4 Terrific Books to Help Kick Off Your School Year & Create Classroom Culture

The beginning of a new school year brings a flurry of excitement and anticipation for both teachers and students. As educators, it’s vital to establish a strong classroom culture early on to set the tone for a successful year. One way to achieve this is by incorporating engaging and impactful books in your back-to-school lineup. Here are four terrific books that not only provide enriching content, but also help create a supportive and inclusive classroom culture.

1. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree is an empowering story about Ally, a young girl with dyslexia who has successfully managed to hide her struggle with reading from her teachers and peers. With the help of a dedicated teacher, she begins to realize that her learning difference isn’t something to be ashamed of, but rather a unique strength. This book encourages discussions about empathy, understanding, and accepting individual differences, making it an excellent choice for establishing an inclusive classroom environment.

2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder is the heartwarming tale of August Pullman, a boy born with facial differences who enters fifth grade at public school for the first time after being homeschooled his entire life. As Auggie navigates his new surroundings, he teaches everyone around him invaluable lessons about kindness, acceptance, friendship, and resilience. Wonder serves as an ideal conversation-starter for promoting empathetic and compassionate behavior in the classroom.

3. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

In this beautifully illustrated children’s book, young Vashti believes she cannot draw until her art teacher encourages her to make a simple dot on paper. From that one small dot springs forth an impressive array of creative endeavors, demonstrating the power of self-belief and growth mindset. The Dot promotes confidence and self-expression—essential ingredients for a positive classroom atmosphere where students feel encouraged to explore their talents and passions.

4. The Juice Box Bully by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy

The Juice Box Bully centers around Pete, a new student who displays aggressive behavior and lacks kindness. Through thoughtful conversations and the support of his classmates, Pete eventually learns the importance of empathy, respect, and standing up against bullying. This book is a must-read to underscore the significance of teamwork and community-building in fostering a safe and supportive classroom environment.

Incorporating these books into your school year kick-off can help create a strong foundation of trust, acceptance, and camaraderie among your students. As each story unfolds and students engage in meaningful discussions, they’ll learn essential values that will promote a positive classroom culture throughout the entire school year.

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