world, and parts of themselves, they never could have imagined. 



Bottle and Stick



By Jennifer Stephens

Starting school can sometimes be scary. Especially after Pencil, Eraser, and Scissors warn Bottle and Stick about being squeezed, twisted, dried up, and wasted!

Will these two ordinary school supplies approach their first day of school with fear, or will Bottle and Stick decide to be brave and stick together? After all, anything is possible when you have a friend by your side!



Sparky’s Electrifying Tale




By Janelle London and Matthew Metz

Tina and Rory would like to go green,
but it’s hard when their family car burns gasoline.
Their new hamster Sparky’s a little bizarre.
Just wait ’til you see what he does with the car!

What can two children and a hamster do about climate change and air pollution? Tina and Rory follow gasoline’s trail from the age of the dinosaurs to the family car and beyond, their journey illuminated by the vivid imagination of their new pet hamster, Sparky. Just when Rory has had it with gasoline, Sparky magically finds a solution.



Smile and Say Hi




By Mary Jo Hazard

Michael Joe Bob is remarkably shy.
When he meets someone new, he won’t smile and say hi.
Mike runs and he hides, petrified through and through,
unable to do what he knows he must do.

Then, one night in Mike’s room, some fierce dragons fly
and whisk him away through the starry night sky
to adventures so daring. Mike searches inside
and seizes the courage to smile and say hi!



Not So Bad After All




By Daniel Amaguana

Daniel views school in his own little way,
But kids make fun of him all the long day.

He may be strong and won’t stand for guff,
But when push comes to shove, can he really stay tough?




Giving Hope: A Child’s Journey Through a Pandemic



By Toni Wengerd

Life was busy, exciting, normal – until, with one phone call, everything changed. Everything was cancelled and shut down until further notice. While navigating the stay-at-home order during the pandemic, many different emotions were felt. This story is told through a child’s journal entries that demonstrate many of these emotions. What begins with worry and frustration evolves, with this story showing how one child learned ways to give hope even when things seemed hopeless.



The Ruth Adventures: Best Friends Forever




By Nancy Youngdahl

Now that a new year of school is beginning, Ruth is about to experience a new adventure!

Instead of being homeschooled, Ruth will attend second grade in town at the elementary school. Ruth is nervous about her first day, but is assured by her parents that she will meet lots of students her age. Sure enough, Ruth meets a very thoughtful girl named Sue who quickly becomes her best friend. After a play day with Ruth, Sue learns about life on a farm and how fun it can be, even though it is so different from living in the city. When their day together ends, they are already planning their next adventure—together!




Jurni



By Nikos Cox

In this deeply emotional story, we learn that lessons about life and death can be taught by the unlikeliest of teachers. In Jurni, one young girl with a passion for all things math, science, and outer space shines a light on how we can all deal with grief and loss. 

The confusion, pain, and shock of tragedy affects us all, no matter how old we are. After losing her mother, Jurni’s dad urges her to look up at the starlit night sky, and explains that her mother will always be up in the stars. From that moment on, Jurni is set on a course to reach the stars she sees from below. Her mission: becoming an astronaut to be close to her mother again. The only hurdle in Jurni’s way is winning a local NASA science competition that could pave the way for her biggest dream. 

Join Jurni as she embarks on a quest that will give her a deeper knowledge of her own ability to survive the pain of personal loss.





My First Boy Teacher



By Jacob Piontkowski

After finishing an exciting year in Mrs. Taylor’s class, Charlie was enjoying her summer vacation. Or at least she was until the new school year started to arrive. What was the next year going to bring, or should we say, who?




The Little Ouch



By Katherine Picarde

When it comes to getting her flu shot, Penelope is NOT amused. It makes her SCARED and NERVOUS and QUEASY and SICK and SWEATY! Will she be able to overcome her fear of The Little Ouch?



Lucas Takes His Food Allergies to Daycare



By Megan Herr

Join Lucas as he discovers that food allergies don’t have to stop anybody from having fun! Even more, his story reminds us that our differences are what ultimately bring us all together! 



Melanin Brown Discovers America



By Candice Davis

Melanin Brown is a very wise thirteen-year-old seventh grader who witnesses a new student being bullied because of his beliefs. This situation makes her feel very uncomfortable, and she knows that the actions of those students are wrong. With the guidance of her parents and her experiences with teachers and friends, paired with her own desire to treat people the way she wants to be treated, Melanin learns how to deal with and address various social constructs while coming into her own voice.

Melanin is the type of everyday heroine we all wish we had when we were young. Knowledgeable beyond her years, caring, and innocent, Melanin is a leader whose empathy (and even sarcasm, at times!) transcends boundaries and limitations. Meet your new favorite role model as you join Melanin along this journey of self-discovery—you might just learn a lot about yourself, too!




Amoya’s Accent



By Dahlia Richards

Moving to a new country can be hard, and Amoya is finding that out firsthand! Not only is the cold in Chicago chilling her to the bone, but her new classmates are also making fun of the way she talks. Amoya stands up for herself, but will that be enough to fix the situation? Amoya’s Accent takes a look at why people sound different from each other and explores the power of a sharing circle.


 

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