6 Books & Activities To Reinforce Classroom Community

Read stories, watch videos, and work through activities that support community-building and social-emotional learning.

Sponsored By Random House Children’s Books
6 Top books for back to school for the classroom.

These six amazing read alouds are the perfect fit for establishing classroom community. Explore entertaining stories about the weather, curious creatures, feelings, and more! Thanks to our friends at Random House Children’s Books, view a video message from each of the six authors and complete a fun activity tailored to your classroom. We can’t resist this great list of back-to-school books and activity pairings!

Talk about emotions with Big Feelings

    Big Feelings book cover

From the best-selling author of All Are Welcome, Alexandra Penfold’s video message addresses the many feelings that may arise during the start of the school year. Help your class learn the importance of feelings and teamwork with this energetic book. As an activity, follow along with the book’s illustrator Suzanne Kaufman to learn how to draw different emotions. If students are comfortable, they can share or illustrate how they are feeling during the beginning of this school year. Click here to watch the video from both the author and illustrator and get the full activity for Big Feelings.

Discuss emotions with Misty The Cloud A Very Stormy Day

Misty the Cloud book cover

Today Show meteorologist and author, Dylan Dreyer, invites students to think and daydream about the clouds in her video message. What if clouds had thoughts and emotions just as we do? In this story, meet a cloud named Misty who feels upset and causes a storm. Invite your students to discuss how their favorite weather makes them feel. Help students realize it’s okay to have different feelings during the first days of a new school year. Encourage them to daydream about the clouds and where they might go if they were a cloud and could travel anywhere. Click here for the video from Dylan Dreyer and the full activity.

Map out the journey to school with My First Day

My First Day book cover

Huynh Kim Lien & Phung Nguyen Quang share how they wrote and illustrated this book together as well as the book’s meaning in their video message. Everything starts with a first day. Learn how this boy faces his fears and extraordinary challenges during his journey and follow along to find out how he reaches his destination. Students may have mixed feelings coming into the classroom this year, in person or virtually. This title shares the lesson that, although there are challenges along the way, the journey will be worthwhile. After reading about this first-day adventure, students can illustrate their own map detailing their journey to school, just as the book does. Click here for the video from this author-illustrator duo as well as the full activity for My First Day.

Discuss community with Dream Street

Dream Street book cover

View a start of the year message with best wishes from author Tricia Elam Walker. Then read her story of a lively neighborhood where kids and adults live in harmony and the community shines. Meet various characters who help this community become one of love and warmth. This book brings together the community of your classroom and emphasizes its importance. After learning about the community of Dream Street, complete an activity where students brainstorm whether they would like to live in this community and decide who or what they would like to bring with them. Click here for the author video and full activity for Dream Street.

Discuss and create collections with The Creature of Habit

Creature of Habit book cover

In this video message, author Jennifer E. Smith talks about her new book and its relation to the world we’ve experienced this last year. Creatures in the story live every day just about the same on an island, similar to our world recently. That is, until new ideas strike, and the creatures have to learn to appreciate one another and live happily together. This book wonderfully displays how differences can come together to make something great, which is an important lesson for students entering a new room of peers. Following the reading, students can discuss what they collect or what they would like to collect, just as creatures on the island do. They can even find collections in nature and create their own creature out of it. Click here for the full video from Jennifer E. Smith and the book activity.

Create classroom butterflies with Becoming Vanessa

Becoming Vanessa book cover

Hear an encouraging back-to-school message from author Vanessa Brantley-Newton to excite students about being back in the classroom. Read this story about the character Vanessa’s first day of school and how she builds confidence through her first-day experience. After reading, students will use their creative minds to make a collage out of newspapers, construction paper, and more. Cut out the shape of a butterfly from the collage to serve as a class reminder of how much you are going to grow this school year. Click here for the author video and collage butterfly activity.

Find these books and activities, along with educators’ guides, here to start your year off strong.

6 Back To School Books & Activities To Help Transition Back To The Classroom