Beginning of the Year Read Alouds

~Marie Puett (



Like you, I know that the first of August means school will begin in just a few days. During these last weeks of summer, my heart and brain start racing with how to start my new school year. I know that I will have a classroom of new children who are excited and probably nervous about beginning second grade. And guess what? I’m excited and nervous about beginning the year with a new group of young learners. I’m excited because I am passionate about teaching children, with a deep desire to have my children leave at the end of the year truly enthusiastic about reading. But I’m nervous too, because I wonder if I will meet the eager learners’ expectations.


First Day Jitters (Julie Dannebeg) is the perfect icebreaker! Right after I get attendance, lunch count, and a brief "Welcome to Our Class" talk, I invite my new friends to the carpet and begin reading First Day Jitters. Of course I go through all the things we do as teachers when introducing a story…What do you think this story is about? Why? What is jitters?


As the story unfolds we learn that Sarah Hartwell doesn’t want to go to the first day of her new school. She offers excuse after excuse as to why she can’t go…"I hate my new school," "I don’t know anybody," My head hurts." All along Mr. Hartwell encourages Sarah that all will be great at her new school. (And what do good teachers do while reading? We pause and allow kids to THINK, PAIR, & SHARE!)


Of course I am snooping in on my new friends’ conversations to learn how they felt about coming to their first day of a new school year. First Day Jitters is laced with connections for everyone, even me!


My favorite part of the whole story is the surprise ending, when the engaged listeners learn something special about Sarah Hartwell. First Day Jitters is funny, insightful, lively and delightful. I wouldn’t start my first day of school without it!


Some of my other favorite first day of school read alouds are:

The Awful Aarvarks Shop for School (Reeve Lindbergh)

Franklin Goes to School (Paulette Bourgeois)

My School’s a Zoo! (Stu Smith)

The Principal from the Black Lagoon (Mike Thaler)-Ask your Principal to read this one to the class!

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon (Mike Thaler)

Wanda’s First Day (Mark Sperring).

Have a wonderful new school year!


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