3 Read Alouds for 5th Grade Beginning of the School Year
Read alouds are a fun way to break the ice, teach a skill, and get kids engaged in reading. Here are three read alouds for the beginning of the school year and a few tips for how you can use them in your classroom.
1. School's First Day of School by Adam Rex illustrated by Christian Robinson
How to Use This Book: help kids feel comfortable on Day 1; teach them perspective
Most kids are a little nervous on the first day of school, so finding a book that they can relate to that shares those same feelings is great. And this book does just that. School is the main character in this story, and he's nervous about meeting the children for the first time. What I love about this book is it's told from a unique perspective: the school's! This is great for fifth graders because teachers can use this book again later on and reference it when teaching perspective. You can talk about the secondary characters in this story and compare/contrast their perspective with School's.
2. The Book of Rules by Brian Gehrlein illustrated by Tom Knight
How to Use This Book: make kids laugh; introduce them to classroom rules; discuss second person point-of-view
This book is very silly and lighthearted, so it encourages goofiness while reading it and helps kids loosen up and laugh that first day of school, which is really helpful, especially when kids have all of those jitters and nervous feelings. Not only does it bring in a good dose of humor, but this book makes a nice transition into discussing rules and why we have them. Classroom rules are an essential part of classroom management, so this book creates a nice introduction to rules and a good segue into creating a set of class rules with your students. Finally, you can revisit this book later on in the year when you teach point-of-view, specifically second person point-of-view. I always found it challenging teaching second person POV because there weren't a lot of examples or mentor texts. But this is a great mentor text if you need one!
3. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
How to Use This Book: introduce students to a funny series and a great author with multiple published books; teach character analysis
Choosing a novel or chapter book to read aloud at the beginning of the school year must be strategic. I always wanted to ensure three things when choosing a book:
a) Make sure it's short.
b) Make sure it's funny.
c) Make sure it's a series.
For me, it was important to find a short book with short chapters because I wanted to ensure I'd find time to read it aloud to my students. I knew that if I read a book with longer chapters, I might not get to it every day because I'd think in my head, "I don't have time to read a whole chapter today." And of course, I didn't want to stop in the middle of a chapter because that would mean I'd have to review everything that happened in the chapter so far just to get my students up to speed so they could comprehend what was about to happen in the rest of the chapter. Having a book with short chapters ensures you'll make time, not excuses.
Including humor into a read aloud was extremely important because I wanted my students to associate reading with fun, pleasure, and enjoyment. I remembered growing up, one of my teachers read an extremely long, boring novel, and I would doze off every time she started reading it. I didn't want that same experience for my students. I wanted them to feel giddy and excited every time I pulled out our read-aloud book. And that's exactly what my students would do. They'd BEG me to keep reading because they loved it and laughed so much.
As a reluctant reader, I always find it difficult to know what to read next. But when I find a good series, that's a built-in way to keep me reading. If I finish book one, now what? Read book two. Same thing goes for our students. We can set them up for success if we start the year off strategically with a good read aloud that is part of a series. Even if the book you choose isn't part of a series, maybe try to find a book by an author who already has a lot of great books published. That way, if students like the book, they can read more books by that same author.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School features a different character each chapter, so it's great if you want a quick character analysis assignment after you finish reading the book. What I had my students do was choose their favorite character/chapter, find a trait that described that character, and then justify that trait using evidence from that chapter. Remember, the chapters are short, so even if students have to reread the whole chapter, it'll only take a few minutes. They'll be able to find evidence quickly by rereading the chapter versus searching through the entire book.
I hope this was helpful to you as you start the new school year. And if you already have a read aloud in mind, please share it with me in the comments!
What book do you plan to read to your students and why did you choose that book?