Professional Development

August 26, 2020

6 Excellent Back to School Read Alouds for Distance Learning

One of my favorite parts of the back to school season is picking out my interactive read alouds for the beginning of the year. I love getting to spend quality time modeling how to read and sharing how a good reader thinks. But most of all, I love the bits I learn about my students during interactive read alouds. Even though this school year looks totally different, we can still use back to school books while distance learning with our students.

One of the differences will be that you won’t need to focus on the same kinds of classroom rules that you normally would. With distance learning, you can take advantage of this and choose back to school books that address other important issues like:

  • social-emotional learning
  • making good choices
  • persevering and working hard

To help get you started, I’m sharing some excellent read aloud choices for back to school books for distance learning.

The King of Kindergarten

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes is about a young boy who can’t wait to go to kindergarten. This book will help your kindergarteners excited about school and all the fun things they will do!

Grab the book on Amazon HERE!

As a post-reading activity, you could have students share what they were most excited about for their virtual first day of school. This could be done during the live class time or recorded in a reading response journal.

Your Name is a Song

Another excellent back to school book for distance learning is Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow. In this book, a little girl goes to school and quickly gets frustrated when no one can correctly pronounce her name. Her mom then takes her on a walk through the neighborhood and teaches her that African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names can be musical. She gets her confidence back when she learns the beauty behind her name.

Grab the book on Amazon HERE!

For post-reading activities, you could:

  • Have students write their names and decorate them to celebrate everyone’s uniqueness.
  • Use the FREE name activities resource and do some word work with students’ names.
  • Ask students to ask their parents if there is a story behind their names. Let students share and celebrate the beauty and history behind unique names!

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

If you haven’t read The Old Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora, then RUN to your bookstore and grab it! This beautifully written and illustrated book tells the true story of Mary who was a slave and learned to read at age 116. This is a wonderful story about a lady who overcame and was NEVER too old to learn!

You can get the book HERE on Amazon.

For post-reading activities, you could:

  • Have students write to share one thing they hope to learn this year
  • Complete the Back to School Writing Activity found HERE.

The Paper Heart

In The Paper Heart by Amanda Erwin, a classroom of critters struggle with conflict. Their teacher teachers them how to speak with kindness from their hearts. You can use this to help students learn how to share with each other, provide kind feedback, and speak to each other when working in small groups.

You can get the book on Amazon HERE!

For post-reading activities, you can:

  • Have students practice role-playing difficult conversations that both solve a problem and use kindness.
  • Use the FREE resources I created to go along with this book and integrate writing.

Our Class is a Family

Start teaching students that they are a part of a new kind of family, a class. In Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen, students will learn that they can be themselves, they can make mistakes, and how to be a good friend to others. I love this book for building a positive classroom community.

You can grab this book on Amazon HERE!

After reading, you can have students share something they can do to be a good friend or classmate to others.

What Should Darla Do?

Finally, the book What Should Darla Do? by Adir & Ganit Levy is a fun book for teaching making good choices. A young girl wants to go to Mars one day, but she needs some astronaut training. Throughout the book, students can help Darla choose to make wise choices (or not!) and see what happens.

You can grab this book on Amazon HERE!

To do the read aloud interactively and live, you can use Zoom or GoogleMeet to have a meeting with your students. If you need to record one, you can use Loom to either record yourself or your screen.

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Between interactive read alouds and these FREE get to know you games for distance learning, you’re sure to build a strong, positive classroom community for your virtual students.

If you are looking for some ways to get books into students hands to read on their own during independent reading, check out THIS POST.

Friends, if you are wanting to join a community of over 3,000 other teachers, head to my Facebook group. We chat about all things literacy, classroom management, and more! I love brainstorming and problem-solving with teachers! Come join us!

Happy Teaching,


8 Get to Know You Games for Distance Learning

Getting to know your students can be trickier while distance learning. Grab this FREE printable with eight get-to-know-you games and activities so that you can start connecting with students, help them get to know each other, and build a positive classroom community.

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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