Scholastic Book Clubs

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 13 2011

Happy Back to School Season!

New pencils, new backpacks, new notebooks – a new class! Here at Scholastic, we hope you are enjoying the excitement of getting to know your students during these first few weeks. We have a lot to share with you in the upcoming months to help you share the joy of reading with your class…

…but first, allow me introduce myself! My name is Alyssa, and I work for Scholastic Book Clubs. Prior to entering the world of children’s publishing, I was a certified elementary school teacher (as well as a self-proclaimed book nerd!). Over the course of this school year, I’ll be reviewing the best children’s and young adult books, recommending literature-based lesson ideas, and sharing knowledge about literacy – to help you get your students on the path to a lifelong love of reading!

Back to School season is in full swing, and I know how exciting (and sometimes scary!) it is for your students as they begin to acclimate themselves to a higher grade, a brand-new teacher, and sometimes even a different school. With this in mind, I’ve pulled together a list of my favorite Back to School-themed books, to help give your students the confidence and inspiration to start the school year off right

And now, the best of Back to School books!

Pre-K and Kindergarten

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

There’s a chance that no other story has done more to help children say good-bye to their parents than this heartwarming classic. A little raccoon named Chester is going off to school for the first time and worries about missing his Mama. Luckily for Chester, his mother has a way for them to feel close even when they’re apart—she puts a special, secret kiss in his hand that he can hold on to all day long. With absolutely adorable illustrations, this reassuring story is a must-have for every child. Mama Raccoon’s good-bye secret really works!

Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold

A helpful way to review classroom routines, reassure children about what to expect before they head off to preschool, and encourage them to talk about the experiences they have during the day. The cheerful rhymes and bold, colorful illustrations follow children as they hang up their coats in their cubbies, meet for story time, color and paint, sing together, and participate in many more exciting activities.

Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis

Dexter isn’t scared to go to big-kid school. Not even a little bit. But he can’t help it if his stuffed toy dog, Rufus, is terrified! What can he tell Rufus to help him to calm down? Luckily, Dexter has a big sister who knows everything about kindergarten and helps the toy (and her little brother) realize that Kindergarten rocks! Filled with answers to the real questions kids have about kindergarten, this is a sweet and funny story to help children become familiar with Kindergarten.

First Grade

Skippyjon Jones Class Action by Judy Schachner

Got a bully problem? Then you need a superhero Chihuahua (who’s really a kitten) on your side! This insanely silly addition to the best-selling series about the little Siamese kitty with big ears and an even bigger imagination follows Skippyjon Jones as he heads off to…puppy school! He soon finds himself on the playground of his imagination, surrounded by dogs of all kinds. He bays with the beagles, learns French with the poodles, and checks out a Chihuahua book from the library. And when a bully starts sending shiver-itos down the spines of the little yippers, Skippy saves the day and earns the biggest gold star!

Pirates Go to School by Corinne Demas

Ahoy, mateys – Get ready for some swashbuckling silliness! Your students will giggle as these funny pirates hang up their swords in their cubbies, learn their letters (X marks the spot!), enjoy recess and naptime, and hold a show-and-tell. They may smell like rotten fish, and get time-outs for naughty language, but it’s totally cool to have pirates in school!

Peanut Butter and Homework Sandwiches by Lisa Broadie Cook

Homework disasters DO happen! A boy named Martin Macgregor struggles to turn in his homework on time—but somehow something always goes wrong! His dog eats the homework (since it is covered in peanut butter), his mother accidentally washes another project, his sister takes his worksheet with her to school by mistake, and all his papers blow off the roof! With silly illustrations and funny scenarios, this book is great for a hilarious read aloud!

Grades 2-3

Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco

While living in California, Trisha was put in a special education class—but now that she can read, she can’t wait for a fresh start at a new school in Michigan. Upon receiving her classroom assignment, she’s heartbroken to find out that her new class is referred to as “The Junkyard”, and her fellow classmates are considered misfits. With the help of an unforgettable teacher and amazing friendships in her “tribe,” Trisha comes to realize that the junkyard is a place where every kid can become something truly special. This heartwarming true story from the author’s childhood recounts a magical year where self-esteem and respect are learned.

School!: Adventures at Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School by Kate McMullan

Welcome to Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School, where things are a little loopy…and a lot hilarious! From Hotsy-Totsy Monday through Yowie-Ka-Zowie Friday, follow Ron Faster and his friends through one wacky week, and see how extreme silliness can teach little life lessons! This fast-paced, silly read is full of wordplay and energetic illustrations that are sure to delight young readers.

EllRay Jakes is NOT a Chicken! by Sally Warner

The new kid, EllRay Jakes, is tired of being picked on by the school bully. Every time he tries to defend himself, he ends up getting in trouble. Even so, EllRay won’t tell anyone about the bullying – he doesn’t want the kids in his class taking sides, or his mom getting involved. Meanwhile, EllRay’s dad is sick of his son always getting into trouble. He decides to give Ellray something to work for: if Ellray can behave in school for a whole week, he’ll get a trip to Disneyland! So now it’s up to Ellray to do the impossible—prove he’s not a troublemaker – or a chicken! This is a great story about dealing with class bullies.

Grades 4, 5, and 6

It’s the First Day of School…Forever! by R.L. Stine

From the author of Goosebumps, this spooky story is guaranteed to be a hit with fans of scary stories!  Artie’s first day of school is his worst one ever. First, he falls out of bed and hits his head. Then his brother gets syrup in Artie’s hair, and there’s no time to wash it out. And on the way to school, Artie gets splashed by a puddle, making it look like he wet his pants! It can’t get any worse, right? Wrong! The next day, Artie wakes up and the exact same things happen again. Is Artie destined to keep living the worst day of his life over and over—or can he find a way to change things?

Troublemaker* by Andrew Clements

Clay is in trouble again—this time for drawing a picture of the principal as a donkey. But Clay doesn’t mind—he’s proud to be a troublemaker, just like his older brother, Mitch. However, Mitch’s temper got him sent to jail for two months, and now he wants Clay to stay on the straight and narrow. Clay promises Mitch he’ll try, but it’s really hard. His principal and teachers don’t believe Clay is really trying to change, and his best friend and fellow troublemaker, Hank, isn’t exactly supportive of his efforts. What’s more, Clay’s favorite prank-filled holiday—Halloween—is coming up! Can Clay really change his mischief-making ways once and for all? As a former teacher, Andrew Clements captures school life perfectly.

(*Contains mature language appropriate in the context of the story.)

Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Catherine and Ivy June are both seventh-graders, but their worlds couldn’t be more different.  Catherine lives in a large, beautiful house in Lexington, while Ivy June lives in the Kentucky mountains, where her family uses an outhouse and wears hand-me-down clothes. As part of their schools’ student exchange program, each girl leaves home for two weeks to live and attend classes with the other, recording their experiences in a journal. At first, Ivy June and Catherine seem to have nothing in common. But when tragedy strikes, the girls discover they’re more alike than they thought. Told in journal entries by Catherine and Ivy June, this touching story is sure to keep young readers turning the pages.

Grades 7 and Up

My Big Mouth: 10 Songs I Wrote That Almost Got Me Killed by Peter Hannan

Davis Delaware is not actually from Delaware – but try telling that to everyone at his new school. When you move in the middle of ninth grade, people are going to think whatever they want about you. That is, If they pay attention at all. Blending in is fine with Davis. He just wants to doodle in his notebook, make a few friends, and not rock the boat. But it turns out that’s easier said than done. When he starts a band called The Amazing Dweebs with the beautiful Molly and nerdy Edwin, Davis rocks the boat big-time. Now Davis is suddenly king of the school—and the school bully’s next target. This can’t end well…can it? Featuring doodles, song lyrics, notebook pages, and lots and lots of laughs, this illustrated middle-grade novel from the creator of CatDog is really one rockin’ read!

Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he’s got a foolproof plan for the best year ever—if only he can pull it off! With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding the points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school’s oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class is worth 5,000 points. Running in the hallway is 10,000. Pulling the fire alarm, 50,000! But when Rafe’s game starts to catch up with him, he’ll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he’s finally ready to face the truths he’s been avoiding. This is a genuinely hilarious, surprisingly poignant story of a wildly imaginative, one-of-kind kid that readers won’t soon forget.

The Truth about Truman School by Dori Hillestad

When Zebby and Amr create the Web site, they want it to be honest. They want it to be about the real Truman Middle School. They want it to say things that the school newspaper would never say and give the students a chance to speak up. But, given the chance, some people will say anything to hurt someone else. And when rumors about one popular student climb to cruel new levels, it’s clear that the truth about Truman is more harrowing than anyone ever imagined. This is contemporary fiction at its hard-hitting best which takes on cyberbullying—a serious, sometimes deadly threat to today’s teens – and makes it a school-wide debate.

Have you shared any of these books with your class? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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Ideas to build a lifelong love of reading

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